The exciting life of Paul Gentry! All my ham radio escapades are over on www.k9pg.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

West Coast Trip - Day 8

Wednesday Nov 23...the final day of the trip.  Check out was at 11... got all packed up and checked out a few minutes past 11 and threw the stuff in the car. We had 5 hours to kill before we had to be at the airport. Mel wanted to see the shark aquarium at the Mandalay Bay.  I didn't' realize how far away from the Mirage it was until we were about half way there..... it's quite a hike... 2.1 miles one way.  Ran into some more interesting sights on the way... including a snake, Sponge Bob, Freddy Kruger and a little Elvis.  The highlight was the guy playing the guitar with 2 Chihuahuas wearing sunglasses chillin'.  We walked up on him while he was playing Leroy Brown... so I chimed in and helped him finish it.  He was pretty good!  After hoping the tram, we made it to the Mandalay Bay and the Shark Aquarium, which wound up being pretty cool.  After that, it was back to the car and off to the airport to end our west coast trip. I think we did everything we wanted to do.... neither of us said "I wish we did _________....", so it was pretty successful.  1300 miles were put on the rental car.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

West Coast Trip - Day 7

Seeing as how we stayed up til 4am or so, we slept in a bit.  I was up at around 9 or so... Mel crawled out of  bed around noon.  We walked up and down the strip...taking tons of pix, passing all of the people handing out those little hooker business cards... they're not as relentless as they used to be... but still out there in droves.  The street performers, or people on the street dressed up in costumes, seemed to be out a lot more than they used to be...lots of creative ones!   Didn't walk through many of the casinos because it was nice out.  We must have walked 5 or 6 miles. Had to stop at Bellagio to see the water show.... a bit over-rated, but still kinda cool.  Got back to the Mirage around 5:30... pretty dark outside by then.  Played blackjack until Mel's dinner date showed up, then I hit the poker room again. After winning about $200 the night before, I was hoping for more of the same... but it was not to be.  I got 2 outed for a pretty bog pot, for all of you non poker players, that means I was about a 20 to 1 favorite to win the hand... the guy with the worst hand needed one of two cards to fall to win... and POOF, he got it. I walked around the casino for a bit...and bumped into Mel and her date. They hadn't eaten yet.... so we went to California Pizza Kitchen... which was right in the middle of the casino. After that, Mel wandered off for a while and I hit the poker room again.... after doubling up a couple times, I got hit with another 2 outer in a $500 3-way pot.    If I won just 1 of those hands, I'd have been up about $500 for the trip... but quit dead even at around 3am or so. I really do get a kick out of all of these non-poker players who tell me that I should expect to lose when gambling... you folks just don't understand the dynamics of poker.  It's not like betting on sports, or playing craps or blackjack, or slots..... you aren't playing the house, you're playing against someone else... and 4 out of 5 times, I'm much better than most of the people sitting at the table.  Sometimes I really hate poker... it can really suck if you get unlucky... but overall, I have done very well.  Anyway, it was bed time after that last bad beat.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

West Coast Trip - Day 6

Got mostly packed up the night before... so we were ready to go do the Hollywood sign hike in the morning. We first went to a spot right under Ron Howard's house... a rather large estate.  Great view of the sign, but too far away for any real good pix.  So we drove around for a while and headed toward the spot we were told to go to for a 45 min hike to the sign.... around the corner of Dorenda and Rockcliff Dr.  Lots of windy roads going uphill.  We got to the exact spot and the gates said hiking was prohibited... it was chained shut with signs saying there was a fine...etc.  Bummer.  We drove around looking for another spot for pix with the sign.... and just happened to drive up on the same exact spot I was at with Jason Berg 20 years earlier... when Madonna lived in a house right next to scenic overlook.  That was pretty cool.  It was then off to The Tonight Show... with a quick stop at In & Out Burger.... never ate at one of those.... pretty good burger!  We also found Nickelodeon Studios... and had to get a pic of that for Mel's kids.  We got to the tonight show at about 2:15... and were given ticket #s 270 and 271. The studio holds 387 or something like that.... so we thought we were in good shape.  However....after 100 minute wait, we were 2 of the final 4 people allowed in.  We were split up too.  I sat in the 2nd row stage right and go to shake hands with Leno at the start... I was the first one to do it when he came out.  And Mel just happened to be sitting among the family of 2 of the guests who had a very moving story to tell about a father who got run off of a cliff and rolled down 400 feet in his car and was trapped for 7 days. The family turned into a bunch of investigators and eventually found him.... very cool story!!  Mel got on TV twice.... once at the beginning and once at the end of the segment when they showed the family before going to commercial.  We went right to Vegas after that and went right to Freemont Street. Got there exactly at 10pm... literally walked under the canopy and 1 minute later the music & light show started at the top of the hour.  We did the zip line down Freemont Street.... awesome!  Spent $27 on 2 pictures that they took.... then went into the Golden Nugget.  Mel lost a quick $100 at the black jack table....and I won a quick $40 playing some new Texas Hold 'em Bonus table game where you play the dealer and get to bet on your starting hand for a bonus.... ie 5 to 1 odds if you get Ace Queen unsuited.... 30 to 1 if you get AA.... 20 to 1 for Ace King suited....etc.   Drove to the Mirage after that with a quick stop at the Pawn Stars store for a picture.... Ken the security guard was outside letting us know that the showroom was closed for the night.... nice dude.  then a quick picture with the "welcome to Vegas" sign.... and we checked in. It was midnight... and we went right down to the casino.  Mel played black jack and I went to the poker room.  Sat with $100, left with $300 4 hours later.  Had it all in with a nut flush draw vs AQ and hit my flush.  Some local pro got 1 outed.... two flopped flushes, nut flush vs 3rd nut... only out was the 8 of diamonds... and POOF, 8d on the river... $1000 pot.   Played til 4am and went to bed.... long day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

West Coast Trip - Day 5

Crappy cold and rainy day.   Slept in, watched the Bears game at the Hard Rock next to the hotel.  Met a couple who lives 1 mile away from me... Robin & Rocky... I gave them my card.... seemed like a cool couple.  It rained all day long... literally.  Took a nap then went to do the Chinese Theater tour... it was us and one other drunk dude who was really annoying. After it was over, and the drunk dude left, I asked the tour guide Peter if he could show us something that the normal tour groups don't get to see.... so he took us up to the private balcony suite where celebrities watch premiers... pretty cool!

West Coast Trip - Day 4

Got up early and drove to Santa Monica Pier.... walked down the beach to the pier, had breakfast at Marisol's on the pier, walked around for a bit... then went on the roller coaster on the pier.... not a bad small ride!   Found out that Route 66 ends at Santa Monica Pier... neat little factoid.  We walked from there to Venice Beach.... very cool place... tons of vendors and freaks... great way to spend a day!  We went to Rodeo Drive after that... and bumped into Chevy Chase... what a prick he was!    That night we hooked up with Kevin Will and got a driving tour of the various studios.  We had dinner at a place called Cat and the Fiddle... stayed there til about midnight.  

West Coast Trip - Day 3

Slept good for being such a crappy bed in a dumpy hotel.  Checked out around 10am, ate at Denny's and hit the road around 11:30 or so.  There really isn't much between Needles CA and Barstow CA other than a little town called Ludlow, which has a population of about 20 with a Dairy Queen and 2 gas stations.  About 30 miles to the east of Ludlow was another small installation with some windmills and a some trailors. Not sure what it was.   We got to our hotel, the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa, around 3pm.

Our first view of the hotel

We were able to check in early (normal check in time is 4pm)...we unpacked, parked and went to a place called Johnny Rockets for Dunch (or would that be Linner?).  I've never heard of this place... I guess there's one in Northbrook Court.  After that, we went right to Hollywood Blvd... tons of characters & street performers working for tips... took some pix, walked the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater and then went into Madame Tussauds.  $25 each, but well worth it.  We found out afterwards that there's a $5 coupon in one of the brochures in the LA Visitor Information display next to the Hard Rock.   We did the also did the Hollywood Wax Museum... for $18, you get admission to the Guinness world records museum and the Hollywood Wax Museum.... I would not suggest either... both are kind of lame.  After some more walking up and down Hollywood Blvd watching the freak-a-zoids do their thing, we called it a night.

West Coast Trip - Day 2

Got off to a late start.  I was up at 7am, but fell back asleep.  Next thing I know, it's 10am... Mel is up and not feeling all that hot... migraine and a stomach that's doing back flips.  We got ready.... and around 11:30 or so, w're ready to go.  Seeing as how the sidewalks get rolled up at sunset, and the fact Mel had a migraine, we tossed around the idea of hitting the road after sunset and heading towards the next destination instead of spending another night in Grand Canyon Village.   I called a hotel down in Winslow to see if that Standin' On The Corner was lit up... and was told it was.  So the decision was made... we'd hit the road when the sun went down.   Here's some pictures our 5 hours at the Grand Canyon.... simply amazing.
This was our first view of The Grand Canyon...this is the first picture we took.

After watching the sunset.... we hit the road for Winslow AZ to knock off another thing from my bucket list.  We made good time... stopped for gas in Flagstaff. There's not much out there on the roads after dark in the middle of nowhere.  We got there around 8 or so... the town was pretty much closed.  The gift shop across the street was closed... but a very cool chick named Sandra, who was locking up while we were taking pictures, opened up the store for us.... and I bought a shirt!   Very nice of her to do!  After that, we hit the road and wound up staying at a Days Inn in a little town called Needles, CA.  Quite a dumpy hotel... but what do you expect for $52 a night.

West Coast trip - Day 1

Up at 4:30 or so... at the airport around 5:30.... flights to Vegas was on time and uneventful.... two very important things.

 First thing was to have lunch with a couple friends that I haven't seen in several years... W9XR & KH7R for you ham radio people.

We headed for the Grand Canyon right after lunch.... and decided to stop at Hoover Dam on the way.

After a 2 hour stop on the damn, it was off to Grand Canyon Village.  We made good time...got there around 9:15pm... ears popping along the way.  It was just 9:15pm.... and almost everything was closed.  The only thing that was open was a restaurant at the Best Western.  Drastically overpriced.... but what else can we do?  We ate and crashed early......both feeling a bit queasy, which was apparently from being up at 6800 feet ASL.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jumping off of The Rock at Waimea Bay, Hawaii

Me & Chad getting ready to jump off of the rock at Waimea Bay 

And with no hesitation.... after 12 years.... we did it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Disney 2011 - Aug 15 - Day 10 - Downtown Disney

10 long days with very little sleep on a bed that left my back twisted in about 12 different knots.

I was pretty much all packed up before I went to bed... but had to clean up a bit.  I did find out that the dish washer was leaking.  There were suds all over the place, just like in the Brady Bunch episode.  I cleaned up before taking this picture... but it was a foot high across half of the kitchen.

We decided to find out what all the signs saying "We buy your disney tickets" was all about... so we went in the first one we saw.  Apparently the tickets can be extended for $20 and re-used. I'm not sure how they get out of the finger print scanner thing... but I don't care.   I sold all 8 of our tickets for $90.  He first offered me $50.  All of these "cheap ticket" places buy tickets back.

Stopped by a gift shop on 192 on the way to Downtown Disney...the kids couldn't find one thing that they wanted.  Lots of funny shirts & signs & bumper stickers.

Got to Downtown Disney about 2:45.  For some reason, mommy decided to park all the way on the other side from where all the action is... she usually likes to find the absolute closest spot possible... even if it means waiting an extra few minutes for someone else to leave.    Went to a couple shops... including one shop that sold only magnets... nothing else... just magnets, all kinds of magnets... "Magnetron" was the name of the place.

Had lunch at an amazingly cool place called the T-Rex Cafe.  It's similar to the Rain Forest Cafe... but much better... with all kinds of dinosaurs all over the place... they all move.... very cool place.  The food was very good too... the ribs were surprisingly awesome.  It was somewhat expensive, but quite a neat experience and well worth it.

Quick stop in the Lego store, then off to the airport.  Mom got a call from Southwest saying that the departure was delayed 15 minutes... but when we got to the gate, the plane was already boarded... and because we were late, the plane didn't get an on time departure... by a few minutes... and we couldn't sit together.

Home safe and sound... and that brought a close to the Disney 2011 adventure.

Disney 2011 - Aug 14 - Day 9 - Hollywood Studios

Arrived around 10am.... went right to the Rock & Roll roller coaster.  It's an all indoor coaster with 3 or 4 loops that rocks out to Aerosmith during the ride.  I tried to video it... and the coaster was held up... someone came around telling me to put it away... and I said that it just fell out of my pocket onto the seat... so I'm just holding it.  It was too dark for video anyway.

Went to the Indiana Jones stunt show immediately after... arrived just after 11.... show started at 11:30.  Sat up close.... about the 5th row right side. I swear I thought I got picked as an extra... "you with the white baseball hat..." and it was some dude right behind me... talk about a HIGH than a LOW.  :-(

The American Idol experience is right outside Indy Jones... so we went there... and it was just "ok"... nothing memorable like the girl who sang Hearts "Alone" last year.... I wonder what happened to her.

Lights Motor Action... the extreme stunt show was next.  That always fills up fast...we were about 5 minutes late and got pretty crappy seats all the way to the side.  The show changed a bit from last year... the "half car" was no where to be seen.

Journey into Narnia - Prince Caspian was next.  No wait.... mildly interesting, but pretty lame if you've never seen Narnia before.  I'd pass on it next time.  Julio got a couple comments about his glow in the dark shirt while in there.

Next up was the street party.  It started raining... thought it might be cancelled.. but the rain let up.  Fun time.

We went through this "History of Disney" exhibit that has a movie at the end (didn't see the movie the first time around)... but I found out what EPCOT stands for... Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow.  Lots of other interesting Disney facts in this exhibit.

More pix with the characters at the "Art of Animation - Character Meet & Greet"   Only waited in line for 3... Mickey, Pooh and The Incredibles.  Mrs Incredible left when we were next in line.... replaced by Frozone.   I had to get my pic taken with them :-)   Outside were a few other characters that I wasn't familiar with.

The Star Wars ride was next... I really didn't remember much about this at all... vaguely remember seeing C3PO while in line... that's about it.  It's a simulator ride about 5 min long... Marco was picked out as the secret spy on board and his pic got put up on the screen... but he didn't see it.

Pizza Planet was for dinner... it's not as outrageously expensive as you'd think... it's just like Chuckie Cheese with all the games and stuff... didn't have time for the games though.  I think Marco learned a lesson about "not giving up" here.  He had a pin fall off... but lost the back part of it and gave up looking for it very quickly. I told him to keep looking... he spent another 5 seconds looking and gave up again... "it's gone forever" he says.  I retraced his steps and pointed to it on the steps.... and said "Don't EVER give up...."

Right outside pizza planet were 2 of the cars from the movie CARS.... the little red speedster thing and the tow truck... had to get pix with them.

Muppet Vision 3D is great... love that show.  Brings back all kinds of childhood memories watching The Muppet Show with dad.  Definitely have to see that if you go to Hollywood Studios.

While in line for Phineas & Ferb, I got talked out of trying Tower of Terror for good.  A lady told me that she can handle any roller coaster without a problem... but went on Tower of Terror and got sick... threw up 5 times and was still looking queezy.  No thank you.

A quick walk around the street sets... Amsterdam, San Fran and NYC for some pix... then the Toy Story ride... an animated game where you shoot plates & targets and accumulate points.  The kids take winning that game so seriously... so does mommy... so I had to make a miraculous comeback to beat her :-)  Right across the street was the line for Buzz & Woody.  That took about 45 minutes.

While in line for Toy Story, I thanked a Marine and gave him $10 to buy some ice cream for his kids.

Went on "The Great Movie Ride" next... really a very cool ride through the world of movies... starting in the 20s or 30s... to modern days.   Another must if you go.

Went on the Rock & Roll Roller Coaster once more before heading to Fantasmic.   Sat in the front row for that... I think that was too close.

I'm pretty sure we were the last ones to leave the park... I think that made the 3rd time that we were the last ones to leave during the trip.  

This closed out the Disney 2011 adventure.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Disney 2011 - Aug 13 - Day 8 - Aquatica

After a 16 hour day at Magic Kingdom, we slept in today and got to Aquatica around 3.   Spent 3 of the 6 hours on the lazy rivers.... the rest eating and on the big slides. Didn't get to them all.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Disney 2011 - Aug 12 - Day 7 - Magic Kingdom

Got a little late start again.... Arrived at the gate at 11am

Street parade first... lots of fun!

First stop was Monsters Inc Laugh Factory.  Quite humorous interactive show where the Monsters talk to the audience & joke around.... the voices behind the characters are quite good.

Stitch's Great Escape was next.... right across the street from Monsters Inc.  Not a bad show.... wouldn't be heartbroken if I missed it next time I go.

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin.... laser target shooting... there are some targets worth big points... gotta find what they are.  If you get 999,999 points, you get a special button.  If you hit the right targets, it can be done.

People Mover was next... quick tram type ride that shows you around the park

Carousel of Progress is a show that takes you through the last 100 years of technology.... with this song that you won't be able to get out of your head... "It's a great big beautiful tomorrow....."   Kind of annoying... but good way to cool off on a hot day

Took some pix with Chip & Dale again... along with Buzz.... autographs too

Snow White's Scary Adventures was ok.... good for kids

Space Mountain is pretty cool.... blind indoor roller coaster ride... really don't see anything coming..... got a fast pass for this.

Quick stop at the hall of presidents on the way to The Haunted Mansion.  Very cool haunted house with all kinds of cool effects.... and there's a cemetery outside with headstones that say stuff like "here lies Fred...a big old rock fell on his head"    A definite MUST for any Magic Kingdom visitor

Pirates of the Caribbean ride was next.  Quick stop outside the ride for a "how to be a pirate" show.  It was right in the son or we'd probably have stayed for the whole thing.... left half way through it to go on the ride.  Very entertaining ride.... you kinda have to see the movies first or you may be lost.

Jungle Cruise is ok... depends on the guide you get.  We got a girl named Sam... funny girl... dry humor, made it worthwhile.

Food at Pinocchio's Village Haus.... if you eat there, sit by the windows overlooking the "It's A Small World" ride... and ask the wait staff for the sign that says "Do The Chicken Dance" on one side and "Make A Wish" on the other... and watch the people below do the chicken dance.  Food is OK there... but overpriced as they all are.

Mickey's PhilharMagic is a cool 3d movie........... gotta see that.

Went to It's A Small World next..... once you go through this ride, you won't be able to get "It's A Small World After All....." out of your head for hours.  Fun little tour through a dozen or so cultures.  Disappointed to see that the "Do The Chicken Dance" sign was not being used.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was next... I seem to remember it being a better ride... was just an average roller coaster at best.

Don't expect to get soaked, or even wet on Splash Mountain... it's a comical tour of various cartoon characters... you don't get much water on you at all even on the big drop where the pics are taken.

Wishes was next... the fireworks show at 10pm.  Apparently there's a cool light/laser show on the castle around 9:30 or so... caught the last 5 minutes of it.

Quick run over to the Pooh ride.... mom wanted to see it.... good for the kids.  It was a 50 min wait... but I asked the guy at the entrance if we could have a fast pass.... and he gave us one.... I think Nate was his name.... thanks bud!

Main St Electrical Parade is something that must be seen.... doesn't matter which show... just see it.

Another quick run over to Peter Pan to use our last fast passes... kind of a neat ride in flying coconuts or something.

That was about it.... took some pix at the Castle and Main Street.... then left at around 12:45am.

One thing that was noticed is that the Mickey & Mini House.... and a smaller roller coaster seem to be gone now.  FantasyLand will be ready in 2012 sometime.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Disney 2011 - Aug 11 - Day 6 Epcot

Arrived around 10....pix with Stitch & Daisy.....then character pix at the big character spot....then Chip & Dale outside there

Next was Nemo & Friends.... Lots of cool fish including Nemo. Very cool interactive show with Crush....lots of fun and the guy doing the voice was very funny..... DDUUDDEEEEE

The Land was next.... Circle of life followed by Living With The Land and then Soarin.  Stuck around the same place and ate....found a hidden Mickey.

Next up was journey into imagination with figment followed by Captain EO featuring Michael Jackson younger years .... Ellen's (Degeneres) Energy Adventure with a cameo by Kramer

Test track was pretty cool...65mph

I took a pass on Mission Space ... I got a little queasy last year.

Last was Spaceship Earth. Seeing as how the big ball is the main symbol of Epcot, you would think that the ride inside of it would be world class.  It's kind of neat but that's about it.

Finished of the night with the illuminations fireworks show

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Disney 2011 - Aug 10 - Day 5 - Universal & Island of Adventure

Arrived around 9.. did Hulk first.... in the rain, no line... then Spiderman... it had some technical difficulties, we got kicked off and went back on 10 min later.

Then we did all 3 water rides....the popeye one, dudley doo right and Jurasick Park...got totally soaked, then it stopped raining around noon

did some Dr Suess ride... Suess Landing...  and got yelled at for recording & taking pictures... that seemed to have technical difficulties too

saw the 8th Voyage of Sinbad.... pretty cool show.... kids CRACKED up!!

Then did the Dragon Challenge roller coaster... red side first, front row.... very cool

Left for for Universal around 2:30

ate first at Monster Cafe
saw a Blues Brothers show from across the street while waiting for The Mummy

Mummy is a great ride!!!

Jimmy Neutron and Shrek were next.... I sat out of Jimmy because of the motion

Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue absolutely sucked.... walked out after 10 minutes.  Somewhat funny beginning... but playing rock & roll classics while dancing dressed up as frankenstein & some cheerleaders and such... didn't jive well.... just a poor show all around.

Disaster.... very cool show where we made a trailer to a fictitious movie... fun way to spend 20 minutes!

Men in black was next... mommy won

Simpson's ride.... didn't go on it because of the motion

stayed in line for 30 minutes at the new coaster RipRide Rocket.... technical difficulties made us leave at 8:30....

went back to Island of Adventure and did the blue side of Dragons... then did the Harry Potter ride.... very cool effects, but the motion kind of got to me.

Then went back to Dragon twice... last ride of the night... did the red side in the front row and were the last car before closing down at 10am.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Disney 2011 - Aug 9 - Day 4. Animal Kingdom

Another late start...arrived around 1045 ...parked in giraffe 39.  Got all of our lanyards taken care of ...and went to see it's tough to be a bug... the theater is inside the Tree Of Life

Spent lots of time getting pix with characters

Saw the Nemo show... it was different than last year.... fun show

Dinosaur ride was cool

Flights of Wonder... lots of cool birds including a 41 year old parrot named Pogo that did all kinds of tricks & was trained very well

Best ride here is Expedition Everest

Pix with Minnie around 6:30... got in line for pix with Mickey then left it because we wanted to go on the safari.... and the last safari truck/bus left at 7.... got there with 2 min to spare.

Didn't stop raining all day....steady rain with no letting up til we left... stopped near the end and the sun came out.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Disney 2011 - Aug 8 - Day 3 Sea World

Late start...on the road at 1145
First thing is that sea lion pirate comedy show...same one we saw last year. 
Show put on hold til the storm passes
Took 15 min to start up & finish.
Next up was One Ocean at Shamu stadium.
Allure at Nautilis theater....cool acrobatics.
Shark encounter
Pets ahoy at the Seaport theater 4:45
Kraken in the front row and Atlantis once
Dinner at the pizza & pasta buffet
Shamu Rocks
Went on a ride we missed the past 2 years ....Arctic something...polar bears and walruses
then we saw a reflections at the end  and called it a day