Monday, 31 August 2015

Twenty-five years six months and five days

On the 24th February 1990 Victoria and I got married at Chesterfield Registry Office and we decided that after 25 years we should renew our vows with Elvis in Las Vegas.

We had a breakfast of coffee and pastries and I started the day with a gym session in the hotels Canyon Ranch Spa while Victoria started her preparation and as you can see, she does look lovely.

The ceremony was due to start at 1300, we would be picked up from the lobby at 1230, the Venetian is very opulently decorated and this is taken in the entrance hall.

Victoria had her 'Alice in Wonderland' bouquet from Etsy, they also did my matching buttonhole.

At about 1230 Mike picked us up in the Limo and we were on our way to Elvis Chapel.

While we sat in the waiting area a proper trampy wandered in and asked if there was a water fountain, obviously not, but I wonder if he does it regularly to see if he can earn a few dollars by being a witness? Maybe it is part of the package.

Anyhow, after a few minutes with the photographer, Elvis entered the building and we had a great, funny service during which we renewed our vows, had a dance and I promised to never, ever, step on her blue suede shoes.

We have ordered the photo package, but it is on CD, so I will have to post those at a later date.

After the service we had a few more photos then it was back into the limo and off to the Venetian.

We decided that we would have a lunch in the hotel, but first took a few pictures, believe it or not, this is in the Venetians shopping mall!

At the CaƱonita restaurant which overlooks the canal and gondolas we had lovely a wedding breakfast with cocktails. Then after a long time in the most inefficient bakery in the world picked up some cakes from Carlos (who is apparently a Cake Boss) and took them back to our room to enjoy with a bottle of champagne that our dear daughter Jasmin had bought for us and I had put on ice that morning.

The champagne and cupcake were lovely, the cannoli not so good. We then touched up our make up and made our way into the casino.

Victoria made a start on the roulette table with $30.00 on black and we were soon $30.00 up on the night, although I did lose $25.00 of that with my ill informed gambling, still $5.00 up and on to a winner. Victoria then played the slots and we were another $6.00 up. Hardly high rollers, but $11.00 profit on the evening (for a $15.00 outlay) works for us.

We then made our way onto the Strip, this is us outside the Venetian with the gondolas. There are all the posters for the shows behind us, I had to laugh at the one for 'The Motown Story' featuring four white guys!

We made our way along the strip going into Harrahs, Linq, Bellagio and Best Western and were not impressed by any of them. The Venetian may seem a bit gaudy but out of the five others we visited (including the Mirage the day before) it was streets ahead of any of the others.

The atrium of the Bellagio did have a rather good display of 'under the sea'

We walked back from the Bellagio along the strip and it was an unpleasant half hour journey, far too crowded and way too tacky although there was some very good street performance they made the crowding even worse.

We did stop at Fat Tuesday's for a huge beaker of frozen Bellini at just $11 and Victoria had a Marilyn Monroe moment as she walked over one of the vents.

Back at the Venetian we were rather peckish so shared a veggie burger and fries at Johnny Rockets before wrapping up the evening with a pint at the Sin City Brewery again.

Here is a shot from the original day all those years ago, we have not changed a bit - we finished off that evening with pints too.....

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Wondrous Death Valley

Arriving in 48C heat we did the only decent thing we could, got checked in and had a cold beer!

The heat was sweltering and we soon had the aircon in the room going at full blast while we had a simple supper of fruit and Cheetos. 

We then sat out in the desert and watched the sun set over the desert a truly wondrous sight of natural beauty. 

We retired to our room for a couple of hours to do some reading - the internet connection being practically non-existent and then went out to admire the night sky. Unfortunately, it was just after full moon and there was quite a bit of haze in the air so even though we could see loads of stars it was not as clear as we had hoped.

We retired to the room and turned off the noisy aircon and settled down for a nights sleep at over 100F, I actually slept very well, but the alarm had been set for midnight so caused a bit of a distraction!

We had our own alarm set for 0615 so we were able to see the sun rise, again an absolutely stunning experience.

We checked out and were on the road for 0730 hoping to get a lot done before the full heat.

Our first stop was at Salt Creek, at this time of the year it is dried up, but before the full heat of summer you can see the unique species of Pupfish here. We saw lots of lizards include this Zebra Tailed that I almost stepped on.

It was only about 100F so the half mile walk saw us only consume a pint of water between us.

We got back in the car and made our way to the next stop - Harmony Borax Works - a glimpse of working life in the desert at the end of the 19th Century.

 Next stop was the visitors centre at Furnace Creek a great display by the parks service detailing the geology, natural history and story of life in Death Valley. This is next to the Furnace Creek Resort that is a sort of Desert Disneyland, although we did pick up some postcards and a rather nice t-shirt that I'll no doubt be seen sporting soon.

Turning off the highway we drove to 'Devils Golfcourse' at Badwater Flats the lowest point in the continental United States at over 200ft below sea-level. Stunning scenery of salt deposits that strech for as far as you can see.

Making our way back towards the main road we diverted along the Artists Drive loop, where geology has seen fit to display a huge palette of colours from buff and umber through roses, blacks, and greens, it really is beautiful and I wish I had a polarising filter to really show what we saw.

We stopped at the Artist Palette viewpoint, does not look much in this picture but there are reds, greens and a multitude of colour visible.

After the Artists Palette we drove up to Zabriskies Point and marvelled at the panorama visible from here!

Our last stop before leaving Death Valley was at Dantes View, another elevated view point, much like Zabriskies Point overlooking Death Valley.

Before leaving the park we stopped for a final shot. It really is a stunning place!

We then picked up the highway for Las Vegas and drove through some stunning countryside that makes me want top play more Dead Mans Hand.

Arriving at Las Vegas we found our hotel, The Venetian and first impressions are that this really is not for us and we have made a terrible mistake coming here, crowded, noisy, tacky, brash and expensive!

We had a wander along the strip and saw the volcano show at the Mirage which was impressive.

We have not done any gambling and I really doubt we will but hopefully things will pick up tomorrow!

Friday, 28 August 2015

A days of great highs and lows

8000ft down to sea level and 66F to 118F!
Following on from where we last left off.

After our long day's drive we arrived at the June Lake Villager a motel in the winter ski resort and summer fishing and mountaineering resort of June Lake.

The hotel is quite basic but they are doing a lot of work on it. The bed was really comfort and it boasted the best shower of the holiday so far.

Another bonus is that it was  just around the corner from the June Lake Brewing Company. So, after unpacking our bags we made our way into the bar and purchased a beer flight of:
  • Silver Lake Saisson
  • Sasquachita XPA
  • Deer Beer Brown Ale
  • Rock n' Dirt Milk Stout

We both agreed that the Silver Lake Saisson was our favourite so had a pint of that. When I say pint I mean a real 20oz pint too, not these lightweight 16oz pints!

It must be the altitude - June Lake is at 8000ft - because after another pint I was feeling s bit giddy so we retired to the Sierra Inn Restaurant where we both had veggie burger and a great unlimited salad for less than $30.00 including a tip.

I had a pretty shoddy nights sleep, probably the booze and awoke sweating quite early but did manage to drop off eventually.

I loaded the washing machine with our laundry and then picked up a couple of cappuccinos from a lovely little coffee shop which I took back to the room and we enjoyed with half s bears claw that we had picked up from Vons.

After the washing was done and dried we loaded up the car and set off, pausing to take a few shots of the beautiful June Lake.

 We soon picked up Hwy 395 and were heading south pausing at Mammoth Lake where we drove up to the pickup point for the Devils Post Pile monument, however finding that the trip would be two hours we decided that we had not the time.

Descending back down past the ski lifts we noticed signs for the Earthquake Fissure so stopped here for a few minutes.

We continued on Hwy 395 a stunning road that descends the valley with the Sierras on our right and the Onyo range on left.

Reaching Big Pine we filled up with gas (see getting like a local) and a huge bucket of Diet Coke and were on our way again. We had been on the road for over three hours so pulled in to the town of Lone Pine where we took some shots of the stunning Mount Whitney - Americas highest peak - and had a dinner of burritos and fries at the Bonanza Family Resturaunt.

Leaving Lone Pine we picked up the road for Death Valley.

We stopped for a short while at Padre Crowley point and then descended on to Panamint Flats where we saw a coyote.

However we were still not in Death Valley proper. Having dropped down to 2000ft for Panamint Flats we now climbed back up to nearly 5000ft on Towne Pass before descending back to sea level.

Just before we reached our destinations or the evening at Stovepipe Well we turned off on to the dirt trap signposted Mosaic Canyon.

At Mosaic Canyon I ascended the dry watercourse through many different rock formations.

We then dropped in to Stovepipe wells for our evening stop over. The dashboard thermometer was reading 118F - crikey!