Recently, we made a cross-country business trip from California to Mississippi and me being who I am, I scoured the route for scenic and landmark value. We were not disappointed!
We left Fontana, CA, pretty well on track for the morning, but were slightly detoured from our purposes in a lunch engagement. Not that I didn’t enjoy the company or the lunch, but I knew that every tick of the clock was another inch of the window of opportunity closing. Indeed it was!
You see, we had reservations that night in Flagstaff, AZ, but were taking the long way to Flagstaff so that we could take in the Hoover Dam and Hoover Dam bridge while crossing into Arizona. This meant going through Las Vegas and now because of our delay, it meant doing so during rush hour traffic. No problem right? Wrong. Rush hour isn’t fun in any major city that I have ever experienced, but it is even worse while pulling a 40 foot 5th wheel. All the while every car trying to be in the most advantageous place for a quick trip home.
The outskirts of Las Vegas weren’t too bad, but then as we passed through, things suddenly got much more crazy. Then came the deal killer… You know what I mean, one of those patron saints who want to turn into 7-Eleven (at least I think that was the franchise) just off the 4-lane highway because 7-Elevens are important on the way home during rush hour traffic. It would have been fine, but for the proximity to the major intersection. This lovely person appeared to have decided (from what we could tell) they were going to use the opposing traffic’s left-hand turn lane to execute their own left-hand (now a backwards right-hand) turn into 7-Eleven. Traffic didn’t agree with their decision…it backed up…a lot. But, bless their heart, they were not deterred, only determined to stay the course, keep their mission in focus and let that car use up all its blinker fluid until hordes of other insignificant persons navigating their own vehicles lawfully bowed to their 7-Eleven emergency.
So we sat, through a turn light, then through a red light, then through a green light, then through another turn light, another red light, and I was determined not another green light. So, I jostled my 24,000 lbs. into position, in spite of the honking and revving of a Tundra that protested giving up the ten feet in front of it, which it didn’t, but instead chose to risk collapse of body panels and elimination by sheer size and speed in front of me, so there we were now both crooked in traffic. Whereas, if he would have been kind it would have just been us crooked in traffic.
Nonetheless, the light turned green and I, for one, was determined to pass under the mistletoe that round. Also, I didn’t want to force others behind me to sit through another light, so I floored it. You know, I put the pedal to the medal and let the coal roll.
Finally, we broke out of the congestion and were back on the open road, still moving at a considerable clip, fraught with stress that we weren’t going to make Hoover Dam. With good reason…
Finally, we pulled off the main highway to old Hwy 2(?) and made the serpentine climb and drop to the entrance. Boy was I surprised when there were armed guards that stopped us. They were armed with badges and orange cones. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but when you are in a hurry you don’t always consider the big picture.
They said they needed to search my recreational vehicle before they could let me proceed. What? Really? Why? Well, “it is government land…”. Ah! Yes, of course, the Dam. Why didn’t I think that this should have been considered in the schedule of the day: a full search of a big RV, every compartment, ever door, inside, etc.
As I looked at the sinking sun in the side mirror and then focused my eyes back to the silent TSA Agent I asked, “What are you looking for?”
Well, hmmm. Suspicious. Suspicious? Did I have anything suspicious? I wasn’t sure. Would it be suspicious to have 30′ extra feet of sewer hose? Maybe I was planning on siphoning some water and bypassing the electric turbines. Or what about my assortment of tools? Could they be used to drill a hole in the dam? Not likely, but one could never tell. Then I remembered a few other things that I had that could be suspicious; not illegal, not unwarranted, but possibly suspicious.
I was suspicious of their term suspicious.
I asked if I could just pull ahead a few feet to the overlook parking lot; I wasn’t going to visit the dam itself.
How long will it take?
Not very long?
How long is not very long?
“Just a few minutes.”
Well, I could sit here arguing or I could just get it over with and take my chances that my wife’s Pampered Chef Pineapple Slicer would be labeled as ‘suspicious’ and she would have to stay or drive the children home.
“Let’s do it.” I finally said, the sun still sinking at the same ‘suspicious’ rate as few minutes ago.
To be fair and frank, I am just having a bit of fun. The agent was very friendly, very thorough, and very quick. We were on our way…just 1/4 of a mile to go.
That’s when we saw the police car sitting in the entrance to the parking lot. I went through a list in my mind. 1. He isn’t blocking my lane. 2. His lights or siren aren’t on. 3. If I can just get by him then I can quickly park in the slot behind him marked ‘RV/Bus’. 4. Right now he is distracted by one of the tourist type people (Yeah, we stick together!).
I zipped in, parked, shut the motor off, unbuckled my seatbelt, firmly told the kids and wife to hurry and do the same, opened the door and exited, all before the vehicle stopped. Well…almost.
When I stepped out of the vehicle and turned around, the police car did have his lights on and was blocking the entrance entirely as he pulled up to lock the gate.
Whoa! That was close! 10 seconds…maybe 20… and we would haven’t made it AT ALL!!
What a close shave!
I will cut to the chase and tell you the end right now. It was the same cop that we met on the way back down from the trail leading to the overlook. He was marching and mad. We greeted him with a cheery goodnight, he didn’t…not cheery anyway.
You see, the park closed at ‘dusk’. Not, 6:00pm, not sunset, not 1/2 hour after sunset, but dusk. Well, I wasn’t sure what dusk was and it is so much harder to tell when you are having fun and take great pictures.
That is what the man thought that we left up there as well, the last crazy tourist of the night. I was glad to leave him in our wake to endure the fury of the officer.
He scampered down the mountain and into our vehicle, nearly as quickly as he had exited it. As we pulled out our lights passed over a camera toting tourist about 4″ in front of an angry officer as he MARCHED him down the path, no doubt, expounding to him the definition of dusk. The headlights passed over the pair as we turned around rather quickly. The officer erred off course and headed our direction, but I didn’t see him…not his face anyway. Besides I was too busy trying to navigate our long caravan in the ‘dusk’.
I wasn’t able to hear exactly what he was shouting. Maybe asking for a Gatorade, a burrito, or possible reading from his pocket dictionary the definition of ‘dusk’.
Here are the pictures I was able to get. Hope you like them! If you want let me know your favorite.