Earning My Ears
- Oct 27, 2013
Mike and Sam Go West!
A Holiday Extravaganza
Wow this was an early wake up for the first day of the holiday. But to be honest due to my shift work, and the fact that our body clock was telling us it was 1:30pm, getting up was very little issue! Sam jumped straight in the bathroom and once she was out I made a bee-line for the shower. When I got out I noticed Sam was behind the curtains taking photos of the view out of the window. And I also noticed a small panel on the wall with buttons. Drapes? Blinds? Open & Closed? Surely this wasn't... but it was! Button operated curtains! Love it! There was also a panel I hadn't noticed next to the bed - literally spend the next few days playing with those!
The view would only have been nicer if it was the Strip but we weren't fussy, still looked awesome! (even if it was the I-15!) We didn't have long really to get ourselves ready, as we had to navigate our way downstairs to the "Tour Lobby" for our tour. We were taking a tour by Canyon Tours, which was a "Deluxe" tour, which departed straight from the Strip which saved a bit of time, but also boasted a stop at the Hoover Dam rather than just driving past it which Sam really wanted. The concierge had told me that to get to the tour lobby (which isn't heavily signposted) you have to leave the main entrance to the hotel, turn right, and take the escalator downstairs (tip for anyone staying at the Bellagio - thats where it is!).
Down there it felt somewhat like a kiln - stone walls and floors and 100 degree heat, phroar! We had to look for our tour guide who would be wearing a "bright orange shirt" - we couldn't see any! Our pick up time came and went and I was getting a little anxious, but soon a coach turned up with a chap wearing a bright orange shirt - his name, Jean Claude - wow this guy was gonna be entertaining! He was probably in his late 50s or early 60s, French, and hilarious. He had several lines he said quite a lot during the day "HOLY COW!" and "Well guess what?!" - loved it! He said we had a couple of pick ups left to do, and then we were soon on our way towards the Hoover Dam.
The drive to the Hoover Dam really doesn't take a huge amount of time, probably around 25 minutes or so. You have to go through security before they let you onto the dam (basically a member of the police got onto the coach with a torch and searched in the baggage compartments for anything dodgy - it took all of 20 seconds). Having just seen the film San Andreas, Sam said she couldn't quite wait to not be standing on the actual dam itself! We drove along it which was pretty cool, crossing into Arizona by doing so. We drove up to a view point which over looked the dam and disembarked to take some pictures.
We also grabbed our breakfast box which we were allowed to eat on the coach and some water. It wasn't a bad offering to be fair. It consisted of a huge Blueberry muffin, a red apple, some orange juice, some butter (lord knows why?) and some Cheese Crackers with Peanut Butter filling. Oh my lord GOD they were good! So good in fact only the other day I looked on Amazon to import them haha! Sam saved hers for later for me to eat because she knew how much I enjoyed them
Jean Claude had a battle on his hands today from all the tourists which couldn't seem to understand basic English. He made some very basic requests, keep the air con vents OPEN and keep the window shades CLOSED - yep no one could understand that other than us it would seem! The drive on towards the West Rim of the Grand Canyon took about 1 1/2 hours or so on from the dam, and for the drive Jean Claude had stuck on a DVD about the Grand Canyon National Park, lots of interesting facts about wildlife. Most of the coach slept but I thought it was pretty interesting, also to see the stuff out of the window. JC gave us some information about what to do when we got to the Grand Canyon, and we were soon getting off the bus into stupid stupid heat - 120 degrees! Phroar this was hot. Sam immediately wanted to be inside so darted for the toilet block whilst I waited outside.
The Grand Canyon operates as a shuttle bus tour kind of thing. As you'll see there are 3 stops on the shuttle bus which runs in a loop, Hualapai Ranch is the first stop, the actual west rim and the Skywalk is next, followed by Guano Point which is where lunch was being served. Although he said there wasn't much to see at Hualapai Ranch we thought we may as well have a look - else whats the point in having the whole tour!
We were greeted by a chap/cowboy on a horse which was pretty cool! We headed into the ranch and Sam gravitated towards to jail first. He was right, there wasn't a huge amount to see, but you couldn't not see it. The best part however was the private magic show that we got to see! A very well spoken American chap caught our ear and he called us in where he showed us a free, and very cool 10 minute magic show with cards - he said he was probably on the watch list for every casino in Vegas! We hopped back onto the next shuttle bus which came along and that took us to the actual west rim. Wow. What a sight that was before us.
I couldn't quite believe that I was standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. There is literally nothing stopping you plunging over the edge. We were amazed that people were literally standing right at the very edge of a 2500 foot drop! This was about as far as Sam dared to go but I did edge a little closer to have a bit more of a death defying look over the edge. I'm pretty good with heights being a pilot, but being on the edge of that gave me the heebie jeebies! The wind was a little gusty up there, and one sharp gust must have been able to send one of the idiots dangling their legs over the edge to an untimely end!
Just a complete, sheer, drop! The Colorado River running right down at the bottom there was where Jade & family were today - opting to take the expensive helicopter out to the Canyon and then go on a river raft for a little while - we naturally didn't see them being a few miles away but that was about it for the glimpse of the river!
They also had the Skywalk which you can see above. For a small fee (I think about $30?) you can pay to go out there and walk on a glass floor out over the Canyon. As tempting as it sounded, Sam really wasn't up for that kind of thing, and I'm pretty sure I would have got a bit of vertigo if I had gone too! You also aren't allowed to take anything out there with you, so no cameras etc - meaning really its just a thrill walk and thats that! Getting close enough to the edge was good enough for me haha! The guide at the rim edge said that they had had a good year for jumpers this year with 0 fatalities, but last year wasn't quite so good with 17!
We were feeling a bit peckish now, so hopped on the bus to Guano Point which was the final stop of the day where lunch was being served. Today I think there was the choice of chicken which looked pretty hideous, or Pulled BBQ Beef - I think it is evident what most people would choose in this scenario! Funnily enough as you will see in the video - who happened to be sitting on the table behind - Sam's friend Charlotte! She was also here for the wedding and we had briefly met up at the hotel the night before, so I completely didn't realise who she was until she crept on Sam!
After lunch time was running a bit short as we had spent so long at the West Rim, and we didn't have a huge amount of time to begin with anyway! So we hopped back onto the shuttle bus and we were back at the main terminal within about 7 or 8 minutes. We of course had to have a look through the gift shop and we bought a couple of bits and pieces, before boarding the coach back to Vegas. There was a slight delay in leaving as 2 people hadn't shown up on time, Jean Claude saying ahh forget it they'll have to walk home haha! Love it! Just as we were about to pull off back to Vegas though they turned up - damn!
The journey back to Vegas was pretty uneventful, except for the argument which broke out between the tour guide and the driver - which was nothing short of hilarious! "I'm never working with you again!" the driver shouted. "SSSSSSHHHH!" said JC haha! all because the dispatcher was messing the tour guide around on which hotels to drop off at in which order. Anyway, we weren't due back to the hotel until 1730 but we managed to get back by 1630 which was an absolute bonus! It means we could have a little rest before we headed out for the evening. We grabbed a couple of very expensive drinks from the shop in the Bellagio, and some snacks, and headed back to the room.
We were heading to the Luxor tonight to watch Criss Angel - Believe - one of the more affordable Cirque du Soleil shows on the Vegas strip! I had also seen that for a mere $20 there was an all you can eat buffet at the Luxor (Vegas is basically one big competition for buffets - every hotel has a buffet which varies in standard and price!) so thought why not! There was a free monorail which takes you to the Luxor (as well as a few other hotels along the way) from the Bellagio, so we hopped aboard and a few minutes later we had arrived.
The Luxor was simply amazing inside! We didn't stop to take any photos because we were both dying for food, so made a bee-line for the buffet restaurant (which seemingly is quite hard to find when you don't know where you're going - Vegas hotels are a bit like a diversion route on British roads, you get pointed in one direction and then the signs just magically dry up! ) - but I think I did get some photos the following day so I will hopefully include them then.
We both found the food really good! The buffet has several different stations. A cold seafood section, American, Italian, British, Other...! Plus a huge selection of buffet dessert too - and you can never go wrong with dessert! So all in all very good. There was also Mountain Dew on tap which was more than amazing - my first glass of Dew this holiday! And many more to come. Long story short - we recommend the Luxor buffet!
We had a good hour to kill between finishing dinner, and the doors opening to the show, so I decided to introduce Sam to the wonderful world of casino gambling. I enjoy a good gamble, but I never really have enough cash to flash to do it properly, so it normally comes down to about a tenner. Sam started winning a few cents at a time, and I think I lost about $5. I had a $5 note in my wallet and Sam wanted to go on the Wheel of Fortune machines, so I said ok I'll spend this and then thats that for this evening. So I pulled the handle, and well...
Quickly cashing out I decided to watch Sam for a little while more, she won about $10 which is better than nothing, before I said its probably best that we cash out and get ready for the show - didn't want to miss it!
I had watched Criss Angel's magic tv show on tele as a kid on MTV (or VH1 or whatever it was at the time!) so to get to see him live was pretty cool for me. It was a very gothicky magic show and the tricks were absolutely amazing. Some of the things he managed to pull off still were making me think HOW even to right now! Although his personality was something left to be desired, the show was pretty awesome, and the theatre was half empty tonight - so we were invited by the crew to move from our $50 seats to the $120 seats - bit of a result all around I think!
Needless to say by chucking out time which was about 22:30 - we were shattered! And it was a fair old trek back to the Bellagio! So instead of hanging around we decided to put best foot forward and make a move home. We had been told the monorail stopped running at 10pm which was obviously a lie, as when we were WALKING back up the strip in the boiling hot heat, we saw it going over head. It took about 20 minutes I think to walk to the Monte Carlo, where we boarded the next monorail back to the Bellagio - and we were back in our suite by about 23:15 after grabbing a few more expensive drinks on the way up to the room! Shattered was an understatement - the heat really takes it out of you!
We didn't have an as early start in the morning, but we did have to get up fairly promptly as we were about to embark on our self guided Las Vegas Strip tour - we were hitting the hotels south of us tomorrow so a fair bit of walking all in all - plus we had the wedding in the evening - so it was going to be a long day! So as soon as our heads hit that pillow we were OUT!
Thanks all for reading todays TR, and hopefully watching, liking and subscribing to the vlog on my YouTube Channel - be sure to watch out for Day 4 coming soon! Comments & Questions are welcome as always