So yeah, we went to Las Vegas, at the prompting of MAui. Sort of a mini-honeymoon, if you will. Now, neither Beedoo! and I are fans of bright lights and noise, nor of gambling, so you might wonder why the heck we were there. Simple; same reason we were there last time: our friends!
For my part, I enjoyed myself. I saw things I hadn't seen before, and I was in a new environment for once. Frankly, when you live in The Netherlands and all your vacations go to Flagstaff, you start to miss seeing new places. Or sleeping in a hotel bed that someone else makes for you. Ah, decadence... We stayed in the same hotel as Robert, in a room in the same hallway. The hotel was cheap - which helped put my mind at ease - thanks to Robert's pre-trip research, but the shows were not. More on that in another comic!
We did a ton of stuff: we went to see the pawn shop from the Pawn Stars show (Oh, the glitter and glamour!), we ate at hotel restaurants, we 'learned' craps from a gentleman who I think needed to learn a few teaching skills, we went to a giant M&M museum and a big Coca Cola store. This is where my favourite moment of the vacation took place...
You see, in the big Coca Cola store you can order a round of little drinks, like so:
These are different Coca Cola products sold around the world. The idea is that everyone on the table samples the taste of each of the drinks, and finds out what people around the world like. There was a wide variety: some were fine, some tatsed almost completely like water, some where vile, and one was... Actually, to prevent giving out spoilers, I will call this drink Bob for now. Now, Robert always went first, and so he did with Bob. Since this drink hailed from the country where his ancestors came from, he made something of a show of telling us how great the drink will be - even though at this stage we seemed to have passed all the good drinks and went right down into gross-ville. Finally he took a sip, put it down and said "Hm, not bad...". And then it was my turn. I took a sip, and it was the most horrid, most vile, most evil concoction ever produced by human hands. It was absolutely attrocious. A sip of gassoline would have been appreciated just to wash away the taste of it. Heck, I would have accepted pressed kitten at that point. Bob was the most terrible drink that I ever poured in my throat. So, I said to Beedoo!:
"Don't drink this."
And naturally, she did, with predictable results. Then on to MAui and Chris... Meanwhile, Robert was laughing, because he had actually managed to keep a straight face while downing this awful, awful, awful drink made by bad men in a horrible country that should sink into the ocean, and deceiving me into thinking it would not be so bad.
And then, when we were done with the drink, and still laughing, an elderly security guard walked by.
"The Bob?" he asked.
"Yeah," we said.
"I thought so. I can always recognise the Bob face."
So, in conclusion, go to the Coca Cola place (do they call it a museum? I don't know), order these drinks from around the world, and try them out. But tell them to leave out the Bob. Oh wait, that's just a name I made up. Never mind, you're just going to have to suffer.
My other favourite part was a visit to Hoover Dam. This was Chris' idea, and we did this on the way back from Las Vegas to Flagstaff. And a great idea it was. I have had some affinity with Hoover Dam ever since I played the game Fallout: New Vegas, which takes place in a post-nuclear holocaust future, and in which Hoover Dam plays a central role as an object of great desire: fresh water in Lake Mead, and one of the last pre-war installations to generate electricity! The game (which was wonderful) planted a seed of interest in my mind about this old but impressive structure. So I was all too happy to go. Sadly, the big tours weren't available that day, but at least we got the small tour.
Hoover Dam is a very interesting structure, with a very interesting history. But do you know what the most interesting to me was? Generating electricity is not why it was built. As it turns out, Hoover Dam's primary function is to tame the fickle Colorado River. Before it was built, flood and drought were commonplace, and holding back development of the Southwest. The dam fixed this by turning the river into a predictable resource without which, apparently, cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas could never be. The electricity is simply generated as a by-product; its sale makes the dam self-sufficient. It's a Federal project that pays for itself. Designed with some art deco sensibilities, if you're ever in the area (as one tends to be), it's worth a stop, really.
Sadly, for much of the vacation, Beedoo! was sick, sometimes to the point where she had to stay in the hotel room. I am thankful that she was well enough to go do all the important things, but still sad that she did not enjoy herself as much as she could have. Still, if you're going to be sick, there are worse places to be sick in than a hotel room, I suppose...
And now: Pictures!
You know what none of the pictures show? How blazing hot it is out there. Folks, this is the desert. You might actually want to go visit in the winter. But then, would you still have this lovely view? (B!> yeah, you pretty much would, it'd just be colder.)
I stayed in bed instead of going to the craps lessons, and didn't get to say goodbye to Jade Griffin and the kids except over the phone. Seems like I didn't miss much though... MAui and Chris had recommended it, since their previous experience was very fun--the teacher was more of comedian, they said--but following experiences, in my experience as well, rarely measure up to the original. Something's always changed, usually not for the better (as was the case of Bearizona, which no one wanted to go to, since the price changed from $22 per carful to $22 per PERSON. Not cool, Bearizona.) I was feeling well enough to drive to the Pawn Stars shop, but the parking lot was full, and I parked further away than was strictly necessary, enduring more time in the heat than I probably should have for the condition I was in.
I also managed to go with everyone to the M&Ms store and Coke Museum (which had changed a bit from my experience... instead of all-you-can-drink Coke products, we got the tray of drinks Arno described (and it wasn't free). The carbonation helped ease my stomach a lot, even though some of the drinks were odd or just plain gross... and of course, the "Bob" Arno mentioned was horrid. (Rob, with his poker-face, was taking his revenge for when Arno brought his horrible ammonia Zwartwitjes candy to torment us all with! Well played, Rabbit!)
We did a little walking around in the afternoons and evenings to see the hotels and such, going to the Luxor, the Excalibur (which has seen better times... they're trying to get rid of their theme stuff, it seems, and it hasn't done them a lot of good... it was pretty deserted and sad-looking when we saw it), and Rob wanted to take us to see the Venetian, which has the beautifully painted ceilings you see above--that's not the sky, that's ceiling! But of course while we were there, the canals had been emptied for the first time since the hotel opened in the late 90s, so that's... well, special, but not cool... we didn't get to see the gondoliers.
I was feeling poorly again in the evening, and got some ginger ale, since the carbonation had helped me earlier and ginger is supposed to be calming to stomachs... but I suppose the carbonation actually did me no favors. My system decided to do a full purge the following day from both directions. I've never been so sick in my life, brain tumor included. I'll spare you the play-by-play, though I missed getting to say goodbye to Rob (except through the door) because I couldn't leave the bathroom. But, once everything was done being purged from my system a couple hours later, I was back to normal functioning on all levels, but Arno and I ended up spending the afternoon in the hotel room. Like Chris put it, "You've been running yourself ragged... you need to give yourself some time to rest and recoup." And this was true; I'd been hammering for months, putting the wedding together, traveling cross-continental, decorating, getting married, going to the county fair with everyone, then driving to Vegas, so I was wiped out before I even started our Phoneymoon. (I'm sure as hell not counting it as a proper honeymoon if I was sick for most of it!)
Anyway, I was up to snuff for the drive home, and Hoover Dam made an interesting stopping point. Chris had really wanted to see this, especially since he has a background in construction work, and Hoover Dam is indeed a manmade wonder. I think the last time I'd driven through, in 2005, they were in the process of constructing an overpass bridge to alleviate some traffic tie-ups. We got a good look at the completed bridge from the visitor center.
The dam was built with tourism in mind: they knew that this was something people would come to see, so it was adorned with stylish little art-deco touches, like the tiled designs on the floor (Hopi basket design inspired, but these indicate a turbine and an electrical outlet) and the towering winged figures.
Arno really squeezed every drop of power out of his camera getting these last few shots of the dam and the mountains we passed on the way home... he'd forgotten his charger.
Did we gamble at all while we were in Vegas? Well, yes... I think that's obligatory... so we both dropped $5 into machines. I played a Deal or No Deal game, which, on my first spin of the wheel, sent me to the main game, where I could choose a number of cases to eliminate, see my odds, continue, or take what they offered. I ended up winning about $15, so I came out $10 ahead. Arno tried a slot machine, then also played the Deal or No Deal and had a hard time getting to the case-choosing stage but eventually did, and after everyone participating in a tense game, ended up losing a little over $10. So we more or less broke even between us. ;p
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