Yesterday, my Team Challenge roommate (Amy) and I decided we had had enough of Vegas (well, I’d had enough by Friday afternoon), so we rented a car and drove out to Lake Mead. Our room had a great view of the strip, but I feel like every day, I’d point at the mountains in the distance and say, ‘I want to go there.’ I do not enjoy heavy drinking, partying, conspicuous spending, gambling, or garish architecture. I do like hiking, driving on open roads, and marveling at nature.
The first stop we made was at the recently-opened (in October 2010) Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which connects Nevada to Arizona and overlooks the Hoover Dam. We parked in the lot, climbed some stairs, and then walked all the way across and back. It was high enough that I didn’t like looking over the railing unless I was holding on really tightly (and maybe keeping most of my weight on my back foot), but I didn’t think too much of it.
After that, we drove down to the dam itself, and once we were on that level, we suddenly realized how dizzyingly high the bridge was. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to convince myself to walk over it if I had known. I won’t even drive over the High Bridge in St. Paul, and (according to wikipedia) that’s only 150 feet high, compared to this one’s 900 feet. Whaaaaaaat!
Anyway, I enjoyed seeing the dam. Because I’ve been indoctrinated by my friend Monette, I Just Say No to changing the natural course of rivers, but still. That’s a big ol’ feat of human engineering. I had just been commenting to Amy that I hadn’t bought anything in Las Vegas, and then I saw the Hoover Dam gift shop and made her pay $7 so I could park in the ramp and buy trinkets for people (we actually split the cost of the daytrip, of course).
We stopped into the Lake Mead Recreation Area’s information center and got a map of various paths by the lake, and I bought a reproduction of a 1930s postcard of Boulder City — the only souvenir I brought back from the trip (not counting a huge pile of food and samples I squirreled away whenever anything appeared free). We chose a short hike up a steep hill because it promised that we’d be ‘rewarded with stunning views’, which I’d say we were. We were also reminded with a message from our legs that we’d both completed a half-marathon the day before.
It was kind of silly, but we kept alternating between saying, ‘Oh, wow! Look at that!’ and ‘Why on Earth would anybody live here?’ It’s a stunning landscape, but nothing about it says hospitable to me. Give me my lakes and trees and grassy prairies any day of the week. (Except for the days of the week that we cover all that with snow, of course.)
I think it’s safe to say that the best part of Las Vegas was when we got out of Las Vegas! You can see a few more pictures here. I’ll write more about my race experience, but for now I’ll just say that I had a good time and didn’t injure myself (my two top priorities!). I much prefer being able to hike around the desert the day after a race to being totally out of commission!