Enjoy Las Vegas on Next to Nothing – Eat and Drink For Less

Las Vegas is famous for its food specials. There was a time you could get a complete steak dinner for $2. Those days may be gone, but overall, the cost of dining in Las Vegas is still better than in many parts of the country. How long has it been since you’ve really had a blast? Is Las Vegas on your list of fun places to go? Learn what the locals know about having a good time on a budget. Their Staycation just may be your dream! Since there is a major difference between catching a bite to eat and fine dining, or finding a drink and clubbing, we will be looking at these subtitles: Breakfast Lunch and Snacks, All You Can Eat Buffets, Restaurant Dining, Where to Get Cheap Drinks, andNightclubs and Lounges With No Cover Charge.

Eat and Drink For Less

Free Comps are anything but free. The casino management will be glad to give you a meal, pay for your room, or get you some show tickets. All you have to do is win or lose a lot of money. They rate you by how long you gamble, and how much you gamble. You have to sign up for their slot club or their table games club, insert your Player’s Card into the machine or ask to be rated at the tables. Then after four hours you will likely qualify for some kind of Comp. After four hours of gambling, you will also have likely spent more than the Comps were worth!

Just the same, many of the specials require a Player’s Club Card. It’s not required that you use the card, only that you have one. And naturally, every casino has its own club. Fortunately, several of the clubs share an owner, and will honor cards from their affiliates. Club Cards are free, but for those of you who consider the Club Card thing just a little too much of a hassle, I will point out which specials require a card, and which ones don’t.

Locals also tend to frequent their neighborhood casinos rather than the touristy ones; and the neighborhood prices are lower across the board. But when you come to Las Vegas on vacation you’re not expected to spend an hour crossing town to find an obscure place to eat, so this list will focus on places within a mile of The Strip, and on Freemont Street (downtown.) If you were to do an exhaustive internet search you could find many of the same deals listed here, they do all advertise, but this will simplify matters for you. There is no way for me to cover all of the choices, as there are hundreds; and the establishments are not under my control, so they may change their specials; but this is where I’d go for specials on a regular basis. I hope you enjoy the variety and the prices.

Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks

Starting out the day, there are breakfast buffets in most casinos, some pricier than others. The Station Casinos tend to have better breakfast food at lower prices when compared to the big name casinos. Assuming you’d rather save the buffet for later in the day, here are a couple of alternatives that won’t wreck your wallet.

Early Breakfast is also known as the Graveyard Special, and there are quite a few choices for this one. As long as you’re done partying before 6 a.m. here are a few of the best places to catch a bite.

At The Burger Joint inside the Flamingo, between midnight and 6 a.m. they serve a Ribeye steak and eggs for $5.99, or a Burger and fries for $2.00. No matter what time you go, expect a 20 minute wait. They always cook the steak to a medium temperature without asking, and they throw in some hashbrowns and toast. If you go for the burger, the fries are fabulous if you like them steak cut and crispy. (In the center of The Strip by Flamingo Road.)

About a mile off The Strip to the west on Tropicana Avenue, the Orleans serves Steak and eggs with toast and hash browns for $3.99 at the Courtyard Café, between midnight and 6 a.m. Service is a little faster than at The Burger Joint above, and the steak is cheaper – but not a Ribeye. If you’re not in a steak mood, the Courtyard Café is one of the few remaining places to have a lot of graveyard breakfast choices for fabulous prices between $1.99 and $2.99. The Courtyard Café also has Asian and Pacific food on their menu at very reasonable prices.

SPOTLIGHT: Ellis Island Casino & Brewery

Don’t be put off by the outside appearance. This place is almost always busy because it draws both tourists and locals. Also plan to wait for a table, and service can be slow if you want to eat at traditional times. Fortunately, you can get a deal here at any time, 24 hours a day. And like the sign says, this is also a brewery, so you have the opportunity to try one of their several microbrews, or even their own root beer if you prefer. Next to the restaurant you’ll find the bar, which is a local’s favorite for karaoke. Ellis Island is located behind Bally’s on Koval Lane, by Flamingo Road.

For an early traditional breakfast (Two scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy and bacon or sausage,) Ellis Island only charges $1.95 between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. for the special.

Later in the morning, or at night before crashing, you might consider New Yorksteak and eggs for $3.45 at Ellis Island. They serve breakfast between 11 p.m. and 11 a.m.

In the 24 Hour Restaurant, [yes, that is what they actually call it,] you can also get a 10-ounce Steak Dinner for $6.99. The steak comes with green beans, potato, bread, and a Beer. Overall the meal is very tasty and may be the best value meal in town. This special is not always in the menu, but if you ask for it, it is always available.

Inside Tip:Down town every casino has specials on the marquis. These specials are sometimes for specific time frames, and are not always up to date – but usually good deals – so verify the price when ordering!

Lunch timemay require a sandwich special. One of the best deals is the $1.25 Hotdog, at the Gold Coast. It is available between 10 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. at the Sports Book – look for a vender’s cart. Expect a Chicago Style Beef Hotdog with the works. You don’t have to place any bets to take advantage of the Hotdog Vender, and there are usually plenty of seats with monitors everywhere for viewing the races or the games while enjoying your dog. (On Flamingo road, about a mile west of The Strip.)

If you’d rather not leave The Strip, O’sheas Casino in the middle of The Strip between the Imperial Palace and the Flamingo serves a Hot dog with a Beer for $3.00, 24 hours a day. For more information on Q’sheas Casino, read further down under Where to Get Cheap Drinks.

Downtown for lunch with a big appetite, Uncle Joes’s Pizza has one of the better deals. $3 will get you two oversized slices of Pizza and a Soda. Uncle Joe’s is a small authentic NY style pizza house; so expect a traditional crunchy crust, good sauce, plenty of cheese, and laid back friendly but not too fast service. (On Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard.)

Another choice would be to pick up a Hot dog and a Coke for $2.95 in the Fremont Club at the Lanai Express. Lanai Express is known for its reasonably priced Chinese dishes served cafeteria style, so you don’t have to wait for your meal. American food like Hamburgers, Hotdogs, and Shrimp Cocktail will give you more choices than you’d usually find at a Chinese place; so there’s something for everybody, even those who don’t want the Hotdog deal. (The Fremont Club is in the center of the Fremont Street Experience.)

SPOTLIGHT: Mermaids Casino and Lounge

Famous for vintage slots rather than glitz, this place is a funhouse for those who are not looking for quiet, high-end class. The brassy waitresses cater to the drinkers, slot players, drinkers, socializers, drinkers, eaters and drinkers. If you end up spending much time here, the waitresses will even remember what you like to drink; you’ll notice a personal touch. The strings of welcome beads you discover around your neck tend to be financed by the nickel slots, and the treats here are unique. Mermaids is between the Golden Gate and the Golden Nugget on Freemont Street, downtown.

Snacksat Mermaids Casino and Lounge include the 99 cent Fried Twinky. They also have Fried Oreos and a Chocolate Covered Banana on a stick. If that’s too radical, you can also get a Nathan’s hot dog for 99 cents at the Snack Bar.

Snacks in Las Vegas have traditionally included a Shrimp Cocktail Special. I believe that tradition started at the Golden Gate downtown on Fremont Street over forty years ago. Sometime their menu changes faster than their Marquis, so remember to verify the price. Nowadays just about everyone has some form of Shrimp Cocktail Special priced between 99 cents and $2.99, so look around for it, both downtown, and in many of the smaller casinos on The Strip.

All You Can Eat Buffets

If anywhere is famous for their buffets, it’s Las Vegas! Almost every casino has one, so we’ll only focus on a few of my favorites that have personality. There was a day when buffets represented the best deal in town. They are still a great deal for what you get; but with the Las Vegas transition into a family destination, the cost of food has gone up across the board to reflect the lack of gambling by minors.

In general, the lower priced buffets will charge an extra $5 for all you can eat crab legs and shrimp on Seafood Night (usually Friday), whereas the higher priced buffets will serve seafood every night. Another thing to note is that buffets generally charge the same price for Sunday Brunch as for their regular evening Dinner. Most buffets also present an assortment of Asian food in addition to any other international cuisine.

Breakfast buffets will run from $4 to as much as $10 less than the regular Dinner price. And Lunch buffets will usually cost between $3 and $7 less than Dinner. The listed price for the following buffets will be the regular Dinner amount unless noted otherwise.

Garden CourtBuffet

Located at Main Street Station, this international buffet is likely the best choice in the downtown area. The selection of Asian dishes is respectable here. Garden Court Buffet only charges $10.99 on most nights, and a Buy1 Get 1 coupon is usually available online. Their Friday Seafood Buffet runs $5 more, on Thursday they have a Filet Mignon & Scampi Buffet for only $3 more, and a T-Bone Buffet on Tuesday for $3 more. Dinner starts at 4 p.m. and lasts until 10 p.m. This has been one of my favorite places to eat downtown, for years. I also have to remember to save room for the deserts here. (Just one block north of the Fremont Street Experience on Main Street, and connected to the California Hotel by an over-the-street walkway.)

Le Village Buffet

I’m a sucker for French cuisine, and this buffet is probably my very favorite, anywhere in town. At Paris, Le Village Buffet only serves food from the different regions of France; it is not a world buffet. If the $24.99 price is too steep, you might consider going in for late lunch, which is served until 3:30 p.m. By arriving around 3 p.m. and casually enjoying a two hour meal with someone special, you will just be finishing around 5 p.m., and you will only have paid $17.99 a piece for a fabulous meal that would run north of $49 in any other city. Le Village Buffet serves the same selections for lunch as they do for dinner, except for the choices in shellfish, and they don’t close down between Lunch and Dinner. Be sure to find the made-to-order crapes for desert! The line at Le Village is always long, so plan for that too. (On The Strip across from the Bellagio, near Flamingo Road.)

French Market Buffet

If you are looking for more of a bargain, while still in The Strip area, the French Market Buffet is inside the Orleans. Don’t let the name fool you; for $13.99 you can enjoy this multi-national all you can eat treat between 4 and 9 p.m. Lunch is about half the price; but they clear the dining room between meals here, so you can’t stay through into dinner. They also offer Friday Seafood for $5 more, and Wednesday Steak for $2 more. This is another locals hang out, so the lines can get long; but they usually move pretty quickly, except on Senior Tuesdays when the lines seem to grow beyond expectation. (About a mile west of The Strip on Tropicana Avenue.)

Restaurant Dining

Most casinos also offer specials of some sort in their 24 hour cafés. Some specials are always available, and other specials are not on the menu, but are available by specific request! Here are a few of the many specials, starting with the Downtown area.

SPOTLIGHT: The California Hotel

The California Hotel seems like it could be renamed the Hawaiian Hotel, as they specialize in Pacific Island specialties. For example, this is one of the few places to find Spam on a menu. And their best lunch is in a place called Aloha Specialties. For cheap drinks The California offers Heineken and Corona for $2 in all of their casino bars, 24 hours a day. Located at Ogden and Main Street, it is one block north of Fremont St, and behind the Las Vegas Club. The California Hotel is also connected to Main Street Station by an over-the-street walkway.

Located inside the California, Aloha Specialties has an assortment of cash specials available between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Chicken Super Bowl for $2.85 is served over rice with either gravy or teriyaki sauce. You can enjoy a Hamburger with macaroni salad for $2.85, a Chicken Tofu Saimin Noodles or a Loco Moco for $4.75. Loco Moco is a bowl of rice with fried egg and a hamburger patty drenched in gravy. Or a Large Saimin Noodles dish for $5. The Market Street Café offers a Prime Rib Special for $7.95. The Prime Rib is served between 4 and 11 p.m. and comes with soup or salad, potato, vegetable, and a desert! Reservations are recommended at Pasta Pirate which is more than just a pasta house. They are offering what is likely the classiest dinner deal in town! Steak and Lobster Tail with a choice of pasta, potato or rice, plus a saladand a glass of Wine for only $16.

Magnolia’s Veranda

Four Queens is part of the Fremont Street Experience. Inside Four Queens, Magnolia’s Veranda offers a Prime Rib Dinner between 4 p.m. and midnight for $9.95. The special comes with soup or salad, choice of potato, vegetable of the day, and a roll.

Player’s Card holders get a $2 discount on the special. Magnolia’s also runs a Buy 1 Get 1 offer on line as part of the Fremont Street Experience. This 24 hour café is upstairs and overlooks the casino, so if you’d rather more of a restaurant feel, ask to be seated in the back room. (Located between Fitzgerald’s and the Golden Nugget.)

In The Strip area, most of the deals are a few blocks away. This is their bribe to get you off The Strip.

Bougainvillea Café

Bougainvillea Café, at Terrible’s Casino & Hotel offers two specials that are not on the menu; you have to ask your server for them specifically. The Half-Chicken Dinner is $5.99 and the T-bone Steak Dinner is $9.99. You can also find many other selections priced between $4.99 and $6.99. Located upstairs in the Mezzanine level, this 24 hour café has Mexican, Chinese and American selections. The Chinese food is better than you get in most casino buffets, and there is nothing terrible about these values! And for an even better deal, look for their Buy 1 Get 1 offers. Bougainvillea is also famous for their very large portions, so come hungry; you’ll find the food is better than it needs to be for the price. So if you’ve been down on your luck and want some good food for less, this is the spot. (On Paradise Road, about a mile east of The Strip, by Flamingo Road. Only a block away, the Hard Rock Hotel is within walking distance.)

Mr Lucky’s 24/7

The café at the Hard Rock Hotel offers a Gambler’s Special for $7.77 that is not on the menu. This is a Steak with three grilled Shrimp, salad, and a choice of broccoli or potato. The Gambler’s Special is available 24 hours a day, but you do have to remember to ask for it specifically. Mr Lucky’s 24/7 has large comfortable tables, generous portions, good service, reasonably short lines, and a nice selection of beer. (On Paradise Road, about a mile east of The Strip, by Harmon Avenue.)

Where to Get Cheap Drinks

First a little note of caution; the “free drinks” in the casinos for gamblers are not all that free. If you can stay on your budget while alcohol happy, go for it. But the casinos have found that alcohol happy gamblers spend much more than sober ones!

Many of the restaurants in Las Vegas offer Happy Hour Specials; often a two drinks for the price of one type of thing.

On The Strip, O’sheas Casino offers Domestic Draft Brews for $2. I’ve seen Beer Pong played here, and this is the only place I’ve ever seen Casino Backgammon. The crowd tends to be under thirty, and everything here is on the cheap. Try to imagine a Frat House Party with the Sorority Girls in attendance. O’sheas Casino is tucked in between the Imperial Palace and the Flamingo.

Benny’s Bullpen in Binion’s Horseshoe serves Miller Lite, Jack Daniels or Southern Comfort for $2. Next to the Sports Book, Benny’s Bullpen is a more comfortable place to kick back with a few drinks while watching your game. Benny’s Bullpen also runs a $10 Pizza and Pitcher special… best with friends. (Downtown in the middle of the Fremont Street Experience.)

If you prefer cheap mixed drinks, The Plaza serves Well Drinks for $2.50 all the time. The Plaza was once a fabulous new casino, but that was eons ago. Nowadays they tend to attract the cheapskates and low-life’s. To make this work for you just remember to generously tip your waitress and smile; she won’t be expecting it, so you’re likely to get better service than anyone else. If you’re looking for glitz, this is the wrong place; if not, the Sports Book may be the best place to hang out. The Plaza is on the Main Street side of The Fremont Street Experience.

Nightclubs and Lounges With No Cover Charge

Locals have free access almost everywhere, and most of the time. Seeing that sign can really irritate you if you happen to be from out of town. Ladies also get treated special at many of the Las Vegas clubs; on Ladies’ Night the drinks are often free until 11 p.m. – for ladies only.

Although the drinks may not be free for most of us, here are some of the clubs that usually have no cover charge – so you can regulate your expenses according to what you drink while dancing and having a blast.

Caramel Bar & Loungeat the Bellagio is a hybrid high energy dance club and smooth intimate ultra lounge combination. Chocolate oversized leather furniture under warm caramel lighting, accented by a marble topped center island, creates a warm and inviting ambience that delivers both comfort and sophistication. The dance floor is animated by local DJs turning Hip-hop and Top 40 hits. And a light appetizer menu is available between 5 and 9 p.m. to compliment the full service bar. Since proper club attire is required, bling is not out of place here. You’ll find that this is the perfect place to kick back with friends, or spend some intimate time with someone special.

Cleopatra’s Barge Nightclub atCaesar’s Palace has reinvented itself to attract a younger crowd than in the past. Cleopatra’s Barge has a floating dance floor with DJs turning R&B and Classic Rock hits through the night. This Egyptian themed dance club is served by a full bar, with tables scattered across the “dry land” and a few more tables “on deck” that are usually reserved. If you’re looking for a quiet romantic spot, this may not be it; but if you just want to have fun, this is the place for you.

Mist Bar & Loungeat Treasure Island is a fusion of two ideas. On the one hand Mist is very similar to the Caramel Bar & Lounge, just a little darker and bit more intimate. With Persian rugs, dark leather lounge style couches, warm ambient overhead panels, candle lit coffee tables, and potted plants, against dark burgundy walls, Mist is the perfect hotspot to mingle with close friends or unwind with a little romance in mind. DJs spin a tasteful blend of Hip-hop, Rock, and the popular current hits at a volume that allows a comfortable mixture of conversational privacy, intimacy, and people watching. On the other hand, Mist also sports an oversized plasma TV for game night and a few beers with the guys. This is like partying in a larger version of your own truly cool living room!

Level 107 Lounge, (formerly the Romance Lounge,) at the Stratosphere, located on the north end of the fabulous Las Vegas Strip, features the most spectacular views in town. Level 107 Lounge sits on a circular balcony high up in the Stratosphere Tower. Low lights and a deep red décor combined with great cocktails and incredible breathtaking views, make this a great place to unwind or to create a most memorable experience. Level 107 also overlooks the restaurant which makes appetizers available. Live music by Afterglow between 9 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. is a plus on Wednesday through Saturday nights. Afterglow has a unique sound that combines Jazz, Pop, and Contemporary music.

SPOTLIGHT: The Silverton Hotel

The Silverton Hotel is worth a mention here. It is no where near anything on the Las Vegas Strip, but if you just happen to have some extra time on the way in or out of Las Vegas from the Los Angeles direction, or if you simply want to get out of the traffic if your timing allows, there are several deals here. They have no choice but to bribe you since they are so out of the way from Las Vegas proper. Although, they do have easy freeway access at Highway 15 and Blue Diamond Road!

The Silverton Hotel has an aquarium as their major attraction. This is no ordinary aquarium as you can expect to see mermaids in addition to 4,000 tropical fish (including three species of stingray and three species of shark.) The room sized curved acrylic tank is located by the bar, and the mermaids put on a 15 minute show every half hour throughout the afternoon and evenings on Thursday through Sunday. During the day, everyday, you can also watch the sharks and stingrays being fed in the afternoon at 1:30 and 4:30 or in the evening at 7:30 p.m. There are also a few creatively lit small jellyfish aquariums in the bar.

At the bar they serve Miller Genuine Draft for $1, and the show is free. While you’re there, the Sundance Grill serves a sirloin steak, golden fried shrimp, soup or salad, and your choice of baked potato, rice, or fries for only $12.99.

Have a Lot of Fun for Less

With these tips it is possible to eat for under $20 a day, and still get as much as you want.

A few things to remember though: Most of the Las Vegas employees get paid next to nothing, and actually live off of their tips. Typical tips start at $1 to $2. If you happen to be a winner, you might tip a little more; you’ll be surprised at the increased quality of service when you do. So please remember to appreciate the service, especially when it is excellent.

For further savings and to avoid tipping situations, here are a few suggestions:

Avoid Room Service! Room Service always includes additional charges and requires a tip for your server. Most all of the hotels have a 24 hour Café that will cost you much less. Also refer to the deals mentioned above.

Watch Your Beverages! Soft Drink and Bottled Water prices are designed to make up for the food deals in Las Vegas. Beverage prices tend to run $4 and $5 a piece. So if you want water, just ask for a glass of water, (it’s free and it taste good here.) Wine is more affordable by the bottle than for a few glasses. And brewed Coffee or Tea tends to be priced more normally.

The Artistry of the Blacksmith

The Art and Mystery of the Blacksmith

The piercing ring of my father’s sledge hitting the anvil echoes in my mind yet today, 40 years later. Holding the red hot metal with tongs in his powerful hands as he easily flattened, ground, and bent the black iron – shaping it skilfully over and over until it fit the horses hoof perfectly. Smoke rises and the smouldering smell of the burnt hoof makes me cringe. He winks at me to let me know it’s alright – the horse can’t feel a thing. He drops the shoe in a cool bucket of water; three more shoes to go. Blacksmiths; their work spans the ages.

The Artistry

I have visited many historical landmarks and every time I am drawn to the stone and coal forges, fire tools, and metal brandished items on display. Often there are demonstrations by a burly man in a leather apron and I feel right at home.

Traditionally, tradesmen working with iron or black metal, as it was known, were called “blacksmiths” because they would smite and work with different metals. They were held in high esteem because everyone needed something from these custom toolmakers in the 18th and 19th centuries.

One out of ten early settlers were farmers who needed tools to clear and work their land. They often had horses, and cows along with other livestock. A blacksmith made plough shares, sickles, scythes, and metal parts for wagons and carriages, as well as wheel rims, axe heads, hammers, shovels, hoes, and pitch forks. Moreover, horses required shoes to protect their hooves from the rustic rural roads and the freely roaming cattle required cow bells to notify farmers of their where a bouts. Certainly, the American Axe which has remained relatively the same for over 225 years, was the single most significant contribution to tools made by the blacksmith.

Some of the lesser known items blacksmiths forged in their fires were items for women; utensils for preparing and eating meals; forks, knives, spoons, cooking pots and pans, coffee or tea pots, cast iron kettles, lanterns, sewing and other household tools. Trades and Industry workers needed tools as well. Builders needed door hinges, chandeliers, hooks and nails or screws. Vessels in the harbour needed anchors and chains. Woodworkers needed tools like crosscut handsaws, planes, scrapers and chisels1. Additionally, they needed gimlets for making small holes in wood, centre bits and braces to bore large shallow holes quickly. Hunters and warfare soldiers of the 18th century sought out hand forged blades like the Bowie and long hunter knives. Swords of various lengths, metal canteens, tomahawks, and gun parts are other types of contrivance created by skilled blacksmiths. Camp ironwork included tripods, trammels, cauldrons, spatulas, ladles and strainers.

Blacksmiths also maintained their handiwork with a grindstone – sharpening all metal blades; knives, ploughshare, axe, saw, sickle and the scythe.

Main Tools of the Trade

A symbol of the blacksmith is definitely the “anvil”. Without it, there is no craft; yet it is only one of the various tools of the trade. In an article By the Mother Earth News Editors (November/December 1975)2, it mentions various sizes of anvils ranging from tiny to the large 500 lbs models. I can easily imagine the blacksmith seeking out a tree butt to fasten a 200 lb. anvil securely to it. Lighter anvils weren’t as steady, more difficult to fasten and prone to crack under heavy hammer strokes while the larger models were hard on the back.

Instrumental to the blacksmith is the hammer. Customizing hammers to fit their skills and jobs, most blacksmiths had several types of hammers; a heavy sledge, or lighter ball-, cross-, and straight-peen which they forged themselves. Handles were an essential component to the hammer. Usually made from hickory or ash and properly wedged plus fitted to the palm of the blacksmith to make forging seem effortless. Knowing which hammer to use, when and how to utilize its effect, with the least expenditure of energy, was the quintessence of this trade.

Link, belt, hoop, and horseshoe are all types of tongs. Sometimes, a blacksmith will have a large variety of different sizes and shapes made for specific purposes. Known as the fire proof extension of the crafters hands, tongs are extremely personal. They are strong but have been known to slip in a loose grip and send red hot bits of iron flying when a hammer hits hard. Most blacksmiths created a hand held vice by adding a catch at the end of one handle to their tongs preventing it from opening and avoiding possible injury or fires.

Upright Chisel is a tool that fits into the anvil’s very hard, flattened top surface square hole, called the “hardy hole”. This hole is used to hold several tools; including, swages mandrels, fullers and the hardy – its name sake.

Finishing touches to the trade tools punches, files and a water trough. Making holes in metal was made with points of different shapes called punches; files were coarse or fine and used to grate metal deposits creating a smooth surface. To cool down the metal and solidify the finished product a water trough or quench tub was used. It was also handy to have water available to douse the flames if they burned too high.

The Mystery Revealed

An article about 18th Century Blacksmitting states iron made in the North American settlements was called Bog iron – a low grade ore gathered in marshes and ponds. If you got permission from the King, you could set up an iron furnace but you had to own vast amounts of natural resources; wood for charcoal making, limestone outcroppings to flux the ore and a huge ore supply. Therefore, iron was difficult to obtain in the yearly settlement years due to British restrictions.

The article continues to describe the fundamentals of making iron as a trade within itself. When enough ore was gathered the iron furnace fired up with coal and worked twenty-four / seven for two to four weeks. As the iron was smelted from the ore and fluxed with limestone it was tapped. Resembling a sow and her suckling piglets the molten iron ran down into ditches. It was called pig iron. Refined in a foundry-like shop, pig iron was cultured into useable iron metal ready for the maker’s hand – a blacksmith to skilfully shape, contour, strike, pound, and hammer.

The Apprentice

The blacksmith life was a hard one but nothing compared to the blacksmith apprentice. Masters gladly took on an apprentice at no charge for roughly a four or five year period and these boys would learn the secrets of the trade in exchange for clothing, lodging, and food until he became a master himself. Small item nails, screws, bolts and hooks were usually made by an apprentice.

Farriers

During the mid-to-late 1800s, one could find a blacksmith in cities and towns all across Canada. However, with the Great Depression and World War II, the trade was all but wiped out, leaving only Farriers – a specialized subsection of blacksmithing focusing on horseshoes. The rest of the labour formerly done by blacksmiths was swallowed up by factories, leaving little room for the blacksmith of old. Some blacksmiths were trained to shod or fit shoes on horses. These men were called farriers. They worked with horses exclusively; shaping the shoe, rasping, burning and nailing the shoe on the hoof to protect it. Some farriers evolved into taking care of the lame and sick animals thereby becoming the first veterinarians.

The Livery

The majority of settlement communities had a blacksmith shop. Some with very large doors so horses, wagons and farm implements could fit inside but most were small and poorly lit. The shop was usually near the livery stable (barn). Generally ignored by historians, the livery was a vital resource for settlers. Among other things, a livery provided wood and coal for heat, as well as hay and gain for livestock. One of the most important functions of an early settlement livery was to provide vital transportation service; a stable where settlers could hire horses, teams and wagons. If you were lucky enough to own a horse, the livery was the place to board it for a short time when travelling which is why the livery was often attached to a hotel or boarding house.

On the other hand, there were a couple downfalls of a town’s livery. It was common knowledge liveries were, well, lively with socialization. Noise and vermin was a problem and it has been documented that disgusting odours were also generated in and around liveries. Time and again, in many locations, towns attempted to control the locality and activities of their liveries. Unscrupulous behaviours such as gambling or stag shows, and cockfighting were vices enjoyed by some in the livery venue.

Present Day

Today, there are few blacksmiths who pursue the traditional ways of the early blacksmiths which involves forging, welding, riveting, and repairing metal parts for farm machinery. Nevertheless, there has been a true renaissance in artistic Blacksmitting within the last 10 years. Artisan blacksmith businesses in Southern Ontario specialize in custom hand-forged iron products, custom metal fabrications, and welding services for the home, garden or a business. Some offer demonstrations at special events like at enactments or small town heritage festivals. The Artist-Blacksmiths’ Association of North America (ABANA) now claims nearly 5,000 members, double the number it had 10 years ago.

Sparta Ontario has one of the oldest blacksmith shops, built in 1827; the cob (clay and straw) building is now the Forge and Anvil Museum. This historic blacksmith shop has wall 9 inch thick clay walls and stores many artifacts that reflect the history of the Sparta Area including Port Stanley which has, among others, a livery in the heart of the town.

California’s Last Dry Town

The coastal town was proud of its prohibition against alcohol. The town was origi-nally founded as a religious retreat for Methodists wanting to become closer to God by living and worshiping in the beautiful forest that He had created.

At the Howard Street Methodist Episcopal Church in San Francisco on June 1, 1875, a group of people held the first meeting of the Pacific Grove Retreat Association.

Among the major concerns of the group was the sale of intoxicants. The blue laws, often referred to as the “Rules by the Founding Fathers,” dealt with some rather diverse subjects.

They included things such as the behavior that would be allowed on the grounds, the delivery of baggage on Sundays, staying out past 10:30 p.m., smoking on platforms or near public buildings, cursing, and walking around clad only in a bathing suit.

The provisions concerning alcohol were particularly strict.

Even those buying property had to agree to a provision in the lease that prohibited the sale of liquor on the property. This clause also prohibited gambling on such property.

The town became known as the “Chautauqua-by-the-Sea”, a community of culture and learning. The first camp meeting of the Pacific Coast branch of the Chautauqua Lit-erary and Scientific Circle was held in 1879.

The event was fashioned after the Methodist Sunday school teachers’ training camp established in 1874 at Lake Chautauqua, N.Y. Pacific Grove built Chautauqua Hall in 1881, which became known as the Old Chapel or Assembly Hall.

Speakers were said to come from all over the world to lecture at what had become a well-known cultural center in the west. At the end of each season, the town held its “Feast of Lanterns”, which signified the closing of each Chautauqua until the next sum-mer.

In November 1879, after the summer campers returned home, Robert Louis Steven-son wandered into the deserted campgrounds: “I have never been in any place so dream-like. Indeed, it was not so much like a deserted town as like a scene upon the stage by daylight, and with no one on the boards.”

It wasn’t until 1927 that Pacific Grove Retreat decided to become a legitimate town.

Residents of Pacific Grove soon learned that the city’s strict control over the sale of alcohol was hurting them economically.

Tourists were welcome visitors to the Monterey Bay area, and their dollars were im-portant, even to Pacific Grove.

But many of the tourists, not able to relax with a glass of wine at dinner, simply drove to neighboring towns outside the dry area, such as Monterey, Watsonville or Santa Cruz for dinner.

Soon, the tourists began staying at hotels in towns that allowed the sale of alcohol, al-leviating the necessity of driving back to Pacific Grove after dinner.

It didn’t take Pacific Grove’s city fathers long to realize they were losing money to surrounding communities because of the ban on alcohol. Residents began holding meet-ings to discuss the need to legalize alcohol.

Strong campaigns emerged to abolish the “no alcohol” law. Merchants felt they were at a great disadvantage with their neighboring communities, especially Monterey, which was their main competitor.

The Monterey Herald reported, “There are no bars, liquor stores, nor cocktail lounges in Pacific Grove and there may never be any. The original deed restrictions provided for a town whose lips would never touch liquor.”

Leading the fray to keep Pacific Grove dry was Mrs. Elmarie Dyke, who moved to Pacific Grove with her family in 1909.

Mrs. Dyke had graduated from Pacific Grove high school, and later became a school-teacher in the city’s schools. She also reinstated and produced the Feast of Lanterns from 1963 until 1980.

Her strong determination was not enough to keep alcohol out of Pacific Grove.

Pacific Grove Mayor Bob Quinn noted at one meeting that Pacific Grove residents didn’t drink any less than their neighbors. There were just as many liquor bottles in the trash in Pacific Grove, but the people just could not buy it there.

Finally, in 1968, the City of Pacific Grove decided to vote on the issue of whether the laws barring alcohol should be repealed. The measure passed easily on a vote of 3383 to 2269.

Even today the consumption of alcohol in public places in Pacific Grove is restricted to sit-down restaurants where food is served.

Liquor can be purchased, however, at a limited number of closely monitored package stores.

The SP Bookmaker

The term SP Bookmaker means Starting Price Bookmaker which generally refers to receiving bets at fixed odds or starting price.

This type of gambling was legal in Australia only for licensed bookmakers working on course meaning at the racetrack. In the 1930’s with the radio and telephone in full swing the races could be heard without going to the track. Lots of people liked to have a punt on the horse racing but often could not go to the track to put on the bets.

The Melbourne Cup was well known by the Australian punters and everyone wanted to have a small bet.

This being the case it made it very difficult for most people to put a bet on if they could not get to the track.

The Illegal SP Bookmaker, it could be anybody. It could be a small timer operator run by a single person taking minimal wagers from one or two friends including neighbours, family members, workmates etc.

Runners as they were known who would go around the neighbourhood collecting wagers from clients in their own houses, at the local hotel, in back streets and so on. Cockies short for Cockatoos who would be placed in positions of high points and other keen viewing advantages to warn Runners and Bookmakers of approaching law authorities.

Then there was the large scale telephone based SP Bookmaking ring involving people answering phones all day long taking thousands of bets worth thousands and thousands of dollars just in one day.

Of course this was all illegal but the authorities were slow to act and did not realise the magnitude of money being generated by this activity in the racing industry. In fact police often turned a blind eye to this as it seemed harmless and was in fact the SP Bookmaker supplying a service to the public.

Eventually the Government finally caught onto it and realised something lucrative was happening in this part of the racing industry. They also realised that it was not generating any taxes and therefore a Royal Commission was launched in 1959.

In 1961 due to the Royal Commission an Off Course Totalisator Agency Board was introduced.

This now resulted in some of the money that was being wagered on racing bets being returned to the racing industry. Punters could now place bets without fear of the law.

As time went on TAB Agencies were showing up everywhere, Hotels, Clubs, shopping centres and so on.

The racecourse Bookmaker still had short comings. In Australia legalised Bookmakers were unable to operate off course shops similar to other countries around the world. So the majority of bookmakers were only allowed to take bets from people at the track up until the 1990’s.

The death of the SP Bookmaker and the final nail in their coffin is near.

Corporate bookmakers were then able to offer another alternative to the punter thanks to new legislation. The Northern Territory Government could now issue Licences offering phone and online gambling to the Bookmakers. Online Bookmakers are now legal and bets can be placed with them from customers in Australia and overseas on all Australian racing and sporting events by almost any means.

With all this new legislation and control by the Governments of Australia the SP Bookmaker slowly died out. They are no more.

To place a bet now, you can use your mobile phone to ring your local legal Bookmaker at the track or at his office, have a credit account with them if you wish. You can place a bet on via the internet with one of many online bookmakers, go to the local pub and use the TAB, place a bet using your TV remote control handset while watching the race or even do something different, go to the racecourse and have a bet with an oncourse bookmaker.

Who will be next to die, not the oncourse Bookmaker I hope.

Mind-Body Wellness – What Does Spirit Have to Do With It?

For some of us, attaining mind-body wellness appears to be a daunting task. Some of us are so accustomed to seeking and finding our favorite ways to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Depending upon our prior experiences and personal preferences, we may turn to a specific familiar and comfortable activity to avoid self-reflecting and facing our own internal, and sometimes painful, emotions. We may choose an obvious addictive-type activity, such as abusing chemical substances, pharmaceuticals and recreational drugs, compulsive sexual behaviors, workaholism, or gambling or we may chooses a less obvious avoidance activity such as excessive exercise, uncontrollable shopping, or even emotional outbursts and excessive talking.

Our internal and external energy fields are affected by the people and environments we gravitate toward. Our physical vibration actually synchronizes with others. It is common knowledge that two young ladies who spend a lot of time together tend to develop synchronous menstrual cycles. However, most of us do not realize that all of our organ systems and brain patterns also synchronize with those around us.

Studies are finding that overweight people who spend time with overweight people or happy people who spend time with other happy people, tend to sustain their current weight, current attitudes, and current demeanor. However, if an overweight person is surrounded by thin, health conscious friends and colleagues, that person may begin to synchronize and more easilyn make choices that help him or her to lose weight. A happy person surrounded by depressed and negative people may gradually lose his or her positive outlook and happy smile.

How can a person begin to alter a lifestyle that is not leading to mind-body wellness?

First step is always AWARENESS

Pay attention and tell yourself the truth about where you are currently on the mind-body wellness continuum.

Second step is to OBSERVE your thoughts and actions.

Acknowledge how these affect your choices and behaviors that alter your mind-body wellness.

Third step is to FEEL your energy level.

Consciously notice whether you have a high, medium, low or hyperactive level of energy and determine what factors may be related to your current energy level.

Fourth step is to TUNE INTO your emotions.

Determine whether your emotions are balanced and within your conscious control or if they are either excessively controlled or unpredictable and out of your conscious control.

Fifth step is to REALIZE AND DEFINE your passion.

If your passion and joy is elicited by negative, self-defeating, harmful or even illegal activities, you need to dig deep inside your mind, body and spirit to discover the core truth about your passion that has somehow been repressed.

Sixth step is to RECREATE your passion.

Seek and find that high level of focus, intensity, animation and pleasure that you have either completely suppressed or have placed into an unproductive pursuit.

Seventh step is to ACCESS your own inner being.

Find a way to access your inner spirit, your soul, the wise one within you,

Through some form of focused internal activity that leads to personal relaxation, contemplation, meditation, and spiritual connection.

Eighth step is to find a systematic way to RE-TRAIN your own mind.

Scientists have discovered the brain’s neuroplasticity, it’s ability to adapt and change and create new pathways, brain patterns and brain maps throughout life.

Finally, as you begin to regain your own mind-body wellness, you are able to grasp the concept that everyone and everything is energetically connected. You begin to understand that we are all spiritual beings claiming our own birthright to the enjoyment of the wonders of creation.

When your own mind and body are finally in balance, you naturally connect to a place of depth within your own self, a place of spiritual alignment. Life becomes easier, less of a struggle, less of sense of fighting upstream. Life becomes less of an effort to “do” something and more and more of a willingness to “allow” life to unfold gracefully.

What does it take to create such a high level of mind-body wellness? All it takes is a sincere desire and taking daily small steps, one day at a time, one situation at a time, one moment at a time, even one thought at a time. The road to mind-body wellness is a very simple, straight and narrow path. It is available to all who seek it.

Are you ready and willing to create your own mind-body wellness now?