That's A Big Damn Dam.
“Good morning Clementine!”
Flagstaff was probably our best stop on the trip yet… The morning after our gig we woke up to warm sunshine on our faces, peeking through a crack in the curtains. Kasey and I hopped out of the van to take a look at our surroundings, and we were hedged in by tall, strong, and beautiful coniferous trees! Aspens, Junipers and Ponderosa Pines. It was a nice feeling – like we were getting close to home again. We hadn’t seen proper trees since Louisiana, and we hadn’t seen conifers since… Well… Kentucky? We can’t even remember. It’s amazing how quickly we get used to our surroundings, and how little signs of home can mean so much.
We repeated this for a couple days – wake up in paradise, make breakfast, busk for happy people, happy people buy us beer, and then we’d return to Clementine to sleep then repeat. Flagstaff was real cool, it felt like home, and with all the great people we met we didn’t want to leave. (Not to mention the good coffee and the great craft beer… Check out Funkwerks Brewery and Flag Brewery!)
But, alas, all good things come to an end, and we had more places to see in the US.
We tried to leave on Monday, February 31st, but Clementine was having a temper tantrum. She didn’t want to leave either, so we pulled into a Home Depot parking lot and decided to try again the next day. We were lucky – the next day Clementine fired right up and took us all the way to Las Vegas.
[I know what you’re thinking – “You missed the Grand Canyon!?” – Yeah, we did. We saw a bit of it, but we didn’t get up to Grand Canyon National Park. That’ll be next trip, for which we will be writing another blog.]
We hung out with some mallards for an hour or so at Willow Beach, just East of the Hoover Dam. It was a beautiful, serene spot along the Colorado river, and pretty soon we were surrounded by coots, ducks, and geese of all types… Not a bad place to spend the winter if you ask me.
Kasey at Willow Beach, on the Colorado River.
From Left to Right; Daisy, Dirk, and Dip.
We crossed the Mike O’Callaghan - Pat Tillman Bridge shortly thereafter, barely noticing that we were crossing the Colorado River. We had no idea we were hundreds of feet above the massive Hoover Dam. This bridge is massive, and was only finished in 2010, and totally bypasses the original road that went across the dam. This came as a big shock to Kasey who saw the bridge when she was younger, and got to cross the dam itself.
Photo of Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Bridge courtesy of http://sellwoodbridge.blogspot.com/
The bridge was named for two national heroes here in the USA, Mike O’Callaghan and Pat Tillman. Mike O’Callaghan, a cancer survivor and Korean War veteran, was a politician, philanthropist, and the governor of Nevada from 1971 to 1979. Pat Tillman was a safety for the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL. He then joined the US Army in 2002, after 9/11 happened. He was killed in service in the mountains of Afghanistan by what turned out to be friendly fire. He was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.
The Hoover Dam is a massive power generating station downriver of the Grand Canyon, on the Colorado River. It’s truly a spectacular site. It houses 17 generators, and produces over 4 Billion Kilowatt Hours annually. Though it powers thousands and thousands of houses, I found myself wondering what the mighty Colorado River would look like unblemished by this massive concrete avatar of our society. Aside from the +/- $165 Million it took to build, what was really the cost of installing this beast?
The Hoover Dam. Notice above the dam the water level change - that has to do with over a dozen years of drought, and the massive pull from the colorado river by 7 West-American States. A water crisis in states like Arizona, Nevada and even California may not be far away…
Next it was through Boulder, NV, and onto Vegas. It was a fairly uneventful drive, until we arrived in Vegas. I had never seen anything like it… Well, I have. I’ve seen casinos, and them parks… But I haven’t ever seen anything so large, and on such a huge scale. Everything from the imposing pyramid of the Luxor, to the giant MGM Grand, to the thundering fountains in front of the Bellagio. I didn’t even have to gamble - my neck was craning left and right to see everything I could. Kasey on the other hand…
My little slot queen…
Thus began our extended stay in Vegas… We didn’t know what we were going to do. Where could we busk? A number of people had warned us to stay off the bridges across the strip due to some sketchy individuals - and if you know us, well… We’re very passive people. VERY quintessentially Canadian. If someone took a buck from our case, we’d probably say something like “Oh geeze Kasey… I guess he probably needed it more than us.”
Luckily, that didn’t have to happen. We walked around for the first day and explored - and even found the Secret Pizza stop upstairs in the Cosmopolitan. The pizza here was great, and the dudes making it were super cool - our kinda people. The rest of the people, shops and even slot machines in the Cosmopolitan, weren’t anywhere near our type of people.
What are ’our kinda people’?
People that smile without a word, people that love to share - stories, food, friends, people that’ll have a conversation, people not interested in the latest Miley Cyrus story, and people that enjoy music - doesn’t matter what - just music.
Secret Pizza entrance!
We packed it in and rolled on over to our new home for the week… The Orleans Casino Parking Lot. (Home of the Las Vegas Wranglers!)
Next Issue: Vegas - There’s No Place Like Home, There’s No Place Like…