Houston

July 27th, 2015

We made it safely to Houston. Back at the church, Pastor Chris had brought some leftover sparklers to play with (since we were there at 1am, why not, right?). I took this picture using a long exposure, hoping to capture “MCCC!” Didn’t come out too bad considering it was 1am and we had very little practice getting it together.

MCCC! sparklers

In Exton, we boarded a very nice, big, comfortable bus. Fortunately, we were smart enough to confirm our destination with the bus driver. He thought we were going to Baltimore and not Newark!! Other than that, the bus ride was uneventful, as was the flight to Houston. We had a rather long layover, so we got to have a nice, expensive breakfast at Ruby’s Diner. Of course, after we ate, our friend Nivea gave us the valuable advice of going to the last terminal and looking at food options there. She paid under $4 for a coffee and a breakfast ¬†sandwich. I paid over $15 a person. Oh well. Now I know.

Guatemala?

July 26th, 2015

Tonight, my ten-year-old daughter, Domino, and I, along with 22 other people, will be going on an adventure to Guatemala. It was a few short months ago that my church, Marsh Creek Community Church, decided to put together a global missions trip to help orphans there. When I heard about the opportunity, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity for Domino and I to go. We live in a beautiful area, and are very blessed. It is so easy to forget how blessed we are. We take for granted things like TV, Wii, iPad and iPhones. Even if we do stop to appreciate those things, I’m positive we don’t stop to thank God that we have a virtually unlimited amount of drinking water, and the fact that we can take long, hot showers every day. A long time ago, Domino shared with me that she wanted to do things for orphans. I have no idea why. We don’t talk about them. And I don’t think she had seen Annie. Maybe some other show gave her the idea. She would bring it up every once in a while, often out of the blue. That’s why I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity for her. We are going with an organization called ORI (Orphan Resources International). We need to meet at the chuch at 1am so we can get to Newark airport tomorrow morning for our first flight. I still have packing to do, so I better finish that up.

fitbit

November 20th, 2014

I’m sitting on the plane now. Flying First Class! (I used frequent flier miles) My trip through TSA a was crappy. They searched my bag and took my two bottles of water and my peanut butter. They didn’t take my toothpaste because it was more than half used. After I left, I realized I lost my fitbit. I went back five minutes later, and they weren’t able to find it. I tried using my phone to find it by getting within sync range, but it wasn’t anywhere to be found. I guess somebody else who needs it more than me got an early Christmas present. TSA gave me a card and told me to call for the next five days to see if it turns up.

Carrot Top

November 20th, 2014

Yesterday, my Dad and my brother went home early in the morning, so I had to fend for myself the whole day. I got up early, and I went on the walk with the Marriott activity person. It was great! Not only a nice walk, but very informative, too! We got to see some sites, learn about some of the buildings, and some other tidbits. Very cool!
After the tour, I saw that Carrot Top was back from vacation, so I went to the ticket place and picked one up. They talked me into a discounted buffet at Monte Carlo, too. That’s fine.
Since I only got a voucher for a ticket, I wanted to make sure I got a good assigned seat, so I walked to the Luxor and got that taken care of. Then I figured I’d play poker at the Monte Carlo until I wanted to eat the buffet. So I walked over to there and ended up buying in on a $40 tourney. It had rebuys if needed, and even had some kind of chip-up for another $20. So, I invested a total of $60. There were 15 players, and I ended up busting out in 5th, which apparently was just before the table decided to chop the prize money. Figures. I always seem to be the bubble in tourneys.
After the tourney, I went to the buffet. It was kinda okay. I wouldn’t go back. And I’m glad I only spent about $15 on it.
When I was done eating, I went back to the Luxor to play more poker while waiting for the show. Played $1-2, and didn’t do so great. Lost about a hundred-forty.
The Carrot Top show was great. I had a lot of fun, and he put on a fast-paced, really funny show. I’m glad I was able to see it.
After the show, I attempted to win back some of my money at the poker table. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, and I ended up taking a loss of a total of $30 for the trip for my gambling. Oh well. Walked back to the hotel and crashed around 12:30am.

Pinball Wizard

November 19th, 2014

This morning we took care of our souvenir shopping and then headed to The Pinball Hall of Fame. Mike is a huge fan of pinball, and I knew he would love it. Of course, they had the Adam’s Family pinball game, which is his favorite. Two other games that we really enjoyed were a Bally’s Who Dunnit game, which you had to solve a murder by getting clues and interrogating suspects. The other one was an extremely limited edition Pinball Circus game. This game was not as long as most pinball games,but had multiple heights to play at. It actually never made it into production because the additional cost didn’t bring in any more money in its prototype phase. It’s too bad, because the game was really good.
After pinball, we ate at a fancy restaurant across from Bellagio called Mon Ami Gabi. Food was delicious and we got to sit outside and watch the fountains while we ate.
After we ate, we tested a bit at the hotel, and then headed down to Freemont Street. That was really cool. Lots of lights, street performers, live music, and more. We got to see the largest nugget of gold at the Golden Nugget, and we got to see the home of the World Series of Poker at Binion’s. I’m glad we were able to get down there during our trip.

SkyJump!

November 18th, 2014

Monday, we noticed we had a lot of beer left in the fridge. Knowing we can’t take it home, we decided to play a couple of games of beer pong before we left for lunch. We had a lot of fun throwing chairs in each others way and jumping over the couch running after rebounds. Mike was impressively competitive.
We went to BurGR for lunch. That’s Gordon Ramsey’s joint in Planet Hollywood. The food was fantastic. We got onion rings, sweet potato fries, burgers, and shakes. After we ate, we managed to get our picture taken with Hell’s Kitchen winner Christine from Philadelphia!
After lunch, we walked to the half price ticket place and decided to get tickets to Zoomanity – the sensual side of Cirque de Sole. I don’t know why I chose that show. I didn’t know what I was thinking. I’ll share about it later.
From there, Mike and I had been planning to jump off of the Stratosphere as part of this vacation, so we decided to huff it down to there. We didn’t realize how long of a walk it really was. Wow. On the way, we stopped at Circus Circus and managed to catch a juggling act, which was very good. Then we got back to walking to the Stratosphere. We finally arrived, and Dad felt he could take better pictures of us from across the street, so we left him there while we went in. It took us a little while before we could get our turn, and we checked in with Dad every so often. We watched as people came down – they seemed very excited after they landed. When it was our turn, they made us empty all of our pockets, so I called Dad for the last time, and put everything in a locker. Mike and I suited up, and went up the elevator. I wanted Mike to jump first, because when we went skydiving, I jumped first there. I thought that was only fair. I watched as Mike approached the ledge and jumped off. Pretty awesome!
I was actually a little more nervous about this than I was when I went skydiving. For that, it went so fast with the instructors and everything, I didn’t have time to think. For this, I had plenty of time to think. And since this was solo and not tandem, that added a bit more fear.
After I was all tethered up and ready to jump, I was led to the platform and told to hold on to the rails on the one side. I have to admit, my legs were a little jello-y. After connecting the final strap, they told me to move my left hand to the other side and put my toes across the ledge. That was freaky. Really freaky. And then 3 2 1 jump!
The first part of the jump was great, and then I could tell it was slowing me down, and the rest of the way of the 18 second jump I was able to look around and see the city. It was a pretty cool experience. Not sure it was worth $120, but cool nonetheless.
When I landed, I saw that Mike was able to quickly grab his cell phone and video my jump from the ground. How cool! I’m sorry that I couldn’t have done the same for him, but we did get a pic of us in our jumpsuits together, as well as certificates that said we jumped.
We met up with Dad, who was supposed to take pictures from across the street, but he didn’t realize that I needed to leave my phone behind, and didn’t know when our jump was, so he didn’t take any pics. Oh well.
By now, it was around 5:15pm, so we grabbed a cab to New York New York where Zoomanity was showing. We got our assigned tickets, grabbed a beer (Dad got an Irish Coffee), and then headed to our seats.
The show itself was okay. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more had Marie been with me instead of my brother and my Dad. The point of the show was to get people horny, which didn’t happen for me. Most of the acts were good, but some of them were things I have seen before and I wasn’t all that impressed with, even if they were doing many of the acts topless. Some of the best things in the show had to do with how the audience members were interacted with. One of the funniest parts was at the very end of the show when the main lady asked an older gentleman what he was going to do after the show… He said “gamble.” She asked “then what?” He responded “drink.” Overall, I wouldn’t recommend the show. Especially as a Christian. Again, I don’t know what I was thinking even choosing that show to begin with. Oh well.
On our way back from the show, we stopped at some taco place for a bit to eat. After that, I was zonked, and pretty much passed out when I got back to the room.

Run, Forrest, Run!

November 17th, 2014

I’m writing on Monday morning. I didn’t get home until around 1:20am last night.
Sunday morning, we went to see Hoover Dam. We opted for the expensive tour, and I’m glad we did. We got to see one of the tubes that Harrison Ford jumped out of in The Fugitive! Our tour guide had an unusual name. I don’t know how to spell it, but it sounded like Court. We also had a guy named Jim, who I thought was fun. We took plenty of pictures, and really enjoyed the tour.
After the tour, the Philadelphia Eagles game was about to start. We Googled to find a Philly-fan sports bar in Vegas and found a place called Off the Strip. Unfortunately, there weren’t any seats left in the main bar area where the TVs were, so we had to sit in the dining area where there was one smaller TV high up on the wall. Our waitress was friendly, but didn’t know what beers were on tap. It started getting really silly with all of the stupid things going on. No seat. Old man sitting by himself in a huge booth who wouldn’t share. Then we ordered a pitcher of Sam Adams Winter Lager, and it came out half foam. The Eagles game was horrible. We were getting killed. At least the food was half decent, and they brought out another half-foam pitcher, and then another full pitcher of beer for free to make up for the lousy first pitcher. The Eagles game got so bad that Fox TV switched to cover some other game, so we couldn’t watch the end of the game if we wanted to. Oh well.
After the game, we headed back to the hotel. That took forever, because there was some Rock and Roll Marathon going on that shut down the whole Vegas strip. Traffic was a nightmare. Thousands of people running down the strip. It was crazy.
After we finally got back to the resort, we walked to the half-price ticket place. Mike and Dad bought tickets to see Penn & Teller (I have already seen the show), and we walked around. We saw the water show at Bellagio, and we walked through Caesar’s. Then we took a cab to Rio where their show was.
Not much to see at Rio, but we walked around. I saw that there was an MJ Live show going on at the same time as the Penn & Teller one that I could have gotten tickets for. They wouldn’t sell me a discounted ticket at the box office, so I considered heading back to the ticket place to see if I can buy a ticket and make it back in time for the show, but the shuttle service wasn’t running because of the marathon, and the cost of two more taxi runs would negate the savings that I’d probably get, so I opted to forget it. I considered playing poker at the Rio, but the $1-3 game seemed off to me, so I decided to head back toward the resort instead.
I walked back from the Rio; a fast-paced 30 minute walk. I ended up at Planet Hollywood, which is the casino across from where we are staying, and sat down at a $1-2 no limit game. I bought in for $200. It was a lot of work for me. I definitely blew some hands that I could have won, and I lost my stack of about $130 when I flopped two pair and another guy called me with a nut flush and straight draw caught on the river. I bought in for another $200, and started out doing just as bad, not catching many breaks nor getting any decent cards. But, at the very end of the night, around 1am, I put two or three good hands together, and somehow managed to turn things around. I even managed to catch a straight flush to the king! At 1:15am, I cashed out with $595! So, a very nice win of $195 for me! Exhausted, I went back to my room and crashed.

Wonderful Day

November 16th, 2014

This morning, Mike left early to go volunteer for Tough Mudder. He’s there all day, so today was just my Dad and I.
After Dad coked up some breakfast, we went out for a walk to see some of the insides of some of the casinos. We stopped in the Bellagio and Caesar’s, and then we went to the Half-Price Tickets place and picked up tickets for two afternoon shows.
We walked back to the room to drop off my camera and so Dad could change to sneakers, then we went to Blondie’s for lunch. Lunch was very tasty, but it took a while to get the bill. The show started at 1pm, and it was now 12:40. We had to walk very fast to make it to the show on time. We ended up getting there with one minute to spare.
The 1pm show that we went to see what Mac King’s Comedy Magic show, and it was fantastic. We really enjoyed it!
After the show, we had about an hour to kill before the next show, so I went looking for a poker game to kill time. I ended up finding one at Flamingo. It was a $2-4 Limit game. My first hand, I was dealt ace jack offsuit, and I flopped top two pair. I had one person call me down, and ended up winning about $30. I ended up folding the rest of the hands around the table, and walked away ahead $29.
The 4PM show we went to was Jeff Civillico. He is a comedian and juggler. He was fantastic. Such a fun show to watch!
After the show, we decided to get w bit to eat at Guy Fieri’s place, and let me tell you,nit didn’t disappoint. Dad and I split some chili cheese fries, which was gigantic, and we also split some wings. The food was delicious. However, even though I was full, I couldn’t resist ordering the S’mores Monte Cristo. Let me tell you something – it was worth every calorie. Holy moly that was amazing.
After dinner, we took a nice walk back to the hotel. Along the way, we saw a few street performers, as well as some very interesting other people. Never a dull moment walking down the strip.

Vegas Baby!

November 15th, 2014

Well, I made it safely to Vegas. Mike and Dad picked me up tat the airport, we checked in to our hotel – the Marriott Grand Chateau, and we went out for a bite to eat. We were going to go for sushi, but the place to be a tried to go to want open. However, next door to it was Pampas, a Brazillian steakhouse, and that’s where we ended up. The meal was excellent.
After dinner, we went to Walgreen’s for some breakfast stuff and other things, like beer, and headed back to the room. I brought along ping pong balls and cups, so this evening, that’s how we spent our evening – playing beer pong. I have to admit, my brother was much better at it than I expected! Mike and Dad have already gone to sleep. I guess it’s time for me to go to bed now, too.

Strike One?

November 14th, 2014

It’s 8:46am, and I sit here in the Philadelphia airport awaiting my flight to Vegas. I should be excited, right? Well, I am. But I would be more excited had I been on the 7:45am flight that I had scheduled. My alarm clock was set for 4:45am, but I didn’t get up until 6:15am. Why didn’t I get up? Did I sleep through it? Did I just hit snooze for an hour and a half? No. My alarm clock thought it was Saturday instead of Friday, and it never went off. So I rushed as fast as I could to get here, but catching that flight was impossible. So I sit here waiting for the next one. I guess the good part is that while I was supposed to fly standby on this next flight, they still gave me a ticket, so I’m definitely on the next flight.
So, why am I going to Vegas? My brother-in-law, Jason, has this fascination about Vegas and he talked my brother and I into leaving the family behind and going on a “bro-cation” to Vegas. Just the guys. Should be great, except Jason isn’t coming. He went and bought a house and now doesn’t feel that it would be financially smart to go. That sucks. I was, however, able to get my Dad to come with us, so that will be awesome!
Where is my brother, Mike, and my Dad? Did they miss the flight? No. They were on a different flight, and are already in the air. I was the only one who missed the flight. I’m calling this “strike one.” Hopefully, there won’t be a strike two or three, which to me would indicate that this whole trip was a mistake.
I was able to secure a two-bedroom, sleeps eight suite at the Marriott Grand Chateau, which it just a half of a block off the strip, near Paris, I think. I got it through my timeshare exchange, so it cost me hardly anything at all for the week. I’m looking forward to getting there.
Right now, we don’t have any plans. Well, other than Mike, who is going to go motivate people at the Mudder in Vegas tomorrow. I don’t plan on going to that, so I believe I will get to spend the day with my Dad.
Mike and Dad don’t gamble, whereas I do. But I don’t need to spend lots of time doing that. I’m more excited to eat nice meals and see great shows.
It’s starting to get crowded here in the waiting room, and now I have to pee. Ugh. Well, hopefully the next thing I post here will be telling you about how awesome the rest of the day went.