11 November 2007

Viva Las Vegas!

We just returned from Vegas Baby! I really wasn't that interested in going but after staying behind three years running, I decided to go. I LOVED IT. I sooo want to go back and I wasn't ready to come home! We didn’t get to see quite everything that I wanted to see but we experienced lots. I figured I would break it down by day:


We were in Vegas at noon. Glorious sun and heat! We left rain and cold in Seattle, of course. We picked up the rental car and headed down the Strip to our hotel, which is at the opposite end of the Strip. This was great because we got to see everything right away. It’s not as garish in the daylight but it’s not as enchanting as well. Some of the hotels are just as beautiful in the daylight: The Venetian, the Bellagio, Paris, and New York New York. We stayed at the Stratosphere, which is Space Needle-like.

We drove the entire Strip, checked in and took a nap. Then we went to the top of the Stratosphere to see Las Vegas. It is impressive during the day as it is at night. During the day, you really realize how far up you are. During the night, the lights are amazing! I would have never guessed that Vegas was that large of a city.

There are rides on top of the tower that are mind boggling. I didn’t do any of them. In fact, I was scared just WATCHING them. They were definitely in the “No Fucking Way” category.
Here is a link and you can click on the right side to see the rides. Be sure to click on “See Image” to see an actual picture of the ride. TERRIFYING.

Then we took a cab down to the Mandalay Bay, which ist the other end of the Strip. (this is important to remember)

This hotel has a Shark Reef Aquarium. It is amazing. The sharks literally swim right past your nose. You can walk underneath their tank and see them swim above you. AMAZING.

Then we went to the Harley Davidson Café, not necessarily because it was on our list of things to do but because it was close and we were hugnry. Lots of comfort food, but expensive.
See virtual tour here: http://www.harley-davidsoncafe.com/

After dinner, we decide to walk a bit to see the town. We walked up one side of the Strip, looked at everything as we went. Las Vegas has overhead walkways so that you don’t have to risk your life crossing the street. These also allow you to see more. Pretty darn cool. We didn’t go into any of the casinos or hotels but did walk through their entrances if they caught our eye.
Well, it turns out we walked the entire Strip. Just under FIVE MILES. I know!
Remarkably, it didn’t feel like five miles. I think it’s because everything is so interesting to look at and everything is so energized.

Once we got back to the motel, we crashed. We did have friends there but their flight was late, go figure.

We had breakfast with our friends in the casino buffet. I am not a big fan of buffets, one would think I would be but nope. I want someone to bring me my food. Also, I don’t eat lots so it’s a waste most of the time. We couldn’t coordinate going on the Hoover Dam tour so we decided to drive out to Red Rocks Canyon instead. The drive allowed us to see more of Las Vegas, more of the desert and time to just chill. Our friends were in the other SUV and we followed them, not without getting lost of course.

We went back to the hotel because we had tickets to see a show at the Excalibur Hotel, Tournament of Kings. It was a jousting competition and Medieval dinner. I wanted to copy and paste the picture, because it was the Prince we cheered for. (you are assigned a country to cheer for) but I couldn’t.
They give you ceramic steins to keep and you have to use them to cheer when prompted. Here is the link to the page. It’s nothing at all but at least you get to see our prince! http://www.excalibur.com/entertainment/tournament_of_kings.aspx

After dinner, we went down to Fremont, which is old Vegas. It’s AMAZING. They have the old neon signs up and lots of kiosks and stores. There is also a laser show that runs every hour on the hour. This was more family friendly and also seemed to be more for the locals. We saw much more humanity here, always entertaining.

After this show, we went to Margaritaville. It’s just a bar but they have these margarita pump pots that they set on your table. 2 liters of margaritas. There was also a live band. This experience showed us just how old we are. (:-D

Saturday was Boys Day. We went to the Las Vegas Motorspeedway to watch our friends race. This is where MG was a crew chief last year. He’s so glad that he wasn’t one this year. Our friends did really well!
I only lasted half the day because I was too tired. I took the rental back to the hotel and T and I went upstairs in the Strat (as the locals call it…haha) to shop. I tell you, they slap the words “Las Vegas” on everything! I didn’t buy much of anything, other than postcards of course! Then I returned to the room to take a rest.

One of the most interesting things about Las Vegas was that the hotel had a tourism channel, which played nothing but A&E, Discovery, and History Channel documentaries about Las Vegas! It was Very Interesting! The history of Vegas, etc. I loved it!

The Mad Genius came “home” late and we ate downstairs at “Roxy’s” which was a 50’s café, featuring singing waiters! There was a woman (customer) in her late sixties, singing and chasing the waiter as he sung. They ended up dancing on the table! Then the deejay played the Chicken Dance for two little girls and the waiters danced with them. It was too cute! He also played Johnny Horton “North to Alaska”, he wore a beat up hat and held a pony stick. Too funny. Here is the link: http://www.stratospherehotel.com/roxys_diner.html

Sunday I slept in while the Mad Genius went to the buffet and then off to the races we went. T stayed at the hotel. I promised to come back in the afternoon and take her to the Venetian to see the canal. As luck would have it, all of our friends did really well. I stayed until just the start of the semi-finals and then left.
I drove down to the Venetian. Getting around Vegas was easy and our rental was nice. (A Suzuki SUV)

The Venetian was AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL! As luck would have it, I didn’t take my camera, *head slap* The gondoliers are opera singers! Beautiful! Also, there are human statues to see.

It is a high-end hotel with shops all through. Designer stores and galleries. Some of the stuff we saw was incredible. Glass work for thousands of dollars! http://www.venetianhotel.com/TOUR.aspx# Definitely take the “tour”.

I went into one gallery because it had Snoopy paintings …

They were HUGE. This one was probably six foot by four foot. Bright colors, and I’m not sure the medium. They look almost like tempera paint and deflated balloons. It sounds garish, but they were cool. The salesperson approached us and said the above picture’s last bid was $2400. The person that does these creations is reportedly Charles Schulze’s best friend and he painted these during Charles’ final days, with Charles permission. It was a touching story, I hope it is true and not a sales technique.
The website is www.s2art.com I haven’t gone there yet so I have no idea what I’m sending you to.

I drove the Strip after we left the Venetian. We got to see and listen to part of Bellagio’s water fountains, Elvis music of course.
Here is the link to see the fountains… http://www.bellagio.com/amenities/fountains-of-bellagio.aspx

That night we went to Treasure Islands Pirate Show. It was very porn-y. There is a ship with siren maidens (I think they called them) Witch whores, essentially. They capture a sailor from another ship and the ship tries to retrieve him. They have a battle and the man ship sinks. It’s very over-done and the women are dressed like strippers. But the effects were cool. Here is the link…
http://www.treasureisland.com/ The Sirens of TI are pictured and you can watch a video of it.

Monday was a long day. We went on the Hoover Dam tour, which took allllllllllllllllllllllllllll day. We stood at the top of the dam and looked down…it’s really far. (:-D http://www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam/gallery/damviews.html

It took an hour to get there, then we spent two hours there, and then we had lunch at a buffet (my fave!) at a casino called Sam’s Town. It has a huge atrium with a fountain in the center with animatronic animals, which certainly needed refurbishing. Here is the virtual tour…http://www.samstownlv.com/vr_tours/index.cfm You want to see “Mystic Falls”.

We also stopped at Ethyl M’s Chocolates, which is M&M’s top shelf chocolates. Yum!

We returned to the hotel, took a nap, packed and were at the airport a little before 7 pm. Our flight was at 9:32 pm and was delayed 20 minutes. MG & I slept on the plane and again in the van. (his parents picked us up at SeaTac)

I really want to watch the movie Fools Rush In with Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry again. I think I’m going to this weekend. I even saw it on a poster at the Hoover Dam.

I loved the weather. It was 80 degrees but felt more low 70’s, which is perfect. My weather e-friend Scott said that it would be that way. I’m relieved, I was worried it would be HOT and I would be miserable. But I felt so good in that climate!!!

Okay. Now you’ve completed the tour of my vacation. We had so much fun! I really want to go again, I really wasn’t ready to come home yet.

I really really want to go again. I reccomend it even to people that don't gamble...we don't at all. There is too much to do!

We didnt' get to see the lions at the MGM Grand (a horribly ugly building)
Or ride the roller coaster at New York New York and the NASCAR Cafe.
Or do the NASCAR Experience at Las Vegas Motorspeedway.
I want to see the Las Vegas Sign Graveyard where they store the old casino signs.
We traveled through Boulder City, which looks like a cool town to walk through. It's on my list of things to go back and look.
We also need to take at least one full day to drive/fly to the Grand Canyon. I've decided that I want to try to do the Skywalk.

And would you believe that we didn't see one single Elvis while we were there?! I feel robbed! It was on my list of things to do!

We also momentarily considered getting remarried at the the Little White Chapel, just for fun.

When I figure out how to post pictures, I wll do so. This post was so much more cool with the pictures.

Happy Freaking Thanksgiving

I am Chandler Bing. If you don’t know who Chandler Bing is then stop reading, as we can’t be friends anymore.

I don’t like Thanksgiving. It’s not my favorite holiday, at all. It’s not even in the running. No consideration whatsoever. I have no thanks for Thanksgiving.

We “celebrate” (the quotation marks are for sarcastic measure and will be a theme) Thanksgiving twice. Once in the early afternoon and once in the late afternoon. Yes, I am aware that the math doesn’t make sense in that sentence. Welcome to my life.

The first “celebration” is with the in-laws. This, one would think, would be easy as they all live here. Well, except that we all gather in one house with not nearly enough seating and it is approximately 5000 degrees in said house.

Every once in awhile to add to the fun, my m-i-l will invite random aunts or cousins.
Also, add in that the sister-in-law invites her sister and brother, both of which are probably featured in at least one episode of COPS. So, not only do we “celebrate” twice, we “celebrate” with people we don’t like and would never associate with. Yea, yea for us.

Oh, have I mentioned not enough seating? Yeah. This is a problem. My nephew-in-law ALWAYS stretches out in one of the recliners and falls asleep. While I admire the coping technique of sleeping through the holiday, get your 25-year-old ass (I mean this literally and figuratively) out of the chair and let one of the adults sit down. (And I am talking about my father-in-law, not myself. I sit at the kitchen table and read the paper or play Solitaire with actual cards.)

Then as if that’s not enough, let’s mention the loser nephew: The Jon Lovitz perpetual liar of the family. He stretches out in the middle of the floor and sleeps. This, I find immensely rude and irritating, and I must admit I laugh with sadistic glee when my grand-nephew either jumps on him or shrieks a sound only four-year-olds can emit.
Although, conversely, if he’s sleeping, we don’t have to listen to his bullshit stories of how he is a semi-pro football player or is going to fight in a MMA fight.

Dinner is always late, there is always way too much food, and the cook is always grouchy. ALWAYS. Without fail. We even attempted using two stoves to alleviate the hassle and it still didn’t help. The Mad Genius and I have offered to have dinner at our house, with two caveats: we order dinner and the COPS regulars aren’t invited. So far, we’ve been turned down. “Because it’s *FAMILY*” Um, no, it’s not MY family. It’s not even my in-laws; it’s not my pretend family. It’s not, it’s not, IT’S NOT! *foot stomp*

Our forks barely touch our plates as we finish and we are in the car to drive 45 minutes to my parent’s house. Here is the exact opposite of the first “celebration”. It’s quiet, the house is cool, the cook (my mom & brother) is happy and there is enough seating.

What’s the problem here? Well, there’s the fact that my younger brother is always late and my mother insists on waiting for him. (Because this holiday seems to be a surprise to him every single year) We always get to watch fascinating television like CURLING. (I’m not kidding, people)

But the Piece de Résistance is the “Who’s Going to Take the Lord’s Name in Vain Game?” We play this on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. I am still not kidding.
Usually, we can count on my Dad to win this game. It became such a shoo-in, we added on a time limit: within fifteen minutes of arrival, or thirty?
My eldest brother caught us laughing one year and wanted in on the joke. We told him, so now he gets to play along too.

Another fun part of that game is every once in awhile; my nieces will chime in with a singsong “Language!” warning after the offending utterance has occurred.

We usually eat buffet style, which is genius of my mother. So much easier! And no one usually notices how little the Mad Genius and I don’t eat.

Then we drive back 45 minutes about 9:00 at night to our own house. We usually try to sneak past the house so that our phone doesn’t ring with the inquiry “Do you want pie?” as soon as we step foot inside. No, we don’t want pie. We want Prozac. We want bed. We want you people to go away.

So, now you know why I don’t like Thanksgiving. And, hopefully, you can now go celebrate with your family and think, “Thank God I only have to celebrate with my family!” Because I know, my families make most families look like the Cleavers.
You’re welcome. Enjoy.