Thursday, December 14, 2017

Las Vegas (Encore, Le Reve and Buffets)

Tori and I went for a last minute getaway to Las Vegas. We got a great price for our room at the Encore with tickets to Le Reve and four meals at the Wynn Buffet included. We drove out early Sunday with a stop at the Las Vegas Outlets and arrived just in time for check-in. It was an elegant suite on the middle floors with a divider separating the bedroom from the living room. While we had stayed at the Wynn before, it was our first time in the Encore.

We had seen the Peppermill on Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars getting Coffee" so we decided to eat dinner there since it was so close to our hotel. We got a booth right away in the tree-filled diner. Tori joked about me ordering a drink called the Bubblebath, but it intrigued me so I ordered it anyway. Very fruity! We shared a tasty Buffalo Chicken Wrap and a huge brownie sundae. We also checked out the Fireside Lounge in the back.

Walking back to the Encore, we continued on through the Palazzo shops at the Venetian. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was in town so the casinos and restaurants were full of cowboys wearing boots, belt buckles and ten gallon hats. The next morning, we had breakfast at Jardin in the Encore before driving over to spend a couple hours at the Imperial Health Spa visiting the variety of saunas and receiving a relaxing massage.

We skipped lunch to save room for the Wynn Buffet so we were starving by the time we went down at 5:30 for an early dinner. Normally, I tend to avoid buffets since I go overboard. We promised ourselves in the long line that we would try to stick to one type of cuisine. Once we got our table in the beautifully decorated main hall and grabbed our plates, we couldn't resist splurging since all the food looked so tasty. I tried to keep all my portions very small. The small cut of steak I had was my favorite. Perfectly flavored! We tried to save a little space in our bellies for the Dessert Room where Tori had a made-to-order crepe and I tried a small selection of cookies and pastries.

After relaxing for a bit after our big dinner, we went down to the Wynn Theater for the 9:30pm performance of Le Rêve. Outside was a sculpture of Popeye that I suspected was created by Jeff Koons based on his other work we saw at The Broad this summer. Turns out I was right, the artist built the stainless steel statue between 2009-2011 and Steve Wynn bought it for $28 million dollars.

This was second time we have seen Le Rêve and I enjoyed it a lot more this time. Last time, we saw it the day after seeing my favorite Vegas show, Absinthe, so I may have compared it unfavorably. The production now encourages non-flash photography to share on social media so I didn't have to worry about an usher reprimanding me for sneaking a photo like the first time. Ha! I tried to not take too many photos. The hotel offers a diver's package to experience the show underwater. I would love to experience that someday.

We had planned to take some AcroYoga pictures in front of our hotel window but since our view of the North Strip was pretty unspectacular we forgot about it until our last morning. We were both feeling pretty stiff, but I moved the couch out of the way and Tori jumped up on my feet for a few poses before breakfast. The view to the left was of Circus Circus and the Chinese-themed Resort World which has finally begun construction. Across from Circus Circus was a giant parking lot where the Riviera used to stand before the property was purchased by the Convention Center. The giant abandoned Fontainebleau tower was recently bought by new owners who also plan to begin construction soon on the unfinished resort.

After AcroYoga, we went down for our last free meal at the Buffet. It was close to 11am by the time we got through the line and loaded up on Breakfast. I was surprised when I went back for seconds how quickly they had switched out everything for lunch items. Since I was still in the mood for breakfast I didn't eat much more which was probably for the best. Because our checkout was at 11:30am, we had to get back to our room pretty quick to pack. The drive home on a Tuesday was very smooth and we stopped for the Outlets at Barstow to buy Christmas presents.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

AcroYoga - High Barrel Rolls (and Acropeutics)

Tori and I have been working on the Corkscrew transition from Bird to the Star position for the last month. At the Swami's Jam today, we finally put a series of them together into the washing machine called High Barrel Rolls. We still need to learn the proper way to switch hand grips while transitioning through the Bird position.

As well as the acrobatic part of AcroYoga, there is also the more healing side which combines Thai massage and is called therapeutic flying or Acropeutics. During Amanda's Thai Massage class on Saturday, we learned a new position called the Hippie Twist. With my arms folded behind my back and my feet in the Straddle Bat position, Tori gently twisted my shoulders in the opposite direction of my hips by alternately bending her arms and legs.

With singing and dancing in the Drum Circle behind us, Tori based me in Reverse Prayer before lowering me down for a quick kiss.

I have based Tori in several of these stretching positions many times so it was nice to relax as the flyer for the first time. I looked so huge draped over her feet in the SuperYogi position.

My friend, Chad, came to the jam and I based him in Star for the first time. Now I just need to convince him to come more often.

Update: 6/13/18

A post shared by Noah Unsworth (@noahu) on

Tori and I have made a lot of progress in our High Barrel Rolls since we first tried the washing machine last October. The transition from Bird to Star is feeling more natural but I still need to focus on correct foot placement on the step back down to Bird.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Trapeze High - Records Day

Saturday was Records Day at Trapeze High.

Longest Plank - I achieved a personal record of 5 minutes in the first competition. The winners were Dave (11 min, 14 sec), Celeste (11 min, 4 sec), and Cami (10 min, 22 sec). We were allowed to switch back and forth from hands to elbows but Celeste stayed on her elbows the whole time. I was impressed!

Most Pull Ups -  Any hand grip was allowed as long as the competitors went all the way down and extended their chin over the bar at the top. Kenny (14), Harmony (14), Chris (12), Gina (12)

Longest Hand Stands - As you can see from the video below, Kenny tried to intimidate his main rival but it didn't work. Cami was so stable, I think she could have gone for at least another minute. Cami (35 sec), Kenny (30 sec), RJ (10 sec)

Longest Head Stands - Cami won again despite Heidi putting up a tough fight. Cami (5 min, 10 sec) Heidi (5 min, 6 sec), Kenny (4 min, 30 sec)

Most Set Swings - Keeping your legs up through the entire trapeze swing is a major abs workout. I can't even do one. Gina (30), Kenny (15), Tatum (10)

Consecutive Catch Locks - This was my second competition and I completed seven. We were only allowed two swings before starting our next lock. I thought I would be exhausted after this but all of our hand grips gave out before our muscles had a chance to get tired. Normally, there is a longer wait between catches so our hands have a chance to recover. I could barely hold onto the bar when I dismounted. Chris (14), Harmony (12), Isaac (11)

Most Swings over the Board - This competition was going on at the same time as the Catch Locks. The flyer performed a Turnaround and had to fly over the board as many times as possible. Lianna (12), Gina (12), Geri (4), Reese (4)

Highest Trapeze Swing - Chris (Adults), Reese (Teens), Tatum (Children)

Kiiking Swings - The goal of this competition was to see who could go over the top on the Kiiking Swing with the fewest amount of swings. Dave (2 1/2), Reese (4), Geri (4 1/2), Evie (4 1/2)

Most Traveling Ring Passes - RJ (10), Geri (8), Evie (6)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Spruce Street Suspension Footbridge
(with a little Acro)

After AcroYoga practice in Balboa Park, Tori and I visited the Spruce Street Suspension Footbridge on Banker's Hill for the first time. It was built in 1912 by the City of San Diego to connect parts of the hilly neighborhood to the former trolley stops on 4th and 5th Avenue.

The span extends 375 over Kate Sessions Canyon and is 70 feet high over the deepest section. Like all suspension bridges, it is designed to flex in the wind and it was quite easy to make it rock back and forth. Despite the wobbles, we decided to try a few AcroYoga poses on the narrow path.

We started out in Bird but the cable railings made it tough to rotate Tori down into Straddle Bat. We had to move slowly so she would not get her feet caught. The cables were quite low so I was a bit worried when I lifted her higher into Star. I was ready to bring her down quick if the bridge began to wobble under the feet of others walking across the bridge.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Disney California Adventure Park
(Kenny's Birthday)

Tori, Jill, Tommy and I went to Disney California Adventure Park with Kenny yesterday for his Birthday. While we were hoping for a cool fall day, Santa Ana winds brought a strong heatwave with temperatures for the day predicted to be 103 degrees in Anaheim. When we arrived at the park at 9am, it was already 90 degrees. Since Tommy works at Disneyland as an acrobat in the parade, he went backstage to get us discounted tickets but he surprised us instead with free Park Hoppers tickets. Grateful, we paid for his food and drinks all day.

While I have been to Disneyland many times, I have never been to the California Adventure side of the park. Our first stop was the Guardians of the Galaxy ride that replaced the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Despite all the extremely short lines we had for the rest of the day, we had to wait 45 minutes for this newest ride. The inside of the highest building in the park was designed to represent the museum of the Collector who has captured the Guardians and put them on display. The park changes the ride at night to a Halloween-themed mission but we experienced the original Mission: Breakout where Rocket Raccoon escapes his enclosure and we follow his attempts to help his teammates. Loaded into our elevator seats, I quickly realized my mistake after it launched straight up and began rapidly ascending and descending with stops at several different floors to watch scenes of the Guardians breaking free. I was soon praying for it to end as I fought off dizziness and low-grade nausea. I will never go on that ride again without taking Dramamine first. Whew! I spent the rest of the day with a light headache. I am fine with most motion rides, but that prolonged up and down weightlessness feeling is my Achilles heel.

After standing in the short line for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (Graveyard JamBOOree), we crossed over to Disneyland for a few hours since that side of the park was closing early for the Halloween Party at 6pm. Since I already posted about my Disneyland trip in 2011, I took very few pictures this time.

Due to the short lines, we were able to go on six different rides in quick succession with a stop for lunch in between at Hungry Bear.
Star Tours - The Adventure Continues
Space Mountain (Ghost Galaxy)
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Haunted Mansion (The Nightmare before Christmas)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Splash Mountain
Indiana Jones Adventure
This was at least my fifth time on the Indiana Jones ride and I think it pretty overrated. It is so jerky that it is hard to appreciate the surroundings. If they smoothed out the motion of the jeep by half, I think it would make a huge improvement.

Even though we grabbed a FastPass ticket for the Radiator Springs Racers when we first entered California Adventure, our window wasn't until 3:30pm. Coming back over from Disneyland, we still had a little bit of a wait, watching test-runs of empty cars as they opened the ride for the first time that day. This turned out to be my favorite ride of both parks, maybe of any amusement park ever. It was a great combination of a Dark Ride and Thrill Ride. It started out as nice Sunday cruise through Monument Valley before going indoors as we visited Radiator Springs and its inhabitants at night. After getting a fresh coat of paint at Ramone's House of Body Art, we lined up with a second car for a thrilling outdoor race among the buttes. My favorite parts were the high-banked turns when we were neck and neck with the other car. It was so exciting, I can't remember if we finished in first place or not. It reminded me a lot of the former Soap Box Racers at Knott's Berry Farm, another favorite of mine.

Our next stop in Cars Land was Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters (Honkin' Haul-O-Ween). It was pretty cool ride where all the cars dance and spin within the Italian themed garden. There are no tracks, instead each electric vehicle is programmed with an independent route within the synchronized dance. The cars take turns ending up on the two electric panels that charge them up between rides.

We headed over to Pacific Wharf next for ice cream at Ghirardelli. Designed to look like Monterey's Cannery Row, it is a food vending area and doesn't contain any rides. We also walked through the Bakery Tour at Boudin's and tried the free Sourdough Bread samples.

Our first stop beside the Paradise Pier lagoon was Toy Story Midway Mania! which is an updated version of Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blaster over at Disneyland. Instead of shooting lasers at moving animatronic sensors, you use a spring-action launcher mounted on the carnival carriage to shoot simulated 3D objects at targets on the video screens. In the line outside, we interacted with Mr. Potato Head telling jokes. He could identify us by our appearance with the use of a behind-the-scenes operator. Jill and Tori decided to sit out the steel roller-coaster as I joined Kenny and Tommy in line for California Screamin'. Unlike traditional coasters that slowly climb the lift hill and then use that initial gravity as momentum for the rest of the ride, this one catapulted us down a launch track at 55 mph before speeding up the first hill. It was a great ride, with a fun vertical loop in the middle. It wasn't until close to the end when we went over a small series of weightless camelbacks that my dizziness from the Guardians ride came back with a vengeance.

I was feeling pretty light-headed when we boarded Mickey's Fun Wheel so Tori and I chose one of the non-swinging carriages on the outer rim. Even then, the slight rocking as we got on and off the ride was a little too much. Despite this, I enjoyed the views from the top of the 160 foot Ferris Wheel. It is the only replica in the US of the original 1920's Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. There is no way that I could have ridden in one of the 16 swinging gondolas that slide in and out on a snaking rail inside the wheel.

Since I was still feeling dizzy, Tori and I rested while Kenny, Tommy and Jill rode the Silly Symphony Swings but I had recovered enough to go on The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure. It was nice to get out of the heat for a bit as we rode the slow-moving clam shells through scenes from the movie. While we waited for our FastPass window for the Soarin' Around the World ride in Grizzly Peak, we wandered around Hollywood Land and went inside the Sorcerer's Workshop where we drew a basic animation in the Magic Mirror Realm and visited the Beast's Library. I discovered the Disney character I most resemble is Marlin the Clownfish from Finding Nemo. I am not surprised. Ha!

I ended up skipping Soarin' as I didn't want to risk getting dizzy again on a flight simulator so I found a comfortable bench and people-watched as the rest went on the last ride of the day. We were all starving when we left the park and Kenny was craving Thai food, so we found a nearby restaurant called Cuti Thai with lots of good reviews. All the food was awesome. I highly recommend the BBQ Beef Salad which was amazing!