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It's easy to beat the winter doldrums without going far from central New York

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Let's face it, cabin fever can get the best of us.

It got to me last week when the Christmas trimmings were all put away, and we'd said goodbye to the last of our family, and eaten up all the leftovers.

I started fantasizing about things way beyond my abilities: a 45 day cruise to Australia was top on my list.

Doable? Hopefully, one day. But that day will have to wait a bit while I have other obligations to tend.

So what can I do in the here and now without breaking the bank, or shirking my duties on the homefront?

One nice thing about living in central New York is the Turning Stone Casino.

There is always something going on there: you can try playing a few slots while sipping a cranberry juice, or even a beer (yes, they now serve alcohol at the Turning Stone).

You can check in to one of the resort hotel rooms and take advantage of the pool, hot tub, sauna, restaurants and entertainment.

And there is quite a bit of entertainment these days with the opening of Exit 33. Besides Lava, a younger set's dance club, complete with red velvet...everything...you now can enjoy a country atmosphere at the Tin Rooster, eat barbecue, and dance to the tunes of some of today's popular western stars. You might have friends in low places, but that's OK at the Tin Rooster!

Or, step up into a classier Turquoise Tiger where you can sip lovely drinks, lounge on comfortable sofas and chairs, and listen to some jazz piano...stay a little longer and your senses might be somewhat assaulted by a rather bawdy burlesque routine. But it's all in fun.

One of my favorite new restaurants at the Turning Stone is the Upstate Tavern. It's unpretentious, more like a sports bar, but not overbearing. If you don't want to sit near six-foot TV screens to watch some sports game, which I don't, you can choose to be in a quieter spot along the windowed walls that look down on the main thoroughfare of the casino and choose from a hearty menu complete with appetizers like Keller's Killer Fry Bread (a Native American staple) and spinach dip, classic fried oysters, Poutine (potatoes topped with everything but the kitchen sink), or maybe a locally grown, and delicious, salad if you're trying to be good. For a luncheon entree, I like the Shaved Beef on Weck, served au jus for dipping. For dinner, try Utica shrimp riggies, or a classic pot roast. You might even like Clint's Summer Camp Fish Fry, or some good old mac 'n cheese...emphasis on the cheese.

Your favorite drinks are on tap at the Upstate, too. It's a casual atmosphere with decent prices.

If the devil is burning a hole in your pocket, or you just won big at the Who Wants to be a Millionaire slot game, try the TS Steak House, top floor of the Tower, offering Panoramic views of the Mohawk Valley, cigars in the smoking parlor, and some dynamite food and some dynamite prices. But, well worth it for a special occasion.

Or, grab a salad and a hotdog down at the vendor's in the main hallway of the Casino. I've done that, too.

The idea is to get out amongst some people and blow the stink of winter doldrums off of you. Buy a cup of coffee, sit down near one of the water fountains and people watch. You'll never be bored...and you might even appreciate the quiet humdrum of home after the noise, hustle and bustle of the Turning Stone.

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