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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Red Rock (Yeah Yeah) Canyon

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Red Rock (Yeah Yeah) Canyon

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Monday, April 1, the day after the Grand Canyon trip, was pretty low-key. Luxor had just opened a Titanic exhibit that Bobby and I went to see in the afternoon. Okay, okay, go ahead and laugh: Titanic was possibly my first fandom, unless one counts playing Hey Dude with my sister when we were kids. The Titanic movie came out when I was sixteen, and while my classmates were mooning over Jack and Rose, I became fascinated by the history, which spurred a spate of book purchases and the construction of a website (that never made it to the web) in Microsoft Front Page ... so yeah, sixteen-year-old me is a lot like current me it seems.

The Titanic exhibit was really good: a display of various artifacts brought up from the ship, coupled with, of course, a description of the ship's brief life and profiles of various passengers. It was informative without verging into being pedantic and blended the various threads of the story very well to keep it interesting. The exhibit had reconstructions of parts of the ship (including the grand staircase that pretty much anyone who's seen the movie remembers) that were really cool for a one-time nerd about this stuff like me. There was a poignant irony in the survival of so many delicate things--porcelain cups, letters, clothing, delicate jewelry--brought up from the deep after a hundred years, in a disaster where so many people died. The showpiece was the "Big Piece," a large section from the side of the ship. I hadn't realized that the ship is decaying so quickly now that no trace of it may remain in as few as a couple of decades.

Photos weren't allowed, so you don't get pictures of all of this stuff!

Luxor is the Egyptian-themed hotel-casino. The decor was very cool, but the people were very pushy and annoying. We discovered, as we journeyed in and out of the various hotel-casinos, that some of them have legions of employees devoted to trying to convince you to go to "free" shows and meals--I put "free" in quotes because I'm not so dumb to think that there isn't a gimmick, especially in Vegas--and it's nothing to be accosted by one of these people every few minutes while strolling around or heading to a particular place. It had the effect of making Bobby and me not want to go back, if we could help it; Bobby was going to go play over at Luxor, since it was basically across the street from the Tropicana, but decided against it because of the pushiness of the people there.

Here it is.

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That night, we went back to Mandalay Bay (not pushy! loved it there!) to dinner at a Mexican restaurant called the Border Grill for dinner. OMG. It was amazing. They had a Meatless Monday special, which Bobby and I both got and which included a selection of vegetarian appetizers, choice of a vegetarian entree, and a dessert. Bobby ordered the roasted potato rajas relleno and I ordered the seasonal vegetable enchilada, we each had half, and then we switched plates. We have been easing my parents into more adventurous food, and they're now to the point where they have "safe" Mexican foods that they know they like, but Border Grill was a stretch for them. But they both enjoyed it as well; it ended up being my mom's favorite place that we ate.

We saw Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity show that night. Yes, Zumanity is the adult-rated show, so yes, I have now fallen to going to an adult-rated show with my parents. It's really no wonder I turned out weird. The show was really good, as Cirque shows always are; it was more acrobatic than One but still with more attention to the stage setting and theme than the tent shows I've been to.

The next day, we went to Red Rock Canyon, which is about fifteen minutes outside of Vegas. It had a driving tour, so we figured it would be a good one for my parents.

They had a desert tortoise sanctuary.

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More opportunity to use the panoramic setting! The red rock is sandstone; the white rock is limestone. The white rock is the older layer, so its frequent appearance on top of the red layer attests to the seismic activity in the area. The area has apparently been under the sea for much of its history, and it's not uncommon to find shell fossils.

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Flowers with plastic cup in the background. It always astounds me that people come to a natural area and then litter. Is it that hard to connect the beauty of the area to the fact that such squalid reminders of daily life aren't present there??

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Yucca in bloom. The native peoples used yucca for ... well, just about everything: food, fiber, and medicine.

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I did have my sunglasses in the car; I don't know why I'm never wearing them!

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The teensy little road in the foreground provides some clue as to the immensity of the scenery out there.

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One of the rocks contained petroglyphs several thousand years old. Find the sign. Look up at the shadowy place above it. Along the top of the shadowy place is a row of handprints.

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There was an interpretive sign with a scale replica of one of the handprints, which was almost the exact size as mine.

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Joshua trees!

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More Joshua trees!

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When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the desert. The first story I remember writing was called "Desert Challenge" and was about a horse in the desert. That was about it; even then, I didn't write plot. The horse's name was Challenge; my fourth-grade teacher praised my use of very specific names for the different cacti. Even then, I wrote purple prose. The story was 13 pages long, the longest in my class. Even then, I was long-winded.

That night, we had supper at a very nice Italian restaurant called The Verandah; it was hard to decide if I liked it or Border Grill more. We saw the David Copperfield show that night; my mom was a huge fan when I was a kid, and our time in Vegas happened to overlap with his. It was a good show but my least favorite of the three we saw, mostly because dance and acrobatics are much more to my liking, since I practiced/practice those arts to a very limited extent myself, so I appreciate them more. And his humor fell a little flat to me; it felt like he'd been doing such shows for decades, which he has, and is now just kinda going through the motions.

Oh, I guess I should address the question of whether I ever gambled since I was in Vegas, after all! First of all, I come from a long line of misers, so putting money into a machine is not to my liking, and slot games themselves are not satisfying to me. I feel like a pigeon in a Skinner box pecking a key, only instead of a food pellet, I might get a gently sonorous jingle of digital coinage. Every casino we were in--which was a lot, since you always have to walk through the casino to get anywhere in the building--had the controversial Lord of the Rings slot machines. (In case anyone ends up here who is not Tolkien-fannish, they are controversial because they are very much opposed by his estate. Tolkien was a devout Catholic, and I don't imagine he would have taken kindly to having his characters used in a gambling game. At least, his estate hasn't taken kindly.) I should also note that I am patently unlucky. In Atlantic City once, Bobby and I found a vampire-themed slot machine called Count Money. He put in five bucks and got about fifteen minutes of play before letting me have a turn. I put five bucks into the same machine and was dry in about two minutes.

So one night, I did consent to put $20 in one of the LotR slot machines. There were two side-by-side, so Bobby played one, and I played the other. He'd won a decent amount on them earlier in the day. Yeaaaah. That $20 lasted about five minutes. His was jingling and racking up money and bonus rounds, and I received two measly bonus rounds, one of which amounted to nothing. Peh.

That was the only gambling I did. I don't care for it, and it sure doesn't seem to care for me! Bobby, however, was pretty lucky, and among his various exploits among the slots and roulette, came home with an extra $300 or so.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • I just went to Vegas and had a different experience. We were not hassled at all by any of the staff at the hotels we went to - we went to a bunch - Caesar's, Bellagio, Venetian, NY NY. It was totally fine. I think I would not generalize - it might have been specific to the hotel you were in. I loved Vegas and plan on going back. Just wanted to comment on that. I did not have that experience at all and present counterpoint.
    • I don't think I generalized. I think I was actually quite specific that it was only some places:

      We discovered, as we journeyed in and out of the various hotel-casinos, that some of them have legions of employees devoted to trying to convince you to go to "free" shows and meals ...

      Most of the places we went were wonderful. Luxor was the worst; it was about a three-minute walk to the Titanic exhibit, and we were accosted three times. We had the same experience but not as pushy in Venetian and Paris. We eventually just ignored any staff who tried to speak to us; that felt rude, which I don't like, but I also don't appreciate someone stepping in my path every few minutes and gushing, "Are you going to be here tonight?" and refusing to let me walk on. Everywhere else that I can recall (we were in all you listed except Bellagio), people might offer a coupon for something going on in the casino but weren't pushy.

      I'm sure it also depends on time of day or the day itself; if there's not a promotional event, presumably, things become much more low-key. I just think it's a shame that some places have to resort to annoying their potential customers; it definitely made Bobby and I avoid Luxor, despite liking the theming and the nearness of it.
  • Oh wow, Hey Dude! Haven't thought about that in ages, but I remember loving it when I was younger. I wonder how I'd feel watching it now.

    This is like a trip down memory lane for me. My family used to go to Vegas every summer, so I know all of these places pretty well - or what they were, at any rate, fifteen years ago. :/ Luxor was always my favorite, but maybe I didn't get pushed around as much because I was obviously underage and they were more interested in shooing me over to the "safe" parts of the casino.

    The shows always seemed much more interesting than gambling, but then again: fifteen-year-old point of view, right? Though if my luck rolling dice for D&D is any indication, my luck is about as good as yours.

    Edited at 2013-04-06 11:28 pm (UTC)
    • Apparently Hey Dude comes in a boxed set! I've also wondered how I would respond to it today. When my sister and I played it, I was always Brad, and I think she was Melody. I had a crush on Buddy! Someone was always getting rabies in our game. Not sure where that came from.

      It was unfortunate that the Luxor staff were so pushy the day we were there. It was a really cool place.

      I still think the shows are more interesting. Hell, I'd rather just walk through the hotels and look at the architecture! Some of the places are just beautiful. People-watching is good too.

      I was also a craptastic roller in D&D! :D
  • I never went to Vegas but I did manage to cross over into the state of Nevada a few times, usually Lake Tahoe and did gamble a little (I may not have been as tight as you, but always broke) and I was more like Bobbie--the little bit of gambling I did usually paid my expenses.

    I would like to see the Cirque du soleil adult show! Sounds interesting.

    OMG! This made me laugh so much!

    That was about it; even then, I didn't write plot. The horse's name was Challenge; my fourth-grade teacher praised my use of very specific names for the different cacti. Even then, I wrote purple prose. The story was 13 pages long, the longest in my class. Even then, I was long-winded.

    People do not fundamentally change, do they?

    The desert pictures are magnificent.

    • I did usually paid my expenses.

      Lucky! It's really uncanny how much success he will have compared to my failure. My dad is the same way. He apparently put in $5 one day while waiting for Bobby and me to come down from the room, and he didn't hit a single line. I think the odds of our persistent un-luck are higher than if we hit the occasional "small jackpot." (A favorite term from my former boss who was a high roller in Atlantic City. His "small jackpot" would make me pee in my shoes for joy!)

      I think it's the tightwad Walls gene. The tightwad comes from my dad's side of the family. My paternal grandfather was a millionaire and would look over my grandmother's Walmart receipts with a magnifying glass.

      I would like to see the Cirque du soleil adult show! Sounds interesting.

      It was very good. Very sensual; some boobs and butts, nothing extreme. The dance told the story. Oh, and hilarious--there was a good bit of comedy in there too.

      People do not fundamentally change, do they?

      As a writer, no. Not at all. (Actually, not in general; I've just learned to fake sociability and channel my weirdness more appropriately.) I've always written long, detailed descriptions and have never had a brain for plot!

      The desert pictures are magnificent.

      Thank you! It was a perfect day for photography!
      • Thank you! It was a perfect day for photography!

        It takes an eye though and imagination. I've gone back and looked at your England photos a couple of times. OMG! One of Gabriel's aunt took pictures at a few of our big events--Laura's baby shower, Alex's Christening, a couple of parties and it was difficult to find a decent picture or two out of dozens. The guest of honor's head was always cut off or she took the perfect picture with her finger over part of the lens. They were quite amazing in the sense of being so bad. My son's baby mama takes amazing photos--she makes homely people look beautiful and fat people look thin and captures the perfect moment with a cell phone camera. Gabriel's aunt who takes the bad photos has a very nice camera also.
        • About half the photos I post are mine, and half are Bobby's. Most of the panoramas are mine. I'm kind of addicted to that feature.

          I'm tickled that the England photos have such staying power!

          The guest of honor's head was always cut off or she took the perfect picture with her finger over part of the lens.

          I laughed out loud at this! Sorry! That sucks! But dang. How does she manage that, unless she doesn't even look into the viewfinder?? Bobby and I both tend to take some time on composition. We took a beginning nature photography class once and use what few concepts we have ad nauseum. ;)
  • How wonderful to see the desert once more. I notice that you got fairly close to the cholla cactus. I always swore that they could actually jump a couple of inches to grab onto me when they abutted pathways I had to climb to archaeological sites I was working on.

    Loved the canyon rocks. So beautiful and in panorama too! You rock! (no pun intended)

    I have no gambling medicine and usually end up donating my money to the tribe (or casino owner) in too short an order. DH sometimes does all right, though. Gambling for us is quite rare, though.

    - Erulisse (one L)
    • I didn't have any run-ins with cacti aside from, in a Red Rocks picnic area, picking up a prickly pear pad off the path where someone had kicked it and where it was just waiting to jab someone who was wearing sandals. I got some of the hairs in my thumb, but they came right out and didn't hurt a bit.

      It was a perfect day for photography--I'll blame the gorgeous day for the photos turning out so well! :)

      Bobby and I take an occasional day trip to Atlantic City. The bus always gives us $20 each, and his grandmother usually gives us $10, and once those are gone, we walk the Boardwalk. It's really hard for me to throw away money like that; I come from a long line of proud tightwads! :)
  • Wow! Those are gorgeous photographs. Like you, I've always been fond of deserts.

    I'm glad you had fun!
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