Archive for the 'adventures' Category

Bloody Mary

October 31, 2006

It was a few weeks ago when my best friend, Jared, invited myself and Aaron to his birthday shindig at the Queen Mary. For those unfamiliar, the Queen Mary is a famous luxury liner that has been docked in Long Beach, CA for decades. Over the years it has become a major tourist attraction, and every October they decorate the ship and surrounding area for Halloween.

As if luxury liners weren’t frightening enough by themselves, they make the extra effort of turning the ship into a haunted maze. Neither myself nor Aaron are easily scared by the supernatural — global warming and child abductors, yes, but definitely not ghosts or zombies.

Queen-Mary

Anyway, there was a large group of us, and we decided to carpool with Jared and his current romantic interest, Benjamin. The two have been going on dates for months, but at this point Jared had become very frustrated by the fact that things hadn’t been moving forward with them. I had never met Benjamin before that day, and we hit it off immediately. Jared, Benjamin and I had fun talking through the long drive to the Queen Mary, but Aaron, fearing the worst, chose to sit in awkward silence and hold my hand.

As it turns out, when 25,000 people all decide to visit a ‘haunted’ luxury liner, it ends up missing the point. For the entire evening we waited in lines, whether it be to enter the mazes, buy a churro, or use the restroom.

While waiting in line I decided to make a game out of creating false lore around the Queen Mary itself, in hopes that someone would overhear it and believe me. We had great fun in coming up with the most elaborate and absurd lore possible. My personal favorite involved how the Queen Mary used to transport Nazi gold across the Atlantic, the ship’s crew tossing the gold overboard, and also, the Nazis who were transporting it. They vowed revenge, and every night at 11:43 they say you can still hear their screams. These are the kinds of games I play when I’m bored. Deal with it.

The crowds themselves were very polite, and the event’s organizers did a fantastic job of keeping things organized. This is a something of a rarity in Southern California, as other local haunted houses often become a focal point of chaos and gang violence. Between the polite crowds and the lackluster quality of the ‘mazes’ themselves, I didn’t fear for my life once. How disappointing.

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Vegas, Vegas, Vegas

October 2, 2006

Although Aaron’s birthday actually fell on the calendar over a month ago, this past weekend we finally had the chance to celebrate it. Last year I took him to Disneyland (which was fun for him and cheap for me,) and this time I surprised him with a weekend trip to Las Vegas (which was much more fun for him, and much more expensive for me.) He was given the opportunity to drive us 300 miles to receive his gift, while I navigated and provided color commentary on the various billboards we passed by. Like any good co-pilot should, I stayed concious for most of the drive.

Bellagio

We stayed at the Bellagio, which, if you were not aware, is probably the most luxurious hotel on the strip. I’d be perfectly happy staying at the casino with clowns on the walls, but apparently some people like having a nice view and comfortable mattress. Go figure. He treats me well, and as such, he gets what he wants sometimes. Let it never be said that I’m not the generous type.

The first photo gives you a vague idea of where our room was, the second is the actual view from our hotel room, as taken from Aaron’s amazing camera phone. Our hotel was truly a work of art, and I probably could have spent all day admiring the architecture and beauty of it. In addition to their wide selection of slot machines, the hotel offered a fine art gallery, an indoor garden, and every amenity one could possibly want.

The picture below shows an enormous duck topiary, representative of the type of luxury that only a 400 dollar hotel room would provide. Aaron has given me no reason to believe he dislikes ducks, so I consider the hotel choice to be a great success.

Bellagio3

Oddly enough, we didn’t gamble very much, and never saw any shows throughout the entire trip. Most of our time was occupied by eating or shopping, the latter of which is a great pastime of the birthday boy. This wasn’t our first time in Sin City, and we had more fun not feeling any pressure to go and do something. I think next time we’ll just sit in the car for the entire weekend and have an even better time! At least it would be cheaper, since Aaron spent a great deal of money on some “much needed” additions to his wardrobe.

In fact, the only thing we did was upon my request, and on our final day we visited the world famous Liberace Museum! On my first trip to Vegas I kept running into advertisements for it, but being the ignorant individual I was, I had no idea who or what a Liberace was. After looking over some information about the man and his legacy I decided that it would be both an affordable and worthy addition to the vague itinerary we had planned.

Liberace

For those of you unfamiliar, he was a wildly flamboyant pianist and stage performer from the 1950’s up until his death in the early 1980’s. He started the museum in the late 1970’s to showcase his rhinestone-covered wardrobe, and elegant lifestyle. It is due to his enormous popularity the museum remains decades after he has passed away. The museum basically rests in a strip mall, only this one is bright pink and themed to Liberace. Next door is a wedding chapel, an Asian church, a hookah bar, and a gay night club (which is ironic because during his life Liberace strongly denied that he was homosexual, and would go so far as to sue anyone who claimed otherwise.)

Although it doesn’t seem like the kind of attraction that would bring in the tourists, we were far from the only people at the museum, or the youngest. I befriended a 20-something docent who gave me an informative pamphlet about Liberace’s shoes, and she took her job very seriously.

She had been working there since December, and was one of the few paid employees there. The woman assured me that even though I knew very little about Liberace, I could learn a lot about culture, style and art from the collection the museum had on display. It was at this point Aaron’s eyes glazed over and died from boredom (although that might have been after we saw the world’s biggest rhinestone they had on display. I’m not sure.)

Liberace2

Many of the other docents were elderly volunteers; and since they were actually old enough to have seen the subject matter perform live, seemed like a much better authority on the subject than the woman I was talking to. It is one of my goals to become a docent at various museums during my retirement, and if it is still open in 2051 (or so) I’ve found someplace else to add to my list.

We left with a newfound appreciation of niche tourist traps, and began the long drive home. All in all we had an excellent time, and I’ll be hard-pressed to come up with something as fun to do for his next birthday, or worse yet, Christmas. Hopefully he’ll actually get his Christmas present in December this time.