Thursday, August 27, 2015

Roxy Theatre, Wellington, New Zealand

Hi there

A slight change away from Las Vegas:

As my five readers know by now, my nearest picture theatre is the Roxy in Miramar.  It's owned by Weta bigwigs. 

Upstairs on the 1st floor (2nd floor, if you'are American - and more about this subject in a future blog), there are usually some display cabinets with personal collections by Weta staff.

At the moment, there is a wonderful Lego exhibit that depicts the Roxy Theatre, both inside and outside.  It was in a dark area so my photos aren't that good. But every room is so detailed:

Below: the upstairs theatre

Below:  if you look real close, you can see the decontamination guy in the downstairs toilet.

 An Aston Marton (however it's spelt) collection.

below: a Wot-wots prop toy from Weta Workshop.

7 swims for August.  It's been a rush since I got back to reach the minimum monthly number of 6.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

comment from Sarah

Hi there

I've had a comment from Sarah saying how brave I was to take the horse ride at the Bonnie Springs Ranch in Nevada.  Oh, that comment really buoyed me up!  I had looked on myself as cowardly because I was so frightened and panic-stricken every second of that ride.  But now I am going to puff out my chest and think, Well, I didn't just think about how scary that ride would be if I went on it,  I actually went to that ranch ... and did it!  And that counts for something?

You know, when I go swimming in the winter, the comment I mostly hear from people is, "You're mad!".  So, in future, in my head, I am going to substitute the word 'brave' whenever someone calls me  'mad' again.  Thanks, Sarah.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Morning Maverick Horseback Ride

Hi there

It was my second 110F temperature day in Las Vegas -

Now, some people are afraid of mice - me!  Some people are afraid of cats - definitely not me!  Some people are afraid of horses - Me!-Me!-jumping-up-and-down-and-waving-frantically-Me!  So, why did I pre-book to go on a horseback ride in Red Rock Canyon (about 40 minutes out of Las Vegas)?

....because I wanted to be a cowboy, that's why.  I wanted to ride the range wearing a cowboy stetson,  with spurs a-jangling, warbling "Riders in the Sky", and  pretending to be The Sundance Kid.

Cowboys in movies amble through the desert, lazily riding through rocky terrain and in and out of cacti and rattle-snakes, with barely a second thought.

I had second thoughts as my horse was led toward me.  This mare was awfully tall.  I'd like to  say it was the heat that had my heart beating as fast as a rocket ship in flight and, of course this was part of the whole thing, but I was also as frightened as a jack rabbit.  The travel insurance people  had pointed out to me that if I had a fall from a horse, they would take no responsibility unless I was wearing a riding helmet-

In my cowboy imaginings, there was no riding helmet.  Pssh! - cowboys did not wear riding helmets.

And so I wore a stetson ... but when I signed a waiver from the horse riding company exempting them from any liability, I was truly in panic mode.

With the aid of a step-stool, I got astride a horse, frantically trying to remember all the instructions the wranglers had told us.  Did I lean forward or backwards going up a hill?  Did I strike my heels into the horse's side when I wanted it to stop, or was that start?  Which way to turn the reins?  I was told to talk endearingly to the horse.  And to always (repeat-always) hold the reins underneath the knot.  Oh, and to never-ever-ever let go of those reins.

"Let me fix you up," said a Bonnie Springs Ranch wrangler.  He wrenched my legs down-down-down into the stirrups.  I felt like I was being stretched on an Elizabethan rack.  I'm short and my horse was .... round.  My inner thighs were in such pain...

I don't want to do this-I don't want to do this-I don't want to-

We were off, about ten of us in single file.  I started to shake.  And sweat.  I thought it was raining until I realised my hair was dripping ...

I banged my foot on a gate as we turned a corner and my foot came out of the stirrup. A wrangler had to rescue me.

The ride lasted an hour and every second I prayed to every god in the universe to let it finish quickly.  The trail was about two feet wide, with rocks, and curves, and mountains to traverse.   Okay-okay, maybe not mountains, let's say hills...   Alright, slight rises.

Be nice to your horse, we'd been told.  So every now and then I whispered sweet nothings:  "There's a good girl.  Who's a good girl.  You're a good girl.  What a good girl."  Well, it works for my cat.

The horse turned it's head to look at me and I swear it rolled its eyes.

I was afraid of the horse bolting, or me falling off, or mis-interpreting the horse-riding instructions.  The trail was no more than a couple of feet in width.  If my horse encountered a rock on the trail,  she did an arc around the rock and I went into a grand panic.  The horse in front had a poo and my horse obviously thought "No way" and veered us off the trail for a few seconds.

I want to go home-I want to go home-I want to go home.

The hour felt like two weeks.

As we re-approached the ranch, I was hyperventilating.  The burro bite the previous day hadn't helped.

And I couldn't get off  that horse - I was stuck statue-like in the saddle, having a complete panic attack.    I eventually did get down with the help of a wrangler.

A fellow tourist, in her seventies said soothingly to me, words to the effect of , "There's a good girl.  Who's a good girl.  You're a good girl.  What a good girl."  She'd just come off a seven day horse trek in Morocco and knew her stuff.

Why couldn't I have had a fear of clowns, or rice pudding?   

My embarrassing cowboy days are truly over....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The heat in Vegas

Hi there

Here's the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.  Every night there is a pirate-ship battle out front.

And, oh, yes, there's a lot of heat in Las Vegas.  Las Vegas exists on heat.  There's sexy ladies wearing just a few feathers and a bit of glitter, and sexy men who are probably wearing the same but I never went to any of the male stripper shows so I don't know how they dress ... or undress.  I did go to  "Showstoppers" at the Wynn Casino, and I really loved this show.  It's how I imagined Las Vegas would be.  Show girls and boys, big stage presence, full orchestra, headdresses, feathers, high-heels, lots of singing and dancing, and tunes from Broadway musicals.

However, it's the real Las Vegas heat that I'm talking about.  On two of the days I was there, the temperature on the LV Strip reached 110F, one degree less then the all-time heat record.    We were warned, via the tv each morning, that seniors must not venture outside, that there were 'cooling stations' and 'drop in' points for cold drinks and air conditioning.  The desert fire that had taken out lots of houses the previous week was still burning.

In Vegas, the August heat is so bad that you can't walk more than say two minutes without wishing to be at the South Pole, or sitting on a giant block of ice.  It's better to nip in one door of an air-conditioned casino and out the other all the way along The Strip.  For those few minutes when you're riding an outdoor escalator or crossing a street bridge, just put up with the heat and don't buy a dollar bottle of water from the bridge vendors; the bottles were found in the trash and filled with tap water.

My visit to the hundred-burro one street town of Oatman was on one of the 110F days.  Oatman is right slap-bang-dab in the middle of the desert.  The temp inside an Oatman shop, in the shade, read at 114F (45c in kiwi language).

Our tour van had arrived in Oatman a few minutes before noon and we parked in a carpark below the main street. .  I was all a-tingle to see the promised 1.15pm gunfight..  I was drenched in sweat within one minute of getting out of the van;  I didn't know how long my body could take such heat.

I heard some gunshots and a lot of yelling.

"They must be practising for the gunfight," someone said.

So.... I ate my picnic lunch, got bit by a burro, and all but expired under the sun. .

At 1 pm, our guide admitted he had his timing wrong.  The shootout had been at noon, and the next fight wouldn't be until 2.15pm. 

Another hour to hang around in that 114 degree heat?  None of us could take it, we all put up our hands voting to leave.  What a disappointment but, oh, such heaven to be in the air-conditioned van!

When I got back to Vegas, dripping in sweat, I called in to Serendipity3 and had the biggest ice cream sundae I could find on the menu:

But I truly wanted to see a cowboy gunfight....
Below:  temperature clock outside a general store in the El Dorado mine area.

ps: tomorrow i'll tell you the sad tale (tail, hehehe) about my Maverick Morning Horseback Ride. Same bat blog, same bat temperature.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Hi there

Did you miss me?  Did ya?

Well, I did everything I wanted to do, and saw all the sights I wanted to see.  In and out of all the sightseeing and the doings, there were plenty of traumatic happenings.

I got jet lag for the first time ever, and for five and a half days, I walked around in a state of full zombie-ness. And, also, from the second I stepped off the plane in Los Angeles, I was on-and-off deaf in one ear.

On my last morning in Vegas, I woke up to complete deafness in that ear.  The deafness still hasn't let up.  I am going to see the pharmacist today.  But everyone in Vegas was nice about it.  I had so many suggestions from strangers as to what to do to hear properly.  A bus driver handed me his smart phone (while he was driving) - he had found a list of how to get rid of temporary deafness and wanted me to read it.  First on the bullet-list was "jump up and down".

Then I had a blocked nose and a sore throat for four days until I turned my hotel room's air conditioning off at night.

I got bitten by a donkey......   (Bet you weren't expecting that??)  :

I was in the small western town street of Oatman, out of the Las Vegas area.  The town has loads of wild donkeys roaming the street, only we are not allowed to call them donkeys - they are burros.

"They're perfectly safe," said our group's guide.  "You can pet them, and love them, and feed them."  Blocks of alphalpha could be bought.  We were not to feed them carrots.  Carrots brought out large cancer lumps on the donkeys'-sorry-burros' necks.

I petted a few donkey-burros, then looked for a rubbish bin to throw away the remnants of the picnic lunch provided by the tour company.  A donkey stalked up to me, staring intently at the square plastic container of left-overs in my hand.

"Shoo!  Shoo!"  I backed away, scared.

That donkey-burro stalked me.  I turned left.  He turned left.  I turned right.  He turned right.  He began to nudge me.  There was a vicious look in his eyes.

I was standing beside a car and the occupants hurriedly opened a door, trying to put the door up between me and the donkey-burro.  The donkey just swerved around it.

I stumbled backward up onto the boardwalk.  It followed.  I was backed up against a shop window.

And the burro bit my arm!!!  With both sets of teeth.  Blood was drawn.

I dropped the lunch box and ran away, crying like a seven year old.

I hope I don't get rabies.  Or tetanus.  Or burro-breath.  If I turn into a a were-burro at the next full moon, I will be so distressed.....

 above: the Oatman street.  Donkeys (I mean burros) roam on shop verandas.

above: a baby.

Above:  approaching Oatman, a friendly donkey (I didn't know about them being burros then), happy to see us, put his head in the car window, in greeting..  I should have paid more attention for future reference. 

 above:  me, five minutes before The Episode.

above.  a happy stranger surrounded by friendly burros.  I don't know what happened to her later.  I fled the scene after taking this photograph.  (Oh, and quite a few burros were pregnant.)

Another thrilling What I Did On My Vegas Holiday coming up soon.  I promise no more donkeys-er-I-mean-burros.  This time the horrifying story will be about ... horses!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Viva Las Vegas-yee-ha!!!

Hi there

Well, I'm off tomorrow to Las Vegas!  And today I  hopped on my neighbour's scales, and I've lost 10lbs  since 24 May which was a cause for celebration.  So I got myself a Pepsi... and it tasted awful.  My goodness, has dieting ruined my tastebuds?  I can't allow that;  I mean I intend to buy a 24-hour seven-restaurants  all-you-can-eat buffet voucher the second I hit Vegas.  I hope, fingers crossed and my stomach co-operating,  to get in four buffets in the 24 hour period.  I have read of some people who have managed the whole seven.

Obviously I will return home more buxom than when I left.

See you in two and a half weeks.  Sorry I won't be writing a blog when I'm away.