First, a little history: Almost 20 years ago, Jen and I visited Las Vegas and our hotel room (in what was then the Las Vegas Hilton) looked right out at this Space Needle-like building with an amusement park on the top if it. We could clearly see the roller coaster that went over the side of the platforms and the slingshot ride that went straight up a tower and dropped riders straight back down. We could even hear the screams of terror from people hundreds and hundreds of feet above the desert floor being scared out of their wits.
I was scared out of my wits just thinking about it. I didn’t want to go near that building or even touch its lengthy shadow. I sensed that Jen had other thoughts about it, but realizing whom she had married, she did not pressure me to seek out these elevated thrills. Nevertheless, to make up for anchoring Jen to the ground, I agreed to go on the New York, New York roller coaster and everything seemingly ended happily enough.
Back to almost present day. Zoe saw the tall skinny building, part of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino, last week and is very interested in the elevated thrills. On top of that, the New York, New York roller coaster was not running when got to that part of the strip last Sunday, so she’s thrill-deprived. Then there was my highly-publicized reversed stance on the Angels Landing Trail.
This sets the stage for me to really come through as a father in a way that I rarely ever do. Recall that we still have one activity left in our 3 activity for $57 packages we purchased on our first day here. The first two activities we chose were the dolphin/big cat tour at the Mirage and the CSI Adventure at the MGM. Our last selection (and they give you a whole week to use them up) was the Adventuredome, an indoor amusement park at the Circus, Circus hotel. This was our main family activity today. Jen might suggest that the sojourn she and I took early this morning to see the sun rise over Bryce Canyon was a more pleasant — if extremely cold — experience, but the girls decided to sleep in and miss the subtle shadows emanating from the hoodoos just beyond the clouds of our frozen exhalations.
The Adventuredome is a fine place, especially since we were getting in at a reduced price, and we ended up spending more than five hours there. We walked around, ate a few things*, played some video games*, tiptoed through a laser beam maze*, played laser tag, watched some 3-D movies and rode some rides.
It was this last bit that I think earned me the Parenting Iron Cross. Not only did I ride both roller coasters in thie place, I rode the yellow one — El Loco — three times. That’s right. Me. El Loco. Three Times! This is the roller coaster that has a 90-degree drop and -1.5 g forces, and an inverted drop and a whole slow motion upside down part. It is also the one roller coaster that didn’t make me motion sick — the red Canyon Blaster, with its two loops and double barrel roll made Jen and I both queasy.
It should be said that neither of these rides lasted more than 45 seconds and that 90-drop was only a fraction of the 1,000-foot precipice Jen had to navigate in Zion. (Also, Jen eventually agreed to a turn on El Loco just before we left the Adventuredome. This is probably because I had started to make such a big deal about how brave I am.) Plus I refused to go on any of the rides that spun or swung back and forth. Zoe had to go on most of those herself. (Though I did surprise everyone by going on the one that shoots you straight up to the top of the dome and then drops you down — almost like the one on the Stratosphere, in as much as baby aspirin is like morphine.)
The point is that by the time Zoe had gone on all the rides and had been on El Loco four times, her thirst for thrills had been sufficiently quenched. Plus we had run out of time for her to go up on the Stratosphere. I had started to get the impression that Jen was not that interested in going up there. The Stratosphere is in a somewhat rundown section of the Strip and its casino/lobby smelled more like smoke than the other hotels. It does not fill one with confidence vis a vis safely supporting one a thousand feet about the desert floor.
So, practically before Zoe knew what was happening, we were whisking everyone away from the questionable excitement and into a much more palatable experience, dinner at P.F. Chang’s on our way to the airport. Then it was just a matter of a five-hour flight spanning most of a continent and the hours of 11 pm PST to 7 am EST to get us home. Hopefully the Space Needle thing has been put to rest for at least another 20 years.
*All the starred activities cost extra money beyond the entrance fee.