Las Vegas Lounging
Saturday, October 1
A day spent entirely in Las Vegas. An unusual thing for me, but I looked forward to it not without a modicum of anticipation. We had several different things on the agenda: a bit of poolside lounging, a session at a local 'indoor skydiving' facility, a fancy dinner somewhere in one of the upscale hotels (at that point still TBD), and reservations for the late showing of Cirque du Soleil's 'O' show. It was going to be a busy day!
Reserving for Julian's
First up was figuring out which fancy restaurant we wanted to eat at that night. We wanted something highly recommended. Jenn and I recalled our excellent experience at a traditional tapas restaurant in the Cosmopolitan a few months before, and Arn and Gosia were up for that; but a bit of research revealed another, even more highly-rated tapas restaurant in the nearby Aria hotel. Worth a shot, we thought. Out came Arn's iPad and we booked ourselves in for an evening table.
Vegas Indoor Skydiving
Next, we headed over to Las Vegas Indoor Skydiving. Indoor Skydiving facilities allow you to experience the feeling and activity of aerial free-fall, without having to leave the ground (or, to be more accurate, not having to be very far away from the ground). The facility houses a tall, circular chamber with a huge electrically-driven propellor underneath a floor of wire mesh. When operating at full-tilt (or even less than full-tilt), the propellor provides enough airflow to lift a person into the air, creating a situation essentially identical to free-fall.
The four of us signed up for a twenty-minute session. The session itself was preceded by a fairly lengthy safety and instructional session - teaching us all about the ideal posture for maintaining stable free-fall flight, and how to move in order to maneuver. They also taught us how to safely 'fall out of' the flow of air and onto the padded mats around the edge of the chamber.
It was then time for us to hit the air, so to speak. Wearing somewhat dumb-looking flappy, baggy air-catching flight suits, we stepped into the flying chamber. An instructor would be with us in the chamber at all times in order to ensure that things went safely. With a signal to an operator sitting behind a glass panel, the huge propellor began to turn, and a low throb filled the chamber. This quickly ramped up to a very airplane-like sound, along with a huge rush of warm air.
We each took turns jumping to the center of the chamber, where the rush of air would keep us afloat. The propeller operator behind the glass would continuously but subtly vary the propellor's speed, ensuring that each person had an appropriat amount of airflow to keep them afloat, but not far off the mesh. It was quite tricky even to maintain a steady position, let alone do any sort of fancy maneuvering. The guide stood straight up in the center, minimizing the amount of air he caught and therefore staying with his feet on the wire mesh. Using some pre-agreed upon hand signals, he would help us tweak our positions and improve our free-falling. Occasionally he would give us a little push or twist and send us high up into the chamber for a bit of true flying. Fun!
Finished (and satisfied) with our indoor skydiving experience, we returned to our hotel, where we changed into our beach clothes and headed down for a bit of a swim and relaxation pool-side. It was getting a bit late in the day, and we weren't down for too long before the sun went down behind the Luxor hotel and the shadows stretched over the pool.
We again returned to our rooms to get dressed up for our night on the town: a fine dinner and an exciting show!