So, Wednesday we got up bright and early (6am is TOO early) to meet a shuttle bus that was picking us up.
It dropped us at the underground car park of Planet Hollywood where we got a very crappy breakfast (a honey bun and a bottle of water doesnt not a breakfast make) before boarding a coach that was going to take us to the Grand Canyon. Our driver was called Leroy and during our trip he gave us a brief history of the area all the way to our first stop which was Hoover Dam. We only got a few minutes off the bus to take a few pictures before we had to reboard. It was only after we had stopped at the dam that we were shown a video on the building of it.
The very Grand Canyon
I have to say I was a sight more impressed with it after viewing the video. It took 14 years and over 100 mens deaths to build it, the greatest construction ever at the time.
We spent a long time on the bus, we boarded at 7.30am, stopped at Hoover dam for a few minutes then didnt stop again until luch time, where we all disembarked and had to fight through not only our bus worth of other passengers but a second busload to get to the buffet. After a rather stodgy meal (I had two helpings to make up for the pitiful breakfast) we all climbed back aboard the bus to continue on to the canyon. We finally arrived about 1.30pm and were given an hour to enjoy the view. We had a few minutes walk to get to the south rim, and it was worth it.
The view was stunning, so vast you couldnt take it all in t start with. At over 7000 ft above sea level, we could see for miles and miles. We stood with our mouths open for a few minutes before taking many pictures.
It was surprisingly chilly at the sumit, we had expected it to be quite warm and had not brought any warm layers but we didnt care as we were too preoccupied with admiring the scenery. The hour passed far too quickly and we had to return to the bus. We travelled a short distance, stopping for a further 45 minutes at a gift/food stop. Why we couldnt have been given longer at the south rim I dont know but at the back of the gift shop there was a pretty good view of the canyon so it wasnt too bad.
We then had to reboard the bus and spend over 5 hours travelling back.
We got to watch a couple of movies so it wasnt as boring but it was still way too long sitting down in one day. I wsh we'd had the money to take a helicopter over the canyon, THAT would of been cool! We arrived back at our hotel at 9pm and went straight upstairs to the buffet room. We had signed up for the free Sahara club card as it meant the dinner buffet was only $6.99 instead of $13.99. We stuffed ourselves silly *eyes waistline dispairingly* before heading to bed.
Our last full day was a busy one. We rose early(ish) and decided to forgo lazing by the pool as it was a bit windy. We hopped on the bus and went down to the start of the strip. We got off at the Luxor hotel, which is shaped like a pyramid with a huge sphinx in front of it.
The Luxor hotel
We played tourist, taking photos of each other sitting on the statues and posing in front of them. The Excalibur is a huge castle, New york-New York recreates the New York skyline with huge statues of the empire state building, the statue of liberty and other buildings with a rollercoaster running through them, Treasure Island has pirate ships sitting in a lake in front of it, MGM has a huge bronze lion (the largest bronze statue in the Northern hemisphere)
outside, Paris has a huge recreation of the Eiffel Tower.
We went into the MGM building as we had heard it had a lion habitat. I was a bit dubious at first, a hotel having lions on show sounded dodgy but it turned out to be very well done.
Rachel riding a statue
Just on the edge of the casino is a large glass cage, with a waterfall, fake trees and rocks to try and give a natural look. There were two one year old lions on display, a male and female sibling pair called Gino & Belladonna. Inside with the lions were three trainers, who were playing with the lions, rolling big plastic balls around for them to chase. It was like watching a huge version of Phoebe playing with one of her toys. There was a speaker that explained about the lions, that they dont belong to MGM, they are owned by an individual called Keith Evans. He owns 38 lions in all, and they live on his ranch 12 miles away from the casino. The lions are only on display once every 4-5 days for 4 hours. They are all decendants of the original MGM lion (the one that used to roar at the start of films).
At one point the lions laid down in the trainers arms for a cuddle, Rachel went very mushy at this point.
After we tore ourselves away from cooing over the lions we wandered further down the strip, stopping into the M&M store on the way. There is an actual store dedicated to M&M's! The store is 4 floors, with every kind of merchandise possible bearing the M&M characters. On the 1st floor one wall is completely taken up with different tubes, each containing a different type of M&M. There were tubes for all the different coloured M&M's, the peanut M&M's, the mixed M&M's and even had centain mixtures of M&M's, one was called 'spring'!?!
We got as far as the miracle mile, a huge indoor mall lined with shops that had the facade of an old fashioned outdoor harbour, complete with thunder storm every hour.
New York-New York
We spent a while shopping, I was in desperate need of a strappy top as all I have are vest tops and it took a while to find one I liked. We then had dinner at a mexican resturant before catching the bus back up the strip to Hooters. We had bought tickets (at the half price stall naturally) to see an act called The Mentallist. a guy cally Gerry McCambridge, he seemed to be the US version of Derren Brown. There was quite a crowd, the place was filled to capacity (something we later found out was partially due to the fact that you got free tickets when you signed up to get a Hooters card) and we got seats quite close to the stage. It was an entertaining show, first thing he did was call 9 people onto the stage, sit one down with a telephone book and gave the other nine a brown envelope each to hold. He then got a member of the audience to pick a page number from the phone book, a different person to pick the column number and then the person holding the book to say stop as he was going down the list of numbers.
He got her to call out the number which yet another member of the audience wrote down on a piece of cardboard. Once the number was wrtitten down he got the people holding the envelopes to open them one by one. The nine envelopes each held one number, which low and behold listed the number that had been picked at 'random' from the book.
He also got us to write our names down on a piece of paper, first, middle and last name, along with any nickname we might have. He then got us to write down a question we wanted answering, not one we knew the answer to but a question we wanted to know thwe answer to. All the pieces of paper were collected by an old guy picked from the audiance, who jumbled them up and put them into a bag while Gerry was getting himself ready.
Cuddly lions at the MGM Lion habtat
This involved him taping silver dollars over his eyes with duct tape. A pretty convincing way to prove he would not be able to see during the trick. He then took the bag, screwing up the pieces of card in his hand until one 'spoke to him'. He then called out the initials of the person he 'felt'. That person had to stand up and say 'yes Gerry, those are my initials'. At one point the initials RS were called out and Rachel got al excited and stood up to say the required line. Unfortunatly there were a couple of other people's initials too and it turned out to be someone else. But he managed to know exactly what they had written down and even threw the piece of paper back to them to prove it was their paper.
Once it was over we queued up to buy his DVD, which Rachel got signed.
King of the (man made) jungle
She also posed for a photo with him which she was very excited about. We then signed up for the Hooters card, receiving vouchers for a couple of free events, one of which was a stand up comedian who was performing at 9pm. It was 8.30 so we stuck around and caught this one for free (we're learning). it was a Jewish guy called Bobby Slayton whose act was basically insulting everyone. He slated marriage, Jewish people, black people, gays, mexicans, and anyone in the audience that caught his eye. It was funny, but somewhat near the knuckle at points.
Once the show was over were decided to play our 'free $100 slot play'. We gave our voucher to the women by the roped off machines, she placed a crisp $100 bill into the machine and all we had to do was hit the button. Each go was $2 so we got 50 chances. Rachels first play won her 950 credits. You had to earn 1700 credits before you could redeem $50, or get a certain line up on the machine to win the jackpot of $1000. Needless to say I won nothing and was soon finished. Rachel took a while longer to play all of her credits but eventually wound up at the same point as me, winning diddily squat.