CityCenter Las Vegas time lapse video

After more than three years of construction, and an estimated $8.5-billion budget, CityCenter — Las Vegas’s newest money pit — opened for business yesterday. Three years isn’t that long, really, when you consider the size of the Strip’s largest project to date. At nearly 17-million square feet spread across 76 acres, this city-within-a-city boasts thousands upon thousands of rooms spread across nearly a half-dozen hotels, multiple casinos, countless restaurants, entertainment and retail districts, residential condos, and the Strip’s first grocery store.

And now you can watch it all come together in the Las Vegas Sun’s timlepase video above. They make it seem so easy!

Gadling Gear Review: Eagle Creek Thrive 65L

I’m a long-time fan of Eagle Creek. I’ve raved in the past about their superior customer service skills, but my love for the company doesn’t end there. Most importantly, they create impressive, well-thought-out backpacks for the independent traveler. I can’t imagine traveling with anything else.

The Eagle Creek Voyage 65L was my first pack from the company. It’s a rugged, durable, innovative bag that has lasted me many years and proven itself invaluable for nearly every one of my trips to various parts of the world.

So when Eagle Creek announced an update to their Voyage series with the new Thrive model earlier this year, I knew I had to give it a go.

The Thrive 65L — the updated model in the 65-liter size — looks very similar to my older Voyage. It still offers many of the features that made me fall in love with its predecessor: a modular, removable day pack, front-loading panels, multiple grab handles, and numerous external and internal pockets. But many new features and upgrades lurk inside of this nifty pack.

The most noticeable upgrade is its Zip-away X-ACT Suspension. Like the Voyage, the hip belts and shoulder straps can be zipped away to give more of a duffel bag appearance. But the new suspension system becomes truly invaluable when you place the fully-loaded pack on your back. Various bits of mesh-covered foam keep the main load away from your back, creating a refreshing flow of air between the pack and your tired traveler torso. That’s right — no more sweaty backs! The shoulder straps are even more ergonomic than the previous version, and each is adjustable at numerous points throughout the system.

Perhaps my only complaint with the new suspension system in comparison to the old is the rigidness of the hip belts. The Voyage series hip belts were much more pliable, which made it easy to tuck away behind your back when they’re not needed. (Ever walked down an airplane aisle with the hip belts unstrapped, slapping the faces of seated aisle passengers on your way to the back? Not fun.) The new hip belts are much too rigid to comfortably place behind your back. However, with a fully-loaded pack, the Thrive does a much better job at supporting your lower back with its rigid belt — so not all is lost.

The removable day pack has proven to be my favorite feature of every Eagle Creek pack I’ve owned. The Thrive offers many small upgrades this unit, making it not only a great addition to the entire system as a whole, but also a stellar 2-3 day pack on its own. A secret compartment near the top of the back, directly behind the upper grab handle, holds all of the smaller valuables that you want hidden away, like a passport, plane tickets, keys (it has a handy latch for those), mobile phone, cash, and even your mp3 player. A handy headphone port completes the secret compartment, allowing you to run the phones conveniently up to your ears without having to remove the device.

One of the few negative upgrades to the daypack are its shoulder straps: you can no longer unhook them for easy storage in the back pocket, which is strange because they still include the pocket. Folding away the shoulder straps without being able to unhook them ends up making the day pack bulkier than necessary. The main, front compartment of the pack is large enough to fit my Macbook Pro along with 2-3 days worth of clothes. Unlike the third compartment on the older Voyage, the Thrive has a a much larger third pocket for easy access to any other small items you might want to take out on your day trip.

On to the main pack itself: Wow, this thing is huge — but not too huge. I normally pack no more than 5-6 days worth of supplies for trips lasting at least as long as that, and the 65L offers more than enough room to fit that, and any souvenirs I decide to hide away for friends back home. The front-loading panel means I can grab something from the bottom of the pack without removing everything on top of it — a necessary feature for every hostel-goer who is in and out of his or her pack numerous times a day, but still wants to use it as a locker of sorts. Pair it with some packing cubes as I’ve done, and you’ll end up like me: more organized on the road than you are at home.

Another invaluable upgrade to the 65L line is the built-in rain cover. I purchased a detached rain cover for my older Voyage, but that was a pain to keep track of and stuff away when it was wet. The Thrive’s rain cover unrolls from the bottom of the pack to cover itself, and easily stuffs back away into its own compartment when you’re done.

Eagle Creek has also put a lot of thought into security with their newer line of backpacks. Each and every zipper offers a lash point which allows you to zip together the openers and run each through a grommet so a security lock can be attached. If you’re hauling around a lot of expensive gear like I usually am, this is invaluable. It won’t help fend off that jerk with a pocket knife who plans on slicing through the material to snatch your booty, but it’ll keep crowded-market hands away. You’re no longer the easy target.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the upgrade. Eagle Creek continues to prove to be one of the best choices for the independent backpacker, and I can’t imagine running across a more well-thought out, quality backpack in the near future.

Thrive 65L – Eagle Creek. MSRP $200.00.

Talking Travel with Tim Ferriss (again) about his new TV show: Trial By Fire

Tim Ferriss has come a long way since we first interviewed him a year and a half ago. His book, The Four Hour Work Week, was released in the wild where it quickly rocketed to the top of all the Best Seller lists. So we weren’t too surprised when we learned of his new TV show, Trial by Fire, debuting tonight on the History Channel. I sat down with Tim for a quick chat about the show:

JUSTIN: Give me the quick run down on your new show: Trial by Fire.

TIM: The concept is simple: each week I attempt to master a complex skill — something that would usually take 10+ years — in one week. It debuts today, Thursday, December 4, at 11pm PT/ET on History Channel (check to double-check local times).

I have access to the world’s best teachers to “hack” the learning curve with both traditional and experimental approaches. I then have a final “trial by fire”, when I risk life and limb to see the results of all the training in a real-world test. It’s a fun 60-minute show filmed in HD with some of the best TV folks out there; lots of humor and also hardcore training and accelerated learning techniques. People will be able to apply a lot of each show to mastering any skill in their own lives.

J: Did you personally select the skill to challenge in the pilot episode? If so, what made you want to try yabusame?

TIM: Among other things, I pitched the show concept, developed the name, and picked the first challenge: yabusame, or Japanese horseback archery. I lived in Japan for a year in high school, and once you see yabusame, you’re hooked. I’d always wanted to experience it, and this particular samurai sport is a winner-takes-all endeavor. Full gallop, no hands, no safety gear, and you land on poles and get trampled if you fall. If you’re going to film a pilot, you have to make it worth watching, right? There is no simulated danger — it’s the real deal and it’s obvious when you watch. Few non-Japanese have even seen it, and it’s a national event twice a year when riders run the gauntlet. Definitely worth checking out.

J: What are some other challenges you’d want to try if the show is picked up?

TIM: There are a ton, as this is basically what I spend my time doing anyway. Setting new landspeed world records, pulling off museum heists, free diving with Great White sharks, etc.. The list is huge, all of them will be ridiculously difficult, and I will definitely crash and burn more than once. That’s part of the thrill and challenge, I think. If I don’t fail on occasion, I’m obviously not pushing the envelope enough.

Trailer for Tim’s new show, Trial By Fire

J: How does giving yourself a challenge like this help you learn more about a place and its people?

TIM: It forces you to be aware in the present tense. In other words, it’s impossible to do what we most often do: travel in body while our mind remains preoccupied with something back home. Training for an all-or-nothing test is beautifully simple: No e-mail, no internet cafes, no traveling around the world just to IM with friends back home — 100% training with natives 24/7 or you get hurt. I like that. It’s a return to basics. A week of full-time training is like a two-month vacation; you come back refreshed and will a better radar for minutiae. As in Fight Club: the volume on everything else gets turned down. This is true whether it’s a physical task like rock climbing or a mental task like learning to calculate like a human computer. The singular focus allows you to connect with people and culture without distraction.

J: Do you think the concept of your show can be practiced among regular travelers as a way to learn more about a place and its people?

TIM: Absolutely. Use pursuit of one skill as a vehicle for connecting with the people — or a sub-culture — of a foreign culture. Argentina? Try tango. Austria? Try chocolate making or music. It could be anything. There are world-class performers everywhere. Get curious again. Rediscover that childhood desire to explore and learn new things. People will help you, and it’s easily the fastest method for learning foreign languages. 3-4 months is all you need for conversational fluency non-tonal languages.

It’s possible to become world-class in many things in relatively short periods of time. It just requires a high density of practice over those short periods. Even 1-2 weeks can be enough to become better than 90% of the world’s population at a cool skill, a skill you can retain for the rest of your life. All it takes is mindful deconstruction and a brief but intense singular focus.

J: Thanks for your time, Tim!


Trial by Fire will air 11pm ET/PT this Thursday (tonight) on History Channel. For more show information, and a live video Q&A post-broadcast, visit

Bagball: a smelly traveler’s best friend?

While flipping through the latest issue of Time Out: Chicago, I noticed a small blurb on the Bagball: a little sphere you place in your gym bag that releases flavored fumes to combat sweaty-smelling clothing.

The product targets three demographics: 1) the aforementioned gym monkeys, 2) hunters (to help mask your human smell from the animals — yikes) and 3) your house. Oddly enough, they’re missing out on a huge core group, one where smelly clothes in overstuffed bags are the norm: travelers.

How great would it be to have one of thee little balls floating around your backpack? If I had a dime for every time I pulled a wrinkly shirt out of my pack only to sniff it and dry heave (while still putting it on, of course), I could afford at least three or four loads of overpriced loads of hostel laundry.

While daydreaming of the wonders of having fresh smelling travel clothes, I realized that I could probably come up with something cheaper, and more portable, to keep me smelling fresh on the road. For instance, a few dryer sheets floating around my bag would probably do the trick, and take up a lot less space to boot.

But if you’re interested in giving the Bagball a go on your next trip, they can be had from their website for $7.99 a pop.

German tour bus catches fire, 20 feared dead

Up to 20 people are feared dead after a tourist bus caught fire near Hannover, Germany today. It was headed for Berlin. Reuters reports,

“The bus caught fire near the northern city of Hanover as it headed toward Berlin, forcing the driver to pull over. Some passengers were not able to get off in time but about 10 people escaped, a police spokesman said.”

Some reports are claiming “it was not a traffic accident but a technical fault that had started the fire,” according to The Australian.

Meanwhile, Twitter is abuzz with reaction amidst the U.S. election coverage.

We’ll bring you more news as we hear it.