Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
We rolled out of Tonopah in the morning, and straight on through Nevada. Mostly what Nevada has are long valleys separated by a single ridge of mountains, and very straight roads.
At some point we passed an invisible climate boundary, and we began to see Joshua trees. These are actually
acacias yuccas, not trees, and are bizarre looking, even on a good day with a following wind.
The only thing that we could see to explain where they grew or didn’t grow was the snow. In the summer you can tell where there are winter snows, because they put extension poles on the roadside reflectors and signs to keep the snowplows from hitting them. The Joshua trees, we found, only grow where there is sufficient snow in the winter. Joshua trees are one of the earth’s creatures that have been claimed to be affected by “global warming” … as if we could tell either the future climate or the winners and the losers.
We rolled south in the Armagosa valley, home of exactly one humongous sand dune. It is called, imaginatively, “Big Dune”.
We passed a plant called “USEcology”, and some research revealed that it runs one of the few extra-hazardous waste dump sites in the US. Apparently the lack of rain and the geology there, along with the use of landfill liners, allows them to safely bury a hot of different kinds of toxic substances and remove them from exposure to the environment. Curious what you find in the desert …
From there the road runs past the infamous “Area 51”, which is supposed to be where the US Government secretly stored the bodies of extraterrestrials back in the 1940s or something … as if the US Government could actually keep a secret for more than about fifteen minutes … Area 51 is, however, a real area, part of the Nellis Air Force Base. Below is what is supposed to be one of the signs around the place, reflecting its real use as a place to test new experimental aircraft …
From there it’s a straight shot to Las Vegas … but then in Nevada there aren’t many curved shots, it’s straight roads everywhere. The freeways are unusually pretty around Vegas, because the overpasses and walls are all decorated with Paiute Indian designs, lovely stuff:
The gorgeous ex-fiancee had treated us to couple of tickets to the Cirque de Soleil performance called “Ka”. It was amazing, everything as advertised, amazing aerial feats, a great story, fantastic athletes. And of course, the people-watching in Vegas is pretty amazing. But the noise, my goodness, everywhere there is music blaring out from hidden speakers. My ears grew weary with the listening.
Today, we thankfully escaped from Los Voraces and went to see Hoover Dam. The scale of it is beyond belief. And right next to it is a new bridge that is equally outrageous, the Pat Tillman bridge. Many bridges are named for people like highway commissioners and the like … this one is not.
Using temporary “gin poles” at each end erected on the bridge decks, they ran cables over the gin poles and down to the arch. Then they used “slip forms”. These are forms for the pouring of the concrete which move along as the concrete is poured. Both the dam and the bridge are tributes to human ingenuity.
Tonight finds us at Willow Beach, on the Colorado River below Hoover Dam. It’s a lovely spot, although the temperature is a bit on the warm side … here’s the car thermometer at about 3 PM.
But the Colorado River makes up for that, and the sun is setting now.
And for all of you, my wish is that your days be full of sunshine and your nights be full of laughter.
Best to all,