The Strip and the Show

Despite a pretty terrible sleep last night, we were up and at breakfast by 9:00 am. We ate at Hash House A-Go-Go, here in the Rio hotel, and the food was great. The portions, however, were ridiculously huge.

I ordered oatmeal. It said it came with fruit – I figured some apples and raisins. This had a HUGE bowl of oatmeal, bananas, apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, orange, and mango, along with brown sugar and cream.

So, yeah, that was a big breakfast.

After we ate, we caught the free shuttle from the Rio to Harrah’s1, and decided to walk down the Strip to see the sights.

The Strip is that stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard where all the famous big hotels and casinos you’ve heard of are in Las Vegas: Harrah’s, The Bilagio, Caesar’s Palace, the Mirage, etc. It’s a long stretch of street, and the buildings are HUGE, like very fancy shopping malls stretching off the street. From TV, I know that it shows up to best effect at night, when the lights are going, but there were still some impressive things to see during the day.

These waterfalls, entirely artificial, of course, are tucked in a twist of path in front of the Wynn casino, which is the copper building you can see in the background.
These waterfalls, entirely artificial, of course, are tucked in a twist of path in front of the Wynn casino, which is the copper building you can see in the background.

We made it down to Circus Circus from Harrah’s, and decided to stop there for a drink, a rest, and a show. They have free circus acts every half-hour, and we got to see a Cuban foot-juggler2 named Osmani Perez, who was pretty amazing. Then we turned back, and walked down the other side of the street back towards Harrah’s.

In the lagoon at Treasure Island, just in front of the Senor Frog restaurant, there was a pirate ship that I thought was pretty cool.
In the lagoon at Treasure Island, just in front of the Senor Frog restaurant, there was a pirate ship that I thought was pretty cool.
In front of the Mirage, there are bronze heads of Siegfried and Roy, along with one of their tigers. The heads are easily as tall as me.
In front of the Mirage, there are bronze heads of Siegfried and Roy, along with one of their tigers. The heads are easily as tall as me.

Michael and Sandy had read that there was a dolphin habitat in the Mirage, so we went looking for it. Of course, we had to make our way through the casino, and past the restaurants and spas and bars, and out the other side, past the pool. But there we found Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden3 and Dolphin Habitat.

We didn’t hesitate to slap our money down and head inside. Through pure luck, we managed to arrive with just enough time to head down into the underwater viewing area and get some pictures before the feeding started.

Here are a bunch of pictures of dolphins, now. Because dolphins are cool.

Dolphins 1

Dolphins 2

Dolphins 3

Dolphins 4

Here are the trainers, feeding the dolphins.
Here are the trainers, feeding the dolphins.
I was fascinated to watch the trainers interact with the dolphins. There was real, two-way communication between trainer and dolphin, and a lot of play and teasing. The dolphins did some tricks, but according to the trainers, it's the dolphins who pick what tricks they do. And that's really cool.
I was fascinated to watch the trainers interact with the dolphins. There was real, two-way communication between trainer and dolphin, and a lot of play and teasing. The dolphins did some tricks, but according to the trainers, it’s the dolphins who pick what tricks they do. And that’s really cool.

Past the dolphins was a small… zoo, I guess. It’s where the retired animals from the Siegfried and Roy show, plus some others they’ve saved from bad situations, live.

Near the entry is a very cool panther made of moss. Well, moss on a frame or sculpture of some sort, There was also a black panther, but I couldn't get a good picture of it.
Near the entry is a very cool panther made of moss. Well, moss on a frame or sculpture of some sort, There was also a black panther, but I couldn’t get a good picture of it.
These are Pride and Quest, two white lions that used to work onstage with Siegfried and Roy. They are old - I'm not sure how old, but their plaques list them as senior citizens.
These are Pride and Quest, two white lions that used to work onstage with Siegfried and Roy. They are old – I’m not sure how old, but their plaques list them as senior citizens. And so they are napping.
Snow White is a tiger that was doing the whole jungle-cat-pacing thing. He very nicely did a perfect turn, just like a runway model, so I got this great picture of him.
Snow White is a tiger that was doing the whole jungle-cat-pacing thing. He very nicely did a perfect turn, just like a runway model, so I got this great picture of him.
A leopard sleeping in a tree.
A leopard sleeping in a tree.
Another sleeping leopard. The one not-sleeping leopard didn't stand still long enough for me to get a decent picture.
Another sleeping leopard. The one not-sleeping leopard didn’t stand still long enough for me to get a decent picture.
Here's a six-month old tiger cub. It's actually two cubs - the white bits are a different cub. Right now, they're sleeping on a branch, piled together. They got up and played with the fellow in the cage babysitting them for a bit, but that drew such a huge crowd that I didn't get a good shot.
Here’s a six-month old tiger cub. It’s actually two cubs – the white bits are a different cub. Right now, they’re sleeping on a branch, piled together. They got up and played with the fellow in the cage babysitting them for a bit, but that drew such a huge crowd that I didn’t get a good shot.

Interesting thing about the tiger cubs: they are littermates, one orange-striped and one white. It’s a recessive gene that causes the loss of darker pigment, and the condition is not albinism, but leucism. It means that, like in this case, you can have siblings, some with normal pigmentation and some with leucism.

Siegfried and Roy are here depicted loading their animals into an ark. I thought it was a bit pretentious, but then found it was a gift from an abbey in Eastern Europe that they had helped out a great deal. And that made me feel like a judgmental twit. It's a gorgeous mosaic.
Siegfried and Roy are here depicted loading their animals into an ark. I thought it was a bit pretentious, but then found it was a gift from an abbey in Eastern Europe that they had helped out a great deal. And that made me feel like a judgmental twit.
It’s a gorgeous mosaic.

After this, we walked back to Margaritaville, and I had a really nice fish sandwich there. We were starting to feel tired by that time – we’d been on the Strip for almost six hours, walking back and forth and sightseeing – so we made our way to Bally’s and caught the shuttle back to the Rio4, and I came up to my room to chill for a bit before the main feature tonight: the Penn & Teller show.

So, I wrote the previous stuff before the Penn & Teller show. Now, it’s after the show, and I’m getting ready for bed.

The show was spectacular. It was everything I could have hoped. I was in one of the best seats, Sandy got to go on stage for a pull-the-rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick, and Michael and I were part of the human chain when they vanished the elephant. Absolutely great stuff.

After the show, Penn & Teller very graciously hung around signing stuff and having their picture taken.

Here's Penn looming over me.
Here’s Penn looming over me.
Teller doesn't exactly loom, but still has a few inches on me.
Teller doesn’t exactly loom, but still has a few inches on me.
When Teller saw what card I was asking him to sign, he chuckled and added, "Is this your card?" It made me very happy.
When Teller saw what card I was asking him to sign, he chuckled and added, “Is this your card?” It made me very happy.

Both Penn & Teller were so very friendly, even with huge crowds of folks looking for a moment with them. It’s so nice to see how graciously they treat all their fans, even the one guy who tried to bait Penn into a political argument. True gentlemen.

And that’s above and beyond the fantastic magic.

Now, to bed. Tomorrow night, we fly home.

  1. Trying not to think about how we weren’t going to get to see Mac King there this afternoon. []
  2. Yes. He juggled Cuban feet. []
  3. The name only made me a little nervous. []
  4. Eventually. The first shuttle that came by filled up too fast, and we had to wait 30 minutes for the next. Not a real hardship. []

Vegas, Baby!

So, tomorrow, I’m getting on a plane for a weekend in Las Vegas. It’s just a weekend, so it doesn’t get the whole blog treatment as my other trips. I haven’t been nearly as obsessive about planning and researching, for example, so not much to write about that.

I have been wanting to go to Las Vegas for several years, just to see Penn & Teller‘s show live. They never seem to tour up to Winnipeg, so I figured this was the only way to see them. They are heroes of mine, and there’s been a lot of my heroes dropping off the planet in the last few years. I’m not waiting any longer.

This trip is different for another reason – I’m not going alone. My friends, Michael and Sandy, are coming with me. That’s kind of weird for me, as I’m used to my solo travel mode where I don’t have to consider anyone else’s preferences on my trip. But it’ll be fun to actually have¬†friends with me to, y’know,¬†talk to. So, I’m looking forward to that, and will be on my best behaviour1.

Aside from the P&T show, we had also got tickets to see Mac King, another magician2, but yesterday I got e-mail saying that he’s got a substitute3 performing on Saturday, so we’ve decided to try and get a refund, instead. That’ll free up some more of our limited time to see other sights.

Gambling? Probably not. Though, if I find myself with a lot of free time and there’s someone there who can explain the appropriate etiquette to me, it might be fun4 to sit in on a low-stakes poker game in an actual Las Vegas casino.

Anyway, probably a few pictures over the weekend if you check back.

  1. Of course, as anyone who knows me will tell you, even my best behaviour is not necessarily good behaviour. []
  2. I’m a little obsessed with magic. Hard to tell, right? []
  3. Dana Daniels, who is a perfectly good magician, but he’s not the guy we (and by “we,” I mean “I”) were excited to see. []
  4. Though costly. []