In a city of lights, gambling and open alcohol you can describe Las Vegas in many ways but the one word I have to sum up our trip is: awesome. The weather, the sights, the shopping, the entertainment…everything about the city (or rather the Strip) was great. Before we had even left we were planning our return trip and what we would do again or differently. The city may be fabricated but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great place to spend some time.
The fact you can do something until 11PM and still be able to go somewhere, see something and continue your night is wonderful. We are so used to things closing down at a certain hour in Edmonton that it took a bit to remind ourselves of where we are and what it means to keep on going. There is no need to go to bed before midnight because you can always see and do more.
We did what people usually do in Vegas. We walked the strip, saw shows, gambled and went to a buffet. We stayed at the Venetian and during the check in I pulled the $20 trick to get a room upgrade. Bribing is not something I am familiar with but when I read that site I realized this was something I could try, and if it failed, I was only out $20. I did what the site recommended, put the money between my drivers license and credit card and asked if there were any complimentary room upgrades available.
The clerk was gladly checking but when she saw the $20 she smiled a big smile and worked a little harder for us. Because I don’t know what view our standard suit had before I don’t know if I ended up with a room upgrade or not but we ended up with a 37th floor view in the Palazzo tower overlooking the Treasure Island and had a view of Fashion Show Mall and north. It was a pretty incredible view and I will definitely try the $20 trick again when we return.
After surviving England’s public transit for two weeks we weren’t concerned about the Las Vegas bus system. The Deuce (Ride the Deuce!) was an effective way of getting around the Strip, except during busy hours or when the bus was full…which was often. There were times I thought it would have been faster to get out and walk then taking the bus, but when going from MGM Grand to Fremont Street having the bus was kind of nice.
On Wednesday and Thursday Jenna and I attacked the Outlet malls. Our first experience was at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets and we loved it. We had to change from the Deuce to another bus to get there but the brief moments of ‘are we going the right way’ were worth it when we arrived. This area is what South Common should have been: walking distance to everything, no need for a vehicle and a great selection of products. We spent hours walking around, slowly accumulating more bags.
On Thursday we went to the Las Vegas Outlet Center on the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard and walked the whole mall, buying as we went and spending a whole afternoon spending. We decided that both Outlet locations could be hit up in the same day assuming you start at the superior north Premium Outlets location and then ended the day at the Outlet Center.
We also saw a few shows while we were there. Courtesy of Tix 4 Tonight we were able to get a bit off the retail value of the shows we went to. We started off by seeing the Cirque du Soleil show “KA” and were floored. We left their MGM theater feeling amazing. Everything about the performance was inspiring and mesmerizing. Even the parts that weren’t interesting to me were still really well done. The stage was one of the biggest features to this performance, it added so much to the show that I often wondered how they were doing something or how it was possible. Seeing “KA” was the highlight of the trip, and that’s saying a lot because Blue Man Group and U2 were also in the mix.
After being unable to buy tickets for “Love” for several days we decided on “Blue Man Group”, which leads me to…
I Blue Myself
Jenna and I were in our seats at the Blue Man Group theater when a person from the show came up to me and asked if I would like to be a crowd participant in tonights performance. I didn’t need much more convincing and I was taken to a back office and briefed on what would happen and how I would be involved. They changed my shoes in exchange for black ones and I returned to my seat not knowing when the men with blue gloves would come for me.
The show was more humorous then I expected but the use of music and the pantomime was great. Every time the Blue Men stepped into the audience I was expecting them to come over to my section and pluck me out. Around the 3/4 mark of the show it finally happened and I was lead on stage and put into a white jumpsuit with the aid of the Blue Men. I am not sure how it happened but around this time I ended up with blue in my hair and on my face, Arrested Development references immediately ran through my head. I put on a helmet and was lead off stage.
Not to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen the show but my involvement on stage had paint, a pulley, white canvas and a 40 pound block of Jello. A Google search on this gag can elaborate more but when people ask if actual audience members were used the answer is definitely yes.
U2 360 Tour
I love U2. They are the soundtrack to my life and their shows are like nothing I have ever seen before. With only Toronto and Vancouver dates on their second leg of the 360 Tour we set out to Vegas to see them perform in the smallest venue on the North American tour. Leading up to the Rose Bowl concert being filmed the last week of shows have had a fairly standard setlist while the guys got everything sorted out, and it did not disappoint, even if it was flawed with a few grievances.
Like mentioning the stage at “KA” you have to talk about the “Claw” U2 used on this tour. I knew it was big, but I had no idea it would be that massive. The “Claw” legs went right to the edge of the field and took up Sam Boyd Stadium. As the show went on I found myself staring at the “Claw” and taking the whole sight in.
The new material from “No Line On the Horizon” sounded great live. Songs I was unsure about on the album came to life on stage. The techno remix of “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” was surprisingly good, superior to the album version, and reminded me of the U2 I knew on their 1997 PopMart tour. Prior to “No Line On The Horizon” Bono announced they were going to rock for a bit, and they did..for all of two songs.
Going from “Horizon” into “Elevation” got the crowd into it, but then all momentum of this rock train came to a halt when “In a Little While” was played. It’s a good song, a surprise from “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”, and it fit with the ‘rocket ship taking off in ‘Elevation’ and lyrically ended with ‘In A Little While’ but it ruined a great flow. Following that was “Unknown Caller” and I felt the energy get sucked right out the stadium. It may have been the encouraged sign along on the chorus to embarrassing lyrics but I got the impression that this song was not well received.
I try not to complain too much about setlists, I know that U2 will never play “Exit” or jump into a 40 foot lemon and come out rocking “Discotheque” but at least understand the flow of your songs and how not to put the brakes on a fun moment. Fortunately Bono and Edge made their way to the rotating arms of the stage and rocked “Until The End of the World” super hard. It may have been the strobe light from the stage or the arms slowly approaching each other but this song was a definite highlight.
The laser suit Bono wore during “Ultarviolet” was excellent. I am so happy this song is in rotation on this tour, it was a standout performance against all other songs I have seen live. The snippet of “In God’s Country” and the complete “Unforgettable Fire” were other stand outs. Compared to the past tours I felt the intimacy was gone, but going from an arena of 18,000 to a stadium of 42,000 can do that. To their credit U2 still tried to play to all sides of the stage, however the front audience got the majority of the face time (and rightly so). It was a fantastic show and I am eagerly awaiting their June 2010 performance when I can finally stay within my area code to see them perform.
That was our trip to Vegas. We accumulated over 4,800KM’s in distance on this trip and are looking forward to returning and seeing more of the things we missed this time around. Feel free to see the rest of the photos in the Gallery here.
Tube Steak Challenge
I had a single hot dog in Vegas…but it was really big. I don’t know if this means I can count it as a single hot dog or two? Here is a photo of the hot dog and my hand as a reference. Part of me thinks it should count as one, but due to the size of the dog I can also see how it could count as two.
Drinks are larger in Vegas and you don’t say “it’s really like the size of three drinks”, you say it’s one and move on. Further to this, Jenna was unable to finish her hot dog so was that 1.5 or a solid 2? Thoughts?
Nose Bleed Count
At the beginning of October I began a new challenge: to see how many times a year I get a nose bleed. It started off with several nose bleeds in September but I wanted to know the exact count so October began and immediately I had a nose bleed. Suddenly an odd thing happened and I was retaining my blood for two weeks…then I went the dessert and averaged a bleed a day bringing my count up to six. I even had the dreaded, and impressive, ‘double barrel’ where each nostril was bleeding, this has only happened to me one other time in recent memory.
Upon returning from Vegas I received another nose bleed so as October comes to a close my Nose Bleed Count is at an unhealthy seven. Will my Nose Bleed Challenge out pace the Tube Steak Challenge?