Las Vegas 2004:
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Saturday, October 2, 2004

7:12 AM:
It's the same view the next morning, except covered in golden sunshine.
8:19 AM: Just before another hearty McDonald's breakfast, we did our best impersonation of the Golden Arches while posing for just one of hundreds of group photos.
9:15 AM: En route to Hoover Dam, we passed a very enticing gift shop featuring dead cows. We were concerned about shipping one back to Indiana, so we decided not to investigate further.
9:30 AM: One of the roadside areas offered a lovely view of Lake Mead.

9:46 AM: As soon as we got to Hoover Dam, we crossed to the Arizona side, so some members of our party could add it to the list of states they've visited. This view is of the back of the dam, obviously. The only time we had seen Hoover Dam before was by plane. (Our next view of it was by bus in July 2006.)

10:17 AM: Here is our little friend Orchy again, back on the Nevada side, with the front of the dam in the background.
10:19 AM: These little critters made their home in the rocks along the side of the dam. Cute, cute, cute!
10:22 AM: Rarely have we been so impressed with the design and style of a parking structure, so we had to document the object of our respect.
11:26 AM: We raced back from Hoover Dam to the Las Vegas Hilton, where we had tickets for the Star Trek Experience. Copyright restrictions prevented us from taking photographs, but suffice to say, both attractions, "Klingon Encounter" (which we experienced in 1998) and the new "Borg Invasion 4D," were very entertaining. Since our last visit, we were pleased that the characters and events from the "Enterprise" series had been added to the timeline.
1:01 PM: After recovering from a close call with the Borg, we continued our Experience with lunch in Quark's bar. The Enterprise hung directly over our table, which made us feel very safe.
1:16 PM: We shared a mini-Borg Sphere, a delightful alcoholic concoction with fog coming out of it.

1:21 PM: When a Klingon happened by, Brent was brave enough to ask him to pose with Orchy.

Klingon: "What manner of creature is this?"
Brent: "Our mascot, a little red squishy apple."
Klingon: "No relation to tribbles, I trust."
Brent: "No."
Klingon: "Let's hope not."

1:22 PM: After his Klingon encounter, Orchy was nearly assimilated into the Borg Sphere.
2:05 PM: A Borg drone walked by slowly for us to take his photograph. Fortunately, we didn't look threatening and he continued on his way.
2:37 PM: Adrian Zmed!
2:41 PM: It is apparently a time-honored tradition in Vegas to leave one's shoeprint on the ceiling beams of parking garages. Brent honors the tradition at the Las Vegas Hilton parking garage.
3:04 PM: Everything is ostentatious in Las Vegas. Even the humble CVS Pharmacy next to the Boardwalk sported a giant tube squirting neon toothpaste.
3:15 PM: We went back to M&M World to procure the items we had seen the day before, and discovered floors three and four. The third floor has a large fun M&Ms display you can walk through. Right this way!
3:17 PM: One of many vignettes involving the M&Ms.
3:18 PM: And a movie parody featuring the M&Ms.
3:19 PM: Several areas of the attraction had black lights, which allowed us to get a look at the black-light-enabled handstamps we had received at the Star Trek Experience.
4:31 PM: After an all-too-short break at the Boardwalk where we changed into our evening clothes, we headed back out onto the Strip again.
4:45 PM: We had a few minutes before our reservation at the Rainforest Cafe in the MGM Grand, so we stopped by to visit the lions again. This time, the female lions were out.
5:25 PM: At the Rainforest Cafe, we were not yet hungry after our large lunch at Quark's Bar, so we decided to dine on alcohol, appetizers, and desserts. Here we are starting with the drinks.
6:09 PM: And here we are ending with the desserts. Gina and Audrey shared a Fudge Brownie Volcano. It's always nice to have pyrotechnics at the dinner table.
6:26 PM: There's no such thing as too many group shots!
6:28 PM: In fact, we all squeezed into a photo booth, too.
6:34 PM: Next on the schedule was the 7:00 show in front of the Excalibur. By 7:05, it finally dawned on us that there would be no show. Someone at the Information Desk confirmed that the Excalibur no longer puts on a free show. That, combined with a moving-walkway that didn't work, gave us the impression that the Excalibur's glory days are behind her.
7:22 PM: We gambled a few coins at the Excalibur before taking the connecting walkway to the Luxor. These talking camels provided a fine backdrop to our best Middle Eastern poses.
7:44 PM: Not to be left out, Orchy got his photo taken in front of a sphinx.
7:45 PM: Being sophisticated adults, we had tickets to the Luxor's adult show, titled "Midnight Fantasy." It was very enjoyable and we highly recommend it.
10:02 PM: After the show, we crossed the hallway to check out King Tut's Tomb and Museum. Admission includes a headset with a recorded walking tour narration.
10:16 PM: This museum is a recreation of several rooms of King Tut's tomb, exactly as it was found years ago.
10:39 PM: After we finished the tour and checked out the gift shop, we feasted our eyes on what has to be the coolest interior ever.
10:46 PM: It was a beautiful night, so we walked along the Strip to our next destination, passing the lovely Sphinx and impressive Luxor pyramid. (Click here to see the real thing in Giza, Egypt.)
10:52 PM: OK, maybe the Excalibur is a little more impressive than we originally thought.
10:56 PM: The MGM Grand is ablaze with color at night.
11:21 PM: As we passed the Aladdin, we could see Paris up ahead, which was our final destination of the evening.
11:24 PM: The Paris Hotel's Eiffel Tower, just one-half the size of the original, is quite an imposing structure. One of two of the legs goes right through the casino.
11:48 PM: After a surprisingly short wait for a Saturday night, we went to the top of the Eiffel Tower where we enjoyed the water and light displays in front of the Bellagio Hotel across the street.
11:49 PM: Of course, the view toward the south end of the Strip was equally impressive.
12:04 AM: It's a medical miracle -- we're all still awake after midnight!

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