Realized that I don't always hear/feel my phone ring. Met up with Cynthia and Bill at Triva, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant just below my window. Had a pretty good omelet for $16.
Headed south down the strip a little ways. Saw the Mirage and Caesar's Palace. The others didn't have much of an agenda, so my suggestion to walk to Stratosphere won. Maybe walking wasn't the best idea. It's probably at least a mile, (turns out it's two) plus temperatures were approaching 100F. We bought $1 bottles of water from ad hoc street vendors, plus I got a quart of Gatorade at Walgreens.
We finally got to Stratosphere, and while I was buying my tower and ride tickets, the other two decided that they didn't even want to go up the 108 story tower, let alone the three rides at the top. I can't believe they walked all that way to not go up. Their loss. Whatever.
I bought a tower + 3 rides ticket ($25) and headed up. The views were spectacular.
Looking southbound on the strip. This is highly zoomed-in, so these things look a lot closer than they were.
There were indoor and outdoor viewing areas, plus the rides.
I had tickets for all three rides, but only got to go on X-scream because the others ended up closing due to high winds. I'd never seen a ride like X-scream. It's basically a large sled that holds maybe 8 people in four rows of two. It's on a long straight track that hangs off the edge of the tower, about 900 ft. above the ground. The track tilts down, and the sled accelerates downward at probably a 30 degree angle, stopping abruptly at the end. The rail then tilts up, and the sled slides back. This happens a few times, with a couple of surprise starts/stops on the way.
It was very cool, but I imagine the front seat really must have been amazing. Another ride, Insanity, is eight seats suspended from a claw that rotates over the edge, facing you nearly straight down. Winds stopped that one, and also Big Shot, which sticks straight up from the top of the tower, shooting you straight up and dropping you back down.
I came back down and got a $10 refund for my unused ride tickets, and made the solo walk back to the Venetian. Somewhere along the way, I lost my Sony GPS-CS1. (GPS for geocoding photos) I'm guessing the cheap caribiner came open and it fell off somewhere near the Fashion Show mall. I didn't realize this until I was back at the hotel. I grabbed a quick pear gelato, and backtracked to the old New Frontier hotel, the spot of my last picture, but to no avail. Just damn. I really need that for Korea, so now I'm faced with shelling out another $100, plus a few more for a locking carabiner.
Once I got back to my room, I had to head out straightaway for the opening session and "cocktail" reception. (There was beer and wine, but nary a cocktail to be seen.) The keynote speaker was Alastair Fothergill who directed/produced the Discovery Channel series Planet Earth. His presentation was very cool, displaying lots of awesome footage from the series. The "cocktail" reception immediately followed. This thing is beyond huge. I'm guessing ~5000 people. Dinner was various hot buffet entrees, wine, and beer. I hung out a while, running into Cynthia and Bill, and Andy Jeremias from PA. With the huge number of exhibitors, the place was like a mini Pittcon. By 7:15, I was shot. Went back to the room and made avail of the huge bathtub. My tired legs and feet really needed that.
I also took a stab at washing my travel clothing in the sink and air-drying it, to see if that's going to be a viable option in Korea. So far, I'd give it a huge "Yes!" I fought with the in-room Internet access ($9.95/day. . . what a racket) and was able to handle most of my work e-mail, and get my pictures uploaded, sans geotag data.
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