The route South East from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Kingman, Arizona, took me directly through Boulder City, a town established entirely to build Hoover Dam. Still in ‘road trip‘ mode, with or without Dee, I took the exit to Hoover Dam and stood in line for the ‘quick tour‘, as opposed to the ‘two-hour tour‘. I wasn’t sure I was ready to excite my claustrophobia nor vertigo genes to suffer through a two-hour tour after a one hour wait.
The first thing you notice about Hoover Dam and the visitor center is that everything is salmon pink, concrete beige and copper-red. Instant camouflage in this sea of coordinated rose tine and neutrals. The architecture all looks 1930s ‘Lloyd Wright‘; flat, crisp and linear with terraced right angles, beveled corners, solid “I” beam girder shapes, parallel poles with intermittent concentric circles and soft round shapes to break the masculine monotony. (Or should that be spelt “man-otony“?) Smooth, clean and bone dry as a John Wayne comment. And then, as if to be deliberately obtuse with the Tillman Bridge as backdrop, tilting electric pylons cutting forth at a 45˚ angle.
What you discern from the tour is mostly power. Power of the force of heavy bodies of immense water, power of the huge turbines that provide the electricity, the back-breaking power of the countless men that toiled to build it and the power of a government determined to turn the tides of the depression years and bring water to a thirsty and still thriving Nevada, California and Arizona. All of whom would be economic pale pastiches of their boom years without this colossus achievement. An engineering marvel spoken with daily pride by park rangers and retired volunteers alike.
Despite the concern for security, vehicular traffic is still allows to traverse the dam from Nevada over to Arizona, and then traverse right on back in a short loop; park ranger guided and steered, but never explained. A Bridge to Terabithia. Magical, fictitious and somewhat pointless, going nowhere at no time. The Tillman Bridge, a real bridge, in honor of Pat Tillman, the Tucson native killed by Iraqi war, friendly fire and covered up by a not-so-friendly-a-government, arches high across the Colorado River, the perfect vantage point to view Hoover Dam. I enquired about Tillman auto access and was cautioned that vertigo sufferers should take heed. I did. I did not. One New Mexico, hot air balloon ride is rude awakening enough for me.
Traveling alone, I sort assistance from a five group of youths for someone with photographic skills for a one off, proof-that-I-was-here-shot, hoping for skills that would avoid legs-cut-off, a beheading, or framing that would included everything, but the subject. The three foot nothing, ‘Annie Leibovitz’ volunteered by her friends resulted in a photograph of my knees, waist, the barrier wall with the slightest suggestion of a dam wall behind(!) My next attempt from a maturer couple had better results. As the cockney rhyming slang goes … “Nice legs, sham about the boat race“.
Then onwards to Kingman to arrive by mid afternoon to join my Phoenix “Gear Head”, car enthusiast, friends for a weekend of “Route 66 Fun Run” judging, an annual event of historic and classic cars. In stark contrast to the might and bulk of Hoover Dam, the desert’s most dainty; roadside Spring Wild Flowers and blooming Cacti.