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Las Vegas / Los Angeles 2007
Tags: Arizona Events Grand Canyon Greyhound Jay Leno Jet lag Las Vegas Los Angeles Me Medieval Times Pacific Ocean Paramount Pictures Science fiction Star Trek Vacation
This trip (late April 2007) fell in 2 parts. First I went to Las Vegas - where everything is big! Unfortunately my suitcase went AWOL. But other than that, I spent some time just settling in - like successfully fighting jet lag. When I was ready - I had the best day on this trip, at Star Trek The Experience. And then I finally took a Greyhound out of town.
To Los Angeles. Where I did all sorts of fun stuff: a tour of Paramount Studios, being audience at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, dipping my toes in The Pacific Ocean, and going back to Medieval Times.
Oh yeah. And I saw Grand Canyon.
Man - everything here is humongous! The line to the caps at Las Vegas Airpost (see below) is 300 m long. My room at the hotel is larger than my apartment at home! The standard breakfast takes up most up the table, and the 2 pancakes are a meal in themselves. Oh yeah - and the casinos and neon signs take up some space as well...
I went from Copenhagen, to Amsterdam, to Minneapolis, to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, in Minneapolis, my suitcase was not there. When I finally arrived in Las Vegas, and could file a claim, apparently the suitcase was still in Copenhagen! Much later I heard, it had been to London in those 24 hours. What fun! I was finally reunited with my suitcase - 3 weeks later, when I was back home. At that point, my suitcase had failed to turn up in Washington on time, and went through Amsterdam when it was found again.
It was weird not having my suitcase. I learned a lot about how airlines work. I also experienced an odd sense of freedom. And yes, some of the time I was worried and angry, and dreaded having to buy everything again.
And now I've tried it, here's some advice - if it should ever happen to you.
- Read the fine print about what you're not supposed to put in your suitcase. I put the recharger for my camera in there, a $100 item, but couldn't get any refund for that, because the fine print said I shouldn't have done that.
- Is it essential, irreplaceable stuff? Don't put it in your suitcase. My reason for this whole trip was to go to a conference, and it took some of the joy out of it, not to have the material, I packed for that conference.
- Put a travel itenerary in your suitcase, your name and stuff like that. If your bag is lost, it "knows" where it should've been, right away.
- Ask! Ask when and where you should make your claim. Ask if you should make more than one claim. Ask for written down instructions. At one point, I had 2 different informations about the size of the refund I could get. At another point I discovered, that I should make an extra claim 5 days after the original claim, and include copies of documents (like the original plane ticket), I maybe didn't have anymore!
- Look at the bright side of life! You get to buy new clothes. You don't have a huge suitcase to haul around. I also got a kick out of the idea, that my suitcase was grown up, and should see a little of the world on its own.
This time I tried using the Jet Lag advisor. Basically it tells you when you should seek out / avoid light. If you follow this advice, the jet lag will be less severe, and over faster. I followed the advice, both going out and back, and even though I didn't follow it to the letter, it worked. Highly recommended.
Star Trek The Experience
Once I knew, I was going to Los Angeles, and figured out the distances etc., I just knew I had to go to Las Vegas, Hilton, Star Trek The Experience. It ended up being one of the best days of my life. Being a trekkie, and sourrounded by things trek, is the ultimate experience. No, I can't participate in the show. (Do I want that? Or do I want to live in the world of the show, for real? I'm not sure.) But this is very, very close.
Before I went, I couldn't figure out how it worked. So here's a small review / howto / whatever, for the next virgin.
- What are the choices?
- There are 2 basic rides, one about Klingons and one about Borg. You can buy one, both, or even unlimited access to both for a whole day. This is the core of the exhibition. This is where you're invited into the universe, via actors, sets, and simulators using as many senses as possible.
- There's also a museum. My impression is, that if you buy anything at all, you can wander the museum at will. The museum has costumes and props from the different series and movies. Also, when you go to stand in line for a ride, you go through the museum. But there's stuff almost anywhere.
- There's a tour behind the scenes of ST:EXP. I recommend you do this tour after you try the rides. I didn't, and I was a little sad, that some of the surprises had been spoiled.
- You can have your picture taken, on the Enterprise bridge, and in a Borg regeneration chamber. You also get to walk around in these sets, but you can't take your own pictures in there. Default you get this picture on paper. If you want a special version of the picture (like, not on paper, but on CD), inquire as early as possible, whether this is possible. Otherwise, you can always get the special version after you get home.
- And then you can buy merchandise, and food, and merchandise, and drinks, and merchandise, and...
- If you spend any time at all at the exhibition, you will run into one or more "characters". When I was there, there was a Klingon, a Ferengi and a Vulcan. They are very willing to talk to you. In fact, I recommend, that you work out in advance, what you would say if you met e.g. a Klingon.
- Learn what you can about opening hours and prices, before you leave home. It's a bit confusing, once you're there. I bought a package, but didn't really know, whether I saved any money. Also, I guessed at the opening hours, and wasn't even really sure, it was open that particular day!
- Plan on walking a lot. You walk when you see the museum, do the rides, and go behind the scenes. I had to leave when I did (after 6 hours), because my legs hurt too much. And I even cheated a little, by sitting down when I was standing in line for a ride.
- Go on a day, when there won't be a lot of people, and go there early. I went on a random Monday in April, and arrived half an hour after they opened at 11 AM. I didn't have to stand in line very long anywhere. I ended up leaving when the evening rush started.
Me and a dead Gorn
Me and a live Ferengi
Maybe it sounds odd. But I am a bit fascinated by everything American. Especially the stuff we don't have in Denmark. Are McDonalds burgers really the same over there? And exactly what is a Twinkie? I now know the answer to both questions.
This time I got to try a Greyhound bus. Not very glamoruos, it turned out. And apparently, the schedule was only a guide, not something you could rely on. But now I can say I've tried it.
And we drove...
... from Las Vegas...
... to Los Angeles...
... with everything looking like this...
... when suddenly - color!
My stay in the Los Angeles area wasn't as planned as my stay in the Las Vegas area. But there was one thing, I knew: I wanted to see Paramount, home of the Star Trek franchise, if it was possible. And as they have daily tours, it was indeed possible. And even on short notice: I ended up going on a tour 20 minutes after I arrived at the gate (a combination of being late for a earlier tour, and dumb luck).
So what did I see? Apart from some cool stuff (sets going up and going down, props, backlots, and part of the taping of a show), I saw a few Star Trek related items - yes, they know what people want to see. So there were some pictures, prominently displayed, and by chance the water tank (The Voyage Home) was open, because of some other movie. We also saw some of the original Desilu Studios.
Almost on a whim, I got a ticket for the show. I know of Jay Leno, even though I don't watch him that often - in fact, I'm not sure you can watch him in Denmark at the moment. But other than that, it was just fun to see the show being taped, and participating a little.
I've been audience to a show before, but this was different. They really want the audience boiling, so they do everything to get us hyped, and then do everything to keep us there. I was surprised by the fact, that the show started, almost without me noticing. I was also surprised by the level of activity during the commercial breaks. In fact, they only stopped once, and that was because an animal had gotten away, and had to be tracked down, and they needed silence to do that. It was a very satisfying evening, and I might do it again, if it fits with my other plans.
Some nice people suggested we go all the way out to the Ocean. And once there, I insisted that I dip my toes - otherwise it wouldn't count. So now I can say I've seen (and felt) the Pacific.
No plans, and one more day to kill before going home. And the one thing I wanted to do was: go to a fake castle, and watch a fake tournament! Not the thing to do, when you've already seen real castles in England and Ireland, and had the chance to visit slightly more authentic tournaments there. But the thing is, I didn't go. And this time, I had the time and the inclination. It sounded like fun. So why not?
And then it just ended up being a very good evening. It was an odd mix of food, drink, music, horse show, bird show, acting, a fake tournament, souvenirs, get-your-picture-taken-with-the-king etc. And maybe it wasn't as authentic and respectful as it could've been. But it was fun!
Created: 20 May, 2007 - Last changed: 10 July, 2008 - Comments (0)