I wanted to get out of Dickinson for a couple of days, but where to go? A friend of mine who is dead now, used to recommend to me that I go to the Prairie Knights Casino south of Mandan. From his accounts and descriptions, I thought that I might like it. On Friday evening I looked at the Prairie Knights Casino website and read the directions on how to get there. I packed a bag so that I could stay for a day or two if I liked it.
It was an eighty mile drive from Dickinson to Mandan on Interstate 94. It was 15 degrees Fahrenheit, and the roads were slightly snowy and icey. Once I got to Mandan, it was supposed to be another 47 miles south on Highway 1806. As I started driving south on Highway 1806, there were signs saying that Highway 1806 was closed at Huff. Huff, where is Huff?
I kept driving south on Highway 1806 because that is the only way I knew to get to Prairie Knights Casino. I went around two more “Road Closed” signs. The road was not that bad, though it was snowy and icey. I didn’t know why it was closed. Even though roads are closed sometimes, they are still open to local people so that they can get to their homes. I had enough fuel to make it all the way to the Prairie Knights Casino and then back to Mandan. The vehicle I was driving had all-time four wheel drive, front and rear differential locks, and new huge tread off-road 31 inch tires. I had an extra jacket, thermal underwear, sleeping bag, air compressor, fix-a-flat, two spare tires, and tow strap. I was not worried about having a problem.
Eventually I got to the problem, only 22 miles north of the Prairie Knights Casino. The National Guard and Highway Patrol were blocking the small bridge over the Cannonball River. I said that I was going to the Prairie Knights Casino, that I didn’t have a map, and that this was the only way I knew how to get there. They said, “Drive back north 20 miles to Road 138A, go to Highway 6 and drive south for 40 miles to get to Highway 24, Highway 24 will lead into Highway 1806.” I said that I had enough fuel to go 80 miles, could I make it on that, they said yes.
(The National Guard and the Highway Patrol were blocking the bridge on Highway 1806 because the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters had set vehicles on fire on this bridge about a month ago, and it was now not known if this bridge was structurally safe. Also, they were using this as an excuse to keep people out of this area.)
The detour was a very bad drive. It was very dark, very desolate, without any signs for the Prairie Knights Casino, and the mileages that I had been given were not correct. I kept getting lower, and lower, and lower on fuel. So low on fuel that there was a 50% chance that I wouldn’t make it, or have a warm vehicle to be in.
I did not know where I was, there were no towns or gas stations, and my fuel gauge was on empty. When Highway 24 ended at Highway 1806, there were still no signs for the Prairie Knights Casino. I made a left turn to go north to Cannonball. I was so low on fuel that I stopped after a few miles, and telephoned the Casino, luckily there was phone coverage, but just barely. I should have turned right onto Highway 1806 and headed south toward Fort Yates. I turned around and headed south. I did not know if there was a gas station anywhere around, but at least I might make it to the Casino and could stay there overnight.
I barely made it, and there was a gas station next to the Casino. I was mad.
Fucking Native Americans! Why can’t they have at least one sign like, “Casino 7 miles” or “To Prairie Knights Casino”. On their website, when I looked at the directions on how to get there, why couldn’t they post a note “Don’t take Highway 1806, it’s closed at the Cannonball River”.
The Casino, Hotel, and the restaurants were all in one very large building. I got a bad feeling about the place as soon as I drove up to the building and saw that the parking area right next to the building had not been de-iced at all. How could you have a Casino and not de-ice your parking lot? I slipped about five times walking to the building.
Just as I was entering the Casino, so was a Bureau of Indian Affairs Police Officer and he acted like I was a suspicious person. The first people that I saw were some unfriendly acting Native Americans who looked rough, and some poor lower class white people at the slot machines. I instantly thought, “Oh noooo, I didn’t know that it was going to be like this.” I kept walking and crossed paths with the same BIA Police Officer again, and he was wondering what my problem was, stalking him.
The whole interior of the the Casino and Hotel smelled of cigarette smoke, because smoking is permitted inside. The Hotel is connected to the Casino, which I did not know, or think about. This is a problem, because throughout the Hotel lobby there are signs that say, “We may ask you to leave the Hotel for loitering, because we have a problem with loitering, it interferes with Hotel staff performing their jobs.” Standing and sitting along every wall of the lobby, were rough mean looking Native Americans and weird poor white people, loitering. The BIA Police were handling several incidents at this time in the Hotel and the Casino. There was a BIA Police Officer about every one hundred feet, and they appeared stressed, and not happy because they were all apparently constantly having to deal with problems.
The mean rough looking Native Americans, the weird poor white people, and the BIA Police Officers everywhere gave me the impression that this was a bad place. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know what my friend had seen in this place that he would have recommended it to me. I couldn’t believe that I had driven about 175 miles to get here.
I went into the nice restaurant, not the buffet restaurant. It was nice, clean, and quiet, with only one table of customers dining. I spoke to the restaurant manager who was a friendly, polite person. I ordered a 14 oz New York Strip steak, which was very good. The waitress was nice. As I was eating, a very strange women who was mostly white also came to eat in the restaurant by herself. I was about 90% sure that she was a prostitute, and I don’t want to describe in detail what she looked like or anything else because I think that she “works” there, and this is probably against Hotel and Casino rules. No, I was not interested in her, but I would bet that from the looks of things in the Casino, she would have lots of customers throughout the day, night, and early morning.
I went looking for the bar, but both of the bars are part of the Casino, there is no separation at all. The Hotel and the Casino, were like a big laundromat, bus station, or county jail, where smoking is allowed and there are slot machines. I left and drove back to Dickinson.
I am amazed at North Dakota. I can’t believe that North Dakota’s premier Casino Resort is exactly like a laundromat, bus station, or county jail. The atmosphere and clientele was the same as what you would find at a large truck stop on an interstate. The whole town of Dickinson is glamorous and upscale compared to the Prairie Knights Casino. They don’t even need to have police standing there in Arby’s, Burger King, McDonalds, and Taco Bell in Dickinson, because Dickinson is so affluent in comparison to the Prairie Knights Casino. North Dakota is pathetic. I didn’t realize that Dickinson is as good as it gets in North Dakota.