Monday, December 15, 2008

Sleep is For the Weak

Perhaps drinking and overeating before going to bed at 1am the night before my flight left wasn't exactly "easing" into Vegas. Four hours of sleep and off to the airport for 6:30am. Easy time through customs and security and plenty of time to spare in the waiting area.

Then we got on the plane and someone discovered mechanical difficulties that kept us at the gate for an hour. I slept, uncomfortably, through most of this. They finally got the wings glued on, or fixed whatever problem it was, and we were off! This actually worked out well, since two of my "entourage" (credit, I believe, to Pokerpeaker) were on a flight that left an hour after we were scheduled to... which meant 4 minutes after us now.

An uneventful flight (where I decided that The Incredible Hulk is pretty good and Wall-E is overrated robot love pap that is overly cute but very, very pretty) took us to McCarran and that old familiar smile crossed my face. Car rented, met up with the two stragglers, and hit the road. Easy check-in to the MGM, rooms down the hall from one another, and on the road to Bootleg Canyon.

It's an easy drive to a non-descript building in Boulder. We were met by Jasmine (pronounced Yasmine), signed our lives away, got weighed, and harnessed up. A quick drive in a beat-up van over some bike trails took us to the back-out site. 800ft test run to show us the basics and see if we still wanted to continue. According to the crew, only two people have chickened out at this point. After the run, I couldn't image the level of chickenshitedness required to get that far and THEN chicken out. I get not wanting to do it in the first place, but after you've driven out there, harnessed up, read and signed the waiver, paid your $150, and bumped along to this point... why would that easy little zip scare you off?

Anyway, we all had no problem with the test run and were fired up for the rest. The van made its way up some steep curves and almost died at the top. We climbed out, hiked a bit, and stared at the first run. 1800ft, over some great terrain. First though, we took in the view. To the left was lake Mead, with a VERY visible waterline. To the right was The Strip, which you could barely see through the orange smoggy haze surrounding it. It was one of the most disgusting things I've seen, as the surrounding desert was clean and clear.

We hooked in to the trolley and took off. I lack the writing ability to describe the sensation of hanging below a steel cable as you hurtle downwards at dozens of miles per hour with only your body movements to slow you down. All I wanted to do was go faster... until I wanted to slow down. Then I hit the brakes - shoebox-sized metal blocks on the end of the cable to slow you down before hitting the spring at the very end. THUNK! THUNK! And then you're going backwards. I wanted to jump off and RUN to the next one.

There were 5-7 runs, I wasn't really counting as I just wanted there to always be more. Some were over vast canyons, others took you only 15ft from peaks. Some had you going 60mph, others a mere 30. Some curved up at the end, so you had to build up a TON of speed to make the platform, or be stranded until rescue could come. All of them were awesome.

By the 2nd last run, the sun was setting. The last desert sunsets I saw were in Israel a couple years ago, but the surrounding land there was flat in comparison. As we waited for our turn on the line, we couldn't stop taking pictures and commenting on the sky. On one side, the sky was ablaze over the mountains, putting any attempts The Mirage makes at volcanic simulation to shame. To the other, the moon hung full among a spectrum of blue to magenta over Mead. The view alone at this point was a capper to the best start to a Vegas trip I've ever done.

On the last run, we hit twilight and had a run where depth and distance became confused by shadows and darkness. The final run is aptly named as Thunderbolt. Four breaks await you as you hit 45mph and maintain it the whole way. During each run, I forgot how jarring the breaks were... Thunderbolt made sure you never did again. The four of us on the lines at that time raced our way down. From a standing position we jumped off and streamlined as far as we were willing before snapping into a breaking position. Four jarring thunderclaps met us as we neared the platform... my shoulder didn't forgive me for 24 hours.

I'll be back there.

Oh, and they also run ziplines out of Grouse Mountain in BC for my Canadian brethren out that way.

We were met by a truck instead of the van... seems the van was now out of commission, having barely made it downhill. Two trips were needed for the group that day, and on our trip, we asked them to go fast... they obliged. Dirt roads, sharp turns, and only the headlights ahead of us made sure the adrenaline kept pumping (the GnR on the stereo helped too).

We said our goodbyes, promised to force our friends to go at gunpoint, and got in our boring car to drive on a boring road back to Sin City.

We pulled into the MGM with plenty of time to spare before dinner. Washed up, changed, and coming down off our high, we made our way to The Venetian for some kickass steak dinner. I grabbbed a sweet spot at the Palazzo lot and promptly got temporarily lost trying to find the access to the Venetian. It didn't take long to get my bearings and powerwalk in the right direction though, friends lagging behind. I strolled up 10 minutes late for the reservation, past a HUGE crowd of hungry people, and stated my name. The friends caught up, and we were seated immediately, the hungry and envious glares of the nonreserved drilling into our backs.

I love Delmonico. It's classy, the service is fantastic, and the wine list is 90 pages long. Upon hearing we'd been there almost a year ago to the day, a nice amuse of grilled cucumber with beef and barley topping was brought out on the house. Ahi tuna and Salmon tartare as an appetizer couldn't have been better. The bone-in rib steak was melt-in-your-mouth flavour in meat form. I vaguely remember the mushrooms and vegetable sides we ordered being good too... but I barely touched them as I had a decent portion of cow sitting in front of me. The 2005 Catena Alta Malbec was as delicious as I remember (which is easy, because I have 5 bottles at home). Hell, even the sorbet after was like eating icy versions of the fruit they were made from (cherry, cranberry, and persimmon). A cup of Jamaican Blue french-pressed coffee capped it off wonderfully. Delmonico is now a December tradition for me. My buddy who had never been to Vegas before was almost in tears with how happy he was. Never has he had as good a meal. The ziplining was the most exciting thing he'd done since I took him skydiving for his bachelor party (the subsequent divorce and financial ruin was no doubt a large part why this trip was so awesome for him). At this point, we could have turned around and gone home and called it a great trip.

But it wasn't yet 10 hours done yet.

Stuffed to the gills and two bottles of wine down our throats, we stumbled towards the IP for cheap craps (and I to FINALLY see some bloggers). On the way, some Japanese dude and some friends were walking the other way. I called out Alan and hugs and greetings were exchanged. I was introduced to the others with him. I recognized Gnome from previous trips of course, have forgotten (I apologize profusely, I usually require two introductions or one followed by a long conversation) who two of the other were, and then finally met PirateLawyer, who, as all bloggers, looked nothing like I expected. We both went on our merry way in opposite directions from there.

The IP was... well, the IP (BTW - did anyone other than me and VinNay notice that the number of pros seemed to be substantially down this year around the Geisha bar?). I played some craps, lost a few bucks, and wandered over to the bloggerdom at the bar. Talked baseball and hockey with PL and Zeem, met OhCaptain, and eventually his lovely wife OhCountess (after she was done being hit on by every male blogger who walked by... bloggers marry up). From here on out, I will link no more... they can be found to the left. Joanada was all hands with every male in grabbing distance as I chatted with her and BuddyDank, Pauly was smiles and waves, Iggy was busy biting people in the kneecaps whenever they nearly stepped on his head, Kat was downing caffeinated alcoholic beverages to make up for lost time and stay awake simultaneously, and, well.. everyone else was doing what we do - drinking, chatting, laughing, hugging, and generally being thrilled to be there. Oh, and some, like CK, Penner42, Doc Chako & Wife, and more were playing mixed games in the IP poker room. Forgive me for not mentioning you... there were lots of us.

Around 3:30am I called it a night and walked back the MGM. Along the way, I marvelled at the CityPlace and Cosmo constructions. 24/7 those cranes are running, and they're building a city into a Las Vegas block... I was in awe, considering all I've ever known in that spot is a hole in the ground.

The walk was uneventful save for a couple guys giving me a "what's up brother! ain't no need to fear the black man!" I love 4am Vegas :).

I noticed something disturbing with the MGM... severe lack of Blazing 7 machines. The burger girl is fun, but the 7's are my favourite machine, bar none. What I did find was the Majestic Lions machines, which are just Blazing 7's with different pictures. I picked my machine and cleared out my small craps losses + $300 in a couple minutes and called it a night, happy to be up a bit.

I hit the pillow around 4:30am, but neglected to set an alarm, figuring the guys I was rooming with who had called it a night 4 hours earlier would be up early enough.

We woke up at noon.

1 comment:

Shrike said...

Great to meet you. Hope we can do the skiing thing soon!