Day 6 – Old-school tech day with Pinball and Fusees, and we totally ignore the possibility of Stranger Danger.

Today we get to play pinball!!! I know, sort of a silly thing to get excited about, but I really love pinball. We have our own machine at home, Flash Gordon. Built in 1979, it’s a wonderfully cheesy addition to our game room.

Vegas is home to the Pinball Hall of Fame, a labor of love by the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club that not only offers more than 150 games at a quarter or 50 cents a play, they’re also are a non-profit who donates all proceeds to the local Salvation Army.

They open at 11am, and it’s only 10, so we have some time to waste before we head over. Mike thought we might “stop in and see the Pawn Stars shop”, hahahahahahahahaha hahahahaha yeah, that’s almost as funny as someone saying they might stop in at Hollywood Studios some afternoon during Spring Break and ride TSMM a few times since they have an hour to kill. I asked Mike if he ever noticed the massive line of people stringing around the building whenever they showed the front of the place? He said, “It’s early in the day so it’ll probably be slow”. Uh, okay. It’s sort of on the way anyway, so we drive by…

Yeah, hate to say I told you so, but you know the rest. I’m sort of glad the line was absolutely massive, I was worried it would be short enough that Mike would decide it was worth waiting. Even though I find the show mildly entertaining, I have little interest in seeing the place or meeting the “characters”.

Still with time to kill, Mike decides to check out the one antique store he missed yesterday. He wasn’t that excited about it because they mostly advertised clocks.

Mike walked in, then walked out a minute later, beckoning me to join him. I’m glad he did, the place was awesome. Tons of beautiful, ornate, and very old clocks and watches. Oh, and a motorcycle. Of course, there’s millions of dollars’ worth of timepieces here and Mike’s looking at a bike.

After checking out the bike (it was awfully cute), we started looking at the clocks. One of them seemed unusual, so we asked the owner Jorge about it, and he happily opened up the back to show us the workings. He called it a fusee-type clock http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusee_(horology) . A term I’d never heard before. He pointed out a cone-shaped pulley with a chain drive and said the cone is the fusee. This design was used from the 15th through the early 20th century to keep a clock or watch accurate by equalizing the uneven pull on the main spring no matter if the watch was just wound or running down.

Of course, my next question, after looking at the tiny chain running a rather large clock was…wait…a WATCH with a chain inside? How tiny would that chain have to be? He said, “I’ll show you!” and proceeded to take us over to a case, take out and disassemble a $10,000 watch just to show us the workings.

You can see the chain wound three times around the barrel on the right side.

It was amazing. I can’t imagine creating a chain that small. The plates and pins were so tiny they were nearly invisible to the naked eye. The fusee design requires that the watch have a more bulbous case than modern pocket watches in order to fit this gizmo inside:

So if you’ve seen those sort of egg-shaped old pocket watches, it’s most likely a fusee.

Needless to say, I love all things mechanical, so I was inordinately pleased to get an education in watch design and wrote down all the pertinent info so I could research it more. The shop owner seemed to get a kick out of this, and we had a great time talking.

I know I always say that I’m a hermit and I am uncomfortable in social situations, but things like this are the complete opposite. I love talking to people with a passion and intimate knowledge of their chosen subject.

After thanking Jorge for the education and his time, we headed out for Pinball heaven.

This place is so cool! Row upon row of everything from 1940’s oddities through modern machines, there’s so much to see.

We decide to first walk through and check them all out before determining what to spend our quarters on. Of course, that goes out the window when we come upon a couple of our favorite machines that we have to play, then next see a dirt bike-themed game, then this weird demo model from the 1950’s that pits two players “head to head” against each other with a table that tips depending on which side the ball is on, and another that is theoretically a pinball machine, but in actuality is a roulette wheel that would allow guys to bet, but still fool the feds if they came sniffing around.

Most of the games have info cards posted telling their story. Some of the machines are rare one-off demos that were never sent to full production, others are some of the best-selling machines of their time. All of them work, and they’re set up really well with nice level tables and really responsive flippers.

The curators have an open work area in the back with tons of parts and specialized tools to keep everything running right.

Honestly, I can’t think of a more fun way to spend $20 in Vegas. But then I realize I’m strange. I’m just glad Mike shares a little of my love of the weird.

After a few hours of fun we’re getting hungry, so it’s off to one of the best buffet deals in Vegas at Red Rock casino. This place is a relatively high-end resort on the road out to Red Rocks Canyon. The view is gorgeous, but we’re not here for the view, we’re here for the $9 buffet lunch!

The food is well-prepared, with plenty of vegetarian options, and you can’t beat the price. It’s the one place we’re willing to spend a little money because it’s such a great value.

After completely stuffing ourselves, we’re ready to head to the strip and hopefully walk off a few of the thousands of calories we’ve just ingested.

We haven’t been to Vegas since they finished CityCenter, so I want to head to the Strip to check that out.

Mike’s in a temper, he’s just generally grumpy about everything. Not in the mood to be impressed with the Bellagio Fountains, the Forum shops, or anything in between. I suggest different things we could check out, but he’s just blah. I hate it when he gets in these sulky moods. I know if I can just get him to set foot in these places he’ll probably enjoy them, but I get so frustrated with his negativity I just want to walk away and spend the evening by myself.

It would be different if he had other things that he wanted to do – I’d be perfectly happy to follow him around, but he’s not the planner, he doesn’t want to read up on things to do or research options, so I get to be the one always suggesting things and he gets to be the one shooting them down. I’m sure he’s as frustrated as I am but what are we supposed to do, hang out in our room and watch tv? Of course, he doesn’t want to do that either. Grrrr.

I end up dragging him from place to place and generally ignoring his snide remarks.

He does enjoy looking at some of the sculpture art at CityCenter, a few pieces are mechanically interesting so we enjoy trying to figure out how they work. As we’re walking past the Veer towers (condo unit) and marveling at their architecture…

…a guy happens to walk by just as we are saying how cool the design is. He asked if we’d like to see inside.

I instantly imagine this scene in a movie, and everyone in the theater is yelling at the screen “don’t go, he’s going to murder you!!” …at the same time, Mike pipes up, “Sure, that would be great!”

Apparently we need to watch more horror movies so Mike knows the correct answer to an invitation like this.

Turns out the guy lives here and ends up taking us to the top floor for a look at the view and to check out the pool. Amazing.

Even more amazing? He’s a moto-head, knows lots of the same people we do, and we have a great time talking bikes, and he doesn’t even try to murder us or anything.

So okay, Mike was right and the horror movies were wrong…this time (cue foreboding musical theme).

Back down at the ground floor and rejoining the unwashed masses, we continue on our way, both of us in a decidedly more chipper mood. We enjoy the remainder of our evening, comfortably wandering and appreciating the sights and sounds of this crazy city.

We must still be leading a charmed life because we’re able to find our way back to the place we parked the car and back to the hotel without getting lost.

In some ways, this day was frustrating because Mike was generally out-of-sorts, but he did have a decent reason for it – feeling the effects of his cold and also worried about our sick cat at home (the previous evening he’d talked to the gal who was taking care of the cats and she said Sabrina wasn’t eating well), but when I write about it now, overall I can see we had a good day.

And hey, any day that we don’t get abducted by a stranger and turned into the subject of a missing persons’ bulletin is a good day, right?

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