Written By Galen White
To date, I’ve reached Tucumcari, New Mexico on my trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. The wind was blowing quite a bit as we left Tucumcari and headed for the eastern border of Arizona. And upon crossing that border, I ran into something that I’ve never seen before in my life.
Like I said, the wind was blowin’ pretty hard when we left Tucumcari. By the time we got to Arizona, it was blowin’ hard enough to blow the water well clean around to the other side of the house! I’m tellin’ ya! Sixty to seventy mile per hour winds are something you don’t drive through easily nor forget overnight. These winds were pickin’ up grains of sand and creatin’ a full blown sand storm. And that’s somethin’ ol’ Galen ain’t never witnessed before.
There were a few times the sand and dust created a vision hazard in which I could only see about ten to fifteen feet in front of my truck. Truck drivers were fightin’ the cross winds like I’d wrestle a grizzly bear; only I would lose. One small SUV was pulling a trailer that had a small pickup truck aboard, and folks, I thought any minute he was gonna be tossed onto his side. It was quite a tension filled drive for me.
Just the other side of Winslow, Az., was Meteor Crater National Park. Now, if you happen to remember the 1984 movie “Star Man”, with Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen, you saw this crater toward the end of the movie. That movie, along with my curiosity concerning UFO’s and Martians, gave me enough reason to see it for myself.
The crater is approximately 550 feet deep, over 4,000 feet across, and 2.4 miles in circumference. Scientists claim that some 50,000 years ago, a meteor estimated to be 150 feet across, slammed into the earth’s surface, thus creating the crater. If you’d like, check it out by searchin’ “meteor crater national park” on the internet.
The night was spent in Flagstaff, Az., where temperatures really woke me up the next morning. Having thought the weather would be warm and comfortable, ol’ Galen only took short sleeve shirts. He did, however, toss in a light jacket, just in case. That jacket helped stave off the 20 degree temperature that morning in the mountainous Flagstaff area.
From there it was off to the Hoover Dam. Now, I’ve see the dam at Lake Claiborne, Corney Lake, Bistineau, and another dozen or so lakes. But those dams can’t hold a candle to the size and location of the Hoover Dam.
In all honesty, though, and other than the surrounding terrain, the most amazing thing I saw there was the building of a bridge across the gorge of the Colorado River. The construction company had each end of the bridge in place, but the span in between was missing.
You have to use your imagination here, but the current highway wines down into down into the gorge, across the top of the dam, and up and out the other side. The new bridge looks as if it may be three or four hundred feet above the current highway. Let me tell ya, Bill Gates ain’t got enough money for ol’ Galen to be workin’ on that new bridge. It just wouldn’t get built if anyone was dependin’ on me to climb up and out onto either end of what was already in place.
Late on that day we drove through several Indian reservations, and arrived in Las Vegas; Gamblin’ Capital of the World; the City of Wonder; Glitter Gulch; Sin City; and the City That Never Sleeps. Well, the city may never sleep, but ol’ Galen did ’cause the previous two day drive had taken its toll on my metabolism.
As for the other nicknames of Vegas, I didn’t do any glitterin’, but I did a lotta wonderin’. And just to be a sociable gambler, I donated ten dollars to the Red Rock Casino. Now, I know some of you are wonderin’ how you can go to Vegas and not live it up. Well, as I said in the beginnin’, this was a business meetin’, so I “business met” and actually enjoyed it.
The best was yet to come as on our way back home, we detoured to some incredible places. In fact, we visited another big hole in the ground; best known as the Grand Canyon!
Galen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.