Travel With RJ

Travel, Travel, Travel!


I have alway enjoyed seeing Penn and Teller on TV and in movies. I don’t like traditional magicians at all. But magicians that throw in humor and don’t take themselves too seriously such as Harry Anderson, The Amazing Jonathan, and of course Penn and Teller are different. I enjoy comedy/magic immensely. The first live show we saw them at, we were in the second row, and a couple years later, we saw them from the first row. HINT: the earlier you buy tickets, the better seats you are going to get.
I won’t say too much about the show, because I don’t want to ruin it. The show actually starts about an hour before the scheduled start time. All during this time, they are inviting you up onto the stage to examine two large boxes. One is made from wood, and the other from clear plastic. There is a guy playing jazz piano, and a guy playing upright bass. If you look closely, you will notice that the bass player is Penn. The piano player is always inviting people to come up on stage and examine the boxes. And he does it in a hilarious monotome way. You are not allowed however to climb into the boxes. The first time, I got up, and looked at the box, and knocked on it at various places, and sat down. But I kept looking at the box. I figured they were going to escape from them. I eventually got back up to take a closer look. This time, I flipped the box up onto it’s side, and was examining that sucker from all angles. After a while, I went and sat down. My wife told me later, that there were security guys waiting in the wings seeming to be concerned about what I was going to do to the box.
When the show actually begins, Teller is put into the box, and then escapes from it, though I will tell you how. The second time I saw their show, I knew how the escape worked, but I still couldn’t figure out how they opened the box. I am guessing Teller has some sort of tool to “unlock” the box.
I have seen some of the stuff in the show on TV, but it is still fun seeing it live. It was fun being in the front row. During one of the trick, my wife got to hold a rolled up paper, while Teller poured milk into it. She got to keep the paper as a souvenir.
They closed the show by firing guns at each other, and catching the bullets in their teeth. Being the front row, I was shown the gun with the bullet in it. I am still not sure exactly how they did it, but I have an idea.
After the show, Penn And Teller run through the crowd and up the stairs to the doors. At both shows I have seen, the waited outside the doors to sign autographs and talk to the people. I thought that was extremely cool of them! The last show I was at, The Amazing Randi, James Randi was in the audience. I got to talk to him also briefly after the show.
It was a great show. It should be noted to parents of young children that Penn does use some light profanity, but nothing too bad.

Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved roller coasters and other scary type rides. The scariest I have ever been on are not even in an amusement park. The scariest rides are in Las Vegas at the top of the Stratosphere! There are currently four rides in the top of this 1,149 foot tall tower, though the rides are mostly between the 900 and 1,000 foot levels. I have not been there since they competed the fourth ride. I will describe the rides in the suggested order of riding.

The first ride is a little roller coaster named High Roller. On the ground this would be a little kiddie roller coaster. But when you are rolling around the tracks over 900 feet up in the air, it is a little different. While not really really scary it is a bit unnerving.

The next ride is called The Big Shot. I have been of rides similar to this one, but none have nearly the impact of this one. This ride is on the needle at the top of the tower. The needle has three sides, and there are a row of seats on each side. You are strapped into the seat securely with your back to the needle. There is a wait period, then you will be slowly lift off the ground to about 10 feet in the air. Still no big deal. Then without warning, you are ROCKETED upward. As you go up, you don’t see the tower anymore. You only see out, and that you are around a 1,000 feet in the air. There is a weightless feeling as through you have come disconnected from the tower. I screamed the first time I felt this. Unlike other rides like this that I have been on, you don’t feel when you hit the top, and start falling. For example the similar type ride in California Adventureland, you actually feel a bit of braking toward the top. You do not feel this braking on the Big Shot. You will start free falling down again. Then the seat will bungee up and down until you are finally lowered at the end of the ride.

The third ride is the scariest of the three. It is called X-Scream. This ride is like a open side bobsled mounted on a see-saw. The first time I rode this, I was in the second row. You are strapped securely into the bobsled part. The teeter-totter will start to tip up, and the bobsled will slide to the other end of the track. Ummm…did I mention other end of the track is over 30 feet out over the edge of the tower? So then you are sliding forward down the track toward the over 900 foot drop straight down to sin city! Then the track will tilt back, and you will slide backwards. Then it will tilt forward again, and you will get to the end of the track. The car might creep a little forward, and then drop some more. The track might lift, and then drop again. The ride has some different programs so that the slides and falls are not predictable to the rider. At the end of the ride, the guys in the front row said that for the full effect, you need to be in the front row. This is true. IF YOU WANT THE SCARIEST EXPERIENCE, RIDE IN THE FRONT ROW, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO WAIT! I rode the ride again, this time in the front row. They were absolutely right! In the front row, you have nothing between you and ground 900 feet below except a bar, and a harness. You start thinking what if some bolt or cable breaks! I held that bar with a white knuckled death grip!

I had bought a ticket to ride all of the rides as many times as I wanted. I ended up riding the High Roller coaster once, the Big Shot once, and the X-Scream twice. That was enough. My legs were shaking! I had had enough for the day.
I did ride these rides again on my next visit to Las Vegas when my brother was there. I kept thinking to myself why am I on these rides again?

The newest ride is called Insanity The Ride. Looking at the Stratosphere’s website, I don’t see the High Roller listed anymore. They may have removed it for this ride. From reading, and looking at the photos, it appears that the Insanity ride has 5 arms that hang down form a wheel attached to a big arm, with each small arm having two seats at the bottom. You are strapped into the seats, and then the big arm swings you out over the edge. Then the wheel starts to turn and the hanging arms swing outward with you strapped to them. It would probably be very scary, but I have not ridden it yet.

If you get to Las Vegas, and like scary rides, you gotta try these!

For the last two visits to Anaheim, we have stayed at the same little inn. It is right across the street from Disneyland. We have made a point to get a room with a jacuzzi. This has been wonderful! After a day of being on your feet, standing in line, or wandering around Disneyland or Universal Studios, it was really nice soak in the warm water with the jets going. It was very relaxing, and allowed our bodies to recuperate so that we could do it all over again the next day! :)

My dad lives in Pahrump, NV, so we get down there every few years. Pahrump is about an hour to the west of Las Vegas. Just take highway 160 west over the hills. It is a scenic drive.
For the most part Pahrump is much more sedate than Las Vegas. It seems to be largely populated by retirees, and snowbirds that come here to escape the cold winters of their northern states.
One thing that it is known for is it’s brothels. Brothels are illegal in Clark County where Las Vegas is, but Pahrump is just out side of the Clark County line in Nye County. On our first visit, I was looking in the phone book for book stores, and on the next page was brothels. That was something that I had never seen. The best known brothel is The Chicken Ranch. I found it interesting to have a picture taken in front of the Chicken Ranch sign. There is another brothel next door named Sheri’s Ranch. You can actually tour this brothel. Me, my brother, my father, and our wives all took the free tour of the brothel. If you do this, check out the Budweiser room, that apparently is sponsored by Budweiser, and has it’s walls cover with Budweiser stuff.
There are a handfull of casinos here which are all much more laid back than the ones in Vegas. The casino I like the best is Terribles, which has two locations. The casinos often have breakfast, lunch, dinner specials, so be sure to ask. You can also find coupons for 2 for 1 meals. If you sign up for the player’s club, you can get little coupon books.
Saddles West casino has a free comedy show. Comedians that you probably never heard of will try out their material here before going to do it in Vegas. What the hay, it is free.
One of the casinos had a bowling alley, but it burned down a few years ago. The rebuilt the casino, but hadn’t rebuilt the bowling alley yet. It was a fun place to go, and play some video poker while waiting for a lane to bowl some games for a pretty cheap price (not counting the losses at video poker).
A must visit is the Pahrump Valley Winery. This was at one point the only winery in Nevada, but I believe another winery was built somewhere in Nevda in the last few years. I don’t drink wine, but my wife enjoys it. And she really loves the wine they make here. Her favorites are the Symphony, and the Creme Sherry. The winery has free wine tastings. You can buy the wine here, along with various other cool stuff. They also have a restaurant but I haven’t eaten there. I hear it can be pricey. Before you buy the wine here, figure out what you want. Then check out the local Pahrump grocery store which carries some of the Pahrump Valley wines at a cheaper price than you can get at the winery. We usually bring back about a case or so. My dad will often bring back wine for us when they visit.
Another thing Pahrump is known for is Art Bell did his show from here. I never listened to his late night show, but I had heard about it. Lots of weird stuff about UFO’s and such. I don’t know where he lives though.
While not in Pahrump, it is only a short drive across the border into California. You can visit Death Valley.

Having grown up in there, I am familiar with many of the things to do in Seattle. Some of the really cool things to do, or places to eat, wont appear in your tourist guides. The following is a list that I put together for friends when I knew they were traveling to Seattle.

Seattle Center (Space Needle, small amusement park, Pacific Science Center).

Know that the downtown area is a Ride Free zone on the Metro buses!

Dick’s Drive In is a 50’s style drive in with awesome burgers and milk shakes. They have five locations.

The Seattle waterfront has lots of shops, and restaurants.

Ivars Captains Table Restaurant (Seafood/Steak on the waterfront).

Any of the little Ivar’s fast food restaurants are good too.

You gotta try fresh PACIFIC Salmon someplace!

Seattle Aquarium, on the waterfront (very cool).

Pike Place Market (up the hill from waterfront), lots of cool shops, and stuff . This is where you will see them throwing fish.

Also downtown is Pioneer Square.

In the Pioneer Square area is the underground Seattle tour.

Take a ferry ride from Seattle to Bremerton or Winslow and back.

Bremerton has a Naval yard where you can tour a ship (used to be the Missouri).

Jimi Hendrix buried in Renton (Greenwood Memorial Park, Renton-Original site:N47° 29.191 W122° 10.443 (WGS84) I believe the coordinates for the new site are N47° 29.286, W122° 10.218 (WGS84).

Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee are buried side by side in Lake View Cemetary, Capitol Hill-N47° 38.024 W122° 18.953 (WGS84).

Many small clubs in town (including grunge).

Imax theater (I think it is at the Seattle Center now, it was on the Waterfront).

Coffee is very big in Seattle, lots of Coffee shops, including Starbucks (came from Seattle). Though my wife prefers Seattle’s Best brand of coffee.

Museum of Flight (at Boeing field). Planes, capsules, lunar rover, satellite, etc.

Go see Mt. Rainier up close and personal (drive up to Paradise, or Sunrise, or both…fun drive).

Take in a Mariners game if they are playing in town then.

Sonics, and Seahawks depending on time of visit (if you really care about the Seahawks…they suck).

Camping in the Olympic National Forest (big trees!).

Go see the Pacific Ocean. Ocean Shores, or Long Beach have some nice resort places.

Rainier Roasters is a little place in Southcenter Mall food court. Their Caesar Salads are some of the best I have ever had. They also make fresh Roast Beef & Chicken sandwiches. (no longer there)

Drive over the mountains to Leavenworth (a cool little town with little German shops).

You can go White Water River Rafting out of Leavenworth also.

Roslyn, WA (east on I-90 across mountains) was used as Cicily, Alaska in Northern Exposure TV show.

Red Robin’s originated in Seattle and are very good casual restaurants. They have gourmet hamburgers.

There are many good teriyaki places around (GOOD teriyaki).

Take a walk around Green Lake.

There are plenty more things to do in Seattle. If you are looking for other things to do in Seattle, post here, and I can try to give you some suggestions.

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