Archive for May, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Las Vegas presents Chelsea and I with some opportunities we may not have again. A few weeks ago we went and saw Mystere, a Cirque Du Soleil show at the Treasure Island resort and casino. The show was really spectacular. Mind blowing in a lot of ways. I would recommend anyone of any age to see it. I would also recommend Blue Man Group if you are ever in Vegas or anywhere that Blue Man Group plays. The bad thing about living here now is that Chelsea and I are very poor at the moment. I am unemployed, and nobody wants to hire someone who is going to be gone in six weeks when I move again. The good this is, though, there are also some very free (or extremely inexpensive) things to do as well.

Last Saturday Chelsea and I got up and went to MotorCars of Las Vegas. They are the only authorized seller of the Shelby Super Cars (SSC) Ultimate Aero, the world’s fastest production automobile. The showroom location is pretty far from the strip, which means that idiot gawkers like me probably don’t show up very often to look at the cars. Chelsea and I showed up and asked if we could look around and take some pictures for my website. I was happy to hear that it was fine and Tom Brazill, general manager gave me his card and asked if we had any questions. I asked if they had an Aero, but he said they all sell before they ever make it to the showroom. As it turns out, Tom is a good friend of Jarod Shelby, owner of SSC. Tom was there when the record was broken and the SSC officially became the world’s fastest production car.

To be honest, I am not a car guy, but because the record was broken in West Richland, WA (my backyard), where SSC is located, and because I love to see people pursuing their dreams and succeeding, the excitement of that record breaking moment burned inside me. I could tell by Tom’s excitement that it was a moment he wouldn’t forget, and one he loved to relive by telling others about it. I was grateful for the opportunity.

After talking to Tom Chelsea and I walked around and she took my picture in front of a Bugatti Veyron, the world’s 2nd fastest production car. It was pretty cool. A sign said not to touch. I debated asking Tom if I couldn’t get inside a few of the cars, but didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity. We were there about fifteen minutes before heading off for the rest of the day’s activities.

img_0830

img_0831

Chelsea said she liked the doors on this Lamborghini. She called them, “very ’80’s.”

img_0835

After looking at cars, Chelsea and I headed off to Lake Mead for a hike.  The previous day’s search at trails.com located Lake Mead: Railroad Tunnel Trail. The trail is pretty easy since it was the rail line used to bring supplies for building the Hoover Dam. There are five small tunnels, which are decent checkpoints and distance markers in the hike. They also provide much needed shade from the hundred degree sun. Out and back through the tunnels is five miles, but if you stay on the trail it will take you out to the Hoover Dam, and will be a ~7-7.5 mile hike, which is not bad. Chelsea and I decided to go all the way to the dam.

Chelsea in front of two short tunnels.

img_0844

Some views from the trail. Don’t notice my fly check.

img_0841

img_0852

After you pass through all five tunnels, a sign informs you that you are entering government property, and asks that you stay on the trail. You will eventually see signs telling you that anywhere not on the trail is restricted. Fun. The closer you get to the dam, the more evidence you see of a nearby power station. The trail gives you a free backstage tour.

img_0860

Copy the image source and open it in a new tab to see this one full size. You could hear the buzz and hum of pure energy flowing through the wires. It was pretty cool.

pano

It wasn’t long before we were there. If you are ever at the Hoover Dam and wonder where these stairs go at the top of the parking garage, don’t follow them. It will be a few miles.

img_0862

Chels and I on the dam. You can’t really see the dam, so this could have been taken anywhere.

img_0877

Some more dam pictures.

img_0878

img_0870

img_0866

Those driving over the dam don’t actually get to see what they are driving on. This new bridge should help.

img_0875

Proof that at least Chelsea made it all the way to the dam.

img_0867

The hike was totally worth it, and the Hoover Dam was a pretty good reward for the miles under our feet. However, I don’t see how anyone could ever feel this is a place worth driving to and spending money on. Tours are ridiculously expensive, and from what I’m told, you have to pay to drive over the dam and to park. Lame. I’m glad Chelsea and I went, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way than hiking.

So, after a long hike, what do you do? Chelsea and I decided that Lake Mead would be a good place to rest our tired feet. We both went completely under in the lake, and I swam while Chelsea read a book on the beach.

img_0889

Someone needs a diet, and it’s not the girl.

img_0886

The day was great, and we still had Monday for fun! By Monday I had decided to drive down to San Diego and get an Aprilia RS50 that I found on craigslist. I purchesed the bike and took it to the shop on Tuesday. It’s still there now. It needed some work. I need to go get it titled and registered in NV, which I think also means me getting a Nevada drivers license, which is nothing more than a proof of residency and an eye test. After that I will have transportation. I have a really great paint job in mind too, but that will have to wait a while. Pictures of the bike to come soon.

Disneyland. A report in pictures.

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

My last post was a quick report that Chelsea and I went to Disneyland, and gave a list of all the attractions we were able to see. Hopefully this will be a little more exciting.

Here’s a picture of Chelsea before we left.
null

Here’s Mad Greek Gyros in Baker, CA on the way to Disneyland. I saw it on the food network and just had to eat there. The food is really expensive for what it is. That said, the gyro was really really good. The strawberry shake tasted like garbage.
null
null

While in Disneyland I met Ryan for the first time. We have been online friends for seven years. We met at junkmachine, owned by Tim Wasson who was featured on Tech TV with his NES PC. Ryan and I became friends with our mutual interest in old school gaming. Ryan started Old School Systems when Tim sold junkmachine and we became better friends there. When Old School Systems died, I started this site and Ryan started Original D, a really great Disneyland website. It was cool to meet someone in person that you have known for a long time online. Not only that, but Ryan and his friends were really cool guys and hung out with me and my family. I’ll make sure we have a meet up every time I go to Disneyland from now on. It was great.
null
null
null

The rest of these are in no particular order.

Chels and I on Tom Sawyer Island.
null
null

They’ve added some Pirates of the Caribbean elements to the island that makes it a lot of fun.
null

A picture of us on Hollywood Twilight Tower of Terror. Row 2, left to right: My mom, dad, sister, and Ryan’s friend Matt. Row 1, left to right: Me, Chelsea, Ryan, and Ryan’s friend Tim.
null

All of us waiting in line for Toy Story: Midway Mania.
null

Chelsea with Minnie Mouse.
null

Here’s Chelsea on the Storybook Land ride. This ride is really cool if you love horticulture and miniatures. The plants are all real, including many bonsai trees that are over 150 years old. It really is amazing.
null
null
null
null
null
null
null
null
null
null
null

Chelsea on the Mad Hatter Teacups. You really can’t spin that fast, but it’s still fun.
null

Chelsea pretending to ride the Dumbo ride. We never really went on this one.
null

Here’s the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This was my favorite ride as a kid. Now, I’m not really sure where it is on the list.
null

Here’s the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m pretty sure this is my favorite ride. The updates aren’t offensive like Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management was. It’s mostly original. I love it.
null

They have a million versions of these hats now. When I was little all of them were black. You could pay to have your name sewn into the back. It was done by hand in yellow thread. Ah, memories.
null

A shot of the castle. This one is Sleeping Beauty’s Snow White’s I think, and Cinderella’s is in Disney World, but I’m not sure. [EDIT] I know this one is Aurora’s, or Sleeping Beauty, because of the self guided storybook tour inside of that story. Thank Ryan for pointing out my error in writing the more easily remembered name of another princess who is also cast under an evil spell only to awake from true love’s kiss. I really knew who’s castle it was and meant Aurora even when I typed Snow White. Oh well. Haha.
null

Chelsea in front of a fake street. The effect is pretty convincing.
null

Chelsea and I on the train. It was fun and a quick way around the park.
null

Some pictures of us on Autopia. The ride is not as good once you can legally drive. It was pretty good when I was little though.
null
null
null

Finally we have some pics of ASIMO in the Innoventions discovery area. I thought the demonstration was too scripted. I would have liked to see an audience member give him a command, and I would have liked to see him get pushed to see how well he recovers. As it was, it was too hard to tell which stuff was just pre-programmed movement/speech and what was actually calculated by ASIMO.
null
null

Weekend trip to Disneyland

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Chelsea and I left Las Vegas around 4:00 and drove to Anaheim for the weekend. We checked into the hotel around 8:30 and got to the park around 9:00. We stayed until midnight Friday, for the full sixteen hours the park was open on Saturday, and for seven and a half hours on Sunday. Here’s a list of all the things we did.

Autopia
Mad Tea Party
Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Indiana Jones Adventure (x2)
Matterhorn Bobsleds (both tracks)
Space Mountain (x3)
Splash Mountain (x2)
We met Minnie Mouse on Mainstreet USA
Innoventions
Main Street Cinema
Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Enchanted Tiki Room
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
Haunted Mansion
Jungle Cruise
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Pirates of the Caribbean (x2)
Snow White’s Scary Adventures
“it’s a small world”
Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
Storybook Land Canal Boats
Disneyland Railroad (transportation)
Fire Engine (transportation)
Billy Hill & The Hillbillies
Jedi Training Academy
“Remember… Dreams Come True” Fireworks Spectacular

California Screamin’ (x2)
Grizzly River Run
Soarin’ Over California
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (x3)
Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar
Muppet Vision 3D
Toy Story Mania! (x2)
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular
Turtle Talk with Crush

To some, that may look like we did a whole lot with our time. To others, it may look like we didn’t get a whole lot done. That said, we only had about 26 hours in the park and we did 48 things. How did we do it? Well, I have a a few tips for getting around and doing all the things you want to do while in Disneyland.

1. Do some research and make a plan.
Make a list of the rides you want to go on most, and the ones you would like to go on if you get the chance. Make sure you are flexible as well. Anyone who has been to Disneyland knows that a good ride sequence would go some thing like this: Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones Adventure. The rides are in the same part of the park and are in that order when walking. If you want to go on all the mountains in Disneyland, you will waste a lot of time walking from one side of the park to the other trying to get to them. You will waste a lot time and walking if you try to go from Space Mountain to Splash Mountain to The Matterhorn to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Make sure you know that before you go.

2. Go with a small group.
I can’t tell you how much better it is when your group is small. You will do so much more. You can get in and out of the larger, slower walking groups much more easily, and you have fewer wants to meet. Larger groups means more bathroom stops, more food stand stops, and more waiting in line so you can all ride together. When you say you have a group of eight, they will stop you at the front of the line and fish the two or three person groups ahead of you and onto the ride. You may only wait two or three minutes more when that happens, but multiply that by ten rides and you have missed out on something else you could have been doing.

3. Learn how to get around.
The map you pick up at the entrance will show you that there is a center hub, and to get to one area of the park to the other, you should go through that hub near the castle. The map is a bit of a liar. If the line is short, the train is a good way to get around. It comes every five minutes and takes you to all parts of the magic kingdom. There are also many secret paths that are much more direct than back out to the center of the circle and across. Cut through shops that connect to two different lands. Find a seldom used path behind a building to beat the crowds. With a little experimentation you will soon know all the best ways around the park. You will be thankful you did and your feet will be too.

4. Speaking of feet, wear comfortable shoes.
I went to Disneyland last month too. I was wearing a pair of shoes that I had worn every day for a little more than one year. That said, those shoes were comfortable. They knew my feet and my feet knew them. I walked around all day and my feet felt great. While on the trip, though, the sole wore through. Because of the holes, I bought new shoes earlier this month and my feet suffered for it in Disneyland this time. After just three hours that first night, my feet throbbed and ached and complained at me, and it didn’t get any better as the trip went on. Even the best experience can be ruined if some discomfort or pain is preoccupying your mind. That said, make sure you wear a pair of comfortable, worn in shoes when you go to Disneyland. You will get more done because you won’t want to quit as early.

5. Be aware of the time.
This is my final tip. There are a lot of shows during the day that attract a lot of people to them. Fantasmic, fireworks, and the parades are the best ones. Because they are the best, the most people are going to go to those ones. If you have already seen them, now is a good time to go on some rides. In most cases, the lines will be a lot shorter. Enjoy two or three rides during this time. There are also times during the day when there will be fewer people. Make sure you are one of those few. Children get up later than adults do, and they call it quits earlier as well. Get to the park as soon as it opens and go on that ride that always has a long line and no fast passes. Save the kiddie rides until late at night. The kids will go home and the other adults will be doing the bigger thrill rides. Go on every ride in fantasy land in little more than one hour. The rides are silly, but a lot of them are original to the park, and if you have never been on them, they are better than waiting in lines.

Pinewood Derby

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

I hate being that person who never updates their site, but I am. For a quick update to the present, I finished the semester at BYU-I, I went on tour with Vocal Union and Sound Alliance to California, Nevada, and Utah, and I’ve moved to Las Vegas now. I’m looking for a job now, but if I don’t find one, then maybe I will have a lot of time to be productive and make this site what it could and should be.

Flashback to last semester, I was working from 11PM to 5AM on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. One week I wanted to participate in a campus wide pinewood derby event. The race was Thursday, and the only tools I had were my Dremel and a coping saw. That said, between Monday and Thursday night I only got 6 hours of sleep total. I was exhausted, but happy and I went to all my classes and work, so not bad at all. In the end I had the slowest car, but won best automotive design, which is all I really wanted anyway. Pics below.

null

Weighed down with quarters.
null

null