Monday, March 26, 2012

Las Vegas

This is going to be a long blog post, as I took A LOT of photos......

Craig and I made a recent visit to Las Vegas for a couple of days last week, for Craig's Dynomometer school training. It's been 7 years since the last time we went to Vegas, and this time I remembered to bring the camera. While my husband was in a classroom learning new techno-geek stuff for 2 days, I walked around Vegas taking pictures. I think that I wore out the soles off of my shoes walking everywhere.

A shot of the Ruby mountains on the drive down. The basque shepherds refer to this mountain range as "the man killers". It's a tough part of the country to run sheep flocks in. We passed a basque truck and vardo camp on the highway.

" Las Wages." I love the enchantment of the architecture in Vegas. There's nothing dull about it.

We stayed in the Luxor (the giant black egyptian pyramid), and had some great views of the strip from our room.

The Bellagio, Sinatra's turf. The last time that we were here we watched the infamous "Oceans Eleven" musical fountains shooting off at night. But Craig was pretty tired after he got out of class this time, so we didn't catch the show this time around.

Poolside at the Bellagio.

The awesome waterfall pool at the Mirage.

The Wynn casino had a bunch of really cool waterfalls. There was a resaurant built right next to one of the falls. You could eat a sandwich while watching the water cascading.

The Mirage, (Sigfreid and Roy's home base) had water everywhere too.

One of the pirate ships at Treasure Island. They put on a great outdoor show at night.

The inside of the Venetian. I love this casino! It is built as a replica of Venice, with the water taxi's and walking bridges.

The boat captains would sing in italian while they rowed, just like in Venice. It's hard to believe that this is actually inside of a casino.....

The inside of the Wynn casino had an enchanted forest. They had lights on the trees for a pretty walkthrough at night.

Caesar's Palace had a lot of grandeur. The statues were big, the fountains were big, the columns were big....... there was a whole lot of "big" everywhere in the architecture.

One of the neatest things about Ceasars Palace was that the Forum shops had a sky celing. You're indoors, but had the effect that you were outdoors. There was about a mile of painted sky ceiling. I thought that it was a neat touch.

There's a giant aquarium at the east end of the Forum shops at Ceasars. It's huge!

The rays in the aquarium liked to look at the people just as much as the people liked to look at them....

A chocolate waterfall at the Bellagio. There was a big candy shop right next to the fall, with huge easter eggs on the ceiling and chunks of chocolate as big as your head. If my mother was there, she would probably be spending most of the time trying to figure out how to break into that chocolate waterfall.....

The Bellagio also a nice Holland exhibit with flowers everywhere. There were some huge bumblebees hanging from the celing were made of flowers as well.

The main entrance to the lobby of the Bellagio had a HUGE blown glass ceiling display. They looked like giant glass flowers growing down through the skylight.

One of the restaurants in the Bellagio had a fabulous example of a blown glass sculpture. It was exquisite!

The Chandelier lounge. I referred to these lounges as "floating bars", because they were located half-way between two levels in a mall. These lounges had their own special floor levels all to themselves.

The Chandelier lounge was opulent and quite spectacular!

I took this photo standing on the second level of the mall. It's hard to describe a floating bar, but they are in their own little world. The Chandelier had two levels, which you can barely see through the actual chandelier.

The Chandelier lounge was a sight to behold with all of it's "blingy" chandelier covering. I was rather mesmerized by it.....

Another floating bar, this one was in the Gucci fashion mall. This particular one tied into the second level of the mall, but in the Chandelier's case, it was all on it's own between the two floors.

I thought that this was a neat store. Their windows had hundreds of old replica sewing machines as decoration.

And the shopping.....holy crap, the shopping! This town is a high-rollers paradise. There were a couple of jewelry store fronts that I looked into that had diamonds rolling loosely around inside of huge glitzy jewel encrusted watches. I had no idea such things existed....

Alas, I'm a huge fan of Las Vegas and all that it has to offer - but Las Vegas doesn't get too excited to have patrons like me and my husband. (My big purchase of the trip was two $15 coffee mugs.) I don't gamble, drink, party, or spend extravagant amounts of money on clothing or jewelry, and neither does Craig. So it's safe to say that we were both very conservative "tourists".

But it was fun to walk around and look at all of the high-falutin' stores.

The pink and yellow decorative circle is made from arrows, with a handbag in the middle of it.

I remember Sarah Jessica Parker's favorite pair of shoes in "Sex In The City" - they were Jimmy Choo's.


And more Cha-Ching!

Okay, this guy was super-cool. I loved him. He was a lifesized jewel-encrusted peacock in one of the stores at the Wynn casino. He was TOTALLY AWESOME!

His price tag was a cool $15k, and the litle red card below him said that he was on hold for someone. Man, I loved that peacock! I was drooling over him in the store. He was really stunning to see in person. Some lucky rich person will have him perched over their mantle soon.

And alas! I looked across the store, and there was another one. A white one! Dreams of owning jewel-encrusted life sized peacocks keep dancing around in my head.

For other folks, owning some actual wearable jewelry instead of an elaborate stuffed bird is more their speed. There was a russian woman who kept peering through the window at these sets and exclaiming, "very nice!" in a thick drawling accent.

There were more than a few couples wearing wedding clothes along the strip in Vegas. Some of the cakes in the shops were very impressive. Those are real pearls on the cake.

The statues were great too. This griffon doesn't look very big in the photo, but when I stood next to him I was about the size of one of his paws.

One of four marble pegasus in the west side fountain of Caesar's Palace.

A happy little hippogriff bronze statue that was poolside at the Bellagio.

A giant ceiling mural at the Wynn casino.

In the lobby at Caesar's Palace there was a totally awesome tile mural behind the front desk. I know how hard it is to do tile muraling, so I had a deep profound respect and fascination for this big piece. It's extremely hard to match colors up in tiny 1/2" inch broken tile pieces to make huge fresco murals.

This was neat. It was a flower painting in the Bellagio. Literally - flowers that were put together to make a "painting"!

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to tour a few of the fine art galleries. There were two artists spotlighted in particular that blew my mind. One was Richard MacDonald. His sculptures capture mostly human movement pieces, and concentrates primarily on the royal ballet and Cirque Du Soleil as subjects. His sculptures are jam packed with emotion and movement - two themes in which I relished. The gallery at the Bellagio of his works was absolutely amazing. Very high end and professional. Fresh cut flowers adorned the entrance to the gallery, with lifesized as well as smaller sculptures dotted everywhere.

My favorite piece was "nightfall" the woman cloaked in a cape. I so dearly wanted to take that mysterious bronze home.....

Stunning works.

I also visited the Martin Lawrence gallery in Caesar's Palace. It is reputedly one of the largest galleries on the west coast. After walking through it, I could see why. It had a large rear "wing" where new gallery artists works were on display. The front was deceptive, because it really didn't look that big from the outside. That was the first gallery in which I discovered Vladimir Kush's artwork, and fell head over heels in love with his style. If you've never seen his paintings - they're a real trip! His label for his artwork style is: "The world in the mirror of metaphor". His stuff reminded me a bit of Salvador Dahli's, yet more functional to the imagination and modern. I LOVED IT!

I spoke to a gentlemen in this gallery and picked his brain about bronze patinas. There was the most fascinating holographic works of art in this gallery, and also gear driven art too. Giant funky looking clocks, and a coffee table that was in a continual state of gear-driven motion. I think that Craig would've liked to take the coffee table home. There was another onlooker in the gallery that said that it was the coolest coffee table he had ever seen as well....

The fellow that ran the Wyland gallery was a really helpful and informative guy. I was looking at some of the marine life sculptures and noticed that there was a glossy finish to them. The guy that worked there said that they had just came out with a glossy final finish for bronzes a couple of years ago. It is reputed to hold up well with time, and it looked really nice and slick on the marine turtles and whale sculptures in the gallery. And my favorite artist Vladimir Kush had his own galleries in Vegas too. He also has galleries located in Laguna Beach and Maui as well. I could've camped out in that gallery all day long....

Overall, it was a really fun time in Las Vegas. Craig said that he learned a lot in his classes and couldn't wait to try out some new dyno techniques when he got home. And I had fun walking around taking tons of photos of everything!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Round Two

Today was the second schooling show at CREC (Columbia River Equestrian Center) in Irrigon. Tommy had some good improvement at this show. He settled in much faster, and there were more horses competing that we had to maneuver around. We still need to work on some things, but that is what schooling shows are around for.
A nice relaxed stand for halter. We had to work on this quite a bit at the last show. The pigeons would fly out of the rafters of the indoor arena and scare the crap out of him, so he would want to wiggle around and not stand still too good. But he has shown great improvement learning to stand quietly with a relaxed head carriage for the showmanship and halter. The birds will still scare him a bit, but at least he doesn't move around so much now. We entered the 18 and over showmanship, open showmanship, halter geldings, solid colored halter class, and open halter classes.

I really liked this judge, he was totally awesome. He would help each person on an individual basis and there wasn't any pressure if you needed some help or messed up the pattern. We didn't need to dress formal or own an expensive show horse, because we were all there to learn. The judge offered help for anyone who needed it. If anybody had issues, he would encourage us to fix it in the class and place us higher overall for our effort in correcting the problem. Since there were a lot of green horses at this show, it made a tremendous difference in the end results. I think that everybody in the arena had a chance to fix their problems today.

It was a fairly sizeable halter class, (for our area). Tommy and I are in line behind the red and white paint.

This was so cool! There was a young junior entrant at the show that was having some serious issues with her own personal horse, (issues that made it a major safety hazzard for her to show in the halter classes). So a fellow entrant was nice enough to lend her a beautiful well broke paint mare to show in junior halter. It was so nice! The mare was a national quality horse, and exhibiting a mellow extremely well trained animal made the experience totally awesome for the little girl. She won her first blue ribbon. It was great.

Warming up for the english classes. Okay, we admittedly weren't the best dressed entrants for english at the show. I have a crappy little close contact english saddle that I absolutely hate, and Tommy really hates it too. We practiced in it at the house, and both of us are in full agreement that we need new english tack that works much better. So, I asked the judge at the show if he would mind if we rode in our endurance gear. I knew that we both would preform better in it. The judge said that he didn't care, and that we were there to work on our riding skills and he didn't have a preference as to what we used. So, we rode in our comfy tack.

I also had a new dressage whip in use at this show too. At the last show the judge made a comment that he would like to see Tommy's butt collected up underneath of him more. So, I purchased a little dressage whip for $7.99 at the local feed store and have been practicing with it at home for the past couple of weeks. When Tommy starts getting a bit strung out in the body, I give him a few soft taps with the whip to bring his hind end up underneath him and engage the hind quarters. It seems to be working alright and he is slowly improving.

The judge at this show was a dressage guy, and he really liked Tommy. He said that he had some enormous potential as a dressage horse and he loved his big ground covering movements. But even though we recieved some good praises, there are still quite a few things that we need to work on. We advanced to the open canter/lopeing classes and missed a left lead twice. But the judge let us work on it until we got it down and could strike off from a walk. Tommy redeemed himself on that, so I chaulked the first two flubs up to my mixed leg cues.

I need to take the whip to myself in this picture! I was trying to push Tommy up into a collected trot, and I have an extremely bad habit of leaning forward to get the momentum going. It makes me mad when I do it - but half the time I don't even realize that I'm doing it. It's an ingrained terrible habit that I need to stop. Somebody needs to belt me upside the head with a dirt clod when this happens.....argh....

We definitely had the biggest ground covering extended trot at the show. The judge was a dressage guy, so he encouraged a lot of movement. He didn't want to see the stock horse shuffle jog in the english classes, so if someone went too slowly he would ask them to move up faster. Tommy and I were cooking around the ring at a pretty good clip. It was really fun!

We did the western classes too, but unfortunately Craig didn't get any pictures of that. Rats. Next time I guess.