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Day 2 & 3 Florida 2017

“Hello. Is that Mr Talbot? Hi this is Emma calling regarding an accident you were recently involved in”.

Four in the bastard morning, and just as my sleep was settling down and getting back to normal, Emma pops up with an impromptu wake up call. Still, there are worse places to be woken than Las Vegas I suppose. I could be one of those poor innocent people involved in the MEN tragedy on Monday night. When I first had a news flash about that, i turned on the TV and flicked through CNN and FOX News trying to find details…nothing. There was a bit about a man in Phoenix who’s left arm is slightly longer than his right, but nothing about a serious incident in Manchester. Then it all changed….

All of a sudden, it was on constantly, with minute by minute updates, news anchors crying, and calls for somebody to do something about this. The Vegas Strip lit up in Union Flags, and I ❤️ Manchester was displayed everywhere. Yesterday, when anyone asked innocently, “where you guys from?” And we’d reply England, it was greeted with a handshake, a pat on the back, and warm and sincere heartfelt wishes for those involved.

The British news coverage was quite different. Sky had a reporter ask a poor woman caught up in the massacre, “did you witness anything”, and when she said “No I was in the arena, I didn’t even hear a bang”, The reporter further asked, “Where did the bang come from?”.

I realise I’m ranting, and this is not the place for a rant, after all, its a holiday blog. I apologise.

Las Vegas plays hell with your body clock, and even more hell with your wallet. Everyone says that its because you’re in a city, and all cities are the same, but if i visit London, I don’t pay nine quid for a pint. Granted, i can get a pint costing nine quid if I look hard enough, but there are still pubs where i can get one for four. Here there is no such luxury. Cheap places are those offering a happy hour, where you can get a draught ale for $5. Plus tax. Plus tip. They’ve got you by the balls, and not in a nice way. There are 2.4 million residents in Las Vegas, and they have 40 million visitors a year. There’s no need to rip people off. No need at all. Even the dollar menu at McDonald’s is $4.99….

Nikki surprised me on the plane over here with an early birthday present. A helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon, with a fly over the Las Vegas strip. It didn’t dawn on me at first, despite the cabin attendant giving me a Meccano helicopter with my first drink (I thought everyone got one) and a chocolate helicopter with my second drink (i thought she fancied me). So, with my stupidity reaching heights not witnessed before, she told me about my trip.

Picked up by a limo at the hotel, we were whisked to the airport, where our pilot, John (who Nikki went wet at the sight of, due to him being a Tom Cruise looky-likey) whisked us off towards the desert. And that’s not hard here, Vegas is surrounded by desert. The first gem I’ve already mentioned was Nikki’s question, “which do you think is the oldest, the Grand Canyon or the Pyramids?” Only beaten, slightly, by her second….

As we flew over the Hoover Dam, John said, ” That’s the Hoover Dam. It took 10 years to complete, and there was enough concrete poured to make a six lane highway from Los Angeles to New York. When complete, it took seven years to fill Lake Mead, which is of course, man made. It used the water from the Colorado River and the Virgin River, flowing from the Rockies and the hills in Utah”. There below us, was a flooded canyon and crystal clear blue water, channelled into a small gorge where the Hoover Dam stood.

“John?” Enquired Nikki, “Can I ask a question…if Lake Mead is man made, why did the dig it in such a strange shape?'”

The Grand Canyon is massive. No, its bigger than that, its massive. Where we landed, an a ledge halfway down the canyon, you could see helicopters flying below us, and they’d were like small flies. The river was over a mile below us, and even as we flew through the canyon, to the sounds of Top Gun, you simply could not gauge the scale of this place.

When we took off again, after a champagne breakfast (which previous visitors had informed us was cava and a bagel, and they weren’t wrong) we headed back to the Strip. Flying over Las Vegas does not give you an accurate scale to this place either. Each hotel is the size of the Trafford Centre, in fact, the MGM, the largest hotel in the world, is bigger. Everything is concentrated around The Strip, which, don’t be fooled, is huge. We’re on our third day, and we’ve only got as far south as Mandalay Bay, and north to the Wynn. Today, of course, I’ll be donning my football shirt and heading to a bar to watch the game of the century…. the Flagstaff Cosmos are in the play offs with the Minnesota Piss Whippets, and legendary soccer maestro Luther Blissett is on for a record of 12 assists if he makes the second period. This country…..

Sorry about the earlier rant, but yesterday was very sad. Always seems to happen when we’re away. 9/11, we were on our way to Florida, 7/7 we were in Washington. Orlando Club shootings, we were in Florida, and then yesterday….The Americans never really covered the earlier overseas incidents, but this one is getting a lot.

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