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Visiting the new bridge near Hoover Dam

Earlier today (Saturday Oct 16) I stood on a new bridge.

For the last several years, the powers that be have been planning and building a new bridge in front of Hoover Dam. I’ve been watching it’s progress on the Discovery Channel and in reports in the local newspaper.

A few months ago, they announced that the public would be allowed to walk on the bridge for a few hours before it opened to traffic for the first time. At the time, I was stuck with the car still broken. I was still learning how to manage my limited energy so I’d have some whenever it was needed.

I REALLY wanted to be at this historic bridge opening. I decided at the time to see if I could apply the Straczynski’s quote “faith manages” to this little dream. I printed out the flyer from the bridge website and taped it to my sorry excuse for a desk. Every time I looked at that flyer, I imagined being there.

Well, everything DID come together like I hoped. I finally got the car fixed (YAY!) and a friend (who prefers to remain anonymous) offered to go with me to the event. I spent the last few days going to sleep REALLY early and taking a lot of naps, saving my personal energy for bridge opening day.

Last night I went to sleep at 7pm. I woke up this morning at 7am, chomped on some whole-grain breakfast and waaaay the heck too much coffee. We were on the road by 9am. Hoover Dam is 45 minutes away.

As I rode, I reflected on the uniqueness of living in this interesting place. Las Vegas is basically like any other city in the great American Southwest, with convenience stores, schools, city parks, bad neighborhoods, good neighborhoods, grocery stores, all the usual, expected urban accouterments.

To the tourists, the Strip is all of what Las Vegas means. To us locals, the Strip is just one extremely fancy street in the middle of an otherwise normal city.

I feel blessed to be living in a place where every year, millions of people spend millions of dollars just to be there. I don’t have much money, but for the price of a little bit of gas or some bus fare, I can spend a few hours for free among all those who dreamed their Vegas dreams and then set aside the time and money to be here. That’s just cool.

We headed past the suburbs and into the desert. The windy road twisted around the hills next to the huge body of water behind Hoover Dam known as Lake Mead.

Eventually we saw a whole lot of happy people in bright orange vests waving bright orange directional flags at the approaching cars. Law enforcement personnel and park rangers kept everything in order as we turned into a huge, dirt parking lot. I was amused to see many of the same double-decker buses that are normally part of the Vegas transit system waiting there. The city buses were being used to shuttle people from the parking lot to the new bridge.

I have a borrowed video camera. When I got on the bus, I wasted no time going to the upper deck. I was happily able to grab a seat up front and set up the camera for the trip.

The lot was 6 miles to the bridge. I happily video’d the whole route as the people around me commented on the history of the place. Some fun narration there.

Finally at one point, I spotted the Colorado River on one side – and realized we had nearly crossed the new bridge before I even noticed it. That is a deliberate part of the design. The bridge deliberately hides the beauty of the surrounding landscape from the vehicles so that traffic would not end up in a constant, distracted-driver traffic jam. Beyond the concrete barriers on each side is a walkway for visitors.

I noticed with delight all the tourists and the visitor tents set up in the northbound lanes. The buses were going a mile or two into Arizona in the southbound lanes. They then turned around, went north in the same lane, then parked to let the visitors disembark.

I carefully walked on the road towards the tents, noticing how the concrete barrier blocked the view of Hoover Dam. Every thirty feet or so, they either had wooden platforms for people to stand on, or metal stair/ladder things for people to climb over to get to the sidewalk.

Looks like a few of the vids I shot are worth uploading to Youtube. Here are some links:

Vid 1

Vid 2

Someday I’ll edit the rest of my footage that I have, add some good music and share it with the rest of you guys.

Overall, I was impressed with how well the event was handled. They must have done a LOT of dress rehearsal before the event. The local newspaper talked about the possibility of serious traffic jams in the shuttle parking lot. Turns out maybe half of the huge parking lot was actually used by the public for the event.

I am glad to be alive here in Nevada… I get to see stuff like this here. :)

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