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.