Monday, May 31, 2010
Day Trip to Arizona for Powerball Tickets! (And Lots of Frustration)
On Friday, The Other Half and I tried to take a run to Arizona to buy Powerball tickets. We're not big lottery players, which is fortunate, since we have no lottery in Nevada. But the big jackpot was $240 million, and we had a four-day weekend ahead of us, so why not? Due to major congestion just outside of Boulder City, we eventually had to turn back. The Other Half had an appointment in the afternoon, and we just didn't know how far we could push it.
So after our weekend activities were complete, I decided to give it a go again today. After all, nobody won on Saturday, and the jackpot is even bigger. We'd already arranged to have others get us some tickets, but it's just not quite the same for other people to find out if we won, is it? So, I headed out at about 10:30 am. First, I had to get some cash at the bank, where I was waylayed by incredibly selfish folks ahead of me who took at least 10 minutes at the ATM. Grrr. Next, off to get a prescription, and then gas. I got on the road at about 11:10. The drive to "Rosie's Den" in Arizona is about 55 miles.
Getting to Boulder City is a breeze, and nowhere near as far away from Las Vegas as it seems. Once there, however, one marvels at how primitive the route to Hoover Dam really is. It's amazing that in 2010, we're still going through a small town, and then onto a two-lane winding, switch-back road to get to a major tourist destination. Yes, I know that there is a spectacular bypass being built, but it is outrageously late in coming. Anyway, traffic slowed to a crawl just past Boulder City, and then to a stop several miles from the dam. The final four miles to Hoover Dam took about 40 minutes. It turns out the entire cause of the stop-and-go traffic is a little checkpoint stop sign. Amazing.
Once on top of the dam (yes, you have to drive across the top, dodging pedestrians at 5 miles per hour), it was at least 15-20 more minutes to get to the other side. Entering Arizona, there is a lot of road construction, more switchbacks, and a wavering speed-limit change that finally gives way to the relief of a 65 miles-per-hour highway. The rest of the ride to Rosie's Den (about one half the total distance of my trip) flew by. I got my tickets at about 1:00 pm. I was feeling pretty good about my return trip, since the northbound traffic looked pretty good. Wrong!
The checkpoint into Nevada was no problem, with no wait whatsoever. It was when I hit the switchbacks leading to the dam that the traffic stopped. If I got up to 5 mph for the next hour, I'd be surprised. The pedestrians pose more of a problem in the early afternoon. There are 5 or 6 crosswalks where walkers have absolute right of way, much to my consternation. There are also a few places that tourists try to enter the road in their cars, further slowing things down. By the time I'd crossed the dam again, I thought I was home free. Nope. Right underneath the massive new (unopened) bridge, traffic stopped dead. DEAD. For around 15 minutes, we didn't move at all. And then, as if by magic, we started moving.
I have no clue what caused that stop. The only thing I saw after things got going again, was a policeman pulling over a family of Latinos. Illegals? Who knows? But that's all there was, so it must've been something. There were a few other irritants along the way, including a couple of really bad motorcycle riders near Railroad Pass. But I finally got back--or rather to Sam's Club, where I wanted to shop before going home--at about 2:45 pm. That's over 3-1/2 hours for a 110-mile round trip.
My frustration returned at Sam's, where a woman with a permanent frown had two separate problems at the checkout, and once they were resolved, only then did she whip out her checkbook. Checkbook! Who uses checkbooks anymore? Grrr. But I got my danged lottery tickets! And yes, I know the odds are only slightly better than if you didn't play at all. But you can't win if you don't play. And somebody has to win!