Vegas – Day 14 – ATV Tour

June 28th, 2011

Today was an early start… an alarm we couldn’t ignore followed by a thorough application of P20, the eating of the last few donuts, and then dragging ourselves downstairs to wait for a pickup. We joined two other couples and the driver and were mostly quiet for the 45 minute drive (the couple at the front were chatting with the driver… I never caught anyones name). We arrived and were given helmets, goggles and gloves, a brief safety talk, and shown how to make the ATV stop and go.

Ready to Drive!

Then, without any particular guidance… we were off! Some quite slow, scared movement, in a nice line, trying to work out how to steer and such whilst getting further out into the unknown desert! This started off kinda scary… I didn’t feel exactly in control and seeing the gravelly tracks made me wish I was wearing jeans not shorts. I was pleased the girl in front seemed equally scared and we pootled along slowly.

We all came to a stop to a scene of badness :( One of the girls had come off her quad bike, though no one saw how. She was clearly in a lot of pain, but still talking and even joking. The decision was she’d bruised a rib. She was quite insistent her partner should continue (the excursion was his Birthday present), but eventually conceded to them both going back to the start and getting her to a hospital.

This turned what was scary into terrifying, as we were reminded that we were in the middle of nowhere, no chance of an ambulance or help at any speed, and nyargh! I wasn’t feeling too great as we sat and waited for the buggy to take her back and then return to us (it was carrying all the water so we couldn’t go far without). Whilst we waited I took a few photos…

Chris and our ATVs

Pointy Rock

Worcle chooses the best seat

Everyone decided we should continue, even though we’d lost quite a lot of time so it was getting hotter. We then had some difficult rocky hills to deal with. There were a couple of times I felt out of control and lost the path we were following, but nothing bad happened. The second time I sorted myself out without assistance too. We stopped for lunch on a little rocky bit where there was still some shade. A sarnie, crisps and cookie later and I was feeling a bit better.

Lunchtime view of... rock

Lunch break

The journey back started with some more difficult rocky bits, but then it was easy. We were all feeling more confident and the tracks weren’t too hazardous, so we picked up some speed and actually had some fun :) By the time we were back on the “road” I was actually wishing the girl in front would hurry up a bit as I wanted to go zoom ;)

I’m still suffering the aftermath (my wrist/thumb is extremely sore from holding the accelerator, and my shoulders ache from all the bumps!) but it was good fun :) I’m sure I would do it again given the chance :)

The drive back I mostly slept and then there was a shower needed as we were completely covered in dust (trainers definitely not black anymore!) After a bit of a relax in the room we went out for some food. We went to the Silverton for a yummy buffet…

Buffet - Plate 1 Buffet - Plate 2

Buffet - Plate 3 Buffet - Plate 4

Then lost some time watching the cute fishies! :) (First video with new camera and first video upload to Flickr, ooo!)

We finished the day with some shopping. First in M&M World and then in the giant coke bottle. I bought a couple of random gifts for people and enjoyed the bright crazy colours, if not the crowds!

M&M World

Vegas – Day 13 – Some Nature

June 26th, 2011

The plan today was to go to Red Rock Canyon… but apparently I slept! We did do an awful lot of walking yesterday, so it was hardly surprising. Once we were finally up and had eaten some donuts, we headed over to The Mirage to play a little more on my MLife card. It didn’t go so well, so it wasn’t long before we headed over to Palms for some free frozen yogurt. You fill a cup with any of the many flavours of frozen yogurt and then cover it in your selection of toppings (there was fruit, sweets, chocolate, nuts, sauces), then pay for the weight of the cup! A fun creation process and very yummy :D

Forzen Yogurt

We then headed out to Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden. I was somewhat confused by there being a chocolate factory which owned a cactus garden… the tour didn’t explain the collaboration either! ;) We had our free sample of chocolate and pecan brittle and then spent some time in the garden taking photos…

Cactus Garden

Cactus Garden

Purple Cactus!

Worcle joined in for some silliness too…

Worcle Gets Prickled!

Worcle Finds Some Shade

Having only eaten sweet things up to this point we decided it time for some food. We were headed to Sam’s Town for a free buffet, only to discover that our voucher wasn’t valid on Saturday, phooey! So we decided to find a Sweet Tomatoes instead having been intrigued enough to look them up when we drove past earlier.

The food was great :D It calls itself a salad buffet, which doesn’t sound very exciting… but it was gooooood! :) They had a few premixed salads, then lots of freshly chopped veggies (lettuce, spinach, carrots, courgette, cauliflower, brocolli, peas, celery, beetroot, green pepper, dill pickles, peas, chickpeas, and more!) and a good selection of sauces too :) Then there were 8 home made (from scratch) soups to choose from, jacket potatos, fresh bread, freshly baked muffins (including corn bread), and a number of desserts. Oh, and the drinks were self service too and they had strawberry lemonade – yum! :D

Sweet Tomatoes Salad

Muffins

Obviously I ate more than that, but it was too good to stop and take photos! I wish there was one in the UK, but alas not. There are, at least, a number in Florida, so I’m sure I’ll be suggesting it on our next trip there ;)

We were rather late eating, so we decided we weren’t going to make it out to Red Rock Canyon much before they closed, so instead did a little geocaching near dinner. Had a good view from one of them…

View of Vegas

Then it was time for me to collapse in the room and catch up on blog writing and arguing with Flickr whilst Chris went and played some poker :)

Vegas – Day 12 – Tiger Magic & Absinthe

June 26th, 2011

Today was a day of hotel moving, but the final one at least! After our late night we failed to get up for the pool, thus instantly ruining the planning we had done after dinner ;) We packed up and checked out of Tropicana and headed over to Harrahs. After standing in the check in line for quite some time, we finally get to the desk to be told we could have used the priority check in, phooey! Still, we checked in and are in our final room of the holiday. It’s large and comfy though the least interesting one we’ve had in Vegas.

We headed over to Circus Circus under the intention of checking out the Adventure Dome… but I got scared by the sheer number of people and children everywhere! We bought rather a lot of Krispy Kreme… two dozen in fact! Chris got a txt offer for a second dozen for 99 cents and how can you refuse 24 donuts for $12? ;)

The Krispy Kreme Challenge

We spotted a Tix 4 Tonight booth, which does half price tickets for shows, so decided to get some for Absinthe that evening and then headed back to the hotel. Since we’d already spoilt the planning, I suggested we continue and do Tiger Magic (The Magic & Tigers of Rick Thomas) in the afternoon. We had a brisk walk to the closest booth to get tickets and were told to head straight there since we were technically late already (the cheap tickets have to be collected an hour before show starts and it was only 50 minutes from starting!) So we then dashed across town, as fast as one can in this heat and around the crowds! Got there in time and upgraded to the VIP seats, so we could have the tiger encounter at the end :)

The show itself was okay… perhaps watching Penn & Teller earlier in the week has spoilt magic shows for a little while, as I was spotting how he was doing things, and finding it difficult to just sit and enjoy. There was also a lot of random dancing which was odd! The tigers didn’t feature as much as I expected either… but apparently it depends on the tigers mood as to how much they use them… don’t want grumpy tigers on stage which I get! The VIP upgrade got us some time with Rick Thomas talking about the tigers, answering questions (I didn’t actually know that white tigers are manmade!) and then a photo with him and a tiger, plus the chance to take photos, which obviously I did :)

Tiger

Tiger

Then we headed back to the hotel to get changed for the evening. Realising we hadn’t yet eaten anything other than donuts we headed to the Outback Steakhouse for some dinner. There was a bit of a muddle over the starter, but everything was very tasty! I had some lovely ribs :) Alas, I kind of forgot to take a photo…

Ribs were too good to stop for a photo - oops!

We had a while before Absinthe so we stopped to watch the volcano erupt…

Dormant Volcano

Erupting Volcano!

Then we watched the Bellagio fountains twice…

Bellagio Fountains

Bellagio Fountains

Finally it was time for Absinthe :) This is a new show at Caesars Palace, in a little tent. The venue only seats 600, in a circle around a small center stage. We were a couple of rows back so couldn’t see things happening lower down, but they raised the stage when exciting things were happening anyway! :) The show is definitely 18+ thanks to rather a lot of swearing and offensive jokes! The acrobatics were astounding!! :D

They started with a man creating a giant, precarious stack of chairs to climb up and fetch the green fairy…

Absinthe Opener

Next up were four male acrobatics climbing up on one another, and jumping in the air landing back on hands, and all sorts of craziness! Remember, this is all mere feet away! If they’d fallen, it would have been into the audience!!

Crazy Acrobatics

There was some singing, some silliness, some awesome skating to a Muse song (the second one of the day – Tiger Magic had used Super Massive (Magic) Black Hole!) which involved spinning the girl round at high speed over the audience (the front row was warned not to stand up due to the fact they would get kicked in the head!!) There was another pair of acrobats doing some awesome and beautiful balancing…

Crazy Acrobatics

Then some tight rope madness!

Crazy Acrobatics

This required audience silence as they performed! Much baited breath as we all watched in amazement at what was happening, so close that no one dared make a sound! They walked to the middle and then the guy on the chair actually stood up! :)

As you can probably tell, I was impressed! I was glad not to be in the front row when they were “joking” with people, but the acrobatics was astounding! :)

Vegas – Day 11 – Tropicana Pool

June 26th, 2011

We started the day with a trip to the pool here at the Tropicana. Whilst their pool area contains only one pool and a spa, it was actually nicer than Mandalay Bay in a number of ways. There was shade, plenty of free loungers, the loungers had cushions, there were water fountains for drinking, and it was quiet! There were some children there, but everyone was just chilling out and enjoying the sunshine and the water. The whole time we were down there I think we only heard a whistle blow once! Not like the constant noise in the wave pool at Mandalay! It was a lovely relaxing start to the day :D

Once we’d come in and had a shower we headed over to Palms for some lunch. Their free swipe prize draw rewarded us each with a car sunshade :) Then some yummy Panda Express foods…

Panda Express

Next we headed over to Mandalay Bay to get me signed up to MLife in the hopes that we can convince them to send me some good offers ;) My $10 free slot play for joining vanished quickly, and I’m not sure I really enjoyed the brief sitting at a blackjack table. Not quite knowing what was going on and there being random strangers there expecting me to understand was perhaps a little daunting. We played on a couple of video poker machines to try to rack up some points, but it’s slow going in there and no particularly great machines.

After that we returned to the hotel room to chill for a bit and decide what to do for the rest of the day. We decided to go down town for the evening light show, stopping by the 777 brewery pub for dinner. Chris had a beer sampler to drink which was a little glass of 5 different beers… after trying them all, I still don’t like beer ;) The food was tasty – I had chicken tenders and Chris had a BBQ Chicken pizza :)

Beer Sampler

Chicken Tenders BBQ Chicken Pizza

Worcle has a drink... or five! Drunk Worcle

Unfortunately the service failed when we needed the check, which was nowhere to be seen after 30 minutes of trip planning with pieces of paper all over the table. Then they wouldn’t let Chris pay with his points even though he clearly had plenty. So they got a measly tip and we dashed off to watch the light show with mere moments to spare.

The light show is cool and I took rather a lot of photos! We saw Queen first and then KISS…

Queen Show Rock You!

KISS light show KISS light show

Then there was some photo taking, and a little free slot play in another casino (my wallet is beginning to bulge with players club cards!)

Rainbow Neon

Wedding Information Neon

Viva Vegas - Pretty Stars

Neon Martini Glass

We headed back to Tropicana, stopping at a craps table since apparently our room number is significant… but it didn’t seem to help. It’s a strange and complex game, but people seem enthusiastic… just wish there was a seat ;) Oh, and that we could actually win something ;)

Vegas – Day 10 – Players Clubs

June 23rd, 2011

Today we had a bit of a slow start due to changing our mind about going to Grand Canyon and getting distracted by the internet. Eventually we wandered over to Excalibur for some Krispy Kreme based breakfast…

Excalibur castle!

Mmmmm, donut!

Then we headed over to Gold Coast to enter their Wednesday every one’s a winner offer and played through 400 points on video poker to get three entries and another 15,000 points. Then into TGI Fridays for some lunch :) The donuts had made us realise we were hungry so lunch followed shortly after! I had an Ultimate Salad and Chris had a pecan encrusted chicken salad…

Ultimate Salad! Pecan encrusted chicken!

Next up was a trip to Palms (since it’s over the road) to see what their promotion was. It wasn’t very exciting so we just played through our free slot play from the previous day and then left. We headed over to Terrible’s to get me signed up to their players club :) For signing up I got a free tshirt and then 1000 points later a free sweatshirt plus my 1000 points doubled :) Woo! :) Oh, and $3 free slot play too! I do like the little Terrible dude, though find it an amusing name for branding – who wants a Terrible car wash, or Terrible petrol, etc.

Worcle and Terrible

Then we came back to Tropicana to sign me up here. The coupon I had for double points they couldn’t do, so gave me $10 free slot play instead, and would match up to a $200 loss in your first day… a short while later I had lost $200 of Chris’ money… but he told me to! Playing video poker at $15/time is weird… though I did have a nice win at one point… it just all went back into the machine! The first half of the match we didn’t lose all of at least… but I left feeling glad it wasn’t my money! I don’t see myself getting into this gambling things like Chris does – I understand it’s long term, and that it basically evens out with all the comps… but still!

Next up was dinner! Time to head over to Tony Roma’s for some ribs :D Though we got slightly distracted by a starter too!

Yummy starter

Ribs!

Then there was a little more photo taking on the way back before heading to bed :)

Stratosphere Silhouette

Hard Rock Cafe Neon

Vegas – Day 9 – Off To Tropicana

June 23rd, 2011

Today was our final morning at Mandalay Bay so we got up early and made use of our VIP entry again to grab some good seats. We played about with Worcle for a bit before heading into the pools…

Worcle lounges abour

Worcle and the waves

Worcle gets dry

We had a good splash about in the waves and then much floating round and round the lazy river many times :) For a lazy river it has a couple of good, fast corners :D We spent about an hour and a half enjoying the water before heading back to the room for a quick pack, jacuzzi, shower, and check out by 11. Obviously this meant me messing around with my new camera to enjoy the view we won’t get again (not this trip at least)…

View from Mandalay Daytime view of THE hotel from Mandalay View from Mandalay with zooooom

We headed over to the Tropicana but were too early to check in, so we left our bags there and headed over to The Orleans for a buffet lunch using the points I’d won at Gold Coast last week – woo, free food! :)

Orleans Buffet Brunch - Plate 1 Orleans Buffet Brunch - Plate 2 Orleans Buffet Brunch - Plate 3

Orleans Buffet Brunch - Plate 4 Worcle joins in for dessert!

Where's Worcle?

After that we headed over to Palms to play in their swipe and win and each got some free slot play for the next day. Then we headed over to the Sahara for the sale. The hotel & casino have been closed and they’re selling off everything. Literally! Carpets, lights, signs, everything. It was bizarre being in a basically empty, silent casino. Obvious damage on walls where signs and posters had already been removed, price stickers on everything. Chris was clearly upset to see somewhere he’d enjoyed playing being sold off piece by piece. So we spent a long time wandering and taking photos and then purchased some glasses, cards and slot signs.

A desserted Sahara

Awesome ceiling

Pretty light

After that we finally checked into Tropicana and are rather pleased with the room. It’s only 7th floor and one room ;) But we have a good view, and the room is large and comfortable. It’s been recently redecorated and the theming is really nice – lots of bamboo and palm trees/leaves. It’s also the first hotel room with non-abstract art on the walls! :o

Once we had settled in a little, we decided it was time for dinner but I was exhausted! So we went to Sonic and enjoyed having our food skated over to us! ;) The burger (Blazin’ BBQ) was rather hotter than I expected (I had missed the second helping of in jalepenos the description!) but very nice. I was surprised how good the tots were as an alternative to fries, and the strawberry slushee was awesome :D

Sonic dinner, yum!

Then we went for a drive around so I could test out my new camera by taking photos of neon signs :) Here’s a little sample…

Palms sign

Orleans sign

Rio Sign Again!

Pretty Lights

View from Rio car park

If you want to see more, I have uploaded a lot more photos to flickr than I am sharing on here! Just click through on any photo to get to my account and see more :)

Vegas – Day 8 – Mandalay Bay

June 22nd, 2011

Today was our designated day to spend at the Mandalay beach and pool area. It’s rather an awesome collection of pools, including a wave pool, a lazy river, and a number of lagoons. We had VIP access which allowed us entry 15 minutes before everyone else (in theory, in practice it was more like 7 minutes) – time enough to grab a good pair of loungers and get comfy!

We got a nice spot at the front of the beach by the wave pool. I was somewhat amused to discover that the “beach” is entirely covered in loungers! Still it is nicer to put feet into sand when you stand up bare foot rather than concrete I guess! First up we had to apply our P20 (it was only 7:45am and we had been in a bit of a rush to get out the room, down 60 floors, and to the beach!) and then go and buy hats as we’d both left ours in the car! :( But that was easy enough and we were soon in the wave pool, splashing about :)

The "Beach" at Mandalay Bay

The waves don’t come very frequently, and there seem to be a whole bunch of rules which aren’t explained except by the lifeguards blowing whistles and shouting at people :( It was a little odd! But once we knew how to behave it was all okay ;) The waves were fun and we splashed about a lot :)

Then we went over to the lazy river and had fun floating round in the current :) Chris soon decided he wanted a tube to float around in so we went and bought a nice bright orange ring which I decorated with my standard kitty picture to make it ours :)

We tried out one of the lagoons but the water seemed very cold, even after a bit of splashing… so we jumped out of that and into the nearby spa which was all warm and bubbly :) At this point we realised we had only eaten snack foods and were hungry, so went and bought some chicken tenders and fries to eat by the pool :)

Once food was eaten we lay back in the sun for a bit and went “Mmmmmm, warm!” Then I realised we were too warm and turning pink and there was a quick retreat back to the safety of the hotel!

The major problem with Mandalay Bay’s pool area would be the total lack of shade. 4 hours in direct sunlight is crazy behaviour, no matter how magical my sunscreen! So we both have slightly pink shoulders (mine moreso!) It seems mad not to provide shade, or free drinking water, when they clearly want us out there! I realise they like to charge for umbrellas and cabanas, but they were crazy prices and really shade is rather important :(

Wave Pool :o)

Still, we had an awesome room to return to :) Happily got in the express elevators and returned to our huge suite to test out the jacuzzi :D Then the shower :) Then lazed around in the provided bathrobes and slippers for a while not doing a lot ;)

After discovering my camera was putting a nasty dark splodge on blue skies, even after cleaning the lens, I was encouraged to look at getting a new camera. A few hours later (after some research and shopping around) I seem to have a new Nikon Coolpix S6100 in my possession :) It’s a little larger than my super compact Fuji, but it has so many fab features that I shall forgive it a slight increase in size ;) It has a touchscreen which is the most exciting new thing :) I’m still learning how to use it, so photos are feeling a bit clumsy, but I’ll get there :D

After camera shopping we headed over to Rio for some food in the little chinese there…

Then it was time to see Penn & Teller :D I used to watch them on TV when I was little, and it was amazing to see them live! The show was great :) One thing I had seen before, but the rest was new :)
I have a new tshirt, and we got our ticket signed and photos with both of them! :D


I was very impressed that they both hung around signing things and having photos taken until everyone had left. There was no rush, they were happy to chat, it was great :)

Vegas – Day 7 – Travelling back to Vegas

June 20th, 2011

Today was the trip back to Vegas. We got up very early and packed and inevitably ended up leaving slightly later than intended. We headed over to LACMA stopping by an IHOP down the road for some breakfast…

Mmmm, breakfast!

We then spent 2 hours wandering around the Tim Burton exhibition at LACMA. It must be odd to be important enough for people to think your childhood scribblings worth displaying! There was lots of cool things to see – drawings showing early inspirations for characters, little excerpts of stories and films. Then there was a gift shop which was hard to drag me away from as I kind of wanted everything but it was all very expensive! I did get a new tshirt and a pack of cards :)

Obviously there was no photography allowed in the exhibition so I can’t show you any of that :(

Then there was the long drive back to Las Vegas… done without stopping quite quickly as we had dinner reservations! I was taking random photos along the drive of silly roadsigns…

Can you guess where the road leads?

ZZyzx Road :o)

Plus the views along the way…

Primm in the distance on a long straight road!

Desert and mountains

We stood waiting in the queue to check in, and then when we finally got there he said he had to go and get our reservation and vanished away for *ages*! Although once we heard which floor we were on and then saw the room we stopped complaining… floor 60 in a suite!! :D It’s awesome! :D

Not only do we have a bar and lounge again, here we have two bathrooms, bathrobes and slippers and a fridge :) Woo yeah! We are also crazily high up and have truly awesome views over Vegas. I took a couple of photos last night before dinner..

Lounge area An excess of beds! His & Hers sinks at Mandalay Bay Jacuzzi!!!

Chris had booked us a romantic dinner at Mix, which is the posh restaurant at the top of the other half of Mandalay Bay called THE hotel (odd!) It was a bit of a dash over there… but then we had a cool ride up in the outside lift :) Felt a little out of place with the size of the wine list, but chose tasty sounding food which was really nummy! I had gnocchi to start followed by lamb with quinoa, Chris had a charcuterie sampler followed by pistachio encrusted halibut. Then we shared profiteroles :)

Gnocchi Lamb something or other
Charcuterie sampler Pistachio encrusted halibut
Profiteroles for 2

The ceiling at Mix…

Ceiling at Mix

The view from the restaurant of where we’re staying…

View of Mandalay Bay from Mix

We had a wander around the pool area on the way back to our room, but it’s all locked up at night. Had a little trip to Walmart to get me some goggles and some more diet coke. Then came back and collapsed as it had been a long day and we needed to be up early!

Vegas – Day 6 – Santa Monica Beach (LA)

June 19th, 2011

Today we had another slow start, with breakfast consisting of Cinnabon snack bars whilst we decided what to do! Eventually we headed off to the Japanese restaurant Chris had a voucher for, and had some rather yummy Japanese food for an early lunch :) I had beef and chicken teriyaki, Chris had a chicken katsu bowl, and we shared some vegetarian sushi.

Japanese for lunch

Then we went back to the room to collect things for the beach and headed to the seaside. It was rather more blustery than expected, so instead of swimming we walked down the beach to the pier where we had a wander and I bought a pretty new skirt :)

Worcle on the pier

After exploring the pier and eating a churro each, we headed back onto the sand and had a splash in the water. The Worcle ball got up to some mischief (though I might have been helping)…

Buried Worcle!

King of the castle

Then there was games of burying one anothers feet and more splashing in the water before returning to the hotel to wash away the sea and sand.

Smiling in the sunshine

We decided to go to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner, aided by the closest one apparently being very romantic. Sat inside I’m not sure it would have been… but we had a lovely table outside, with a gorgeous view of the harbour :) There was a slightly cold breeze, but the heaters did a good job of helping us ignore it whilst we had some yummy food :)

Sunset, palm trees, cheesecake

BBQ Pulled poke sandwich Fish Tacos

The view really was very pretty as the sun set…

View from Cheesecake Factory

Tall palm trees

Alas, the cheesecake I wanted was still frozen, so I had to steal half of Chris’ and then bring mine back to eat in the hotel whilst we watched some TV on the iPad :) Such a hard life ;)

Vegas – Day 5 – Hollywood (LA)

June 19th, 2011

Today was a very lazy day due to extremely sore feet and legs after all the standing round yesterday!

We had a very slow start to the day which started with a trip to IHOP for breakfast (mmmmm, cinn-a-stack pancakes!)

Cinn-a-stack Pancakes at IHOP

Then back to the hotel room to write blogs, sort out photos, have showers, and plan the day. We decided to go and take some photos of interesting places… the obvious one being the Hollywood sign :) This resulted in a lot of photos…

Hollywood sign!

Dam near the Hollywood sign

Worcle ball wants to be in the movies.

We stopped by a geocache so we could log the Worcle ball travelling with us :)

Worcle stops by another tiny geocache

It had taken an awfully long time to get across to the Hollywood sign, so we worked our way slowly back to where dinner was via a couple of silly signs…

Worcle wants a giant hot dog

Amusing shop sign

Then to the Stinking Rose for some very tasty dinner :) (After stopping on a random road to get changed because the restaurant has valet parking so we couldn’t change in the carpark as planned!)

Garlicky surf 'n' turf Garlicky pork chop

Then back to the hotel for snoozes once we were suitably stinky! :)