Mar 222013

Forty-plus years ago my family drove to California on summer vacation.  My dad was a teacher and didn’t ever take off during the school year, so we traveled in the summer.

Our family sedan did not have air conditioning, and 1972 was a hot summer.  We drove from Indiana to Denver to visit my dad’s college friends, and at least Denver was cool.

As we drove southwest  into  desert, it just got hotter.  I complained miserably about the heat. With my pale complexion I’ve never handled heat well.

My brother and I frequently argued over turf in the back seat, and Mom and Dad were fed up with us.  As we approached Las Vegas, Dad was tired of our griping and just wanted to get through Death Valley on that day.

My father is now 82 years old.  Time has mellowed him in many ways. On that hot July day four decades ago, Dad was not only aggravated with his kids, but he was nervous and upset about being near Las Vegas.  Raised in a strict Baptist home,  Las Vegas epitomized all that represented sin in the world.

He just wanted to have lunch and get on the other side of it and to our Bakersfield, California hotel.  The hotel waiting for us was the Bakersfield Holiday Inn where we saw Flip Wilson as well as his Rolls-Royce with “Killer” license plates, but that’s a story for another day.

Always and forever a nerd, I got it in my head that I wanted to see Hoover Dam.  I read about it somewhere, and I thought it would be really “neat” (remember this is the early ’70s?) to see the monument to American engineering.

Dad said no.  Absolutely not.  We are having lunch in Vegas and we are driving through Death Valley and we are going to Bakersfield.

And I had a hissy fit.  I was fourteen years old and I had a teenage temper tantrum.

Dad reiterated that we were NOT going to Hoover Dam and then he said,“Well, you can go on your honeymoon.”

At fourteen, I wasn’t much different than I am now, and I had what today we would call a “bucket list.”  I smarted-off to my dad, and told him that I would indeed do that.

We did not go to Hoover Dam that day, nor did I go there for my honeymoon.

Over the next forty years it became a family joke.  Friends and family send me pictures and bring me souvenirs from the dam site.  One of my most treasured possessions came from my friend Sharon in Salt Lake City, Utah, who found a Hoover Dam brochure from the 1940s in an antique shop.

After an awfully glum Indiana winter, yesterday went to Hoover Dam on a sunny, sparkling, 75 degree day.  Lake Mead was blue, the dam was white, and I was happy.

We walked across Hoover Dam, from Nevada to Arizona.  We toured the museums and the power plant.  We went from top to bottom of that nerd-magnet.  While use of the word AWESOME is trite, I can think of no other word to better describe it.  It was on the article to bring it up as a full scale image.

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