What a couple of dopes we are.
“Are we going over Hoover Dam?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you see that sign?”
“Yes. Let me look at the map.” Flip, flip, flip, flip. “Oh! Yes. Oops.”
Though we only had a journey of about 150 miles from Wikieup, Arizona to Las Vegas, we’d both studied the route several times to check our approach into Sin City. Hoover Dam nestles on the border of Arizona and Nevada, as bold on the map as the Boulder Dam that it used to be. The 247 square mile mass of Lake Mead shows as a big blue splash behind the dam on the road atlas, fed by the mighty Colorado River, downstream of the Grand Canyon.
How could we miss that? But neither of us had seen it, noted it or planned for it.
“The sign said ‘no trailers’.”
“It meant no commercial trailers.”
“Are you sure? It just said ‘no trailers’.”
“Well, yes . . . no . . . . I don’t know. We’ll just keep going and see if we get turned back.”
Flip, flip, flip, flip. “A hundred and forty miles.”
“What’s a hundred and forty miles?”
“A hundred and forty miles there and back to a junction where we can then go the long way round.”
“What should we do?”
Why does he ask me these impossible questions? I’ve learned not to commit myself. Equal blame will be allocated if the journey goes all wrong. I kept quiet while he concentrated on aiming the car down the road, possibly in the wrong direction.
“There’s another sign. It definitely says ‘no trailers.’ Ah, a phone number, 1-866 . . . oh. How are you supposed to read all that at 55 mph? Now what do we do?” I asked.
It was Jimmy’s turn to be non-committal to my question, perhaps pretending it was rhetorical. We’d only just passed through the town of Kingman and the landscape was looking barren as we climbed into high desert.
We’re always climbing. The slightest puff of wind on our nose causes our car to change down into third gear. We’ve traveled “uphill’” all the way from Washington State down to Florida and back to Washington again.
“If I’m quick, I might get an internet signal. Maybe they have a website.” And they did. “Commercial trailers are prohibited to drive over Hoover Dam but recreational vehicles CAN cross the dam,” and then I did lose the signal.
“Well this is a nice surprise. We’re going to drive over Hoover Dam. I didn’t know it was here, did you?”
We’d driven hundreds of miles specifically to see the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State yet here we were about to drive right over Hoover Dam by mistake, or like the chicken crossing the road – to get to the other side, but in this case, to get to the other side of a river.
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It is a little concerning that in this late stage in our travels, with all our navigating experience that we failed notice Hoover Dam. It is so huge it contains enough concrete to construct a two-lane road from San Francisco to New York – a definite landmark.
The deep ‘V’ shape of this dam is an image familiar to both of us as it is to many people but who knew it was just 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas? We’ve probably missed more tourist destinations than we’ve seen as we hurtle around the three and a half million square miles of this country. Jimmy is an alien and I’m almost a non-native, having lived more years in Europe than the U.S., so what he never knew in the first place as a foreigner, I’ve forgotten as a repatriated ex-pat.
So, no, we didn’t know Hoover Dam was smack dab in front of us and we were going to tow our trailer right over it.
This country is so vast, that there are too many geological, technical and historical wonders spread over thousands of miles for us to be aware of every little (and big) one in our vicinity.
Anyway, I’m making excuses now for our ignorance. One would think we’d have a better system by now.
While the pleasure of seeing one of America’s great engineering marvels was still causing us to grin with our serendipity (a more pleasing word than stupidity) we drove straight into Las Vegas rush hour traffic on a main artery to the center. Memories of towing through Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, as well as the kamikaze driving styles around us raised some white knuckles in the car. I counted down the numbers to our exit to North Las Vegas where we proceeded to get lost and Jimmy became more terse.
Which is only funny when it is someone else’s husband.
We popped back three years later for the pleasure of driving over the new bridge. Disappointingly you can’t see nuthin’ as you drive across. I guess gazing at the stunning landscape while attempting to point a car across a high bridge vulnerable to cross winds is asking for trouble: