Another Dam Mistake

Can we? Can't we?
Can we? Can’t we?

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.

Lake Mead NV
Lake Mead NV

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?”

Hoover Dam - too big to fit in my wide angle lens!
Hoover Dam – too big to fit in my wide angle lens!

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.

Hover cursor to read captions or click to enlarge:

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:

Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge - photo taken from Hoover dam
Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge – photo taken from Hoover dam. Old road visible below – waaaay down there!

22 thoughts on “Another Dam Mistake

    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. It was fine once we were sure we could drive across the dam. Quite exciting really, towing our trailer over Hoover Dam. I wish I could have jumped off and caught a photo as himself drove across but the road was narrow and busy and I would have had a job to catch him up on foot!

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    1. I saw the viewing platform as we towed the trailer over the bridge and when we drove back to the dam in the truck for a visit but it was SO hot when we were there in August that we just didn’t make it that far. Now we’ll have to go back again!! Unless you want to pop over there and take some pictures and post them.

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        1. I guess it needs a URL. That might be more trouble than it’s worth. It would be easier to attach to an email but then no one else could see it! I think we had this discussion about your garden photos. Hmm. Maybe some techie person will read this and tell us how to do it.

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    1. The road goes over the new bridge now. Apparently the dam is no longer open to through traffic but it is easy to drive to and visit. You’d better check up your routes if you are heading that way.
      My map? Poor Nebraska.

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  1. Sounds like me and my husband. We were supposed to be driving north to Scotland when he turned left to the south. I told him we were heading away but he refused to agree. So we kept on driving until we got to a town on the map where I pointed out we had no reason to be as it was SOUTH! Gritted teeth. Eventually we turned around and headed NORTH, considerably delayed as we were driving from north of Manchester to the far north-east of Scotland!

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