Saturday, June 28, 2014

How I became a Topless "Bikini Babe"

How I Became a Topless “Bikini Babe”??

And How do Magnetic Business cards, a Burlesque performer, and a Jewelry-maker lead to Me wearing metal Pasties?? This is the sort of thing that those who are not in the midst of my life would never expect. Those in my life fully expect, and enjoy these things.

I Know miracles happen every day. But I hardly think this qualifies. Yesterday Morning I was a 46-year old dude, with an aching back. By Mid afternoon I was a 20-something curvaceous female. Suddenly I was transformed. I was suddenly what could only be best-described as what our society, and media have deemed “A Hottie”, or “A Beach Babe”. (You all know how I view the human body, and how my views differ from what society has set as “The Standard”, But for sake of helping create an appropriate picture, I must use terms y’all will relate to.) Yup, Suddenly here I was with what some would call “The Perfect Body”: Long, toned legs. Plenty of Thigh-gap. Slender waist. Flat Tummy, with pierced belly button. Ample breasts, topless, except for what appears to be some Pasties on my nipples. …

Weird, Right? Maybe not. I happen to always be surrounded by “creative” people. If you’ve ever known a creative-type, You know ANYTHING is possible at any given moment, and usually when you least expect it. My friends are not just creative, they also have no shame. Which means anything goes when it comes to created any desired effect.

It would seem one friend is plenty when it comes to transforming an old-dude into a young hottie. But this one included two dear friends. As usual Andrea unwittingly played a major part in this. And of course 
Facebook is totally a major player in all this.

I will try to keep all this in order, so hopefully it makes sense (although likely ‘making sense’ is the furthest thing that could come from all this).
My Friend Mike and his wife Jamie are jewely makers at their studio called Dobez DesignsZ. They are located in Downtown Las Vegas inside TheEmergency Arts Building. Everything Unique coexists within this Arts Center. Also in This Building is The Burlesque Hall of Fame. Burlesque performers happen to be a regular-type-of people in these halls. One such performer/ producer is HauteCouture.  Also in this building is My Friend Andrea, who runs a Day-spa/ Facial/ Massage/ Mani-Pedi nail-salon/ VictorianCuriosity shoppe upstairs called Feetish Spa. At the entrance is The Beat Coffee Shop. Along with dozens of other unique services, shops, boutiques, and artist work-spaces is the fun circle of inter-action that seems to just happen between each of the otherwise uniquely-different occupants.

How does all this tie together?
(see? Told ya my life is weird… hang in there, you will see soon enough)

Ok, So earlier this week, Burlesque performer Haute Couture posted to Mike’s Wall a reference to Old-time(She called them “vintage”) Burlesque performers seeming to always wear metal pasties, and requesting Mike and Jamie’s services in fashioning some for her. Mike eagerly grabbed that one!
Yesterday Mike posted a photo of the first proto-type Metal Pastie, which would be used for “sizing”.
Shortly after Mike posted the photo of the New Metal Pastie, Andrea Posted a photo of magnetic business cards.

She Seemed to have ordered these at some point, and now they were here. So, naturally she hits it up on Facebook and Instagram to get the word out asking if anyone would want one of these magnetic advertising gems. Of course plenty immediately want them, hello! Well, I chimed-in, and mentioned in a comment that Mike could place one of these on each metal pastie he sells. Talk about getting attention for both businesses!

A little later in the morning, the comments and discussion below the post from Haute Couture and her request for the metal pasties took off with quite a few chiming-in. My Mind happens to jump from track to track, usually taking the train I was riding on one track, and jumping the rails, taking all who also were on that train along with my derailed thoughts. Yesterday was fast becoming The Hottest day in Vegas so far this year. The topic of Metal Pasties was live, and My mind immediately went to the thought of metal pasties in The Desert Sunshine.
Here is the back-and forth that followed:
Me: ” I recommend NOT wearing metal pasties in Full sunlight. Just my opinion... Do as you wish.
Mike:  Jon? This sounds more like experience than opinion?
Me:Mmmmm-maybe. I guess unless someone finds the photo-proof, then I can claim otherwise? 
Mike: “ I'm on it!
The above was done at 1:46 pm. I knew it would not be long before Mike had come up with something… I went about getting my things together for my afternoon adventure.
At 2:22, an alert popped up on my phone’s screen. It said “Facebook”: Mike Mentioned you in a comment: ‘Jon....Explain?’ “. Well, that was all that showed up on the lock-screen. No picture, nothing else to go with. I decided this was probably more urgent than getting into the shower I was about to do. I opened the Facebook post, and saw this photo below Mike’s asking me to explain.

View it on Facebook:
I Immediately took a screenshot just to be sure it did not disappear. Then I properly opened the photo, saved it to my phone, and reposted it to my own wall, tagged myself, and gave Mike Full credit.
Then I proceeded to go shower as I was originally planning. But for some odd reason, I found I soaped my chest a bit more observantly….

Just remember: When you have Creatives all around you, Be prepared for ANYTHING to happen!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Grand Escape

A Grand Escape

Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Lodge

I recently had the opportunity to escape to The Grand Canyon.

I live in Las Vegas. The Grand Canyon is about a four-hour drive from here. That would not seem like it is so far that one would not regularly just drive there… Except I have chosen to live a lifestyle that does not include a vehicle. (That life-style-choice is a completely separate story, and an entire blog in itself… which I may write one day.) So, Someplace that is a four-hour drive is not such a quick get-away on foot.

I work at The Airport, McCarran international Airport in Las Vegas, to be exact (LAS). This airport is huge, and has so many airlines coming and going from all over the world. I actually work for Servisair, but am contracted to work for WestJet Airline. Servisair handles WestJet among many other airlines. One of those other airlines is Vision Airlines. Vision is a seasonal operation, so when it resumed service in June of this year, I was curious what it was. I had not yet seen one of these planes, just heard the chatter on our work radios. I asked one of my managers about it one day, and she informed me it flew daily charters to The Grand Canyon, as a day-trip. I naturally assumed that any plane flying to The Grand Canyon must be a little plane (as I call them “Puddle-jumpers”).  When I mentioned this, my boss said “Oh, no! They run a 737!” This caught my attention. After a little more curiosity, I was informed that as an employee we got special deals. She told me the price, and I was amazed. (The perk and price are amazing! I will not post publicly what these are, but if any wish to privately inquire, I might disclose it.) This was a Wed Evening as I was leaving work. She told me which manager to inquire about booking a trip with.  I knew this was a great opportunity, and wanted to jump on it!

Friday Morning I was onboard the Vision Air to The Grand Canyon.

To say I was flying blind was literal. Usually, any trip I take anywhere, I do my homework, know what is totally involved, and am not just going without knowing. I decided to make this a true adventure,  and just show up, pay my minimal fee, board the plane and be surprised.

I did do a quick Google-search of “Grand Canyon Airport/ Vision Air” just to know the three-letter code for where I would be landing. (GCN) Beyond that, I did not look up any details about Vision, or the tour. I wanted to be surprised. And I was! Pleasantly, too!

Most of my friends expect to be surprised by my daily adventures, and the things I discover, see, and post about. Often, I will tell a little bit of my plans in advance, and even post as it is happening. This time, other than a few close friends I saw on my way out of work Thursday evening, I told no one, and made it a guessing-game online as to where I would end-up on my Friday Adventure. I decided to utilize Snapchat, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, and Tumblr. I started posting clues Thursday evening (requesting  those few who knew swear to keep quiet… a major feat in itself!) I continued with the clues beginning Bright and early Friday Morning.  Here are a few of the clues:
I posted that I would find freedom,
But likely would not see this.
I Posted that where I was going,
there most defintely would be a breeze,
but likely would not see an Ocean.
I First posted that my Adventure would include an Airplane. I posted a photo of the current weather at 4:31 am, (Blacking out the location) and it was 34 degrees at that time (farenheit), but would get up near 90 degrees.
Here are a couple of the other clues.

I knew I boarded the plane, still having no idea what to expect, at 9:15 am. I arrived bright and early, so I could use the time to get coffee, breakfast, and explore parts of the airport I had not yet previously seen. Turns out, I arrived just as the agents were opening the check-in counter. I was first to check-in! I also was thrilled to find out it was open-seating, so we each could choose the seat we desired. Yay! Window with a view, please!
Vision Airlines

Here is the plane we will be flying on. Not at all tiny! Turns out it is a 737-300, which seats about 120. Our flight this day would only have 43. (Which is another reason they offer the perk to employees, so they can help fill-the empty seats.) Most of the people on the flight are tour-groups, and this is part of their Vegas Tour package they previously purchased. 

The flight from LAS to GCN is a short 30-minute flight. We flew at 17,000 feet, for two reasons: First, the length of the trip does not allow a much-higher cruising altitude. And Second: Since this is a sight-seeing tour, we get great views during the flight. Upon Boarding, The Flight attendants told me which side I might see Hoover Dam from. I took their advice. I have been to Hoover Dam many times in my life, but never before seen it from the air. I was excited to get this chance! Sure Enough, not long after we left Vegas, I could see Boulder City, and Lake Mead in the distance.
Boulder City and Lake Mead

As we flew closer, I totally could see Hoover Dam and the Bypass Bridge! It was not easy to zoom-in, and also get a clear shot while cruising past at nearly 200pmh and from 17,000 feet, but I managed to get some good ones!
Hoover Dam

It was not long after we passed the far-reaches of the many fingers of Lake Mead that we could see the West and Southern end of The Grand Canyon. … But this view we glimpsed as we came low to land was nothing compared to what awaited our tour. In moments we were approaching The Grand Canyon National Park Airport.
I was quite excited to see all the trees just feet below us! (Since moving to Vegas, I have missed terribly the green of trees all over the landscape.) The approach and landing were quite fast, since unlike a city-airport, there is not miles of concrete jungle before the airport. It is a tiny airport, with The Tiny Main Terminal resembling a mountain lodge, A-frame-style that is a fitting match to the wilderness. After a short taxi, we pulled alongside the terminal. Awaiting our arrival was The Grand Canyon Airport Fire Department. Turns out they are the Ramp Crew, too! They stood ramp-side, with their fingers in their ears as earplugs, until our plane’s jets were shut off.
GCN Main Terminal...
If you look, those Three Men Are the Fire Dept...
And two of the three have their fingers in their ears.
This is The Main Terminal at GCN

I found this quite comical, but also befitting for the small-operation of this airport. As soon as the jets were silenced, they drove the stair-truck planeside for us to deplane. Ahh… The Wonderful smell and feel of the fresh air! The Fire Department was also playing the role of official “Welcome and Greet” committee.

They hurried us inside The Terminal, But I of course stopped to get a couple of pictures!
Grand Canyon Nat'l Park, Main Terminal

Once inside the Main Building, we each were told to grab a wonderful sack-lunch (Included in the tour package), a bottle of water, then scurried quickly onto our awaiting tour bus.

As soon as we were onboard the bus, we were off on the next portion of the tour. The driver introduced himself, and gave a bit of his background, and also introduced his co-tour-guide. The driver lives at The Grand Canyon, and has driven tour busses there for 39 years. He has an incredible charm, and gentle spirit.  The Lady he introduced as his co-tour-guide is the Japanese guide, since most of the people on these tours are from Japan. They have worked together on this tour for ten years, he giving his stories in English (plus assorted other phrases he’s learned in other languages just for humor), She giving her stories in Japanese, and occasionally a bit of English. As far as tour guides goes, this pair is fantastic!  

The bus is a very nice tour bus, with each seat a bit more elevated than the one in front, so each person has views forward and out the side windows. As we drive toward The Grand Canyon official Entrance, we are informed of the history, the culture, the wildlife, and our expected itinerary.

Just outside of The Airport, we pass through the little town of Tusayan. This li’l town seems to have everything  you might expect. General Store, Two Steak Houses with Saloons, Hotels, Motels, Trading Post, a movie-theater, … Even had a McDonald’s and a Wendy’s! (The tour driver says this is the Second-most-expensive McDonald’s in The U.S.!)

Not far beyond the town of Tusayan, is the main entrance to The Park.
Shortly after entering The Park, we arrive at our first destination. This is Mather Point, and Grand Canyon Visitor Center. We are told we have exactly one hour before the bus departs. We Are told of the many options for how to enjoy our time, but would have to choose which we preferred as there was not time enough to enjoy all that was available here. Of course, The Canyon and Views were a Major feature! Other features included nature centers, Information areas, Book and Gift stores, Cafes (which according to the Driver has Excellent Fresh Berry Smoothies), and many other attractions.

My Phone had already died, and knowing I needed to keep track of time, I dug my watch out of my pack. (It was in my pack, because I had recently broken the band, and had not repaired it, but still had it with me. I stuffed it in my pocket, and headed out to explore.

Many of the tour-group decided to venture toward the village, and informative centers, restrooms, etc first. I decided to head to The Views first. I had been to The Grand Canyon long long ago, but this was my first visit in ages, and I wanted to take in as much as possible on this quick trip. I was a bit surprised how crowded the rim trails were, but quickly understood how they were so crowded. Long ago when I visited, the trails were narrow, rough, and considered a hike to even view The Canyon. Recent improvements had made the area complete accessible to all. The trails were now like roads. Wide, concrete, evenly graded, so anyone in any shape, any age, or using any sort of mobility aid was able to access the same places. I absolutely love that this is accessible to anyone. Suddenly this Wilderness area was a confusion of wheeled devices. A Lot of Them, too! (Where did all these come from?) There were thousands of things on wheels everywhere along the “trails”. It was quite surprising to see so many electric scooters, wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles, wagons, and Segways along the Rim of The Grand Canyon. I would later discover there were shops nearby that rented everything on wheels you could imagine for the tourists to use on these paths. I did find it amusing, but chose to not let that slow me down from enjoying what I came for.

After a bit of jockeying around parked wheeled devices, I found my way to the Rim.
First Canyon View

Ahhh! Soo Magnificent! So Much to enjoy, ponder, and take-in.
Just like all the thousands of others who were there to do the same thing. I definitely felt like I was just part of “What everyone else is doing”, instead of getting the chance to be part of the place, feel its energy, understand its balance in the world. I decided to venture a bit further down the rim trail, away from where the hordes were. Knowing I still had limited time for exploring.
Grand Canyon at Mather Point

I did find some views that were not so crowded, and where I felt I could feel the energy of the land, not just of the people. I got some fun pictures, watched some of the life far far below, enjoyed the feel of the natural spirit. I sat on a rock where I could feel its energy, and wondered how much that rock could tell that it has seen over the centuries.

After a short time, I decided I should head toward the bus, and if time allowed, venture to some of the informative centers nearer the bus. I managed to have about 15-minutes left. I toured some of the information places, the bookstore, and decided to hit the Restroom before getting back on the bus. I tucked my watch back into my pocket, and joined the long line for the Men’s Room. I noticed everyone was waiting for the urinals, but nobody was using to toilets. I went around the line, and to the toilets.
Damn toilet took my watch...

As I buttoned-up, the toilet auto-flushed, and right then my watch decided to leap out of my pocket … ~Splash~! Right into the flushing toilet! I thought: No big deal, it’s water proof, and toilet is already flushing. I could just grab it out, wash it off in the sink, and be all good. Nope! In that split-second, the toilet totally swallowed my watch! Most toilets would not flush even a simple object, and most have trouble with toilet paper… But this one, flushed my watch completely, without hesitation. That made me laugh, so I took a picture of the toilet… and laughed again.
(Probably The Only time I would take a picture, and post it on a blog about The grand Canyon!... especially of an ugly, dirty toilet!)

I went back to the bus, just on time! I usually have an excellent sense of time, so figured I would not need my watch, and would be ok. But then I thought about how distracted I get while lost in nature, and knew the next stop would be easier to lose track of time… I wondered how I would figure this out. On the short drive to the next stop, I remembered my Camera also has a clock on it. That'll do!

We drove to the next stop, which was Bright Angel Lodge.
Here we were also given many options, but mostly on the Rim-side of the Lodge for exploring. Here were magnificent views, historical lodges, huts, and other historical buildings. Also there were many gift shops, bars, ice cream parlour, and cafes. There was an art gallery on the edge of a cliff, plus a grand lodge just up the hill to another view point. This was also the place where The Mules were that gave the Mule Tours down into The Canyon. Not mentioned by The Driver, but noticed by me was the Grand Canyon Railroad was located here. I decided to take in as much of all the areas as I could manage in the allowed hour. I Noticed most people head to the shops, and cafes first, waiting in lines to get what they wanted. I found a door out the back that quickly led me beyond the buildings (which are gorgeous, and have quite an authentic history you can feel as you pass through) directly to The Rim.
Grand Canyon, Bright Angel Lodge

Once on The Rim At Bright Angel, It was Amazing!
This area was definitely not catering to all those with wheeled devices. It was still open, and graded, but also had steep hills, and open drop-offs everywhere. Definitely more in-touch with the natural side of The Canyon. Of course I felt the natural energy here, plus the history. But I actually was more enthralled with the giant Squirrels everywhere! And The Condors, too!
Condor inFlight
Hard to Capture these Condors In Flight!
I got many just gliding above, but I LOVE This One
with the Canyon in the background!

After a bit on The Rim, I decided to go explore The Railroad and The Mules. I was soo happy to be allowed on The Train Tracks, and touch the Locomotive, too! (In Vegas, if you even step on the gravel near the tracks, they will arrest you and charge you with criminal trespass, so I have been wanting some Real Train-track time!) This was not just any old railroad, It was The Grand Canyon Railroad!
Walkin' The rails, with Grand Canyon Railroad!

Not only did I play here, so did many others, too! (Including My Ducks!)

After the RailRoad, I went to check out The Mules. 
Ducky and Grand Canyon Burros

I wanted to get pictures with them (Of course!) and show people I was showing My Ass in The Grand Canyon … Seems The Mules wanted to show more than their Ass …
Gettin' Frisky...

I had to laugh that as soon as I showed up, they got … Well, very Frisky! … Yup, I took pictures. How many people can say they saw THIS at The Grand Canyon?

After The Mules, I crossed the tracks again, and hiked up to The Lodges one more time. I felt the time was close that I should be back at the bus. Turned out I still had ten more minutes! I explored some more of The Rim, and enjoyed as much of this sight as I could, before leaving.
Life is GoodGrand Canyon, Bright Angel Lodge

Once on the bus, we were driven through the Workers’ cabins.
Employee Cabins

(Thousands of seasonal workers come every year, and they only pay $60 a month for rent in these cabins.)

Then after a short drive, we were back at The Airport to board our flight back to Vegas.  I was one of the first through the TSA screening, so had a few extra minutes out by The Plane to enjoy.

I asked the Fire Department if I could take pictures with My Duck, and their Engine. They’d never had anyone ask that before, but after a brief discussion, they decided it would be ok.  (None of the firemen wanted to be in the picture.)
Ducky at Grand Canyon Airport Fire Department

Then I took a few more pictures outside The Vision Aircraft, and boarded the plane.
Scenic AirlinesDucky and Vision Airlines

 Once everyone was thru security, we were ready to head home. The flight crew informed us that it would be very turbulent on the return trip, and we would be flying at 22,000 feet to avoid some of that, making our views less spectacular.

I already had noticed how my internal compass was a bit-off during this adventure, and also knew I was approaching the level of unstable in the seizure area. But I figured I would be fine for another half-hour of flight. I usually do excellent at knowing exactly where I am, and also which direction is which. I think due to the nature of not looking up all the travel details, plus the fact that it was such a short flight, kinda messed-up my internal map/ compass. Even the takeoff from GCN was quite turbulent, and I wondered how this would fare for the rest of the flight. Usually if I am approaching seizure state of mind, I just need to stop what is affecting me. Well, that is normally simple… Unless I happen to be in an airplane at 22,000 feet.

Sound, movement, and light are what can set-off a seizure in me. Most of the seizure is neurological. So usually I just need to focus on something that will distract my brain from allowing the activity to continue. I took my earmuffs out of my pack to eliminate the sound, and that helped a little. I could close the window shade, but it turned out the view out the window was not affecting me. It was the uncontrollable movement in the turbulent flight. I knew I had to make it back to Vegas without a seizure, or I would cause a panic on the plane, and also cause emergency response to greet us upon landing. It was mental chore I do not wish to repeat. I made it. Even during the all-too-close onset of a seizure, I still found as much as possible to enjoy and see on the flight.
Lake Mead

Seeing Vegas from the air is an entirely new experience, and I wanted to take in as much as possible.
Welcome to Vegas

I even was thrilled that I saw the tail of a WestJet on the ground, just before we arrived at out gate.

You might ask why I would include the part about the seizure in my writing. Well, good, or bad, it is part of the adventure. Every adventure will have some good, and some bad. I have learned to embrace what the adventure holds, not just gloss over and pretend it is only all-good.  I find that even the bumps in the road (or flight in this case) are part of the journey. If I only focused on the great stuff, I would easily allow myself to forget that there is more to a journey than just the great. By including the bumpy parts, I am reminded that we must always find positive in the bumpy parts.  I also do not totally remove those bumps, because I never want someone else to venture into some trip thinking it will be totally good. I want anyone who goes on an adventure to understand that they should expect a few bumps, to find to joy that awaits. If I ever mislead anyone into thinking there would be no bumps, and they get discouraged  at the first bump, I have not helped prepare them.

This trip was Absolutely Amazing, Spectacular, and Wonderful! Would I do it again? Without a doubt, Yes!
(But I may have to wait a few months for my scrambled brain to re-settle, and gain solid footing again before I do). Another thing this showed me was how easily I could still succumb to seizures if I am not careful. It has been many years, and I had forgotten how fragile I am at times. Sometimes even super-heroes need to be reminded.

I have told many how ABSOLUTELY AMAZING This Adventure and Escape is. That is The total Truth. The title of this blog is “A Grand Escape”. It is very fitting. I managed to have One Of The Best Escapes I’ve Ever had on a day off. It was more than I could have expected, and will be easily One Of My Favorite Adventures!

I Hope You find A Grand Escape in your near future.

A Footnote: I included a few photos of this adventure in this blog. If you would like to see the entire set, I have them in My Flickr page. They are all here:
I Hiked The Grand Canyon