Standing on the Edge of Hoover Dam
Well not quite standing on the edge, but we came awfully close! Friday night was capped by a wonderful dinner and cruise on Lake Mead, the site of the Hoover Dam. After a fun drive out to the Lake and a quick pose for an in-the-car photo by the official TT-West photographer Doug Broussard we walked down to the marina and got ready to board the paddlewheel boat for our dinner cruise. We filled the dining room and sat down and enjoyed an excellent meal. After that we all headed up to the top of the boat to enjoy the star filled sky and light breeze. The boat cruised around the lake and provided some history and facts on the Hoover Dam as we approached it before turning back and heading towards the dock.
After attending the previous year's TT-West and hearing stories of other TT events, I was expecting the boat to capsize from all the rowdy drunken party guests (especially with the on-boat bar) but it seems that Friday was destined to be a more quiet night. Well except for Marnie who treated several of us to her first ever Karaoke experience, but I digress. I think the fact that we had a 30-minute drive back to the hotel kept everyone from overindulging on the boat. A very wise choice. However, once back at the hotel, the hospitality suite was alive and kicking.
I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
If the look on the faces of several of the attendees hinted at the events that occurred at the hospitality suite on Friday evening were any indication, a lot of people didn't get much sleep that night! It was Saturday morning and this was the day of the big drive. 140 miles of twisty roads through some of the most scenic areas outside of Vegas awaited the group. Since I was unfamiliar with the area, I didn't have any idea what to expect from a place called the "Valley of Fire".
The only downside to all the car detailing that occurred on Thursday and Friday was the fact that it pretty much signaled the rain gods to kick into action late Friday night and early Saturday morning which left a fair amount of water on the roads. It did nothing to dampen our spirits though as we headed out to our cars for the short drive to the Rio Hotel Casino for the official TT-West 2002 group photo, set up again by Doug Broussard. With the Vegas skyline as our backdrop, we lined up the TTs and the Trunk Monkeys for the group shot. The "I see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil" poses of the Trunk Monkeys pretty much summed up the rest of the day, well at least for those who encountered a pretty upset Park Ranger - but more about that later.
As we rolled out of the parking garage and off to the Valley of Fire, the skies decided to cooperate and only greeted us with a light sprinkling which tapered off as the day progressed. Cruising down the freeway towards our destination, the FRS radios were a buzz with rumors that a Pontiac Aztek had joined the group, not to mention the fact that APR's Stage III TT had a flat tire. The group pulled over and regrouped and lo and behold out from the Aztek steps Ed Burley, one of the founding members of TT.org and one of the original forum members! Seems like Ed has yet to attend a TT event with his TT though. We also found out that in fact the APR TT didn't have a flat tire, but the underbelly pan had decided to come loose and was dealt with accordingly.
Once the gang was all together again, we were off for one of the most memorable drives I've ever experienced. It wasn't just the tight off camber turns on wet roads or the sudden huge "dips" in the road, or the triple digit speeds, it was all that and more. The huge red rock outcroppings and the fact that there were 40 plus other TT's on the road in front and behind me made this drive one I'll never forget. Of course the Park Ranger who got passed by an unknown TT will probably never forget it either. After a stern warning from the Ranger, we proceeded out of the park as if under the yellow caution flag to our lunch stop.
While eating lunch several of us noticed a VW Vanagon camper van stuck in some deep sand and gravel down by the marina. Since it was a VW several of us decided that sitting up there and laughing at their feeble attempts at freeing the vehicle wasn't quite the right thing to do so we headed down and helped them out of their predicament. The drive back to the hotel was just as fun as we again encountered some excellent twisty roads along the backside of Lake Mead that were completely traffic free.