The first step is the hardest

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
Circus Circus Hotel & Casino Las Vegas
Read my review - 1/5 stars
What I did
Stratosphere Sky Jump

Flag of United States  , Nevada
Monday, May 2, 2011

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I woke up and tried to check my e-mail and do some trip planning. Unfortunately, the internet didn't work. I struggled with it until it was time to leave for my lunch reservation.

Earlier on this trip I ate at Minibar in Washington, DC, run by Jose Andres. He also has two restaurants in Las Vegas. One of them is a branch of Jaleo, similar to the Jaleo's in the Washington area. The other is a new concept called China Poblano, which is a combination of Chinese and Mexican. Since I'm a fan of Jose Andres' restaurants I decided to go there for lunch.

I was a bit surprised when I arrived at the restaurant. It is in an area of the Cosmopolitan Hotel with some other restaurants and it has a take-out window on either side of the main door. The impression is that it is just a small step above a food court restaurant. The interior is also informal with stools instead of seats and some unusual decorations such as a bunch of bicycle wheels on the ceiling. I went in and was seated.

The menu has both Chinese and Mexican items. All of the items are sized as they would be in a tapas restaurant, a style that Jose Andres is largely responsible for bringing from his native Spain and popularizing in the U.S. I ordered three items: Huitlacoche Noodles, Setas with "wild" mushrooms, which were actually all domesticated varieties, and guacamole and Mango & Sticky Rice.

Similar to the normal practice in a tapas restaurant, they don't try to coordinate the arrrival of the various items. The Setas arrived first. I was just getting started on it when the Huitlacoche Noodles arrived. With several people sharing the dishes, which is the normal case in a tapas restaurant, that wouldn't be a problem but it's a little inconvenient when you're eating by yourself.

I enjoyed the Setas. The Huitlacoche Noodles wasn't quite what I was expecting. It seemed to contain more mushrooms than huitlacoche and more sliced vegetables than noodles but it was also quite tasty.

Next was the Mango & Sticky Rice, which isn't quite what you'd expect either. While rice makes an appearance while the dish is being cooked the large pieces are filtered out of the creamy sauce so just the flavor remains. It was very good and was my favorite of the three dishes.

I left China Poblano and went back to the hotel to struggle with the internet some more. I called the front desk who put me through to some tech support people. I wasted a couple hours with them before I needed to leave for my Sky Jump reservation at the Stratosphere.

The Stratosphere is the tallest building in Las Vegas. They have a number of thrill rides up at the top of the tower. The latest is the Sky Jump where you are attached to a wire and then jump off the top of the tower. I had a reservation for 7:15, just a bit before sunset.

I put everything from my pockets into a locker, got into one of their jumpsuits, put on a harness, had a camera attached to my hand, was weighed, had my weight written on my wrist and then was taken to the 108th floor observation deck. You wait until it's your turn. Then they take you into the room that contains the equipment that controls the cables that control your rate of fall and slow you down before you reach the ground. They do last-minute checks on all the equipment, enter your weight into the equipment that controls the cables and turn on the camera. Then it's time.

You step up onto a platform and are attached to a cable that keeps you from falling off. They grab the cable that will be attached to your back, which is attached to a cable on either side as well as one above you, and clip you to that. Then you step forward to the end of the platform with your toes hanging over the edge and look past your toes to the bull's eye painted on the surface 855 feet below you where you're going to land. They unhook the cable that keeps you from falling off and start your countdown. When they get to zero it's time for you to step off.

That first step is a tough one. After that you fall at up to 45 miles an hour. When you're something like 40 feet above the ground the cables slow you down so you make a soft landing. It's pretty exciting.

After that I went up to the observation deck to take some pictures. I had bought a ticket for a show this evening. Since I didn't know when I'd be leaving the Stratosphere, the selection process I used to pick the show was to go to the discount ticket outlet in the hotel, look over all the shows for which tickets were available that evening and pick the one that started the latest. That turned out to be the show Fantasy at the Luxor.

The Fantasy show is a Las Vegas-style topless revue although I've seen a few of them and that description covers a fairly wide range. Fantasy fell into the middle in a number of ways. It had more people than X Burlesque but many fewer than Jubilee!. The theater was bigger and less intimate than the venue for Crazy Horse but smaller than the one for Jubilee!. They had a live singer and a comedian as do many of the shows. My opinion of it fell somewhere in the middle too. I liked it more than Jubilee! but less than Crazy Horse and about the same as X Burlesque.

As was the case at some other shows, the performers were available after the show to sign their calendars and pose for pictures but, as far as I could tell, they didn't charge for the pictures, which I don't think was true for at least one show I've seen.

After the show I headed back to my room to struggle with my terrible internet connection some more.
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