RiverCat Journal : Boron, CA : Twenty Mules

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Current Venue: Boron, CA
Campground : Arabian RV Oasis

 

I’ve studied a lot of campground reviews over the past decade. In fact, before I became a Thousand Trails and Passport America member www.rvparkreviews.com was my primary resource for choosing my parks. I still check these reviews, but I’m not quite as religious about them as I have been in the past.

This is partly because of my discount memberships, but also because much of my criteria is different. Things I most look for in the reviews are clean showers, sewer hookups, friendly staff, shade, scenery, and location. The things I least care about is level sites, highway noise, super-spacious sites (I have no slide-outs), cable tv, and especially wi-fi. (It’s a given that most campgrounds do NOT have adequate wi-fi so it seems unnecessary to dwell on it constantly).

Arabian RV Oasis is a “no-frills” park.  Unless, of course, you want to get together in the shower house with a good friend and have a public potty party…

toilets

I think it’s a real shame when overnighters refuse to even unhitch and explore their surroundings. Granted, it may only be a one-night pit-stop, but you may be missing something! Please don’t make this mistake in Boron, California.

Downtown Boron is only one block away from Arabian RV Oasis. Much of the Julia Robert’s film Erin Brockovich was filmed there, including the Boron Food Mart, where you can buy slow-roasted tri-tip steaks for only $3. Across the street is wonderful little family-owned diner called the “20-Mule Team Cafe.” Here, you can still buy a grilled cheese for $2. I opted for complimentary chips and a sampler platter for only $8. Every bit of it was delicious, and I still had some left over for breakfast!

Does “20-Mule Team” ring a bell?

 

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The 20-Mule Team Museum chronicles the fascinating history of Boron — one of the few towns I’ve known named after an actual element. It’s also home to the  largest borax mine in the world and, in the early days, 20-mule teams were utilized to transport it across the harsh desert terrain.

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What’s truly interesting is how the animals were selected for different roles. The “leaders” were the two most intelligent mules, the “swing teams” were the least specialized, the “wheelers” were the strongest beasts that held up the rear and acted as the brakes, and the “pointers” helped navigate turns as pictured below…

mule pointers

Of course, these days there are other methods of transporting borax…

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I have to admit I didn’t even expect such a good time when I pulled into my no-frills park in Boron, California. It took 30 seconds to get going in the right direction: I googled “Things to do in Boron.” TripAdvisor did the rest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Bullhead City : Full Circle

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Current Venue: Laughlin, NV
Hotel : Edgewater Casino

 

Before I became an RVer I traveled the country full-time with my girlfriend, living from motel to motel. It was during this time, nearly 15 years ago, that we decided to hang out in Laughlin for a few months. We began our stay at Desert Rancho in Bullhead City and I took a summer job at Riverside Casino.

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Laughlin is about 5 degrees hotter than Las Vegas but my commute to work made this quite tolerable…

Our stay in Laughlin only fueled our RV dreams, every day gazing in wonder at the drycampers in nearly every casino lot in town.

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Just as we began discussing moving into a more modern living situation up the road, our plans got postponed…
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We’d left the door ajar one day as we were bringing in groceries and this little guy was tearing into a loaf of bread! It was clear he hadn’t been around people much. He was so scared after I’d shut the door behind me he was practically bouncing off the walls trying to find his way out. Finally, when he got really frantic, I opened the door to turn him loose. Naturally, I never expected to see him again.

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The next morning I opened the door and there he was! The skin-and-bones Russian Blue waltzed right in like we were best friends all along! We quickly fell in love with this playful and affectionate bundle of energy.  He earned his name one day when he ambushed Michele and she screamed out, “Jeepers!” We decided to feed him for a week before taking him to the local veterinarian/shelter.

Some of my favorite memories of Jeepers was when I’d slide open the bathroom window and call him.

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He would always come sprinting out of his hiding spot like a bolt of lightning and be at our front door in less than 2 seconds!  In fact, I’m not exaggerating when I say he was a blur. We could have named him “The Flash.”

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Well, we couldn’t very well take this cat on the road with us. After we fattened him up a bit we dropped him off at the shelter and then worried ourselves sick over the next few days. Finally, I had to call and check on him. After one week in a cage, the shelter had not even processed him for adoption and said they would probably euthanize him. Stricken with guilt, our fate was sealed.  Especially mine, as I would eventually become a single parent. Jeepers became my best buddy forever. I couldn’t ask for a better friend!

Our travels took us to over 30 states together since we’d left Laughlin. It had been over 10 years since Jeepers had been within 20 miles of his birthplace (although we’d camped several times over the hill in Cal-Nev-Ari). What are the odds then, that we would come full-circle and he’d breathe his last breath here?!  I can tell you twice I’d made an appointment to put him to sleep in Pahrump over the holidays and was even en route to the vet on one occasion –when he insisted it wasn’t time yet…

It wasn’t until mid-January that I happened to bring him to Laughlin for a 2-day dealing job. He got terribly sick again — and I think this time we both knew this was it. He was such a good boy in the end. He made it so easy and I couldn’t have been more proud!

Maybe he just wanted to come home. Maybe it was fate.

Jeepers Forever

As I spread some of Jeepers ashes at his old stomping grounds, I was amazed that everything looked exactly the same as it did those many years ago — the old motel is still in operation and the vacant lots still remain — exactly the same!

I’m also surprised that much is the same with me — and I haven’t been torn apart with grief. Maybe it’s because I’m so busy planning and turning my attention to my own health issues. Perhaps it still hasn’t hit me yet. But I really kind of believe I’m pretty much at peace and that he’s still with me in some way — whether it’s simply his memory or he’s actually keeping me company. All I know is that when I think of him, it’s pretty much all smiles. I think if I could talk to Jeepers in plain English right now we’d agree we had a really good run. Yep…

We did good.

 

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Las Vegas : Ooops! I’m doing it again…

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Current Venue: Las Vegas, NV
Campground: Thousand Trails

 

Ooops! I’m doing it again…

One of my resolutions this year is to do less trip planning and go with the flow. With nearly 3 months at my disposal for my Northwest adventure (March – May), you’d think it wouldn’t be difficult to play the whole thing “by ear.”

So, why then, do I end up planning nearly the entire first month of the journey? I found a poker tournament in Seattle. It quickly became a destination, as I’m determined to participate in it either as a player or a dealer. The festivities begin March 12th — giving me little more than a week to get there.

Add two job inquiries to the mix (special events at a couple casinos in May), the realization Seattle has 20 poker rooms I need to explore, and a couple other “just wanna’s”, and I find myself with a detailed itinerary for 1/3 of the trip already!

  1. Ely, Nevada (casino boondocking)
  2. Jackpot, Nevada (casino boondocking and job inquiry)
  3. Marsing, Idaho (my first real Boise visit)
  4. Pendleton, Oregon (casino boondocking and job inquiry)
  5. Leavenworth, Washington (just because)
  6. Monroe, Washington (2-week poker stop near Seattle)

I suppose that as long as I continue to seek out special events to supplement my income in poker, this kind of thing is just going to happen — planning. And, as much as I’d like to believe I’ll be spontaneous after I pick up a work gig, I know full well if I go to back to Pendleton in May, I’ll probably shoot up to the Spokane area afterwards. If I work Jackpot, I’ll probably make my way 6 hours north to Yellowstone National Park.

 

Life Without Jeepers, Part II

It still hasn’t really sunk in, yet. Life without my beloved special needs pet is going to drastically change my full-time RV lifestyle. So far, I haven’t exactly been more productive. Instead, I’ve rather enjoyed catching up on SLEEP. This, in itself is a lifestyle change. I feel like I’m catching up on years of sleep, as staying in bed until nearly 9 am some days is absolutely unheard of for this RiverCat. Am I really that drained? I think I’m going to allow myself to do this a few more days before I start setting my alarm.

It’s not that I haven’t thought about the advantages of not being a caregiver any longer. I’ve thought quite a bit about it! It’s simply going to take awhile to reprogram, I think. (Is it crazy that I still feel like I’m supposed to be taking care of my baby boy)? I’m going to be easing into a new lifestyle:

  1. No more worrying about rushing home. This is huge.  Longer poker sessions when I’m winning. More double-shifts when I’m dealing at special events. (During the World Series of Poker in the summer there are several major events throughout Vegas that I can literally “drop in” on and be put to work).
  2. Longer day trips and hiking adventures.
  3. Hotel stays. As a player I receive a lot of promotional offers to stay in resorts for free. Now I get to take advantage of them!
  4. Air travel. This will also add to my income substantially! My inability to fly to other venues to work has cost me a vast fortune over the years. This was not only an obstacle as a poker dealer, but it was a major roadblock with most of my potential business ventures (a business I’ll really launch once my debt is paid off this year).
  5. Cruises. Yet another potential income! There are actually about a dozen poker cruises every year. Work, play…I will be on a cruise ship before the end of next year.
  6. More time for productivity at home. Exercise. Developing my business. With a special needs pet I was switching gears constantly. I loved caring for Jeepers, but with 3 feedings, 2-3 medications, and social needs — I was constantly distracted from the things that could better my own health and prosperity.
  7. Less stress during long drives. While Jeepers loved visiting new places, he had a terrible time with the actual drives, particularly up and down hills. He had to be sedated. This was always quite stressful for both of us and   a race against time to get to my destination as his medication wore off. Now I will have more flexibility to make pit stops when and where I want!
  8. Odors and the luxury of leaving doors and windows open. Of course, as cats do, Jeepers destroyed pretty much every screen door or window I ever had. Now I can open the windows again!
  9. Less worry during the heat of the summer. My constant concern during my summer jobs has been a power failure leaving my cat helpless against the murderous Vegas heat. It’s a terrible situation and I’m very grateful this was not his ultimate demise.
  10. More sleep.

 

I’ll always cherish the years I spent with my best buddy ever. I think about him every day. So my new reality doesn’t feel quite “real” yet. I can’t wait til it hits me…

 

 

 

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Laughlin NV : Avi Casino KOA

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Current Venue: Las Vegas, NV
Campground: Laughlin/Avi Casino KOA

 

avi sign

 

Having visited the fabulous Avi Resort with it’s fantastic pool, riverfront beaches, watersports, and bustling activity — I had in my head the RV resort would be much of the same. Welllll…

avi picnic

 

I’ve never seen such a “quiet” KOA. At the park itself, there is really nothing to do except enjoy the cable TV (actually the best cable selection I’ve ever enjoyed).  My row is across from the golf course…

 

avi golf

 

 

And while I was initially disappointed that camp was not on the river and lacked the amenities I’m accustomed to, it’s actually a very short stroll across the street to the resort.

 

avi pool

 

Unfortunately, I’ve only enjoyed the hot tub one time this trip. I have been sick since Day Two in Laughlin.  It turns out the more you travel, the more likely it is “life” is going to happen while you’re on vacation. The tally for this trip: Laid up for the majority, 1 missed day of work, a very sick cat, the heartbreaking decision to finally put Jeepers down, a nasty poker loss, and the financial burden of staying at an overpriced park instead of trying to move down the road to a nice $130 per-week park. It’s been a rough one.

 

avi tiki

 

But whenever I encounter a bump in the road like this, I always find myself focusing on the positive and planning the next visit.  For instance, Avi has two parking lots dedicated to RV dry-camping. Next time, without my little buddy to care for, I can just drop my trailer for a few days and take advantage of some free hotel nights (I had 5 free nights this time that I simply gave to a friend). Assuming I don’t get sick next time, I can also enjoy more pool time and some long walks along the Colorado River.

 

avi tikis

 

I’ve also learned the $25 blackjack tournaments are on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the buffet is half-price on Thursdays, and that there is always plenty to do at the Avi.

 

avi movie

 

Life Without Jeepers

It’s so strange being without Jeepers. I’ve been preparing for his demise for a couple months now so, in a sense, I already had a head-start on the grieving process.  I talked to him, babied him, and shared some very comforting moments leading up to his appointment. And, in return, he was a “big boy” and made my job super-easy — even my last visit with him at the vet.  He was truly perfect. I couldn’t have been more proud.

But what I really wasn’t prepared for was how much my daily routine is going to change! With no more 3-5 times per day feedings and medications, litter changes, messy floors, being woke up,  and constant interaction — I find myself a bit dazed and confused! My life is going to change dramatically. I will eventually be more productive as a result.

And this couldn’t come at a better time. After spending much of the past few months trying to sort out Jeepers health issues, I’ve been neglecting my own health. My vision problems are out of control. I’ve been suffering from fluctuating and blurry vision, severe dry eyes, headaches, and occasional nausea for over a year now. I have multi-focal vision with constant fishbowl and starburst effects from my contacts and glasses. And even though I’ve been told I’m not a candidate for surgery because I had RK many years ago, there has got to be a better way than this! This is something I’ll be researching extensively while I work the next month in Vegas.

It feels so strange. I shove off tomorrow. It will be the first time ever this old rig rolls away without Jeepers next to me. Sad? Yes. Will I miss him? I already do.

But I am also very excited! I’ve created a new lifestyle over the years that I can be completely happy with all by myself. I no longer need deep relationships with girlfriends, friends, and pets to share everything with like I had in the past — my fellow RV pals are enough for me! And now I get to truly try it out, focusing entirely on me. I’m both eager and nervous as I embark on this new adventure…

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell to My Best Friend

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Current Venue: Las Vegas, NV
Campground: Laughlin/Avi Casino KOA

 

Rest Peacefully and Visit Me Often.

 

Jeepers Nest

 

“Jeepers”

2001 – 2017

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RiverCat Journal : Las Vegas : Walking to Work

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Current Venue: Las Vegas, NV
Campground: Main Street Station

It’s been nearly a year since we lost our clubhouse and pool at the Las Vegas Thousand Trails in a windstorm. Being in no hurry to get back to my “home base”, I’ve spent around $600 in campsite fees this last month — more than I’ve spent on lodging in a long, long time. It just felt the right time to splurge a little and, so far, no regrets!

While spending 3 weeks in Pahrump, I discovered a park (Preferred) not far from my hub that I can spend month-long layovers and be productive. And now, while staying 6 nights in downtown Las Vegas, I’m realizing how convenient it is to walk to work!

My commute to The Golden Nugget is only a 5-minute stroll. I’m following this up with a stint in Laughlin where I will also camp next door and walk to work! Other camp-next-to-work possibilities include special events in Jackpot, Nevada and Pendleton, Oregon later this spring.

Things continue to take shape nicely. I’m very eager to see what’s next…

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Pahrump : Preferred RV Resort

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Current Venue : Pahrump, NV
Campground: Preferred RV Resort

 

It was a nice, short drive from the rural Lakeside Casino RV Park to Preferred, right in the heart of town. From here, you can walk across the street to the town’s main casino, Pahrump Nugget, as well as Gold Town Casino. Also in walking distance is Smith’s, McDonalds, SuperPawn, Taco Bell, and much more. Preferred allows you to stay at the 50% Passport America discount for up to two weeks.

 

preferred-campsite

 

I wasn’t sure I’d love this park at first. The smaller back-ins have strange setups. The electric and water is situated way in the back, while the sewer is situated near the front. Even with the sewer hose extension everything was quite a stretch — my electric cord elevated a few inches off the ground. (I may need to buy a second sewer extension next time around). But when it was all said and done I found myself set up in a terrific spot between two lovely trees.

And things kept getting better. Despite the park being less than 100 yards from a “major” intersection, Preferred is surrounded on 3 sides by a quiet country setting. During my first stroll around the resort, I instantly felt at home. This koi pond makes a nice centerpiece…

 

pond

 

I’ve never featured a propane station before. But when you find $2 propane on the West Coast it is newsworthy. Unfortunately, it was discovered this time around that my tanks were expired! I made my way to Shoshone Propane  and discovered one of my valves had to be replaced. After the repair, 2 fills at $3.20 per gallon, and re-certification; my eagerly-anticipated discount gas bill turned into a $100 pop. Oh well — next time.

 

propane

 

The pool is fantastic! Outdoor by summer, indoor by winter, this retractable structure seemingly has it’s own weather system — with condensation falling off the ceiling creating light rain showers from time to time. There are water aerobic classes daily so some of the elderly ladies have a place to gossip, and water volleyball 3 times a week for us serious athletes.

 

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How’s this for an intimate hot tub setting! Another Perfect Ten…

 

hot-tub

 

My recent stay at Lakeside Casino RV Park was a little disappointing. Despite having a beautiful bi-level clubhouse on the lake, I never saw the inside of it in 2 entire weeks. There was not one activity aside from a private rental and it just seems to me that over the Christmas holiday they could have opened the doors and maybe offered the campers cookies and kool-aid. The message is clear: Want to have fun? Join us at the CASINO. It’s a beautiful campground, but in the future I’ll only visit for fair weather outdoor activities.

There isn’t a lack of activity at Preferred. Not only are there card games in the clubhouse every night, but several activities are offered throughout the day. Special breakfasts, dinners, and pool tournaments are among some of the other offerings here. In the TV room it’s not uncommon to see 2-3 different people working on jigsaw puzzles.

 

clubhouse

 

But there’s another facility on campus devoted to activities more related to hobbies: A workout room, sewing room (where the nightly poker games are held), stained glass classes, and a woodworking shop!

 

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In fact, some folks even camp here specifically to enjoy the access to this little operation. I texted a picture of the woodworking shop to a recent full-time-RVer-convert of mine and he swears that when he makes his way up here he will spend every day right here in this room.

Very pleased with this one. I’m currently writing this post on a desktop computer enjoying high-speed internet! In 5 days I’ve gotten more done than in the two previous weeks and I see this being a perfect month-long spot where I can have fun and be productive. In fact, I intend to make this home during my next short work layover…

 

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Snapshots : Pahrump : Lakeside Casino RV Park

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Current Venue : Pahrump, NV
Campground: Lakeside Casino and RV Park

 

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RiverCat Journal : Pahrump Winery : A Vineyard…Campground?

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Current Venue : Pahrump, NV
Campground: Lakeside Casino and RV Park

 

I was aware before making my way to Pahrump that there would be little in the way of public Christmas celebrations or extravagant displays. In a town of over 37,000 people and only 3 stoplights, you get the sense folks really enjoy the quietude of this sprawling little town.

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That said, I found myself utterly amazed standing in line at the post office a few days ago. I watched no fewer than 20 people genuinely greet each other with a “Merry Christmas.” These are some of the friendliest locals I’ve ever encountered, and it’s clear most of them enjoy the holidays.

While I’ve certainly enjoyed the lodge-style setting of the casino at Lakeside Casino, what truly put me in the mood was the Pahrump Winery.

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Here, you can sample 7 different wines at no charge. The staff was very knowledgeable and seemed truly eager to educate.  I tried several of their fruitier concoctions, one with a surprisingly delicious apricot flavor. A truly enjoyable experience!

pahrump-winery-lounge

I’d visiting many vineyards in Napa Valley, but I don’t recall any that had their own campground!

Not only do they offer full hook-up campsites with spectacular views of the Spring Mountains, they also have many cottages for rent, as well! There’s also evidence of a tight-knit community, with many clubhouse activities offered throughout the week. I’ll have more to report when I actually stay here on my next visit to Pahrump but, for now, let me just share a sneak-peek…

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What a concept: A winery with an upscale restaurant and full-blown resort! I really enjoyed my visit here and definitely foresee a 3-or-4-nighter happening in the foreseeable future.

 

 

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RiverCat Journal : Las Vegas : The Magical Forest

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Current Venue: Las Vegas, NV
Campground: Thousand Trails

 

On the Right Track…

Despite a year of disrepair — broken vehicles, broken Jeepers, broken RiverCat — it still seems things are falling into place! I feel I’m on the right track.

I played very little poker this year. I eliminated small buy-in tournaments and focused more on “satellites” into big buy-in Main Event tournaments this fall. On my first try at Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, California, I qualified for a $1600 buy-in Main Event. Recently, I qualified for a $1000 satellite into the $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour event at the Bellagio…

bellagio-chips

I fell short of the Main Event in this one. However, I’m qualifying for these events at a fraction of the actual buy-in — and covering the cost in cash games. I’m going for the big time AND covering my business expenses in “cash” games. I certainly plan to shoot for 4-5 more Main Events in 2017.


Enough Poker, It’s Holiday Season…

Last night I enjoyed a lovely date at The Magical Forest. Who knew there was such a thing as Christmas in the desert?! Fortunately, there is. I also consider myself lucky to share this with someone enjoys the holiday season. You can catch a glimpse of my friend leaping into my Christmas Tree Video…

There was a beautiful full moon this evening. Everyone seemed mesmerized by it.

In an age where folks seem to think laser lights are a replacement for Christmas lights, I was absolutely delighted to find the one tree with good old-fashioned big-bulb Christmas lights. Honestly, where did these ever disappear to? I present to you, the dinosaur of holiday decoration…

big-lights

Our evening began with some friendly competition at mini-golf and a giant slide race — which I managed to win by overpowering my opponent. We then enjoyed the Christmas-themed 3D haunted house and a leisurely stroll. But hands-down, the main attraction in the Magical Forest is the train!

With one of the two trains arriving at the station every 5 minutes, the lines moved quick. Despite the efficiency of the staff getting folks on and off the ride, it moved at a very relaxing pace, allowing us to easily take in all the wonderful colors of the holiday season. We were so enchanted, we rode it 3 times! We maybe could have hopped this empty one at closing time but thought better of it…

The Magical Forest is a production of Opportunity Village, a not-for-profit that provides vocational training for people with severe disabilities.

It sure helped me get in the Christmas Spirit. So much so, I even posed for a rare cameo appearance on my own website. Get a good look at Fat RiverCat…I intend to lose 30 pounds next year!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

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