Friday, October 28, 2005

Sin City II

Alright, so here's the rest of the trip. We went to a place called Kahunaville Friday night, it's in Treasure Island. Ok, but nothing special. They have a mini fountain show in there. Meh.

So, next day we get up and on the way out, I see this little guy in the atrium. Kinda cute:

We decided to check out Mandalay Bay and Luxor to start the day. Along the way, I got this shot of New York, New York:

Mandalay Bay was nice, it will certainly hold the HOW conference next year, but there really wasn't much to take a photo of. I suppose I could have taken a photo of the headless Lenin statue, but it wasn't that big a deal to me. It's HUGE though, takes up a lot more space than the towers would have you believe. We had our lunch at the nearly empty House of Blues. Again, the food was nothing exciting.

Next we went to Luxor, and it just wouldn't be a trip to Vegas without this photo, right?

Oh, I forgot to mention...On the first two days, we spent entirely too much time and money here, but we just couldn't help ourselves:

Now, on to Bellagio.

Here is the famous lobby ceiling:

In the garden behind the lobby there was this cool arrangement with this smoky mist swirling around the base of the plant.

Here's a few wider views of the garden, the leaves are made of glass:

And here's the fountain during the day:

This is outside of Ceasars Palace:

Here is the lobby of the Venetian.

And here is the ceiling above it:

And down the hall away from the lobby:

And, at last, some more interesting photos of the Mirage, where we stayed. The first few are from the Volcano lake in front of the hotel, then one of Siegfried and Roy's tigers.

These photos are from Siegfreid and Roy's Secret Garden. It was Ok, it wasn't much considering the admission price, but it's the way it goes. Getting the dolphin photos was neat, BUT they must let a tiger sleep in the area where you can look at them underwater, it stunk like cat pee to high heaven! Ack! The big cats themselves didn't smell so bad, though one lion did try to pee on us. Fortunately, I wasn't in the line of fire. Phew!

I have a lot of pictures of the big cats, but most have the mesh cage in front, which kind of ruins the photo, but I liked this one, the motion just had a cool effect.

So, somewhere along the way, we made our way back to the Bellagio. I think this was after we saw Zumanity (great show, if you like Cirque Du Soliel, and don't mind nudity and foul language, you'll probably love it, like I did). We took the tram from the Monte Carlo to the Bellagio (not sure we saved any steps as you have to go (say it with me) to the other side of the casino and through the "Avenue of Dreams" to get to it. But, when we arrived at the Bellagio, we came in through the back and came across this chocolate store that we wouldn't have noticed otherwise. Neat stuff. Yes the chocolate is actually dripping from one pan to another until it gets to the bottom.

So, then we go outside to see the fountain at night (much more impressive, though it's great during the day, too), so here are a few obligatory Bellagio fountain night photos:

Here is the Volcano at the Mirage from street level at night:

Our last visit was to the Wynn Hotel. It was really nice, but not as big a deal as I thought it would be given all the hype. One cool thing was the sign out front. The Wynn logo bar moved up and down the height of the sign and was integrated into the message on the board. Really well-designed idea.

Here is a waterfall outside of a cafe. Note the statue of a female in the water, apparently who thinks the waterfall is a god...;-)

So, this part of the strip will have to wait until next time for us. We never made it further north than this. So, from the land of broken dreams and perfect pedicures, see you next time! Happy Trails to you, until we meet again!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sin City

Well, it's been a little while since I posted, but be warned! This one is going to be big and make up for the time.

So, as I've mentioned on the How Forum several times and possibly here, Mrs. Dave and I went to Vegas to celebrate out 10th wedding anniversary. Hard to believe it's been that long, but I'd do another ten standing on my head if I had to, as long as I spend it with her.

So, here it goes...

Thursday, Oct. 20:

Wake up rather bleary-eyed at 4:45 for our 8:15 flight. We had packed all we could the night before, so we just had to get the last few things in. We loaded up and headed out to the airport. About halfway there, it dawned on me I forgot my camera. OH,JEEZ! How could I do that??? I take my camera everywhere. damnitdamnitdamnit. Well, we were too far along to turn back and get it, so I just made peace with the fact that I'd be without it. I'd get some crappy disposable and have to be happy. We got to the airport,checked our bags, and had some time to kill so we grabbed some breakfast. Before we knew it, it was time to go.

The flight out there was merely Ok. We were on a fairly old plane that they were upgrading (and stopped halfway from what we could tell). There was not a lot of leg room from the hip to the knee. My knees were right up to the seat in front of me. The seats were hard and felt like they were tipping ever so slightly forward. But I was with my baby, so I made the best of it. We watched Batman Begins on the way. That was a great movie! I'd like to see it again where I didn't have a jet engine buzzing in my ear, but I could hear well enough to know it was good. Otherwise the trip was uneventful except when I spilled my drink on myself.

We got to Vegas relieved to be able to stand for a while. It was a 5 hour flight, but the elapsed time with zone change was 2 hours and 15 minutes. ie-it was 10:30 am in Vegas. After we got our bags, we went to catch the shuttle to the hotel. I don't think I'm going to do this ever again. We went outside to the ticket booth and it was absolutely jammed. So we waited and got our tickets. Then we waited for the shuttle. We were about third in line for the thing. When the shuttle arrived, the seemingly dozens of people descended on it. There was no order at all, and we got shut out of this shuttle, which really ticked me off because we were among the first in "line", but still didn't get on. Mrs. Dave complained to the busy-guy-walking-around-that-looked-like-he-was-in-charge, and he basically shrugged his shoulders. But I think it had some impact, as he made every get in some sort of organized line for the next one, which we did board...after an hour or so of waiting.

But that's where any real complaints end. We got to the Mirage just fine, and lucked out and our room was ready when we got there (they originally told us it would be 2-3 hours). So we went and unpacked. We paid a little extra to get the "Premium View" room, and it really was. It was a great vantage point on the strip and allowed us to see the volcano erupt easily. More on that in a bit.

So, we decided we ought to head out and collect our tickets to the shows, just to be sure everything was in order. We had to go to the Venetian, which is across the street (still a good hike), Bally's, which didn't look that far away, and New York, New York, which, while it was down the block, didn't look unreachable.


Vegas is BIIIIIIG. It might not seem like it at first, but these hotels are HUGE. And everything you want to see is always on the other side of the casino. We got our Blue Man Group tickets at the Venetian and had a little lunch there. Since I was sans-camera we looked in a store for a digital one. I saw a couple that I liked, but since I hadn't done much research on them, didn't really know what's good and what's not. I knew a couple that i was interested in, but didn't see them at this store. So we kept looking. We then trekked to Ballys for our Jubilee tickets. At this point our feet were already tired. We got those tickets and headed down to New York, New York. On the map, it didn't seem all that far.


Did I mention Las Vegas is BIIIIG? Well, we got there finally and got the tickets. We were just about wiped out. We stopped for ice cream and drinks, but thought we should head back so we would make it in time for that night's show. If it was a long walk down, it was a longer walk back. We changed clothes and I don't remember for sure at the moment, but I think we took a taxi down to the show because we were tired. We got to the show and sat down in pretty decent seats. We were in the first row of regular seats (not at the tables in what would be the orchestra seating in most theatres), just off to the right. At this point, Mrs. Dave and I are in good spirits, but exhausted. It's 10 pm our time (7pm vegas time) and we've walked our butts off the first day.

The Jubilee show was good, classic Vegas cheese. But that's what made it charming. Well, all the boobs didn't hurt either. ;-) I guess what caught me off-guard was how different I felt about seeing these girls' ta-tas. That wasn't the only reason they were there, like in a strip club, so it was a bit odd by comparison. I almost felt guilty enjoying their charms. Some of the costumes were out and out ridiculous, several looked like Christmas balls with boobs. Those were also the ones who looked like it took every ounce of concentration they had to keep their balance. But it was enjoyable, though I felt bad when I dozed off slightly during the juggling act.

After the show, we checked out the Bellagio fountain for a bit, then went to Ceasars Palace to have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. On the way there, we stopped in the Sony Style store and looked at digital cameras there. And there it was, the camera I was looking for. A Cybershot DSC-P200. Too cool. 7.2 megapixels of magic right there. I'd read some good things about this one, and the price wasn't too bad considering the MP. So, for my birthday Mrs. Dave said I could get that and a 1 Gig memory stick. WOOHOO!!!! Happy David! Dinner was good, and when we got back to our room, we were so tired. I had just enough energy to charge the camera, read a little bit about it, then crash.

Friday, October 21

We got up late the next day and took our time getting ready. I played with the camera a bit while waiting for Mrs. Dave and got this photo:

Not bad, but the double pane window caused some reflection that I couldn't avoid, even with the lens right up against the glass.

Since it was kinda late for breakfast, we decided to go straight to lunch at Margaritaville. I really wanted to go there for lunch one of the days, so this was as good as any. On the way out of our hotel, I couldn't help but take a few shots of the atrium in the lobby. It was pretty cool.

This one I took because of the plant in the foreground. There were three or four of these pots with the grass in them, and they were right at eye level, so everyone had to run their fingers through it.

Here's a shot of the check-in desk at the Mirage. That's a gigantic aquarium with some good-size fish and a big ol' Moray Eel, he was creepy!

Now, as I was saying, Margaritaville:

This is as you enter the main dining area. You're going under the volcano and one of the pirate ships to get to this point. I really dig seaplanes, and though this one is fake, it's still pretty cool.

Here's a shot of a table similar to ours. We were also amongst the fishing poles. But the table is at the end of one of the "boats". The chairs don't move back and forth, like a real boat, but you didn't feel like you were sitting close enough to the table. Plus, you were sitting side-by-side with your co-hort and the chair didn't quite rotate far enough that you could look directly at each other without turning your head. Just a little weird, nothing major. I just kept having the urge to scoot my chair in, but couldn't. The food was Ok, I had a crabcake sandwich. Nothing to write home about, but a blog is completely different. ;-)

Here was our view of the volcano. We saw it erupt once, but it wasn't anything spectacular from this perspective. Don't know how it looked on the other side.

But this was cool. The various animals from his songs all together and hanging from the ceiling, just like in nature! ;-)

We bought a few things at the store of course, including an inflatable seaplane, couldn't help myself.

So, with full bellies, we headed out again. Next stop: Paris.

I had been to Paris the last time I was in Vegas, it's a nice place. With the ceilings painted like the sky (they do the same at Cesars and the Venetian, too) it feels kinda like your outside when inside. I'm proud to note that with the next three photos (which I took), I later found virtually the exact same shot in a slick brochure or sign. It's just nice to know I'm developing some sort of photographic eye.

Here are some shots from the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower. The guy on the elevator said that they originally wanted to make the tower even bigger, but since the airport was so close, they had to settle for half the size of the original. Interesting. Imagine if it was full size! The deck is pretty small. You have to squeeze by someone walking the other way if anyone is standing on the side at that point. I wasn't nervous about the height, I was nervous about dropping my new camera out of the tiny holes they make in the fence to poke your camera through. At the time I hadn't realized that my camera came with a wriststrap.

Here's the southern end of the strip. Madalay Bay (with the gold windows) is the last big resort in that direction.

Here's the best unobstructed shot I could get of the Bellagio fountain, it looks like a model in this shot:

And though I have others, here is a shot of the strip north of Paris. Ceasars Palace is in the foreground, the Mirage further up and to the right.

Next we stopped into the Aladdin. There's a big mall in there. It was ok, but just a mall. It has this area where they have a rainstorm every half hour. It was Ok, but not all that impressive given the scale of other things around it.

So then we ended up at the MGM Grand and New York, New York again, so we took the monorail back to the Mirage. We got to the room thinking we had time before our show to change clothes (we really needed to), but I looked at our tickets for Blue Man Group and we got them confused with Zumanity, the show was going to start in 15 minutes!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCKKKKK!!!!! So, we couldn't change, we just hauled butt out of the hotel over to the Venetian. Did I mention earlier that our room was all the way at the end of the hall?


Here's a view from the center looking down the hall to our room at the end on the right. I should have had Mrs. Dave stand in front of our door to give it some better perspective. It might not look like much here, but we were at least 100 yards down the hall, if not more.

But, anyway, we get to the Venetian, to the theatre just in time, and sit down for the show. Here is the only photo I got inside. You have to take a pledge at the beginning of the show not to photograph or record any of it, but this was before the pledge. ;-) It's a photo of a series of statues standing around a tornado tube. Now, on it's own, it's interesting, but not for very long. Well, they get to a part of the show where they talk about how your eyes work, rods and cones, persistence of vision, etc. (if they would have presented it like this in science class, I would have paid more attention!!) and how your brain makes it seem like you are seeing everything as a smooth picture, when you're not. It's the thing that makes animation work as it does. Then, the little statues start spinning around fast, just a blur. Then they turn on a strobe light and in a second or two, it looks not like a bunch of statues spinning around, but like each statue is staying in it's place and dancing to the music! It was one of the coolest damn things I've ever seen. Absolutely mesmerizing. And no, I'm not at liberty to tell you why the people in the shot are covered in plastic and have paper wrapped around their heads!

But the whole show is phenomenal. Worth every single penny. It was funny, it was great music, it was creative, and the big paper party at the end was too much fun! The Blue Men and the band were out in the lobby posing for pictures afterward. It was too crowded for me to get to them, but I was able to get this shot, I have no idea who the woman is.

Ok, I'll end this entry with these, and pick up the last two days next time.

After the BMG show we went to that store and got some BM fun stuff. Then we headed out of the hotel and took a gondola ride. It was pretty cool. Isabella had a beautiful voice and Mrs. Dave and I kissed under the bridge. I don't know if the indoor ride is any longer, but the outdoor one doesn't last long. We thought it went around to somewhere we couldn't see, but nope. Under the bridge once, under the bridge twice and you're done. It was really neat, don't get me wrong, just a lot shorter than I thought it would be. Here's a few photos. One of Isabella and us, then two shots from the square.

This one is a little blurry, but I still liked it. The night scene feature of this camera is outstanding, you just need to be sure it's on a a tripod or surface.

Here's another that shows better how well it works...

Well, that's the first two days...stay tuned!