I had a good trip--no delays or missed connections. The highlight was getting a shuttle van a minute after exiting the airport with my luggage.
I had a nice chat with the van driver and passengers about Indian gaming in Arizona. The consensus among these average citizens was that casinos are okay on reservations but they shouldn't go off the reservation.
After checking in, I spent three hours taking photos around the hotel, the casino, and a beautiful park in nearby Fountain Hills. This park has little girls feeding ducks, interesting public art, and the former world's tallest fountain (these days it's no better than no. 4). The park is worth a visit if you're passing through Scottsdale.
Some good things about Fort McDowell:
At the casino
Fort McDowell's casino is the oldest one in Arizona, I think. It doesn't look shabby or anything, but it does look old-fashioned. You won't find Tiffany decorations, classy restaurants, or sexy nightclubs here.
But I was shocked to find its buffet is open only 11 am to 8 pm. Hello? Hasn't Fort McDowell heard the theory about providing cheap food so people will stay and gamble. I thought it was practically mandatory to have at least one 24-hour dining spot.
Saving grace: The casino has a diner that's open till 9 pm. I made it with five minutes to spare. This place gives free drinks, which is a huge benefit for me. It serves a large pizza that's really a large pizza: 18", extra cheese, and three toppings for only $9.25.
I thought I was going to starve when I found the buffet closed. But after free Tootsie Rolls, free drinks, and the chicken-fried steak special, I could eat only half my pizza. That means cold pizza for breakfast, lunch, or dinner tomorrow.
Next: The first and only full day of the language summit.