A light, airy, effervescent, blog of grave consequence. (NOT!) Dedicated to those of us who must respond to negative stimuli by Chernobyling (entombing in concrete) our innermost thoughts.

Location: Slaughter, Louisiana, United States

A semi-gruntled corporate reliability engineer trying to make ends meet while keeping my wife happy, and myself out of the asylum.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Melancholy Memories of a Simpler Time

Way back, when I knew nothing, I fell upon the chance to do something which, to me, seemed extraordinary at the time. To most normal people, it would have seemed simply boring.

I was in my third year working full time for Kimberly-Clark and was stationed in the Engineering Center at Neenah, Wisconsin.

I was doing a considerable amount of work at the Ogden, Utah plant improving one of their fiber & Super Absorbent reclaim systems.

I was in the middle of a two week stint in Ogden a week or so before Thanksgiving 1996 when I decided on a whim, since I had the weekend free, to drive to Las Vegas and see what was up.

I left the plant immediately after work about 4pm and headed south on I15. About six and a half hours later, I arrived in Sin City. The lights breaking as I crested the final hill out of the gorge from Arizona.

I didn't have a hotel, so I parked at Circus-Circus and started walking. I saw quite a bit of the town that evening on foot and had my $2.99 steak and eggs special while I was about.

I did have a hotel booked for Saturday night, but I couldn't check in until the afternoon, so I needed to find something to do to keep me awake.

I checked around on a few maps and found that I was within spitting distance of Hoover Dam, so I headed southwest. I arrived about 0830 and parked at the over look near the visitor's center. They had tours scheduled about every thirty minutes and I decided I would see what there was to see.

I got in the line to purchase my tickets and when I reached the window, I noticed that there was the standard tour which stayed outside, and there was, for about $10 extra, the "Hard Hat" tour which actually took you down into the bowels of the dam to the generator station and even let you walk out on the platform that is only a few stories off the Colorado.

I opted for the Hard Hat tour.




It was incredible. We were lead into the deep recesses of the dam including the tunnels into the vertical rock faces where the dam meets the gorge. Surprisingly there were quite a few small seeps visible and, if I recall correctly, they were all cataloged and documented.

The doors in the dam were made of silver to resist corrosion and a single replacement had to be procured at one point for, I think, somewhere north of $20k.

The generator room was amazing as these monster vertical turbines were seemingly idling along at about 180 RPM. (20:1 gear up = 3600 RPM generator = 60hz).

We were told that if the water were stopped the turbine and generator would coast for over twenty minutes before it would finally stop. (Although the guide did say that a bearing failed in one of them once and it stopped in less than 8 minutes. No one was happy that day I assumed.)

We then were able to walk outside at the base of the dam and see the sheer majesty of it ascending to the heavens. That is the view I remember most vividly.

We finally finished up the tour after about two hours and I headed back to Vegas to crash for the afternoon at my hotel before hitting the town again.

Why do I bring this up? Well, in the last ten years there have taken place some events that had caused the tour I took into the dam to be eliminated in its entirety. In addition, there is a bridge being built just to the south of the dam that will soon allow the dam to be forever closed to public vehicular traffic. (And the bridge is an abject atrocity. It has completely destroyed the grandeur of the area surrounding the dam.)

That is an artistic rendering, but I have recently visited the site and it's pretty darned close.

(Also, looking at the lower portion of the dam on the right side in the picture, we were standing on the lowest ledge that sticks out over the water.)

Now, what could have happened that would cause the government to eliminate a great tour of a major historical landmark and destroy a majestic view in order to eliminate access to a bridge?

September 11, 2001 ring a bell? We have utterly capitulated to the moslem hoard. We have allowed them to set the agenda for everything we do even if it means losing basic freedoms. Immigration control is out of the question because that would be racist and offensive. Intelligent profiling, unless it is used against actual American citizens is similarly unacceptable.

Our children will eventually get used to their hijabs and burkas. And I've resigned myself to remembering the "good old days" that actually were.


Anonymous Sweet Pea said...

Take out the melancholy. Simpler times are always the best of times. Is that age speaking?

8:27 PM  
Anonymous John said...

I remember taking the trip to NYC with Mr. Curry's Economics class, touring Wall St. and riding to the top of one of the Twin Towers (don't remember which one), something that my two girls will not be able to experience.....

8:38 PM  

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