Today was going to be a busy day. We had to check out of the MGM and do a dozen activities around the city before a show in the evening. The previous days list had tired us out and we weren’t up as early as hoped. Check was at 11am so of course we checked out at 10:59am. We left our bags with the concierge and headed out for the afternoon. Brunch today was at the Bellagio casino at ‘The Buffet’. It is rated online consistently in the top 3 buffets in the whole of Vegas. To say we were excited was an understatement. An old lady walked out in front of Emma as we entered the restaurant. She was quickly shanked and kicked into a cleaning cupboard. There was so much variety there that I just did not know where to start. I won’t describe it too much in case you are hungry but I could easily eat there for lunch every day the rest of my life. The staff were very friendly and helpful and was more than worth the increased fee compared to the other buffets.
I finished before overeating as we were going to be in and out of Bertha all day. It is hard not to go to the Bellagio without visiting the conservatory they have there. It is one big greenhouse and the flora in there is set to a theme. They had just finished renovating it when we went to the theme of harvest. It was pretty impressive, the sort of free thing I had been guaranteed around Vegas. The thing that fascinated me the most was the water arches. Two arced streams of water across a walkway. There is no way water can do that naturally but there was clearly no tube as you could touch the water. I must have spent 10 minutes just looking at it and trying to work it out. The only explanation I could come up with was some small inner pipe that causes surface tension try and keep the water on track. But in all honesty that’s the best I’ve got and I’m pretty sure it’s not right. I’ve included a picture to puzzle you as well.
Considering we were about to drive Bertha up and down the Vegas strip we were quit calm. To be fair I’d nearly binned it when we got here so it couldn’t be any worse than that. We loaded Bertha up with Day items and took a look at her new grill. She had won a new gold grill from RV poker. *sigh* Yes we have conversations with our RV and our RV has a personality. We checked our cases were fine and discovered that while nothing was broken they had clearly been thrown around and squashed as the wahsing powder box had ripped and gone everywhere. Not the worst thing to happen, I suppose it will help clean everything in the long run.[Note: I sent a postcard to us from Death Valley from Bertha. She said that she had bragged to the other RVs about going to Death Valley. I am so, so, so sad.]
Kiss Mini Golf
Our first pit stop was Kiss Mini Golf just off Paradise Road. Keeping in synch with Vegas it was the strangest mini golf course I have ever seen. First off there were no lights. It was all black lights and neon. The whole site is just a giant tribute to the band Kiss. It even has lifelike robotic band members on stage that randomly play along to music, always when you aren’t looking.
As a semi professional golfer I was knocking round in a respectable score until the 9th hole. I was busy trying to take a video of something when I heard a yelp like a puppy being kicked. But this was a pleasant yelp. Somehow, I’m not quite sure astrophysicists could work it out but Emma had managed to get a hole in one after bouncing the ball off of 12 obstructions. Give Emma her due; it was a fantastic shot and she had the right to be upset that I was busy filming a wall instead of her. I struggled round the rest of the course with Emma bearing down on me putting in birdies and hole in ones.
Eventually we reached the 18th with the title and the course record on the line. It was the best mini golf hole I had ever seen. You had to hit the ball up a huge tongue and straight into Gene Simmons mouth. Emma putted straight as an arrow and in, smoke poured from his mouth in celebration. It took me 2 attempts to get the ball through and smoke cover the green. With the round complete and the victory in the bag I decided to test my sporting prowess at a football throwing game. That prowess quickly disappeared as football after football bounced off-target. I reached a mid-range score and left to win some prizes elsewhere. Emma tried her hand at some non-football skill games and came up trumps. She traded in her tickets for a cool black KISS guitar key ring.
Guns & Ammo
Before leaving the UK I had heard that you could buy gun experiences in Las Vegas, where you turn up cash in hand and bust a few caps. Emma turned down the chance of having a gun experience opting to laugh at me and take photos. We researched online for a reputable place and the clear winner was Discount Guns & Ammo. It had good reviews (94% saying it was excellent or very good, had set experiences and was pretty cheap. With literally hundreds of guns to choose from I went with a gunslinger experience. I am a big fan of Western films so the gunslinger experience was a no-brainer. I was to shoot a lever action carbine, a six shooter and a 12 gauge coach gun.
We walked into the busy gun shop, and everyone was carrying. The staff had their guns strapped to their hips and the customers were looking at guns and their accessories as though it was the vegetable section in ASDA. I was expecting to see a lot of middle aged men with trucker hats and ‘I h8 Obama’ t-shirts on but the clientele in there at that point were distinctly family. There was a teenage boy with him mum trying out small handgun. Obviously it had no bullets but he was trying the grip and weight of it. There was a young girl looking at a glass case of weapons. I’d say she was below the age of 12 looking at a pink undersized rifle. While we waited to be seen I had a look around at the accessories and felt disappointed I couldn’t own any of it. I’m not a gun nut and never have been but I like machinery and I like stuff that goes bang. So naturally I was excited but also incredibly apprehensive. In my 29 years despite being a top shot at laser tag I had never fired a live gun before. There is a world champion pistol shooter in my family but I had never had the urge to seek out guns to shoot until now.
Our assigned instructor was John (as pictured). A man that loved his guns and loved his job. Once the initial safety lecture was out the way we got talking and had a fair bit in common. While in the military he had been stationed East Anglia quite close to where I had grown up, so he knew a lot of places I knew back home. I had to shoot three guns so I picked 3 targets. Two typical human shapes and a zombie Santa. In my mind, zombie Santa was not going to eat my brains and was going to get it. We talked to John a bit more about the culture differences between our two nations. I said the main difficulty was the driving differences not just the fact the British are so polite but getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road. He said that most English don’t even realise why we drive on the left. Unfortunately for him I do and that ended that lesson pretty quick.
The shooting range was laid out similar to a golf driving range with individual bays for each user. The floor was covered in empty casings spent from a multitude of weapons. We walked down to far end and the second to last booth. John loaded the first gun, the lever action carbine. It was not a powerful gun and the bullets were relatively small. While he did that we glanced at the end bay. I don’t know what it was, all I know is that someone had a lot of fun. A rather sizeable machine gun bolted to a frame surrounded in hundreds of shells. It’s the sort of machines gun that would be attached to a helicopter or truck.
I took the gun from John and rested on the top I aimed at the head of the target and gently pressed the trigger, nothing. I then squeezed a bit harder and the gun went off, a hole appeared in the head of the target. Not bad for a first shot. I slowly yanked the lever and the bullet popped out and landed on the floor. I set up again and put another hole through the head. I looked across to the other lanes and realised my target was closer than theirs, John the old dog wanted me to do well, pro move. After five shots he said:
“In the movies when they reload wearing gloves in a flash just popping the bullets in. You try!”
I did and it was hard to fit them in. If I was backed up against a barrel of water with baddies firing at me I would have been useless. Eventually I managed to reload and fired five haphazard shots at the middle of the target.
Next up was the six shooter and my chance to be Clint Eastwood. John asked me how I planned to hold it when I shot. I showed him and he informed me that I would lose my fingers if I did, not a good start. Eventually holding the gun in a way I wouldn’t lose digits I shot straight at the targets middle. The power and noise of the gun even with noise defenders on was phenomenal. It felt like a mini cannon in my hand. Emma managed to get a cracking shot of the bullet and flames coming out the gun. She says she isn’t a great photographer but that is pretty sweet timing.
I was starting to get my eye in and managed to put the first 11 bullets through the main target and in typical bad man style the last through the head. When it came back I was chuffed, I had been pretty accurate. All 11 shots had passed through 10 points circle and three had just missed the cross in the middle passing through the same large hole. I posed for a photo and decided to keep this target. Maybe pistol shooting runs in the family?
The final gun was the big daddy. The 12 gauge shotgun so popular in the films and the wild west. The phrase ‘riding shotgun’ was coined a century ago to describe the passenger riding next to the driver of a stagecoach. The wild west days this person guarded the stagecoach and was known as the shotgun messenger and it was their job to ward off any gangs intend on raiding the carriage. I was warned to take a strong stance and no matter what I did, do not to pull both triggers at the same time. The target was Santa and his brain eating zombie ways. I was pretty scared of this gun to be honest and hesitated a bit before pulling the trigger. When I did the force of it pushed me out of my stance and backwards, fortunately John had anticipated this and shoved back into the booth. Emma found this highly amusing and showed her disappointment at not videoing it. My shoulder was also about 6 inches out of alignment, this was a powerful gun. Fortunately for me Santa had taken it in the left eye.
Now knowing what to expect the stance was a bit more sturdy and in true form I fired the second shot off and got him in the other eye. No brains for you tonight zombie Santa.
With a swelling shoulder we started for the Neon Sign Museum. After sitting 20 minutes in traffic we made the begrudging decision to head to the hotel to checking. We had paid for the evening show and the Neon Sign Museum was to be given a miss. That night we were staying at the La Quinta near the airport. I had picked it as it had enough space for Bertha and was central to the city. The reviews were good and it looked pretty modern on the website photos. When we arrived there was a nice long queue of people waiting to check in. This wasn’t a problem a there was still 40 minutes to the start of the show and it was only two and a half miles away. We queued impatiently and watched how ineptly the staff dealt with checking in and a surprisingly large number of complaints. Most of the people in front of us weren’t on the hotels system and the staff were acting like it was the customers fault. When it came to our turn we had 20 minutes until the show started and we asked for a taxi to be called.
We got to our room and were greeted with a lovely smell of wet dog and a few mouldy walls. Should have stayed at the MGM one more night. We went back out and looked for our cab, it was nowhere to be seen. Emma went back in to the reception and was told it weren’t their job to get us a cab. Despite the fact we saw them phone someone and ask for a taxi. They refused to phone back as they had more pressing matter to deal with. Probably more complaints about the hotel and why the rooms smelt like dog. Now we had just 10 minutes to get to the show and no transport, thanks La Quinta. Emma went into superhero mode and scanned the intersection hands flying out everywhere to taxis going in all directions. Soon enough she had bagged one and I promised the cabbie a big tip if he got us to Excalibur on time. He did and we hustled to the basement for the evening entertainment ‘The Tournament Of Kings’.
Tournament Of Kings
Tournament Of Kings is a medieval themed show with dinner. The audience are divided into countries and are represented by an armoured knight. When we turned up everyone had started eating and had their drinks. We sat down in front of an empty bench and eventually managed to grab a member of staff. I asked for the bucket of beer (4 bottle in some ice) and a coke for Emma. The food took a long time to arrive and I had the impression we were an inconvenience for being five minutes late. We had only one trick left up our sleeve, tips. As soon as the disgruntled waiter brought us the food I slipped him a large tip. After that everything else was a breeze, we had drinks and even a second dessert the rest of the evening. I am very torn about this experience. One side of me is glad that the tip worked and we got everything we had paid for when they could easily have turned round and said they didn’t have any left. The other side of me was angry that I had to pay money just for the waiter to treat us with the respect we were offering him. It’s not like we were rude or really late.
Either way the show was good. Like with most shows involving a lot of people in a show amount of time the plot was floppy and wishy washy but it had sword fights, pyrotechnics and a bad guy everyone hates. As we left it dawned on me this was our last time in a casino in Vegas and I wasn’t quite done yet. Emma loves putting a dollar on the video roulette but was too scared to play the real game, and I was determined to change that. So on the way out I stopped her and we sat down at the last roulette table. I gave the croupier some small notes and get Emma a stack of $5 chips. There was one other player at the table who was laying down around $100 of chips a spin in a defined pattern across the table. It didn’t look like he was having much luck.
“There you go Emsy, have some fun.”
“Ooooh I don’t know. What numbers shall I pick?”
“Up to you, pick ones that mean something though”
“Ok well I’m going to have 13 as that’s our wedding day.”
She laid $5 on 13 and our birthdays. Three spins later the ball landed on 13. The other guy at table just looked open mouthed at us.
“13! The croupier announced.”
“We won?” Emma looked very confused.
“Oh yes and quite a lot, let’s quit while we are ahead.” I turned to the croupier “We are cashing out.”
“That’s awesome how much have we won?” Emma said.
“Shut up…… Let me see!”
I showed her the small stack of $25 chips
“Oh my god, I thought I had won like 30 bucks or something. Quick lets cash out and run.”
We exchanged the chips for a wad of notes and nearly jogged out the casino. Casinos are built on stories of people who win a bit of cash then lose it all because they don’t know when to quit. Neither of us are big gamblers and we said that if we hit a nice win we would cash out instantly. $200 isn’t a lot of money but it covered all our gambling losses while in Vegas. That’s not bad in my opinion, we played very small and often. Las Vegas is a city that can swallow your soul if you let it, and walking through the casino floors it is clear their goal is to provide you with fun while they do it.
We went back to La Quinta and repacked as this was our last night in a hotel room for a few thousand miles.