Oregon Trail

by brendan on 03/14/2008

Oregon Trail
When: 3/14/2008 1422 Hrs MST
Where: +36° 0′ 48.98″, -114° 43′ 57.64″

The Hoover Dam. Not as big as we expected, but still pretty big. We stopped just before the dam to take pictures, and to marvel at the number of cars crawling slowing down the curvy roadway and over the top of the dam. Were we going to drive over? Of course, since there is no other option to get into Nevada. I wanted to take pictures from the top of the dam, but we weren’t sure where best to park and not have to walk a mile to get back to the dam.

So we get back onto the roadway and begin our descent to the dam crossing. The closest parking on the Arizona side is $7, so I tell Ladyfriend that I’ll just get out and meet her back at the closest free parking on the Nevada side. She didn’t really want to take any pictures of the dam, so we figured this was the most time-effective option. She slowed to a stop, I jumped out, and she moved on. Almost immediately I regretted not grabbing my cell phone from the center console as I got out.

I took my pictures. First from the Arizona side, then from the middle of the dam, then from the Nevada side. There were a good deal of people at the dam, milling about on and around it, and I made my way through the crowd after I finished taking my pictures. I walked along the roadway off the dam on the Nevada side, then I came to a sign. No pedestrians past this point, it read. I suddenly realized that there was no free parking on the Nevada side. Where did Ladyfriend go?

There was a large parking garage labeled for tour buses and groups, so I started with that. Maybe she parked in there. It wasn’t free, but it was the closest parking on the NV side. The garage was 4 levels, and I walked up and down every row on every level. No Ladyfriend.

I left the garage and walked back out on the dam. Maybe she would just be circling, crossing the dam back and forth? Nope. No sign of her or the dusty prius. I went back to the parking structure and gift shop area. Payphones! Perfect. I’ll just call her. As I got close, I realized that one of the two phones was out of order. No big deal. Closer still and I realized that they were not coin operated; credit or collect only. I tried to make a call. No dice. Four times I tried, more and more embarrassed each time that the telecom guy couldn’t figure out the stupid payphone. Calls weren’t getting past the “your call cannot be completed as dialed” message.

I went below the parking structure to the visitor center and asked the park rangers “guarding” the entrance if there was a phone I could use. In unison they told me to use the payphones. I explained that I was separated from my group and the payphones didn’t work. One of them suggested that I could go to the casino three miles up the road. I suggested that wasn’t a very practical suggestion. So they let me in to ask the ticket cashiers to use their phone. The two cashiers I found first immediately pulled up their phone and asked what number I needed to dial. Then from across the room their supervisor yelled “what does he want”, looking right through me and at her quivering charges. I offered the details, and she told me to use the payphones. I explained that the payphones were either too broken or too complicated for me. She told me that I couldn’t use her phones because they would get charged. I offered to pay for the call, and she insisted on the payphone. She told me that there were instructions on the back of my credit card (not kidding). At this point I knew there was no more help to get from this woman or the people she controlled, so I went back to the payphones.

This time I tried going toll-free. 1-800-Collect was first, but they didn’t take Visa and Ladyfriend’s cell carrier wouldn’t allow collect. Then I tried plain old operator assistance. That was great until I got to the part where I had to enter in my credit card number, since not all keys on the keypad were functioning. So I called my work (reservation line) and asked to be transferred to a number of co-workers, all who were unavailable. Stupid payphones.

I walked back out on the dam one last time, still no ladyfriend. So I stopped a friendly-looking group and asked to borrow a cell phone. They looked quite suspicious of me, but when they realized I wasn’t panhandling or attempting to save them they warmed up. I called ladyfriend and found out that she was parked on the other side (AZ) at the second closest free parking to the top. First closest was full. I thanked the cell-phone lending strangers and high tailed it to the other side where I found ladyfriend, the prius, and a concerned dog. Also some bottled water, which was very welcome after wandering around in the dry desert heat for a little over an hour.

The whole ordeal was completely my fault; had we made better plans or had I taken my cell it all could have been avoided. Or had I not gotten out of a moving car onto the dam crossing, but then I wouldn’t have gotten any decent pictures! The sad thing is that I didn’t get decent shots anyway, since my camera didn’t have a wide enough lens to really do the dam or the landscape justice. Plus it was really bright, which washed out the shots a bit. Oh well. Where to next?

There is 1 comment in this article:

  1. 03/19/2008Courtney says:

    This could very well be the most ridiculous thing eva! I always thought that you had your cell phone physically connected to your body via some sort of science fiction type procedure.

    BTW: thanks for letting me know when and where your dog poops on the Oregon Trail. I was really concerned about that so it feels good to finally find these things out.

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