This is bat country

Dave - @7:21 pm

After Williams proved to be such an enjoyable stop, we found leaving it difficult. Not just in an emotional sense, but also in a practical sense since the ATMs in town chose our moment of departure to have some kind of apocalypse and prevent us from obtaining any money. So with four dollars to our name and about ten miles of petrol in the tank, we wouldn’t have been going anywhere if we couldn’t find a working one. Eventually, we got lucky and managed to coax one into coughing up some dough and we were on our way. Next destination: Vegas. Baby.

First stop on the way wasn’t a stop at all, but another stretch of road. Since we were travelling that way anyway, we decided to head off the interstate and take the 80 mile stretch of Route 66 between Seligman and Kingman. Route 66 tourism is big around these parts, with every small town consumed with endless “genuine Route 66 motels” and souvenir stores. Seligman was no different. Every 200 yards you’d come across groups of tourists with selfie-sticks standing in the middle of the road trying to get various landmarks and vistas in shot. Pretty soon though, the tourists thin out and within a mile or so of Seligman’s city limits, Route 66 becomes a virtually empty single carriageway road. It stays like that for the whole 80 miles, and is fairly unspectacular. I’d expected it to be a gaudy jamboree, but the quiet drive was actually refreshing and picturesque in parts.

Getting our kicks, on Route 66.

Next stop was the Hoover Dam, but before we got there we started seeing reports of an accident further north on highway 93. The whole highway was closed apparently. Being British, we figured that we’d be directed onto a back country detour to get around it, but we hadn’t factored that we were in the middle of the desert and that the road we were on was the road, so no detour possible. Sure enough, we soon hit the backed up traffic and realised that we weren’t going anywhere soon. The jam was a totally stationary affair, so most people had stopped their cars and were milling around outside.

A busload of tourists had emptied out, and the Korean holidaymakers were looking confused and anxious. The whole thing took on a kind of carnival atmosphere when an older Mexican man appropriated a child’s bike and proceeded to ride it in and out of the parked cars in a most enjoyable manner. Since we were stuck in a canyon with no view, some of the car Dads attempted to scale the sides and see if they could catch a glimpse of the end of the jam. A mini power struggle ensued to determine which Dad was “King Of The Hill”. It became a bit farcical when the climbers paused to take posed photos of each other in front of the jam – big thumbs up for the people at home, at this inevitable scene of grisly carnage.

This guy was King Of The Hill.

After about 90 minutes, the jam was cleared and we slowly inched our way past the accident. A flattened truck and a devastated RV served as a chilling reminder that one minute you can be on your way to the Hoover Dam, and the next you’re holding up traffic and waiting for an ambulance. Hope they were all alright.

We made it to the dam with no further incident and parked up to have a wander around. Hoover Dam is a huge and genuinely impressive engineering feat. It’s a weirdly industrial place to be so packed with tourists, with creepy electrical pylons and endless concrete bunkers and towers. It’s also security heavy, and we were pulled over to undergo a vehicle inspection as we entered. Michelle looks kind of shifty I suppose. The serious looking guards asked us to pop the hood and the trunk (what’s a hood? what’s a trunk? and where are the buttons on this rental car??) and step out of the vehicle and stand on the line. We did as we were told and soon got through it it, bomb-free. Though questions were raised about the case of root beer we have in the back.

There’s not a lot more to say about the Dam. It’s very interesting and well worth a visit, but it isn’t a pretty place.

Standing on the edge of the Hoover Dam (I am).
Standing on the edge of the Hoover Dam (I am).

Finally, after a long day we made it into Vegas and were immediately assaulted by the out and out weirdness of the city. We’re here for another few days, so I won’t say too much about it in this post. Suffice to say, no matter how many times you visit (this is my fourth time) it never ceases to be impressively odd.

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