Sunday, August 26, 2012

I got up with the alarm at 8 this morning. Dad was already up and had gone out to get cash for the trip. I had him mail my educational assistance packet as well. Those people are probably going to be sick of me. I can REALLY use the money though.

We left around 11 am and had no problem finding the parking lot or finding parking. We managed to get a handicap spot right next to the shuttle stop. On top of that, right as we were getting out, the shuttle came. It was perfect timing all around.

We got through security with no problem. We had two hours to wait and spent most of it just sitting around. I did call aunt and tell her I was heading out today and would call her when I got to the hotel tonight. The two hours went by kind of fast.

As if two hours wasn't long enough to wait, our flight was delayed due to weather. It was lightning so the crew wasn't unloading or loading baggage. We were supposed to leave at 2:30 and probably left around 4 or 4:30 pm instead.

The flight was uneventful. I slept a little and listened to my MP3 player some as well. I got some good pictures out of the window when we were flying over the mountains. We actually were only an hour late landing, which is impressive considering how late we left.

It was a rush getting to he Rio in time to pick up the Penn and Teller tickets. The limo driver that approached us was just way too expensive, $58, so we took a shuttle. It took FOREVER. We got to the hotel around 7:40 pm or so and I had to pick up the tickets by 8 pm.

I ran around trying to find the box office only to realize I needed my ID, which was with dad at registration. I went back to registration, got us checked in, and then dad and I made a mad dash back to the box office. We made it with about 10 minutes to spare.

We went up to our room and I got unpacked and changed for the show. We headed down around 8:40 or so. Dad took some pictures in the theater and of me while I was up onstage checking out a wooden box and signing an envelope, both of which were going to be used in the show.

Penn came out from stage right and a stage hand was moving the box around on the stage. I knew that Teller was going to come out of the box, which he did, but I have NO CLUE how it got in the box to begin with. The entire show was trick after trick that I had no clue how they were done. It's been YEARS since that's happened. It was wonderful.

Some more notable tricks included a cell that we saw be thrown in a bucket hanging on the stage ending up inside a fish that was in a taped box under a seat in the audience. I've seen that one online before but have no clue how they do it.

Teller made some goldfish appear out of no where in a fish bowl and cut a flower using only the shadow of it. He also managed to escape from a garbage bag full of helium without making a hole in it as well as make a ball move around the stage and jump through a hoop without touching it.

Penn floated Teller up and poured liquid out of him like a teacup. He also used a nail gun to punch nails in wood and would bring it up to to hand at random intervals and not have a nail puncture him all while talking to us. He did some mentalism and knew what jokes two audience had picked out of books.

Penn brought an audience member on stage to film some close up “magic” and was directing the person where to point the camera with his language and hands while Teller was handing him stuff through a cut in the backdrop. Teller came on video and said the trick your seeing is not the trick we're doing. At the end, it ended up that the audience member WAS Teller wearing a mask. Was it ever a member of the audience?

They brought out a metal detector like is used at the airport and showed us some the Bill of Rights written on metal. They said they want to flood the airport with them and when it goes off, to tell them that you forgot to give them your rights. They also have a comb that has a plastic blade inside, which does NOT set off the metal detector.

I got to hold a large piece of paper while teller put a handkerchief in it, then tapped it with his magic wand, and the handkerchief disappeared leaving only sparkles. I had it in my hands and I didn't feel the handkerchief go any where!! Magic like that is so awesome!! I heard the sparkles go in from the wand, but did not know the handkerchief was gone.

They ended the show with their double magic bullet trick. Considering I don't know how they did it with one of them, I definitely have no clue how they both do it. I got pictures with each of them after the show, which was great.

On our way back to the room we stopped at one of the stores near the elevator and dad bought some wine and I bought some food for us. We hadn't really eaten today so the chicken salad sandwiches slid right down. We didn't get to bed until close to midnight and the alarm is set for 5 am.

Monday, August 27, 2012

We both woke up before the alarm went off around 4 am. I got in the shower and thought there was a bath mat in it, but there wasn't. I lost my balance and ended up whacking my knee on the door pretty good. It was turning red in the shower so I knew it was going to be a bruise.

We walked over to Gold Coast which is where the bus was picking us up from. We road over to their headquarters where we listened to a talk about the day and was able to get some food. We got on another bus and headed to the Grand Canyon.

Out first stop was at the Hoover Dam. It's pretty impressive that we were able to build something like that, especially in the 1930's. I think the guide said that 6 men died during the construction, which isn't too bad if you think about it.

From the Hoover Dam we went to Kingsman,AZ and got some food at McDonald's. I just got a McFlurry as I wasn't all the hungry yet for some reason. I took a nap and listened to my MP3 player the rest of the way.

Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time was amazing. I wish I could see it during a sunrise or sunset too. I took some pictures and then I headed off on the 2.5 mile walk to the pickup point. Dad stayed behind and went with the bus.

I took a lot of pictures on the walk, and even got brave and laid on my stomach over the edge and took pictures straight down. I finally got up enough courage and stood near the edge of the canyon and some people took a picture of me.

I actually almost missed the bus back. I have no idea how I ended up being the last person as I could have swore I had passed people and I never saw them pass me. I did get to see a beautiful double rainbow over the Grand Canyon though.

We headed back and stopped at McDonald's again. I got a McChicken but it ended up being spicy so I gave it to dad and I had one of his McDoubles instead. They were both cold by the time we got around to eating them, but it was food.

We got in around 10:30 pm or so. My knee was still a little swollen and is starting to change to a purple color. After we put all the pictures on the computers and got out stuff ready for Bryce Canyon ion the morning, we went to bed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We slept a little later today and got up at 4:30. I took another shower but was careful not to step in the shower too hard and slip again. We met this pick up at the Rio, where we're staying, so it was a lot less stressful in that regard. We didn't have to walk anywhere.

We went to Mandalay Bay and got in the van that we would be taking. Dad took a lot of pictures until the first rest stop where disaster struck. Dad put his camera on the back of the toilet and the toilet wasn't bolted down. When he sat down, the camera fell, and broke. We finished the day with only my camera. For a while he wouldn't even use it, but eventually took pictures with it.

This was definitely a better tour than the one yesterday. Not only was the scenery better, but they had stops planned out that were good photo opportunities. I guess that's why they call themselves Adventure Photo Tours. Their name definitely fits them.

I'm not even sure how to describe everything we saw. Zion National Park and Virgin River Gorge were just beautiful. Some of the formations are mind boggling. Even knowing how they were formed doesn't help wrap your mind around what they look like. It's just indescribable.

They even made a road through the mountains with lookout holes on the side so you could look out while you're driving through. Everything was so colorful and so big. Pictures don't do it justice unless there is something in the foreground to give some sort of perspective.

When we left Zion, James, the driver/guide, gave us our lunches. It was a VERY good turkey sandwich. I don't know if I was just that hungry, or if it was just that good. Either way, it was good. It also came with some chips and cookies. I traded my cookies for dad's chips, as chips are easier for me to eat.

Words and pictures cannot describe Bryce Canyon. They just can't. The reds are beautiful and the hoodoos are just awesome. I just don't know what to say about it. It was so beautiful and inspiring to see what nature can do with enough time.

Our first stop was Bryce Point, which was over 8,000 feet about sea level. Then we went to Sunset point, which was even more spectacular. I even had the chance to hike down into the canyon and take some pictures from that vantage point, which was amazing, especially with people to use as perspective points. Without them, you wouldn't have a clue how big everything was.

The hike down was painful on my knees and the hike up was downright miserable. The altitude difference really made it hard to breathe. I made it though and I'm so happy I went down in the first place. I might not have had a lot of time down there, but I had enough to know that I'd definitely go back and do it again.

James played some movies on the way back and we stopped at McDonald's again. Neither dad or I were hungry so we didn't get anything. It's amazing how much we did today and how little we've eaten. Then again, I am usually not hungry after exercise and climbing up that canyon was exercise for sure.

We got back to the Rio around 9 pm. I went up to the Mezzanine level and looked at the stores. I found a Burger King, which will be nice. Now we can actually eat when we are hungry and not pay an arm and a leg for it. I was hoping to find a camera store but didn't find one. I found one online though and it opens at 9 am. I guess that will be our first stop in the morning.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We got to sleep in today but still woke up around 7 am. I got everything ready for walking the Strip today and then showered. We called the camera store and the repair person wasn't in yet. Around 10:30, when he still wasn't there, we just took a taxi and headed over as they said he'd be there any minute.

He wasn't able to fix dad's camera and I ended up buying one. It's a nice little Nikon point and shoot and the salesperson said it would take my lowlight pictures that I want of the Strip at night. I hope it does because I spent over $300 on it.

I had wanted to go straight to the Strip but with the new camera box and dad's camera case, we decided to go back to the hotel and drop them off first. I played around with my new camera and it has some nice features. It will take panoramic pictures. I no longer have to stitch them together. I wish I had this yesterday!!

After we dropped off everything we didn't need, we headed downstairs and took the shuttle to Bally's and from there the Deuce to the Stratosphere. When we first got there the outer observation deck was closed due to lightening but on our way up in the elevator they opened it.

I like the inner observation deck better as it wasn't blocked by fences and whatnot so I could get better pictures. I could zoom with my camera all the way to the airport and got some good pictures of planes landing and taking off. The out observation deck was surrounded by two guard fences so getting good pictures was a lot more difficult.

From the Stratosphere, we took the shuttle to Circus Circus. We watched a trapeze act and then made our way to the back and checked out the AdventureDome. I didn't by a wristband to ride any rides, but I did enjoy looking around and seeing everything they had. Not only did they have a roller coaster, but they had a water ride also. All inside. Crazy.

I made the executive to decision to go all the way south to the Luxor next so we could see Bodies: The Exhibition. I really wanted dad to see it. We rode the Deuce down and took some pictures of the Luxor's statues and whatnot before heading in. We couldn't take any pictures in the exhibit but it was still nice. It had things marked and had information about some things, which Body World's didn't have. They didn't have a comparison of an obese person and a normal weight person though, which I really enjoyed at Body World's. Their comparison of a healthy lung with a smoker's lung was neat though. They had clear container next to it and urged people to give up smoking and leave their packs in the container. It was almost full. I wonder how often they have to empty it and I wonder how many of those people really quit.

By this time it was getting dark. My Nikon camera's batteries had died and dad was using my Sony, which does not do a good job in low light. We went back to the hotel and I put my camera on charge. I wish I had thought of buying a second battery for it.

I debated for a while about going back to the Strip to take nighttime pictures of the Strip from the Eiffel Tower as well as get a good view of the Bellagio Fountain show. I finally decided to go and ended up taking a taxi because the shuttles were full and the fountain show ended at midnight.

The taxi dropped me off at Harrah's and I walked over to Paris, which is where I asked to be dropped off at. Everyone seems to hear those two words wrongly. Oh well. I made it up the Eiffel Tower in time to see the last two fountain shows and got some good pictures of the Strip as well.

I walked back to Bally's and caught the shuttle back. Dad was already in bed so I didn't get to show him the pictures I took. I got to bed around 1 am. I'm glad I didn't have to get up early.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I got up at 9 am with the alarm. There's no use getting up much earlier as the shuttle from Rio to the Strip doesn't start running until 10 am. I was really tired and wasn't all that eager to get out of bed. I definitely could have used more sleep.

It was a slow start to the day. We headed up to Burger King and had breakfast. Around noon we took the shuttle to Harrah's and walked across the street to the Mirage. We took some pictures outside of the little waterfalls and sculptures before heading inside. We made our way to the back and went to the Dolphin Habitat and Secrete Garden. The dolphins were really cute. They even had some young ones that were only about a year old. The Secret Garden had lions, a panther, and tigers, even white tigers. It must have been nap time when we got there because a lot of them were sleeping.

We walked about a half mile south on the Strip and took pictures along the way. Then we went to McDonald's and each had a large milkshake. It was hot outside and it was nice to get some cold liquid in us. We decided to call it a day from there and walked back to Bally's and caught the shuttle back to the Rio.

A did some packing and then about a 1.5 hour nap and got up around 6:45 pm. I wish I could have slept longer but the Chippendale's show was at 8 pm and I definitely was not going to miss that. I had planned on showering beforehand but was just too tired.

I LOVED the show. I got a lap dance, one of their shirts they ripped off, some kisses, some pats on the butt. It was just great. They had a contest and 3 girls went up on stage. The first one performed a lap dance for one of the Chippendale's, the second one was supposed to show her favorite sexual position and her tube top ended up falling down, exposing herself, and the third one had to creatively put a condom on a banana. She was more creative than I could have been, that's for sure. Jaymes, the emcee, asked how liked good boys and only a few people raised their hands., which prompted him to say that the rest must be freaks. They had one black Chippendale and he looked AMAZING in the white suit he wore during the song Smooth Criminal. They all looked rather nice in whatever they were wearing, or not wearing, for that matter.

After the show I got my picture taken with them. I had worn my shorts that zip up the side on the thighs and one of them asked me what happened if I unzipped them, so I did. They commented that it was sexy. That was the idea boys. I bought the shorts with the Chippendale's in mind. Glad to see they got noticed. I bought a nightshirt from the gifts hop that had their pictures on it and says “I spent the night with the Chippendale's.” That and the picture I had with them are the only souvenirs I've bought.

I got back to the room and put on pants to go up to the VooDoo lounge on the 51st floor. I got some great shots of the Strip. It is definitely the best view of the Strip in town. I even took a panorama with my camera. I was wondering if it could do it at night and the answer is definitely that it can. It might not have been in my budget, but I do LOVE my new camera.

I stopped at Burger King on the way down and got some Double Whoppers for dad and I. It was around midnight by the time we got to bed. The alarm is set for bright and early since our shuttle picks us up for the airport at 7:40 am.

Friday, August 31, 2012

We were up with the alarm at 6 this morning and finished packing. We went down to meet the shuttle and I took some pictures around the Rio before we left. It didn't take nearly as long to get to the airport as it did to get to the hotel. We printed out our boarding passes and made our way trough security with no problem.

We had about a 3 hour wait so I sorted and organized all the pictures we took and got some snacks from one of the stores. Our flight ended up being delayed because the plane the pilots were supposed to come in on was grounded in Ontario because it wasn't functioning. We had to wait for other pilots to land before we could leave. It wasn't that late leaving though.

I slept most of the way back. I did get some pictures though. When we landed at BWI we found the shuttle back to the long term lot easily and had no trouble getting home. Dad made some macaroni so we had something to eat and then we went to bed. It was definitely before midnight.