Saturday, February 26, 2011

...Didn't Stay in Vegas

Our second day in Nevada, State # 28, we rented a car and drove to Hoover Dam.  Fascinating drive...this is desert terrain totally foreign to me.  "It might as well be Mars!"

When you visit this dam, I hope you have a beautiful day, like we did.  It is best to go the day goes on, the crowds grow.  When we left, the cars on the 2-lane road leading to Hoover Dam were bumper-to-bumper inching their way along to this attraction...same thing on the Arizona, State # 3, side.  (The bridge is now was in a Super Bowl commercial!)

Of course, we took the tour down into the dam.  Our guide was, "Eeyore," I've changed his name to protect his family, but this guy was so negative it was comical.  He pointed out every crack and leak along the way and talked about budget cutbacks stalling maintenance on the elevators. "OH, BOTHER!"

Speaking of negative, we had planned on using our rental car to drive into Arizona and see the Skyway Bridge over the Grand Canyon.  The shuttle driver to the airport told us, "Do NOT tell the agent where you're taking the car, because he won't give it to you."  Apparently, cars that travel onto the reservation to the bridge never one piece!

We took his advice and spoke nothing of our plans.  We set out for the dam determined to go on to the Skyway Bridge.  An hour later, we stopped at the park ranger station for the Lake Mead Recreation Area, where we saw a SUV smoking and leaking oil onto the parking lot.  Inside we chatted with "Ranger Rebecca" and she informed us "off the record," that we should NOT go to the bridge...the reasons why included -
  • the smoking car in the parking lot had just been there;
  • it is NOT actually over the Grand Canyon;
  • you will pay $25 to access the reservation;
  • then you will pay $25 to use their road (dirt path) to the bridge;
  • you will pay $15 (now $29.95 ) each to walk out onto the bridge for 15 minutes, ONLY;
  • then you will pay $25 to have your picture taken on the bridge (cameras strictly prohibited);
  • and if you need to be towed off the reservation that will be another $50.
We scrapped our plans to visit the Skyway Bridge (saved $105) and decided to drive around Lake Mead to the Valley of Fire State Park before returning to Las Vegas.

NOTE:  Check out their website and you may be able to see the digitally enhanced presentation.  It is what sold me on the idea. 

As it turned out, we had a great time exploring this strange and beautiful land.

Our drive back into Vegas took us through the parts of town where "CSI" is filmed...we hurried along and were relieved to be back on The Strip.

Obviously, most visitors to this city are here to gamble.  I should tell you that we did try our hand at the tables and I am glad to report that we came out $33 ahead!  And in case you are interested, the Bellagio had the nicest casino floor, when we were there.  (The ARIA, right next door, has since opened.) 

WARNING:  The stench of tobacco smoke is awful in these casinos; that was the main reason we did not spend much time in them.

Other tourists, like us, are here for the incredible shows.  We saw 4 and yes, one was a topless revue!

  On our first night, we saw O, an aquatic masterpiece of surrealism and theatrical romance from Cirque du Soleil.

At the time, the late show was half-price!  We had front row seats and only got splashed a little in the finale, when the entire cast was on stage.

As far as we are concerned, this is a MUST see.  Guy was amazed by the stage that turned from puddle, to pool, to pond, to lake right before your eyes!  We are big fans of Cirque du Soleil, but after this we won't be going to the Big Blue Tent anymore.  Theatres specifically built for these performances are a large part of the show.  The cast was do they do that stuff?  And where else would Olympic divers get a job?

Be sure to arrive early to see the art of Richard McDonald.  Gorgeous sculptures of the Cirque du Soleil performers are on display and you can buy one, if you like.

On our last evening in Las Vegas, we saw at the MGM Grand.

, the unprecedented, gravity-defying production by Cirque du Soleil  takes adventure to an all new level.  is a heroic journey of love and conflict, set within a dynamic theatrical landscape, as an entire empire appears on KÀ's colossal stage and a captivating display of acrobatics envelops the audience.

You will not believe your eyes, as the battle scene goes vertical with the stage, but you will feel the heat!  Keep your head down because those warriors are shooting real arrows!  This was Guy's favorite of the 2 Cirque du Soleil shows we experienced.  Unlike other Cirque shows (22 in all)  has a plot and a moving storyline.  Definitely add this to your Las Vegas itinerary.

On a related note, when you visit the MGM Grand, stop by CBS Television City.  This is an ongoing focus group facility for CBS and Universal.  The day we visited, we were paid to watch an episode of the "Rachael Ray Show" and answer questions about the advertisements.


Inside Bally's Las Vegas, we attended our one and only ever, topless musical revue entitled...
We experienced the most glitter inside of Las Vegas, from million dollar sets to costumes by Bob Mackie and obviously, bare-breasted girls!   (No one mentions the gorgeously fit male dancers wearing thongs!)

 Jubilee's lavish stage spectacular has been entertaining Las Vegas audiences for two decades. 
Their vignettes include the sinking of the Titanic and the spectacular destruction of the Temple of Sampson and Delilah.  And of course, there are the world famous Las Vegas Jubilee dancers who have been voted "Best Showgirls" by the Las Vegas Review Journal's "Best of Las Vegas" reader's poll.

Two things you should know about this show...first, two nights of the week this show is done fully costumed, meaning no bare breasts.  And second...these beautiful people are athletes, I doubt there was any girl on stage as large as a C-cup.  This is not a strip will see actual talent here.  Besides, go for the finale and see the aerodynamically impossible feathered and bejeweled costumes with spectacular headpieces!

 We also enjoyed the most intelligent show in Vegas, as these two - magicians (?), illusionists (?), truth tellers (?), geniuses(?) - put on 90 minutes of magic and juggling using acerbic comedy to debunk some major magic tricks while demonstrating the art of illusion.  Saying anymore might spoil the show, so just let me say...

Go see this show, inside the RIO, it will not disappoint.  And afterwards, they are both very generous and genuinely funny gentlemen, talking with the audience in the lobby.  We have an autographed program!

Before I end my final post from Nevada, I would like to tell you "Lady Luck" was certainly with us on our journey and to say "Viva Las Vegas" and thank you to a few special people:
  • Andrew - for all your travel advice...Enjoy your visit next month!
  • Anita & Stephen - for telling us all about Jean-Philippe Patisserie...and watching our home.
  • Claci & Jeff - for "insisting" we see O!
  • Thompson Framing - for making our menu collection...delectable!
The photos from the 4 shows were borrowed from their official websites, all other photos were taken with our camera.

And I feel sure you can hardly wait to read about State # 27...Nebraska!  So next time...

Our mutual view of Omaha's Wild Kingdom

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