Hoover Damn

The vast majority of Americans do seem to be very polite. They almost relish their customary “you’re welcome”s and “have a nice day”s as we part. And people here seem very approachable and happy to talk to strangers. I wish the UK was more like that.

However there’s very little even the kindest security guard can do in the face of impractical beurocracy and immovable anti-terrorist laws. And so was the situation we found ourselves in on Tuesday morning.

We had clambered out of bed at 6am and gone to meet our tour company, Vegas looking quite resplendent in the morning sun around us, when we were told we couldn’t take our suitcases with us:

“You can’t put hard cases on the bus”
“But we need to, we’re travelling one-way”
“Which hotel were you staying at?”
“Bill’s… But we’re not going back there”

So WE could get to the grand canyon fine; just not with any of our belongings. Apparently a new anti-terrorist law forbids commercial traffic from carrying hard cases. Great! The guard and the reps did what they could, and spoke to invisible supervisors on their walkie-talkies but we weren’t making any progress.

Interestingly you CAN take hard cases over the Hoover Dam if you, say, hire a car. Because no potential terrorist would think of doing that. Ohhh no. They always get the tour bus.

There’s a certain feeling when your priorities suddenly change, and all your effort goes into fixing something. I called the tour company and tried to organise a flight instead. And made some headway, although it would cost $200 more. But given the current situation, the lady I spoke to on the phone didn’t help – she gave me 3 different flight times before deciding which one was right, said there was no inner city pickup, and just kept leaving the phone every so often. I’d be left probing “Hello…? Hello….?” for minutes while she rearranged her desktop icons in silence. The call lasted 20 minutes. On a UK mobile phone. Calling an international number. Fuming, and with a single flight successfully booked, I hung up, making a mental note to send a scathing email later.

We set out taxi hunting and made it to the airport $25 later, and were amused to be personally weighed along with our luggage. Eventually we boarded a relatively small plane and flew out towards the canyon.

In the end, this debacle worked out for us in a few ways; we got to the canyon much quicker and in style, got amazing aerial views of Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, and got to meet the very funny Japanese tour organiser. He was a stubbornly happy man who always made me smile when I talked to him.

On arrival at the canyon we were somewhat disowned as all the return visitors were ushered onto the coach – we were left to fend for ourselves. The return troupe seemed to get all the perks, whereas us downtrodden one-way guys had to make all our own arrangements. But we softly inquired if we could join the tour up to Mather Point on the rim of the canyon, and after a discrete tip to one rep, we were on our way.


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