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Visiting the Strip

The Las Vegas Strip can be pretty overwhelming, but there are some fun things to do there, if you know where to look. It helps if you have a native guide. I've been lucky in that the first few times I encountered the 'Strip was under the reassuring guidance of Lisa's Dad, Stan. Following his example, we discussed options and figured out a strategy in advance:

We'd go off-strip to the Hilton and check out the Star Trek Experience installation there, then park at the Mirage and hit it along with Caesar's Palace and Treasure Island. At one of those places we'd grab dinner at a buffet.

Embarrassingly I succeeded in getting lost on my way to the Hilton - there are some roads which just don't go where you expect them to. So much for pretending to be the "old hand" at navigating around the city. So James & Sue saw a little more of the town on either side of the Strip. No big deal.

Eventually we found the Hilton, parked, and found the right place to get tickets for the Star Trek Experience. Discount for Nevada residents, ha ha. (Have I mentioned recently how great it is to have a Nevada Driving License?)

There are many, many "entertainment rides" and such like associated with the major hotels in Vegas. Rollercoasters, 3D motion rides, etc. All basically designed to appeal to the younger tourists and get you in the front door of the casino.

The Star Trek Experience at the Hilton is a little different. For a start, it's not just a "ride". There's a museum with exhibits like real props and costumes from all the different TV series and movies; a timeline showing how the different threads and plots from the various episodes mesh together; and a restaurant called "Quarks" where you can order pretty normal food but with intriguing names such as "Tribble Nibbles" "James T-bone", Frozen Gagh, Romulan Ale, or my personal favorite: the Wrap of Khan.

There is also a motion ride, but it is actually kind of enjoyable, well integrated into the whole Vegas thing, and it is preceded by a live-action scripted segment that is *very* well done, quite unlike the usual "sit down, belt up, and put on your 3D goggles now" kind of thing. Spoiler: (swipe with mouse to read):You actually get to stand on the command deck of the Enterprise! It's kind of a Mecca for serious Trekkies.

After all that, it was a bit later than we'd planned, so after several attempts at parking at the Mirage (one day, Stan, I must ask you for the secret of how to park there without getting lost) we headed straight for the buffet for an early dinner.

The Buffet at the Mirage is a good one - it's mid-priced, and does have crab legs, but best of all, it has absolutely the best mini creme-brulee's ever. I have never managed to have just one.

After dinner we walked down the Strip towards Treasure Island to see if the Pirate Show was operating. As luck would have it, it wasn't. The pirates were "on holiday" until Christmas Eve. Normally there's a live-action show with actors, with a pirate ship and a British galleon that sails around into a bay and then gets sunk. It's actually really cool. But this evening it was not happening, and we had to make do with seeing what the artificial bay looks like when the water is drained out of it. Bonus: we did see a little mouse sitting on a floodlight. Very cute! I guess he was keeping warm. He was pretty fearless.

We took the tram back from Treasure Island to the Mirage, then popped North to the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace.

The Forum Shops are basically an indoor mall, but there are some nice aspects to it, such as the two animatronic shows. They're designed to entice you to go on the 3D-motion simulator ride, but hey - it's free entertainment. And some of the shops are pretty good: the Virgin Records Megastore for example. The F.A.O. Schwartz toyshop for another.

After that, we were all feeling pretty tired, and we drove home and flopped into bed.