This is the Last of Las Vegas

Ok so where I left off earlier this morning, I’ve got the last 40 hours left in Vegas on my pat malone so it’s a quiet nite in and up after a little sleep in the next day.  Still with my 24hr bus pass I figure I can get from the Luxor all the way up to Freemont Street (Old Vegas) within the time left on my pass.  So it turns out that I didn’t have enough time left to get me up to the other end of Vegas.  And when the transport officer (I figured that’s what he was) got on the bus I started to stress out.  “It was valid when I got on and I lost track of time” was what I was prepared to say to him…. Here I was thinking I was going to be repremanded by a transport officer, and I was going to get off at the stop that he got on at.  Turns out I was stressing for one stop for no reason (it was a long time between stops), so my actual stop was only another 2 away so I got away with that one.  I guess there’s worse things I could do hey!

Now I’m up on “Freemont Street” which is where the Strip started for Vegas “Old Vegas”.  It was very retro and still had all its lights flashing on all of the old casinos.  The biggest plus to this place was that it wasn’t over run with huge crowds.  Nice for a change.  So I made my from the middle over to the west end, then doubled back and across to the far east end, until it all got a little dodgy so I turned back around and headed back to the bus stop.  I was there for about 45 minutes at this stage when I came acrosss a small crowd of people gathered around a guy doing a street gig.  Turns out he makes art work with spray paint cans.  He was absolutely amazing, so very talented and I almost walked away with a painting myself.  I’ll post photos of one of the paintings I watched him do from scratch.  Ended up watching him for the same amount of time I had already been on the street for.  Some people are ooozing talent, thi guy was one of them!!!

So next I’m back on the bus (this time with a new 24hr pass).  I head down a few more stops and get off at the “Stratosphere”.  The big tower that looks like Seattle Space Centre.  Of course I’m going to go up (Dad, did you put on your brave pants and go up???), so after I tried to go up the escalator apparently for VIP’s!, I was quickly ushered along and told how the general plebs get up to the tower.  A rather long wait to get into the lift to get up (of course) but for the poor young girl who fainted in her Dad’s arms due to the lack of air con in the place, the wait was a bit too much.  I thought it best that I don’t buy the ticket that includes all 5 rides that you can go on when you’re up the top of the tower (Lise, you could agree with that).  But it was fun to watch everyone else go through all the pain, nervousness and screaming while I sat on the sidelines and take photos of their freaked out faces!!  It was getting later in the afternoon so no wonder I was starting to feel a little hungry.  At the top of the tower was a make your own sandwich bar so that was a nice change to all the other burger and chips (sorry “crisps”) offerings on most of the menus.  Although I’ve been pretty good on the food front.  So anyway, roast beef base on a white rolls was what I was given, then the rest of the salad and sauce bar was at my mercy.  Yu-um!!!!  Of course it came with a super size Coke so that was the compromise.

This bus idea is much better than trying to do this walking game all the way back down to my hotel, and they’re air conditioned! Plus you get to do the tour of the strip again and sit back, relax and people watch.  So I’m back down to the Mandalay Bay which is next to the Luxor, where the bus lets me off.  Then I remember that the Aquarium is at the Mandalay.  After a wild goose chase of what seemed to be around the entire circle of the hotel, I finally find the entrance to the exibit.  A lot like Underwater World, but not as good.  But still got to test out my camera some more and play with the motion and dark lighting pics.

By the time I actually get back to my room after another full day of sight seeing and crossing more “to do’s” off the list, I realise that it’s almost time to get ready for the Criss Angel show on later tonight.  This is supposed to be the best show on the strip, we’ll see….  My seat is great!!! And half way through the show when he comes up into the crowd, he walks straight our isle shaking peoples hands (more like low 5’s for everyone on the isles), and yes, I did get to touch his hand and say hello.  That was about the most excitement in the whole show.  Don’t get me wrong, his tricks are “OMG how did he do that…..” but there wasn’t anything mind blowing or insanely crazy.  Maybe it just wasn’t for me, but his support act before the show and their parts in his show were HILARIOUS!  Anyway, it wasn’t a late night so after the show I headed back up to my room to re-load my bag with camera in hand once again.

This time I have just a few more things on the “to-do list” that I still want to check out, this being my last night and all.  Again with the bus express, it’s all the way back up the strip to the Bellagio.  First stop…. “Dancing Fountain at night”.  I get there and it’s just finished (next one in another 30 mins).  So I hike it up to the Mirage to see the volcano errupt, only to find out that it only happens on the hour (not every half hour like I thought).  So the last on the list is up to Treasure Island to watch the Boy Pirate Ship and the Girl Pirate Ship blow each other up (and watch the show they put on…..).  If I wasn’t already starting to get over all these people, at TI I’ve never seen so many people congregate in such a small space.  If you just wanted to pass by and get to the other side of TI, you got NO CHANCE!!!  Anyway, I managed to get a semi ok spot up on the viewing platform.  Good show, in true vegas style there was a lot of skin showing on the girls and even more importantly there was a whole lot of abs and muscle showing on the guys.  You can never have enough half naken men!

With a break from walking and fighting the crowds during that show, I now find myself having to fight that huge crowd as we all move at the same time (like a big fat moving anaconda that just ate a football field of people), to make my way back down to the Dancing Fountain.  Yes, I’ve decided that the volcano errupting will have to be sacrificed (otherwise it’s a 1am home time for me!).  Again, a show just finished when I arrived but with my poor feet needing a rest (completely wore the wrong shoes for walking long distance), I found a good vantage point and chilled there for the short wait.  I got this one on video and with my previous 2 viewings that were watched earlier (the first to “All that Jazz”, the second to “Viva Las Vegas”), this one was to a lovely piece of classical and soothing musical piece.  Like it was meant for soothing my poor feet and legs.  Done, done and decided to skip the last few things on my list, I headed back to the hotel.  Realising how hungry I was when I got back (at this time it is around midnight) it was a tub of yoghurt and an orange juice for dinner tonight!! Quite enjoyable indeed.  Tomorrow I have my last of everything in Vegas.

So many memories of the big things and not to forget all the little things that I think “Oh I should put that in my blog”, but have forgotten about.  Trust me they were heaps funny at the time…  With a little more confidence in doing all this on my own, San Francisco… Here I come!!!

The Last of Las Vegas

United flight 667 to LA just boarded so I’m sittling here with me, myself and I catching up on some travel homework and trying to post some photos up to this site (with no luck it seems…).  Arrived here at the airport early after a yummy last breakfast in Vegas (Eggs Benni! on crumpets though… instead of toast or muffins).  Free coffee and juice to wash it down with, well the whole thing was free due to $100 of vouchers the hotel gave me on the first day.  I think the last post had me up to the day that Miss Erin Musgrave arrived.  After trawling the strip for cheap booze, we raided the CVS pharmacy and walked out with a four pack of mini bottles of Australian Wine – Sav Blanc (not one of Australia’s finest!!) and a tallie of Smirnoff Ice (bogan right!!!).  We headed back to the hotel for a quick rest which ended up being on and off for the rest of the night.  With the heat and Ezmay having travelled since midnight that morning, it must have been needed!!

The next day however started nice and early with Ez springing out of bed like a gazelle.  We headed down to the buffet for breakfast (Dad, it wasn’t all that great like your memories of it) but still it was still free (thanks to the vouchers).  After breaky it was onto the express shuttle and down to the Outlet Shopping Centre.  Because we’re on the West Coast, everything that would normally feel like “up” at home is “down” over here (as in directions of which way we’re going…). So some of the shops were a little the same pricing as back home but the Levi’s, perfume, Ralph Polo and DKNY most certainly had the best buys!!!  Enjoy your 2 pairs of Levi’s for $80 Ez!!!!  I’m getting myself some in LA!  Turns out a massive thunder storm passed over us without us even realising, we must have been in the zone.  But like home, that just made it real muggy when we finally made it outside after a half marathon of 5 hours of shopping.  With bags in hand we headed back to the hotel (with our 24 hour buss pass).

So you might have already seen the photo post and check in of the 2 of us at “Dicks”.  We got given those sexy paper hats which we proudly wore all dinner long (for those who haven’t seen these posts, head over to my FB page).  We bravely left the sizing of our alcoholic beverages to the dude who was our waiter.  He was a good laugh, he asked my what size I wanted to which I answered “how big do they come”.  Givin it right back at ya mate (after what he wrote on my sexy hat!!!).  Such a good night and we nailed our huge dinners.  Although the last few bites were a struggle and both of us didn’t eat everything on our plates (sorry Mum).  Lise, I had half a rack of ribs OMG!!!!!  They were amazing!!!!  And we ended up with a huge yard glass of frozen cocktail (me Margarita, Ez a Raspberry Vodka), with the glass being a take home souvenier.  If this was the last of my travel destinations I may have packed it in my luggage, but alas this one got donated to all the rest left behind at the hotel.

Alas Ez has left to head on her next mammoth travel from Vegas all the way to London!!!  With about 3 stops along the way, poor bugger.  It was so amazing to have her here with me on my travels and I’m so grateful and thankful to her for taking the detour to spend some time with me!!!!  She is truly and awesome and amazing gal and friend for life!!!  Luv u Ezmay!!!!  Oh I forgot to mention our trek around the pool area the first day Ez arrive (after my GC tour).  It was hilarious and exactly what you would expect in a Las Vegas casino pool area.  We just laughed and assessed everyone that we passed, good times.  We made it around the full lap of the pool area until we came to a sign that said “VIP Area Only”.  Turns out their security aint that grand in the VIP Area.  Maybe they knew we were celebraties in our own rights!!!

It was a very quiet nite once I was back in the hotel room, by this time its around 8:30pm (the sun is only starting to go down now).

Ok, so my flight is about to board so I’ll have to leave this one here and continue again soon………………

Welcome to the United States of America

After a quick 13 hours in flight with little to no sleep, a very excited Aussie girl landed in the land of the free.  As dawn was breaking and a haze settled in over the city, we landed in LA and the nerves started to set in.  The airport seemed much smaller than what I was expecting but the herd of us on flight QF15 made our way down to customs.  Watching a poor guy get sent back to the forms counter 3 times before he had the right paperwork to be able to enter, while waiting a good 45 minutes in line (that’s probably not very long for LAX right?), I finally approached the officer “Farley” with sweaty palms and nerves running all through me.  Plus I was starting to stress that I was going to miss my connecting flight to Vegas, but I made it through ok and had only a short 10 minutes wait to go through baggage check before my bag was taken again and I was on my way out of the terminal and into another one.  The heat here reminds me so much at home, it was a little comforting.

So I made my way through another check in and security check point before I find a spare seat in an  over crowded terminal, with what turns out to be plenty of time in the end. A couple of announcements come over offering passengers to give up their seats on our flight for $500 in travel credit and a secured seat in a later flight that day.  Tempting…..  Once again we’re up in the air and this time onto Vegas.  Landing a short hour later, the reality sets in that yes, I’m actually in the US and in Las Vegas! The taxi line is crazy long, but at least we’re moving.  It gives me time to scope out the different kinds of people around, lots of fake boobs, orange tans and botox faces, and even a guy who I hope is a Doctor in his full scrubs.  It’s even hotter here but I’m loving it!  A quick ride from the airport to the hotel and I’m back in air con with a strong scent of odd coconut oil wafting around the front main entrance.  The ceiling seems to go forever and there are people everywhere, it seems now that checking into a Vegas hotel on a Friday afternoon is not the cleverest idea.  Again another change to people watch!

So I’m now up in my room which has a great view of a few of the hotels down the strip.  I’m on the top floor so it’s almost 180 degrees view around to the west, north and east.  With 24 hours of no sleep and it only being earlier in the day, it’s time to freshen up and head to explore for the very first time.  The first 3 casinos are linked with a walkway through each, so once I make it out of “Excalibur”, it’s over the foot bridge to “New York New York”, onto the MGM and down the strip along the line of shops between each of the casinos.  So after an afternoon of exploring and trying to stay awake for as long as I can, a quick bite to eat (Beef Burito and – so delicious) and a Margarita to wash it down with before I head back up to the room to turn in for the night.  Plus I’ve got my “Hoover Dam” tour early in the morning.  At this time it’s been a good 32 hours since my I last pushed out some zzz’s.  Good effort if I do say so myself.

So this post is a big one as I’ve only just been able to get the internet connections sorted, which means this is about 3 days of travels and adventure all in one.

I slept like a baby last night and the bed and pillows are heavenly!  As I walk out of the main entrance and head to the pick up area for my Hoover Dam tour, I meet up with a couple from NZ doing the same tour.  As our big pimped up hot pink dodge jeep rolls up (you cannot miss them!), our guide Debbie gets us settled in and we’re off to the next hotel to pick up the rest of our tour.  With a full jeep we’re off out of Vegas and onto Boulder City (the city they built especially to house the workers of the Hoover Dam).  I saw my first Taco Bell today, here in Boulder City.  The dam was amazing with a tour included of the engine room and turbines of the power plant they use to generate power for the surrounding areas.  I can’t remember how far down we were, but if you have a look at one of my photos of the power station at the bottom of the dam spillway.  The stories of how the men (no women) made this dam and the engineering behind it all so far ahead of its time (back in 1935), is amazing.   After our dam tour and a quick walk out to the border crossing between Nevada and Arizona, it’s off to the gift shop to get our free fridge magnet and onto our pink jeep again.  This time we head up to another car park with a short walk up a few stairs and we’re onto the start of the new bridge that has been built over the Hoover Dam.  With cars and trucks screaming past us not 2 meters away, it is truly breathtaking being so far up here looking down on the dam where we had just been.  This part wasn’t supposed to be on our tour itinerary but it didn’t take much to twist Debbie’s arm for her to take us up there.  The rest of the tour group (other than the NZ’s) are all Americans and I had pretty good conversations with most of them, they are so interested on hearing about Australia and my travels plans for the US.  We make our way back to the Jeep and head back to Vegas.  I could have spent another few hours on this tour.  Really loved this tour!!!

So it’s just past midday here when we get back to the hotel, so after a quick drop of stuff back to the room, I’m off again on another exploring expedition.  This one lasts about 3.5 hours and I made it from my end of the strip to the other.  The way to the end was ok and I was handling the afternoon heat pretty well I thought, that was until I turned around and started to head back and realised that how far I had to go to get back to the Luxor.  By this time I’d downed 2L of H2O already.  A recovery stop at the Bellagio to watch the dancing fountain was just what I needed (to find some shade out of the heat helped too!).  They have a show each half hour and I could have stayed there all afternoon to watch each one.  By this time I’m thinking I’m a little hungry, then I think back to the last time I ate….. Yeah that would be last night, so I find a delicious café and chow down on some lunch (somewhat healthy too), oh and another bottle of water.  The next hour is a little blurry as my feet start to feel like they’re on fire but before too long I find myself back in the comfort of the air con’d “Excalibur” which means I’m so close to being back to my hotel, my room and more importantly a cold shower.  What happens next was not on the plans but I must have needed it and the heat I would think had a bit to do with it also.  So I’m sitting in my room giving my poor legs and feet a rest when just close my eyes for a few minutes.  At this time it’s around 4.30pm, the next time I look at the clock is when my phone rings randomly at midnight (Vegas time).  It was only the gardener letting me know that he’ll be around tomorrow to cut down some trees and tidy things up.   Just in case I saw a random guy viciously attacking my garden.  I didn’t have the energy to tell him I wasn’t even in the country anymore.  So now I’m wide awake…. But it wasn’t long until I was back pushing out the zzz’s again after downloading my 500+ photos that I’ve taken only in the first 2 days of my travels.

Another early morning start for me today, but this time it’s “Visitors Day”!!!  With Ms Erin Musgrave en route from Chicago to Vegas, I head off for my “Grand Canyon” tour.  A quick drive to the private “Maverick Executive” airport to board our private chartered jet (feeling like a rock start right now!), we’re on our way to the Grand Canyon.  The pilots are great and we get to move around the plane and head up to the cockpit for a look see and to take some photos.  Even Pig Crackers had a go at flying the plane for us!  And one of the pilots “Todd” looked somewhat like tom Cruise back in his Top Gun days.  A quick 40 minute flight out to GC airport, we get our first glimpse at the Grand Canyon – West Rim.  When we arrive at the airport a few of us are off to the helipads for our next adventure.  The helicopter ride starting over the south rim and heading straight up and over the north rim was amazing.  It was way too short but our pilot “Dave” gave us a few extra minutes and took us over down into the canyon for a little longer.  You can’t come all this way and not see this place from the air, money well spent for sure!!!  After we get back to the helipad and a few photos with Dave and the helicopter, we’re back on the bus and headed up to a Lodge for lunch and a stones throw away from the GC rim itself.  What a backyard for the people that live and stay there!!!  Sitting down for lunch with a few of my new little friends (this place is crawling with little wildlife everywhere, predominantly Squirrels), there was a touch and go moment with poor Pig Crackers.  I was taking his photo with the GC in the background when one of the squirrels got a little too interested and close to Piggy.  I can only imagine what it was thinking when it saw Piggy sitting there on the ledge!  But no pork spit for the wildlife today!  Bought my first lot of souvenirs today, cute little dream catcher earrings – Lise, one for you too!  After lunch and free time at the lodge, we’re back in the bus, back to the airport and back on the plane headed back to Vegas.  Great tour and one day would be great to camp up there and stay for a few days to do some river rafting.

A quick transfer back to the hotel and I’m back up to the room.  When I hear, “Hey Gossy!!!”.  Whoo hooo!!!! Ez has made it safely here from Chicago and we’re ready to do some more exploring.  A quick trip around the pool area, what an eye opener (sights just like in the movies!!), then we’re off to the restaurant for a late lunch.  My first American Cheeseburger….. And a super uber strong Cosmo, which burned the whole way down.  Maybe a dash of “sprite” in this one thanks…..

So I should end this post here and get some sleep myself.  We’re hitting the shops in the morning, after a buffet breakfast of course!!!  Photos are to come and will hopefully be posted tomorrow.  Until my next post (which will be much shorter than this one I promise!)……. More adventures to come.