Enough with the Damn Dam jokes

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

Flag of United States  , Nevada
Thursday, December 22, 2011

Its the sort of comedy my dad would be proud of.

"It's the Dam cops again"
"Theres always so much Dam traffic"
"I've been doing these Dam tours for years"
and there were many more. I am numb to them.

We didn't realise it when booking but we inadvertantly had booked through Tickets for Today a tour to the Hoover Dam with a company called Comedy on Deck. The idea behind it is that the tour is given in an amusing way. When I realised this would be the case, I shuddered at the thought. It would be a painful day.

I'm glad to say I was wrong. The tour was excellently led. The female tour guide and driver didn't pretend to be a stand up but just had a good sense of humour and told the facts in a jokey, relaxed, friendly way. We were driven to the new bridge bypass that overlooks the Dam (and stopped there for 10 minutes to take photos) and then taken down to the Dam for a guided walk by Jody across the top while she spouted out the numerous facts and figures about one of the seven industrial wonders of the world. This was an interesting talk which included some of the technical side of the Dam but also some little anecdotes from Jody's experience taking the Dam tours (such as suicides etc).
After completing the over the top walk we were led inside for the government led Powerplant tour. This included a cheesey video followed by a walk through some of the tunnels formed to divert the water for the construction of the Dam. This led to the room containing the hydroelectric reactors. All very impressive. The impressive thing about the Hoover Dam is not that it is there, and not that it is a grand Engineering project - it is that this project was successfully completed in 1935 at a time when projects of this size and complexity were just not thought possible. With health and safety as it is now, a project like this would probably take two to three times longer and certainly a lot more expensively. Grand Designs.

After our powerplant tour we went via a Lake Mead lookout for lunch in Boulder City at a famous hotel, visited the Ethel M Chocolate Factory (the founders of Mars) and then drove by the Las Vegas famed Wayne Newtons residence back to Excalibur. We were back by 2.30pm and had really enjoyed ourselves.

The most amusing part of the day for Kate and I however was the geeky competitive nature of us both. When mention of a short quiz was given by Jody with potential chocolate prizes from Ethel M both of our ears pricked up. Only two prizes, each couple can only win once. Stakes were high, with 6 groups on board. We were psyched and ready.

First question - What was the name of the CEO in charge of the Hoover Dam project?

"Frank Crowe"
"Frank Crowe"

Two voices from the minibus shouted rapidly in tandem. They were clear above everyone else's silence, as the answer came but a split second after the word project had left Jody's mouth.

"Who answered that - it sounds like we have a tie" Jody asked from the front (she drove with a microphone in one hand and the steering wheel in the other)

Mine and Kates arms both tentatively raised to claim our prize. A bag of red M&M's.

We are just too geeky. It reminded me of being in school when all the other kids called you a 'Boff' for being smart. The other tourists just looked at us baffled. We both had to sit out the second question because 'we' had already won.

In the evening we once again took to the streets of Vegas. We had unfinished business in terms of the Mirage Volcano and had pre booked a buffet at the Monto Carlo to save a few pounds (money, and not the weight).

The buffets in Vegas are a sight to behold and are more than ample to keep even the greediest satisfied. I was suprised to hear a fatty American behind me complaining to his waitress that the pork chops were 'inedible' just as I was cutting through the same fine piece of meat. His excuse was that they were two tough to cut in to. I can only assume that he must be used to simply shovelling food in, or blending it down as the food was fantastic. I let the waitress know that I enjoyed the pork chops anyhow, just to even the score.

We walked past the Bellagio and once again were astounded by the great display and then promptly hurried on past the 'clickers' to get to the Mirage. For those of you not in the know, the clickers are a considerable number of Vegas residents that stand in small groups along the strip with escort calling cards (these aren't hookers apparently but ladies who specialise in 'dates' - this is how our tour guide humourously explained the system) and click the cards together before thrusting them in your face as you walk along. They offer them to everyone. You don't have to look especially seedy to get cards thrown towards you so don't feel singled out. I generally made sure I was holding Kates hand as we walked past these groups so I could ignore them easier but it didn't make any difference. They just would offer them to Kate instead. I just couldnt understand it.
What type of guy or girl would accept one of these cards from someone on the street while out with his girlfriend/her boyfriend? I was surprised the clickers did at least stop short of offering it to kiddies as they offered them to pretty much everybody else, pensioners included. I at first considered these people to be lowlife scum, but 'what happens in Vegas'. It's kinda seen to be the norm, it's expected, and everyone seems comfortable ignoring these people that make a few dollars an hour handing out cards and maybe only a few dollars more on the unlikely event that they get commision.

The Mirage Volcano was well worth the wait and was a great combination of fire and water effects which brought some warmth to the chilly night and was a fitting finale to our few days in sin city. We popped into a couple of casinos on the way home for the sake of sitting at a few slots and getting some comp drinks, but our Vegas vacation had come to an end.

We're not sad to leave these places anymore. We just don't have the energy to. We have left so many towns and cities that have felt like home, or have been special for one reason or other that it just seems to feel like you are at a constant state of unease. We are now at that point where we are a little numb to it, like zombies packing our bags for the onward move and slowly readying ourselves for the inevitable few flights home. There aren't many trips of the nature that we are taking that do quite as many jumps in the time that we have done. Most people seem to do a couple of the big places, maybe Australia and China or USA and Australia, but to fit in so much in 5 months has always been responded to by other travellers as maybe 'too much'. It has suited us though in that we have had a taste of so many places without giving us the chance to tire of them, I can only think of maybe a handful of places I wouldn't return to tommorow given the chance and I'm glad that it sits like that in my mind. The world seems a much better place than when we left 5 months ago.
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