Friday, 20 March 2009

Freedom Road: A Big Hole & Duelling Pianos


*Random McRandom: I have just bought some cowboy boots (£5 - bargain) as part of a costume, but the woman in the shop was saying 'Oh, aren't these boots lovely?' I didn't have the heart to tell her that they were kind of for a joke outfit. I have also just read a story on Popbitch about when Daniel Radcliffe went back to school after filming the first Harry Potter. It said that some older boys locked him in a cupboard and said: 'Magic your way out of that, Potter!' I cried real tears laughing at that.*


Day Five - Las Vegas

This post will do my reputation as someone who, uh, likes a drink, no favours.

EDIT: This post should be read whilst listening to this:




Housekeeping woke us up at 11. I had not fallen asleep for ages the night before because the 3 men in the next room had a very loud, very drunk, very detailed conversation about every woman they had ever known sexually. It was quite the convo. And judging by their appearances when I saw them coming out of their room, GeekCon passes around their necks, almost entirely made up.

We went for brunch in the Luxor. I had the world’s strongest Mimosa and Jo had a Bloody Mary. Carrot Top was appearing at the Luxor. I have never heard of Carrot Top, but just going off his picture, I don’t like him. We also kept seeing signs everywhere for ‘Lance Burton: Master Magician’. Never heard of him either. Criss Angel was soon to be appearing in some new emo-magic spectacular at the Luxor so his 41-year-old-dressed-like-a-depressed-14-year-old face was everywhere.

We then went to the MGM Grand because I wanted to see the depressed lions that live in the lobby. We wander over there, almost dieing from the heat, and lo! The lions are not there. Their exhibit is being ‘maintained’ so they are in ‘another location’. The one bloody day … We wandered around for a bit, this particular casino seemed to have some very nice looking restaurants so we played the classic game of reading all the menus and picking what we would have if we were eating there and made of money.

By this point, because we had slept so late, it was time to return to Mumm-Ra’s pyramid to get ready for our helicopter odyssey to the Grand Canyon. We had gone for the sunset option – mainly because the other available option required us to be up and ready by 5 am. Not happening. We were picked up and driven to an airfield in Boulder City. We had to be weighed before we could get in the helicopter – apparently this determined where everyone would sit in the whirlybird.

Our pilot was fairly po-faced (though he later lightened up considerably when talking about the UK and its strange crisp flavours) but competent. Jo had never been in a helicopter before, but I had. It was still weird taking off vertically though. The whole point of the helicopter tour was that it went fairly slowly and kept as low as possible. About 2 minutes outside of the airport, we flew over a massive firing range. How stereotypical. Then we flew over the Hoover Dam. The dam looked fairly big from the helicopter, so it must be pretty impressive close up.

Hoover Dam

We carried on flying over the Colorado River (it was very blue – it is only once it enters the Grand Canyon that it is silted up and brown) and then eventually we came into the Grand Canyon. What can I say other than it is a really big hole? It is fairly impressive and was well worth a trip. We landed inside the Canyon on a piece of land that the pilot said belonged to the local tribe. He said they made $8 million a year in landing rights from helicopter companies. Probably because Vegas has cornered the market in casinos. Cough.

It was at this point that the champagne came out. (The next day when we woke up, we were all: ‘But we didn’t even drink that much! There were the drinks in the bar, but that was it. Oh, and the mimosa. Yeah, and the champagne.’) Refills were liberally provided. We were allowed to wander around this scrabbly little patch of the Grand Canyon and take pictures etc. Then we got back in the chopper and flew over some hills back to the airport. The pilot had his own mixtape on and it included some songs that we had already been listening to, like Hotel California, and it was a pretty sweet way to spend a sunset.

Colorado River in the Grand Canyon


We were both still pretty tired and jet lagged so we decided that we would go out. But only til about midnight because we had an 8 hour drive the next day to Salt Lake City. We decided that we would return to the piano bar we saw the night before because it had seemed really lively and like everyone was having a good time. On the way over there we realised that we had not eaten anything since brunch. Neither of us was particularly hungry, so we decided to just have some Cold Stone Creamery for our dinner. (With hindsight, this may also have been part of the problem.) I had strawberry cheesecake flavour ice cream. It was yum.

So we were walking through casinos, eating ice cream, losing IQ points for every minute we stayed in Vegas, and we entered the Times Square Duelling Piano Bar in New York, New York. Almost instantly a guy called Tom from Philadelphia came over and struck up a conversation. His group of friends included some pretty weird people – the one guy who was speaking to us for over an hour before realising we were English, the married guy who was groping anything vaguely female etc – and at one point he told us that we ‘were really nice people’. Erm, mate, you don’t know us. Especially because you just said that!


Air piano


The piano players were really good, they played whatever you wanted (I made Jo request ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen). For reasons unknown, they kept playing ‘Champagne Supernova’ by Oasis and this was the first time we heard what would become one of the anthems of the trip: ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Elton John ...


The night kept getting more and more surreal. Lots of shenanigans involving an Elton John wig. At one point a small Asian woman, dressed in a skirt suit and mother-of-the-bride style hat, appeared playing a cow bell to the delight of the whole crowd. We met another guy from England who was riding around America on a motorbike. We met Hot Colombian Guy, who, as his name suggests, was hot. There was a Mexican guy who looked like David Gest looking at the back of a spoon. This conversation occurred:

Swedish guy: Hello! I’m from Sweden!
Me: Hello! I’m drunk!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these pictures can speak for themselves. Jo had control of the camera for the night so they are mostly of me. And, yes, those are all different drinks.

Drunk, drunker, drunkest.
Jo & HCG

At one point I wandered out of the bar to find the bathrooms, I could hear that the fire alarm was going off and a recorded message was telling us to evacuate. I ignored it and went right back in shouting ‘Woooooaahhhhh we’re halfway there, woooooooooaaaaoooooooow livin’ on a prayer’.
At some point we decided we should leave. We looked at the time, it was 4am. For some reason we started talking to a random man who was walking towards the Luxor too. He said he was an off duty cop. I said that I didn’t believe him because he was alone in Vegas at 4am – you can be whoever you want to be. I made him get out his badge. I then proceeded to incriminate ourselves, telling him that we would be driving tomorrow ‘so don’t breathalyse us!’ *Disclaimer: don’t drink and drive kids*

When we got back to the room, Jo revealed that she had brought a big print out of Chan’s face with her. Chan was supposed to be on the trip with us but for property purchasing reasons, had not been able to come. This picture is the result, god help us:



We hadn’t even gambled. We hadn’t made it further down the Strip than Caesar’s Palace. We had barely made it to bed.


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