Boulder City was the first semblance of civilisation outside Las Vegas, and what turned out to be the last before we hit the desert. The small town with a population of just over 15 000 souls, nestled in Clark County just 30 miles from the infamous Sin City, couldn’t have been more different than the melting pot of tourists that we’d just left behind! The town centre featured a row of buildings all proudly displaying the name of local owners, that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an old school Wild West movie! Bizarrely the town even featured its own rust coloured collection of wild animals, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, casually chilling on the side of the main road through the town centre… A far cry from the cosmopolitan Las Vegas strip and it’s multiple heaven reaching hotels!
Following the road out of the bustling commercial centre of Boulder City, we headed up a hill into a residential estate. Ever the cautious traveller, I was slightly concerned that we’d taken a wrong turning! I was wrong, and as we reached the peak of the hill, an azure lagoon surrounded by mountains of dusty orange stone came into sight. It was an incredible, unexpected view. Although I knew it would be there (I’m not totally geographically challenged) the stark contrast of the clear cobalt lake sparkling under the desert sun, against the dry barren mountains took my breath away. The lake was a true oasis in the middle of a barren environment. It was such a beautiful landscape because of the contradiction of the thirst quenching lake against the dry lifeless mountains which coexist harmoniously. After admiring the view from the moving car (totally unrecommended!) we made our way down the winding mountain road into the heart of the Hoover Dam.
After parking the car and quickly sorting ourselves out, we stepped out of the car only to be blasted with 115° F heat!!! I don’t think that I have ever felt such heat, but then again I have lived in Wales my whole life and although I’m no meteorologist, I think I can safely say we have never experienced temperatures of such extreme highs! The atmosphere was close to the point of being suffocating and it was inescapable. Standing on the dam, we were completely on display for the wrath of the sun’s intense beaming rays to make us their victim, and it was draining on energy levels to an extreme! We were able to stand on the dam long enough to snap a few pictures before quickly retreating into the luxury of Air Conditioning! Grateful is not a strong enough word to describe my appreciation at that moment for the person who created AC! On behalf of everyone who has ever experienced such heat, Thank You.
The fact that the Hoover Dam was built by sheer man power, under the most extraordinary and extreme circumstances is unbelievable. I take my hat off to the men who laboured tirelessly under the punishing heat of the desert sun to build this wonder of the industrial world! It is more incredible to think that this dam has provided a lifeline to so many people since its creation; economic relief to the men who built the dam, who may otherwise have been struggling through the Great Depression, and a source of sustenance to all of the surrounding areas that have been able to flourish because of the energy generated and supplied to them by the dam. It is just amazing.
We got back in the car, drained our water resources from the polystyrene ice box we had found in Walmart (win!), and headed towards our destination with anticipation. If a manmade attraction was that stunning, the naturally created Grand Canyon was just going to be even better! Hello Arizona!
To be cont…