“Anyone want to ride?”
After the awesome day I had the day before, I knew there wasn’t anything I could do this day to give me the feeling I had 24 hours ago, unless that was to go skydiving again, but I had to pass it up this time. I just thought I would do whatever and try to have as much fun as possible while on the strip.
Barry Short was leaving today but still had a few hours left in the morning to go check out whatever. We ended up walking down the strip to a Denny’s to have breakfast. Denny’s seems to be the choice place to eat when Barry and I are on a trip. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many different Denny’s I have eaten in the past 4 years or so.
Once we were done at Denny’s, we went back to the Tropicana so Barry could finish getting his belonging together. Barry said he had a great time on this trip and he didn’t even have to question me as I was still smiling from the day before. I had a great time doing this trip with Barry. He likes doing quick, full, and cheap trips basically the same way I do but when in Vegas, Barry likes to do the whole show thing. I used to kind of tease him about all the shows he has seen but after seeing Blue Man Group, that will stop.
I dropped him off at the airport and started to drive back to my hotel. I had a full day by myself and I didn’t exactly want to spend it in my hotel room. I decided to head back down to the Stratosphere as I didn’t get any footage when I was there a few days before. I wasn’t sure if I was going to purchase an all-day wristband or not as the main reason I was going up there was to shoot footage but the rides up on that thing are too fun to pass up.
Twenty five bucks later…
I walked into the elevator to take me up to the top of the tower. There were only 5 people in the elevator including a girl and her father. I could tell the daughter was having a hard time in the elevator as she was kind of shaky and asking a ton of questions to the elevator operator.
Once we were at the indoor observation level and started to walk out, the girl stopped and actually got onto the ground and crawled while saying some profane things. I have seen quite a few people do this once they see the view from up there. She asked me how I could walk over to the edge and look down. I told her I didn’t have a few of heights. She said the reason she was up there was to try and break her fear of heights as this was something that was bothering her since she was a child. I wished her good luck and continued to walk on.
I shot some footage of X-Scream from inside before deciding to ride it. The one negative thing about the rides is that it is a bit difficult to find the entrances as they are not marked in the best way possible. You have to really look for the signs and if you are walking while looking at the amazing view, you could easily miss a sign, or worse, almost walk into a fresh puddle of someone’s lunch. No joke!
Since I was just up on the tower a few days before, I knew where to go so I made my way over to the revolving doors leading to the outdoor area where you board the ride. There were quite a few people inside and outside walking around so I expected a bit of a line for the new ride. I was surprised to see no line at all. As with my first ride, the ride operators were just kind of sitting around waiting for people to ride.
I walked up, put my belongings in a bin and took what I think is the scariest seat on the ride, the front right. Because I was riding solo, it made the ride that much scarier for some reason. It was weird riding by myself while literally 50 people were outside and inside looking at me like I was insane. Some people yelled questions over to me while other just shook their heads back and forth. It was clear who was not going to ride.
The ride was running a different program than what it was when Barry and I rode it. Gone were the scary bouncing moments but they were replaced with longer stall times and two full drops. I didn’t find this program to be as scary but I think it would be terrifying for those that don’t like to hover over the strip for more than 10 seconds.
Once my ride was over I walked back inside the tower and checked out my on ride photo. When Barry and I rode this a few days before, the quality and shot of our picture wasn’t all that great but when I glanced up at the monitors after this last ride, I liked it. The quality was much better and you could actually see the background. I was happy enough with the picture that I bought one. While looking at the picture I noticed the description of the ride on the other side of the photo card. Is there something about this ride that I have missed? Was this ride originally going to have some sort of floorless seats on it or are there plans for the the floor to be modified? I think the artwork is great.
After I had my picture in my possession I started to walk away but I looked over and saw the girl that was crawling on the floor looking up at the doors to go outside. She walked over to me and asked me if I would ride with her as her father wouldn’t. I asked her if she was up to it. She said she had just ridden Big Shot and loved it but she still wasn’t sure if she could take the new ride.
I told her I would ride with her. As with my last ride, there was no wait so we sat in the front row. Once that ride started up, she freaked out. I actually thought she was going to have a heart attack. I mean, she turned white as a ghost. I felt bad for her. Once the ride was over she was having a hard time even walking back inside. Perhaps that wasn’t the best idea.
Once she calmed down, she said she wanted to try Big Shot again. I went up and rode a couple of times with her and found out her name was Lilith and she and her father are truck drivers from California. They switch back and forth driving so they can go long distances without stopping. They had some extra time while passing through Las Vegas so she told her father she wanted to try and break her fear of heights.
We rode Big Shot a couple more times. She even managed to ride the way I usually do with my arms and legs out. I could tell she was adapting to heights rather quickly. I told her I was going to ride X-Scream one more time. For whatever reason, she decided she wanted to end her time on the tower with one more ride. We headed back down to the ride and rode in the front. She thought she could handle the ride this time. She did great. We even rode with our hands up just to see if we could do it as there is a bit of a jolt as you hit the brakes at the end.
After our ride ended she mentioned that she had a much better grasp of her fear of heights and thanked me for my assistance in showing her that these rides could be fun. Good luck to you Lilith. I am glad you had a great time. Now you just have to work on your father.
I could tell more and more people were willing to ride X-Scream after our last ride. A line soon formed and I joined it to get one last ride. This time I rode in the back row just to see how it would feel. While the view wasn’t as spectacular, I could easily see this row freaking out a few people as it still hangs over the side a bit. I ended my time on the tower with a few more rides on Big Shot before leaving.
Instead of heading down Sahara and getting on I-15 to avoid the strip, I decided to drive down the strip to get back to my hotel. I could tell the traffic in I-15 was a nightmare from on top of the tower. The strip wasn’t exactly deserted either but I had a good time driving down it while listening to Fear Factory’s “Hatefiles” CD. If there is one CD I brought to pump me up into a good mood, this was it.
After dropping my camera gear back off at my room, I walked down the strip and got something to eat at a Subway. I continued to walk around a bit more before heading back to my room and picking up my video camera again. I wanted to try something different. Not only did I want to try and capture what the strip looked light at night, but I wanted to shoot some footage in the 16:9 mode. I recently bought a widescreen television and hadn’t shot anything in 16:9.
I didn’t walk far. The footage I shot basically consisted of around the intersection of Tropicana and NY NY. All the bright lights were on by this time so I tried to get as much footage off the colorful lights as I could. I also took some time to walk around NY NY to video tape Manhattan Express running. I could tell they were running 2 trains. Both had the headlights working but one of them had light “splotches” flickering in different areas of the trains. It was pretty cool to see and I tried to tape it. I went all around that hotel. I even went to the top of the parking garage so I could get a few shots of the first drop.
I went inside the casino and got as close to the station as I could to try and video tape it. I knew the coaster was fresh out of rehab and wanted to get a look at the new magnetic braking system that was installed but I couldn’t see it from where I was standing. About the only things I ended up taping were the Manhattan Express neon sign and a distant shot of the station from the exit. I decided to leave.
As I was going down the escalators that went down into the large casino area, I was met at the bottom by a security guard. The guard asked me if I knew if video taping wasn’t allowed in the casino. I explained to him that I didn’t know that. He then explained to me in a calm voice that I could easily be thrown out for video taping the casino. I told him I wasn’t video taping the casino but rather the sign for the coaster and a shot of the station. He acted like he didn’t believe me. I told him I would show him the footage if he wanted to verify that’s all I shot. He the told me that video taping the coaster was illegal as well. Confused, I asked him if video taping the coaster from outside was alright and to my astonishment, he said no. I didn’t say another word. I just left and went outside.
I think the guard was either power hungry or just didn’t know what he was talking about. I mean, there were all kinds of people video taping and taking pictures outside. I walked across the street and continued video taping. Luckily no one stopped me or arrested me. =:^)
After I was done I headed back to my room.
Now, I don’t know what brought this on or why I even decided to go through with this, but I had a urge to do something. Maybe it was the fact that I basically woke up every morning looking at a part of the NY NY hotel, but I decided to walk back over to the hotel, without my camera of course, and give Manhattan Express a ride. No, this didn’t make an ounce of sense as I was just over there a few minutes ago (not that it was a long walk or anything) and left the casino confused, but I wanted ( GASP!) to go ride that coaster.
Perhaps part of it was because I knew it had just gotten out of rehab. The last time I rode it was August and it was due for rehab. I didn’t exactly have a great ride. However, it’s out of rehab so it can’t be that bad. Right?
I marched right back over and made my way back up the escalator. I noticed they have a “special deal” where you can purchase an all day wristband for $25. Considering the ride is now $12.50 per ride (yes, you read that correctly) I thought the wristband would be a benefit to me as I planned on getting more than two rides.
They were running two trains but they were making sure a train was loaded before dispatching. No one was up at the station so I went for a front seat ride. Pretty soon I left the station and made the long, slow, and odd approach to the gas powered lift. I will be honest. I am not the largest fan of this ride and have ridden it a total of twice before this time. The very first time I rode it in 2000 I didn’t find it to be as bad as some said it was but I was willing to give this a couple of other chances.
As I was going over the first drop I thought something sounded strange. The whole train started to shake like mad, and this was on the straight part of the drop.
We enter the first curve and the train continued to shake like mad. I was being tossed around like a rag doll. I couldn’t believe it. The second drop was fairly mellow but the drop into the loop and the loop itself, well; let’s just say I wasn’t smiling.
The best part of the ride for me is the twist and dive where the inversion provides a very strange feeling but the exit has gotten incredibly rough. As we hopped up into the block brake area, I could see the new magnetic brakes. There was one friction brake to stop the train but the other brakes trimmed the coaster heavily. Thank goodness.
The rest of the ride contains a few more drops and a helix before hitting the final magnetic brake run. The downward slope back into the station is mostly magnetic brakes as well so the old jerky
motions that used to be felt when coming back to the station are gone. It seems they have taken those old motions and applied them to the trains somehow as they were shaking around like mad.
It was at this time that I realized I made a mistake. I purchased a wristband and had to ride at least one more time to get my money’s worth. I tried the other train this time in a different seat. It was just as violent. I gave it one more shot by riding in the back for my last and final ride. Once again, it was brutal. Until something is done with those trains I really have no desire to ride this coaster again. Has anyone else ridden it recently and had that bad of a ride or did I just catch it on a bad day or just fall into the TOGO trap? It was a bit chilly at this time. Perhaps if it was warmer I would have gotten a better ride?
As I was walking back to my hotel, I looked up at the same large MGM video screen that was blinding me in my room the past couple of nights. I saw an ad for Carrot Top and saw that the MGM was selling his new DVD inside one of the gift shops. I am a big Carrot Top fan. I have seen him twice and got to meet him by chance after a show he did years ago. He is a funny guy even when he isn’t on stage. I even talked a small bit about coasters with him as he did a coaster related skit during one of his shows.
I went into MGM and found the gift shop and bought the DVD Before heading back to the Tropicana. I went back to my room and watched some TV before falling asleep.
I woke up at 6:00am and finished packing. I knew I had to go home today but in a strange way, I was ready to go home. I dropped my rental car off and made my way to my gate. I had some time before I had to board my flight so I sat back and thought about all the fun things I did in the last 6 days. I really had a lot of fun this past week with the highlights being my first skydive and hanging out with some cool friends. I always have a blast in Las Vegas no matter what I am doing or who I am hanging out with. I could easily live there or someplace out that way but Ohio is home to me right now.
I slept for a good portion of the flight only waking up a couple of times. I remember looking out the window and seeing the Grand Canyon then falling back asleep. I also woke up once to hear a pretty cool stat from the captain. We were to land a full 40 minutes ahead of schedule because we caught a nice tail wind. We were already going 500mph but because of this 200mph wind, we were going 700mph. That’s fast and now that I think about it, that’s probably the fastest I have ever gone in my life.
As we were getting ready to land in Columbus, I could see the snow on the ground. Such a contrast to where I was just at a few hours before but I was home. I can’t complain about that.
That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I had writing it.
Thanks for reading,
. *** Edited 2/20/2004 3:49:18 AM UTC by Sean Flaharty***
Yep, I heard FF was back. I went to their site and checked it out and heard some sample stuff off the new album. It sounds as great as ever, even with Christian on guitars (how weird is that?).
"Dark Bodies" on Hatefiles is one track I can't stop listening to. I like it better than the version that is on Digimortal.
If case you didn't see it, there is now info about downloading the skydive video at the end of part 5.
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