Thursday, June 7, 2007

Vacation: Pitiot Stampede

Our next stop was the Dixie Stampede. Which is owned by my idol, the esteemed Dolly Parton. Like she needs another source of income, what with her net worth of $300 million or so. Give or take a few million.

We have been there 3 or 4 times. The ticket prices are a bit steep, but it's dinner and a show, folks. We started out walking along the stable area, looking at horses' a$$es. #1 son even took a few pictures. I don't know where they are right now. HH went in to pick up the tickets, and said they were letting people in. The part of this I don't care for is that they make everybody get a picture taken. Then they try to sell it to you during dinner. We bought them one time, when the boys looked especially cute. One photo of this sort is plenty.

We rushed upstairs to stake out our seats for the pre-show. The trick is, you sit right by the entrance to the arena, and you can get ahead of the crowd to pick your seat. Heh, heh. Pick your seat. I kind of enjoy the crowd watching me pick my seat. Heh, heh. You can do the same thing downstairs, but I prefer the upper section. You can see the whole stage. A long time ago, the pre-show was The Electric Horseman. He was a singer who rode around that indoor itty-bitty stage on a horse with little white Christmas lights hanging all over him. DUH! What did you think The Electric Horseman would be?

This year, the pre-show was a juggling guy who did ping-pong balls and bowling pins and flaming torches and plates on sticks and balanced an 8-foot stepladder on his chin. You really had to be there. He was very entertaining. Of course we had the 'free drinks' that are included with the ticket, in the souvenir plastic mug. We have a whole set, but the design changed this year, so HH HAD to have them, and washed them out in the bathroom as we finished drinking them. If I could only get him to do that at home. The drinks were of course non-alcoholic, but sounded like you should sneak in your own little convenience store bottle of hooch to add to it. If I was a drinking woman, I sure would have done that. They had strawberry dacqueris and bloody marys and all kinds of grog-less grog. We went the strawberry route, but they were a bit tart this year. Oh, and to wash down the drinks, HH got us some popcorn, because the kids were STARVING, and it was $2.50 a box. Good thing we're made of money so we can afford those free drinks.

We were the first ones into the arena to pick our seats. Go figure! We would have been second, but HH elbowed his way ahead of a crippled-up-looking man on a Rascal, and the kids followed, so of course I had to do the same. And then the pissing-off commenced. We reached our section, B1. That meant the middle section, first row. The server told us, "B1. You sit here." And made us sit right there in the first section by the steps. To everyone else, he said, "You're somewhere in this section." And let them walk on down to the 50-yard-line area of the arena. We were somewhat in the corner of the oval arena. I blame HH for being such a sheep to sit right down. I suppose he was still heady with victory from vanquishing that Rascal guy. Anyhoo...we'd sat on the 50-yard-line last time we were there, so it was OK to sit towards the end. We were closer to the doors for escape from the traffic later on.

Then: the horror that was our server. I know it's early in the tourist season, and these kids have just gotten their training. But the girl in the row behind us rocked. Our guy was a bit of a PITIOT. That's right. In case you missed my coining of this word, that means a pitiful idiot. I don't mean to be unkind. But the service was far from exemplary. First buffalo out of the gate, he asked us what we wanted to drink. It's not hard. There are TWO choices: tea or Pepsi. I said Pepsi, as did #1 right beside me. The kid picked up the two pitchers, and poured me about 3 inches of tea. Then he said, "Oh. I forgot which was in which pitcher." He looked flustered. He picked up my glass. He looked like baby mole caught by my bloodthirsty cats. There were no spare glasses in the arena. I said, "That's OK. Just pour the Pepsi on top of it. It's no big deal." HH said, "Here. I want tea. Just switch glasses." So we did. Then Server Boy poured #1's Pepsi. Onto my napkins. There were soaked, and there was a little Pepsi lake on the table between us. Oh, well.

First course was the biscuit, which is a bit like a Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit, only not quite so flavorful. It's kind of like a cheesy Bisquick contraption. Of course, after the soda adventure, Server Boy started at the 50-yard-line end every time. I got the last biscuit on the tray, which was the runt. No big deal. I only ate half, and gave it to #2 son, who didn't like anything else.

Next came the creamy vegetable soup. I told #1 I was afraid the kid might spill it on me when he poured. The boy laughed. Little did we know...but I progress. He didn't spill it. There wasn't enough to spill. He poured it out of a pitcher like the soda. #1 got a heapin' helpin' o' soup. I got half a little bowl thingy. That was all that was left. That's OK. I was slurping mine long before #1. His was too hot, you see. There was so much of it that it took a long time to cool.

The little chickens came next. Or the Cornish hens, if you're high-fallutin'. HH calls them little chickens. Server Boy traipsed down the row, bestowing the fowl upon each and every plate. Until he got to #1 son. Oh. He ran out of little chickens. WTF? Did somebody get two? Don't you know how many people are in your section, Server Boy? How can you be two chickens short of a dinner show? So he said, "Oh. I'll be right back." When he returned with the chickens, they were lukewarm. They looked like they were the practice items from the kitchen. #1 said, "How come yours is all black around the feet?" Yeah. Mine was burnt. Which would have been fine if the skin was nice and crispy and black. But it was soggy. Soggy burnt little chicken skin. And the skin is the best part, you know. All greasy and crispy. But not mine.

Then came the potato wedge. Runt. After that, the pork loin. Last time, it was a good chunk of meat. This time, mine was paper thin. I could have read the fine print of an auto sales contract through it. #1's was fine. He even ate #2's for him. I poured out a packet of BBQ sauce to dip the loin and the soggy chicken in. Who would have thought that could pose a problem?

Server Boy tonged out the mini ears of corn-on-the-cob. Oh, mine was comparable to everyone else's. Except that SB set it down right in the middle of the BBQ sauce. "Sorry." I don't care much for BBQ sauce on my corn. Funny thing...this is the first time I tried it.

The apple turnover course passed without incident. Except I don't care much for turnovers, and gave mine to the human garbage disposal, #1 son.

Oh, and did I mention that on each table was a card that said, "Good service should be rewarded with a 20% tip." Umm...NO! Those tickets were $53 apiece for the adult tickets, of which we needed THREE this year, and $32.00 for the child ticket, what with the extortion money to get the front row. That is $191 for our family. 20% of that is AHEM $38.20. I THINK NOT!!! HH was going to give the kid 10 bucks, but I think he cut it back to 5. Don't get me wrong. We are not cheap in the tipping department when we get good service. I'm sorry the kid had to carry those huge trays of food and parcel them out. I know it is hard work. But he needs to practice or something. It wasn't just one little mistake. And anyway, the entertainment was part of that ticket, not just the dinner.

Which brings us to the entertainment. It was great. They're still ironing out a few bugs early in the season, methinks. The buffalo whisperer missed his arm-up with the rider picking him up. He slipped off the hind end of the horse, and had to run out of the arena instead of ride.

They had a new MC, a woman, who was excellent. There was a new act with a girl lowered from the ceiling on a cable. She was kind of twirled and spun by her beau on a horse, and rode around with him before being twirled back up into the ceiling. Except that something went horribly wrong in the send-off. It looked like she didn't tuck in her leg or arm or something. Instead of going into a tight spiral, she kind of stretched out and spun awkwardly. #1 said, "Did you see that, Mom? She whacked the side of the hole when she went up in the ceiling!" He was impressed.

The pig races and ostrich races and kids-chasing-chickens and comedian and girl-in-a-barrel and barrel-racing and dancing and singing and ring-stabbing and flag-grabbing and trick-rider and dove-realease and all other entertainment was excellent. I can't say the questionable meal service dampened my enjoyment one bit. But I had to complain. It's my nature, by cracky!

Tomorrow, you'll hear about mini-golf, the trip to Arkansas, and the Diamond Crater. I know you can't wait. Even though I reneged on the fondue.


Mike on the right said...

Hope you are having a great time. I hope #2 finds somehting like this-

Take care,

Redneck. Diva. said...

They did the chick swingin' from a rope thing last spring and I found it to be rather dumb. But that's just me. I'd have laughed out loud if I'd have seen her whack herself on the way up. Because I'm evil like that.

No way I'd have tipped that server for turning my corn into BBQ - that ain't right. Early in the season or not...

My mom got all the kids little chickens for Easter lunch, so they'd have their very own. She thought they'd love it. Addison spent the entire meal apologizing to the chicken that her Grammy cooked it. Sam said no way was he eatin' a midget chicken, it just wasn't right. And Kady sat and whined until she got spanked. The other two ate simply because I think they noticed steam rolling out of my ears. What was so infuriating was that they LOVED it at Dixie Stampede!!


Hillbilly Mom said...

Thanks for the link. I told my mom, and she said, "I saw that but was afraid to bring it up. I told your sister...'Well, if she mentions it first, I'll tell her. But I'm not going to start it. They will really be disappointed'." I lead quite the sheltered life.

You would have also enjoyed the 'special' dove who could not find that hole in the box on the ceiling. Doves. They have ONE little job to do their whole lives: fly from one box to another. And this one perches on TOP of the box. They might as well cook him and burn his legs and let him chill in the kitchen until SOME server forgets how many squealing mouths he has to feed and has to take a 10-minute hike to hunt down a couple extra chickeny-looking carcasses to serve to Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's party of four.

At least your kids ate the little chickens without squawking at Dolly's house.