28.04.2008 - 01.05.2008
So, where did I leave it last time... oh yeah, we were in Mexico. I forgot to mention two things... 1) Bud, Pete and Mary all caught fish on the last day!
(Bud was a happy man, as you can see!)
I however, didn't - though I shouldn't have been trying in the 1st place. You see I'd been kite flying for ages in the baking sun, proper UK style, i.e. with no sunscreen, hat or water. I noticed something was amiss when I started feeling all tired midday so I went for a lie down.... in the sun. Doh!
(yep - notice the purple face.. )
I thought a little nap in the sun would get me back on form. Then as the others started catching fish I decided I couldn't miss out on the action and had a go myself. I had to give up after a few casts, I didn't seem to have any energy in my arms. Then after another hour or so I started feeling sick. Silly arse. Heat exhaustion. Spent the rest of the afternoon in bed and wasn't right until the next day. WHen will I learn. Well, perhaps I have. Won't be doing that again :-)
Anyhow, all was well and we went back to Phoenix. A couple of days later we hooked up with Bud and his friends and went to the music festival I mentioned before, at Glendale. Jason, Bud's pal rocked up in a humungous RV - it was a coach. Jason is a little "exitable" and drove it like it was a sports car. Quite a sight to see him tearing through the RV parking area with a plume of dust behind the monster :-)
(That's an "RV"!)
Awesome vehicle. When you are parked up you press a button and the sides come out electrically to make it twice as large inside. A/C, TV, proper bedroom, all the toys. I want one of those too :-) Jason was even forward thinking enough to make sure we didn't run out of cold beer...
(That's a whole keg of Stella, avec ice. Nice touch!)
We had a hoot. Jason's friends are beyond description. One guy, Tom, from Vegas, was so hyper you just can't put it into words. I mentioned to him we were going to his home city and he (all at hyper speed) took four steps backwards, spun 360 degrees , outstretched his hands and shouted, "DUUUUUUUUUDE!, that is Soooo awesome...I'll tell you where you need to go..." and so it went on. He would shout at you, face to face, noses touching. That was his way of talking. It was intense to say the least. Top entertainment, if a little daunting at times.
The music itself was great. We caught a band that we'd recently seen on DVD. Don't know the name but it's a guy that plays a "table guitar". It's an instrument that is essentially a guitar but mounted horizontally like a keyboard. He's reputedly the best at his art, and it showed. Great fun.
(Not a great pic I'm afraid. Was many Stellas worse for the wear)
(A photo opportunity we couldn't pass up)
(we got into the spirit of things...)
Getting home was a bit interesting to say the least. You see we saw loads of cabs waiting by the road earlier on, but by 2am we had kind of lost track of time. It was getting cold and we wanted to go home. We wandered back to the main site entrance and it was deserted!!! And we are in the middle of nowhere...
I saw a lone security staff girl and asked her if she could call a cab for us and she replied, "you aint got no hope now, all the cabs have gone for the night". Then , when she clocked our UK accents I think she took pity and offered to drive us home as it was "on her way". Cooool!!! result!!. Then it all started going a bit, well, weird.
First of all, we spent over half an hour helping her look for her car, in a practically empty parking lot.... She didn't really know what it looked like and wandered around pressing her keyfob waiting for a car to flash. Either she was a little dim, or as we presumed, had probably realised taking two strangers home at 2am in the middle of nowhere was not such a good idea.
We found the car in the end and off we went. After a short while of silence she opened the gambit with, "I used to carry a sidearm (gun), but after my problems I only work on the main gate now, I still have my gun mind you, I'm just not allowed to use it at work". ... o....k..... WHAT PROBLEMS??? we are both silently thinking. "I'm OK really", she added after a few more minutes of silence, "I haven't had an episode for 4 days now".
Bear in mind Kirst could not find the seatbelt in the back through all the MacDonalds bags and stuff and she had told her not to worry as she was a "safe" driver.
So now Kirstin can't hold her tongue any more and asks "episodes? what kind of "episodes??". "Oh, you know, like seizures", "I shouldn't be driving really, but I think I'm ok". GREAT. We are going to die.
At this stage she is also getting lost, and at junctions, coming out with such wonders as, "hmm, I think this is right, I'm not sure, lol, I don't know". Then someone calls her and chats for ages with her repeatedly saying to the caller, "yes, I'm ok... ok, yep, I'm ok" etc. When she gets off the phone she informs us it was her sister who is really angry because she shoudn't be driving at all". Even more encouraging.
Then she comes out with the best one. I asked her why we were not taking the Freeway and she says, "I don't like using the Freeways, they are dangerous.."..... "because of people like me" (She chuckles to herself). She then proceeded to drive us through a very rough district, and points this out to us. By now we are just a little bit tense.
For the love of God. She carried on getting lost. Fortunately we knew they way home after a while as we'd been driving the same route recently. We got her to drop us off half a mile away. We were glad to get out and leg it.
The whole journey I was watching her, ready to grab the wheel, and at the same time, checking she was not reaching for her gun in her holster......
At least we got home! - Funny thing was - I later found out Bud gave another security guard a lift home so we obviously cashed in on his "Karma pool".
We chilled for a few more days and then headed for Vegas! :-) The drive was out of this world. Most of the 5 hours is spent driving through the desert. There is literally nothing out there bar a few trailer parks. You drive through one section that is all Cactus, then another that is barren, then another that is all Joshua Trees. It alternates depending on altitude. You make damn sure you have drinking water and a full tank of gas. Running out is not funny - it would take hours for a rescue vehicle to reach you at some points.
(A Joshua Tree I believe - there were millions of them!)
The drive was totally spectacular, and all the more so when we arrived at the.....
...Hoover Dam! - we went on the "full monty" tour - which means you get to go inside the dam itself instead of just seeing the turbines. I've seen all this stuff on the Discovery channel so I was like a kid in a candy shop.
(Nerdy shot for you - this is one of the pipes that feed the water turbines - big stuff!!)
(Me inside the dam)
(Kirsty in a pipe!)
We had a suitably nerdy guide too. All very fascinating!
Moving on we set off for Las Vegas. What a place! - It's like Disney for adults. Naughty adults.
We got a good deal at the Flamingo - right in the middle of the main strip. We got a superior room for the price of a regular. Funny thing was the girl at the check in desk told me she'd upgraded me to the superior room and I was a lucky chap! - I was kind of bemused, she'd upgraded us to the room we actually booked??? Turns out we later found out it's customary to tip the check in people $10-$50 of they upgrade you. Cheeky cow! - tried to pull a fast one on us :-) - the room was great - giant plasma, DVD etc, plus the mirror in the bathroom turned into a TV so you could bathe and watch movies. All very "Vegas".
We started by watching all the slot machine junkies stuffing their money in them. They are really hooked! - we had a go - lost $20 in about a minute and it was about as much fun as watching paint dry. Not for us we decided. There were slot machines that cost $100 per spin, and people played them! We saw lots of money getting burned. People playing $1000 a hand blackjack was a shocker.
For most of the time we had a good old explore of all the famous hotel/casinos. Most of them are wonderfully over the top. New York New York is inspired....
(New York New York - just a little over the top? - p.s. that is ONE hotel, not several)
The Belagio is stunning, the MGM Grand, is, well, Grand.
The Paris is wonderful. No way could they have left out the Eiffel Tower, and of course they didn't. In fact they also have out favourite restaurant with seating on the strip outside. We had a lovely French lunch and then spent an hour or so sipping our wine and watching with incredulation as people even fatter than we saw at Disney waddled past. I have loads of fattie pictures but I dare not post them in case I get sued! - One chap in the Belagio poker room was so fat I had to get a pic so K pretended to pose and I took pics of him. He rumbled me and I have a pic of him looking rather pissed off at me :-) His belly was so huge and floppy that not only did he have a front-bottom, but it "ran" down both his legs in his trousers. Eughhhh!
(having lunch at the Paris and fattie watching)
We watched the famous water fountain show at the Belagio and thought it was great but wanted to see it again. Unfortunately it got windy and the shows were cancelled. But then we had a turn of luck... we were in the Belagio looking for somewhere to eat and found they had a terrace so we plonked ourselves outside and found we were sitting right above the lake - and just as we ordered a show started. Then another, then another. They ran about 5 shows whilst we ate. Been there, done that now! :-) Kind of funny seeing as how we'd been told how hard it is to get a good vantage point for the shows.
(Belagio lunch - We were sitting and eating just to Kirstin's right)
Talking of shows - we went to one.... David Copperfield!! - not an opportunity to miss, and he did not dissapoint. We were sat RIGHT at the stage - i.e. I had my arm resting on the stage - you could not get any closer. I told Kirsty that if he could pull magic off this close then I'd be amazed, and he did. I won't run through the whole thing, but at one point in the show, about 4 feet from my nose, he made a full size car appear from nowhere! Very cool.
Gambling: Well you know I like poker just a little bit so I tried my luck! :-) - On the first night I sat at a Texas Hold 'em $1/$2 No limit cash table. I sat down with $100 and lasted 2 hours. I got eaten alive! Not my thing, cash games, but I had to give it a go.
The next night I entered the $65 buy-in No limit tournament at the Paris. Great place, nice dealers, free drinks. I loved it. There were about 40 entrants and I came 5th. 4th and up won money so I just missed out, but I played a good game and fulfilled a dream. I was totally pumped after that and didn't get to sleep until 2am :-)
I also entered a $45 NL tournament at O'Sheas but there were only 9 entrants and I bust out in 7th when my pair of Kings was beaten by two pairs by a daft caller.
So not much lost and superb fun! I was going to enter the $120 No Limit tournament at Caesars on the last night but it started at 11pm, was a 4000 chip game (long) and we'd already seen the Copperfield show and I was exhausted.
When I checked out the tournament details at Caesars we stumbled accross a televised World Series Qualifier....
(One day I'll be on the other side...... )
Kirst had her 1st try at roulette. She put $10 on red, and Won!. Then cashed in! - women hey!?! too safe! :-) Then she put $5 on red again on another table, and won again - and cashed in again. Safe but wise - she won $15, I lost about $250 :-)
We had a superb time. Totally knackered ourselves with all the walking, drinking and gambling. Now at the Grand Canyon staying in a Navajo Reserve after driving the most breathtaking road you could possibly imagine! - more on that soon.....