3/12/20 – Las Vegas
It turns out I only used two of the three solar-charged batteries to get around Lake Tahoe. Hummm, I’ve got one unused solar charged battery left. The cogs began turning again. What if I were to try to get a short ride into Arizona, a new state I hadn’t been to yet on Sunride? I was planning after Tahoe to visit my daughter working in San Francisco. When I got there I learned she needed some furnishings from her home in Los Angeles. I now had an empty truck except for Sunride2 (SR2). If carefully packed there was room for her things. The cogs were telling me I could help her out, then drive from LA to Las Vegas, take SR2 down the Strip in Vegas, and Sunride my way over to nearby Hoover Dam. From Hoover I could go into Arizona. Ah-ha! The plan was hatched!
I had enough solar-charged battery left to start at Boulder City, Nevada, ride 10 miles to Hoover Dam, into Arizona, then loop back onto the Historic Railroad Trail (the one used to build Hoover Dam). I could easily do all that with my remaining solar-charged battery.
So, I did. The only thing that changed from the plan was that I drove straight from L.A. to Hoover Dam. The road going down to the dam was narrow with no bike lane. It did not feel safe to ride that stretch of the road. So, I drove across the top of the dam (yes, the road goes right on top of the dam) to the Arizona side. Sunride2 barely touched Arizona soil. I merely putzed around in the parking lot for a few minutes then drove back across to the Nevada side. From there Sunride2 and I took a nice bike ride along the Historic Railroad Trail. The gravel trail, mainly for pedestrians though biking is allowed, was bumpy but very scenic and enjoyable.
We rode through five tunnels, 27’ tall and 18’ wide jackhammered out of solid rock by men of iron in the 1930s. I’ve used jackhammers before. They are no fun. Especially if you’re working on a vertical wall or overhead. I appreciate and admire the great strength of those who did that work.
Hoover Dam generates 12 million kWhs a day. If the eight million people Hoover provides for had to generate that electricity with solar panels, they would each need only a single 300-watt solar panel (1.5 kWhs per person per day divided by 5 peak sun hours = 300 watts).
After Hoover, it was getting dark and started raining. I decided to abort my ride down the Strip for two reasons: 1) Without my solar canopy onlookers would not be able to understand how I could be “riding on sunshine” no matter how loud and enthusiastically I could sing it; and 2) If the sun wasn’t even out they might think I’m just another “crazy,” commonplace in that town. So, I headed up to Reno.
I had a quarter tank of gas as I left town. I didn’t know how far it might be to the next gas station. As it turns out it was quite far. With my tank on reserve I passed a Chevron station that was closed for the season. A clerk in the grocery store told me it was 39 miles to the next gas. My gauge indicated I could make it only 37 miles. “You can always go back to Vegas,” she offered. Pressing on at 55 miles per hour I watched my gauge go from “10 miles to empty,” to 5 miles, 3, 2, 1, then “Please refuel” which I suppose is Toyota’s way of saying, “Dude, you’re on empty. This vehicle will come to a stop any second; or ok, we were lying about where the real empty is, but it’s for yahoo’s like you that won’t stop for gas.” Anyway, I drifted into what looked like a truck stop and filled ‘er up. As I was filling I noticed a sign that said, “Alien Brothel.” There were little green alien guy-manikins in the store. I said to myself, “No, way, an actual brothel?” A sign said, “Free tours.” Free tours of the brothel. No harm in that, I rationalized. I rang the bell hiding my smile at what might be on the other side of the door. A woman, fully and normally clothed answered the bell.
“You here for the tour?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“You ever been to a brothel before?”
“Yes,” I lied, not wanting to appear to be a novice, “in Amsterdam.”
“Well, honey, it’s legal here too.”
She rang a buzzer and told me three different women would come out. I could choose which one to give me a tour. Out they came, dressed less than fully but covering the essentials. I chose Victoria who wore high heels and a cocktail dress like you’d see in a disco. She was intelligent and classy. First stop on the tour was a bedroom with a camera-less tripod.
“This is the porn room,” she explained. “It’s $1500 an hour. Some of the girls do porn but I don’t.”
Certainly I wasn’t a prospect for this. I hate porn and not just because I wouldn’t be a very good porn star. What would be the title of a skin flick I would be in? Maybe “The Man with the Flat Ass,” or, since I’m from Tennessee, “The South Shall Rise Again.”
We chatted as we walked the corridor, past an empty exercise room, an empty massage room, to another bedroom.
“This is my room. This is where the magic happens.”
“What? You live here?”
“Well, just for a few weeks at a time. We girls cycle in and out.”
“Where are you from Victoria?”
“Well, thank you for the tour but I can’t stay. I have a lot of diving to do.”
“Won’t you stay for a drink? We have our own bar.”
“No thank you. I don’t drink.”
“I gave it up for Lent.”
She looked dumbfounded. As I was leaving, I wondered why she was surprised. Columbia is a Catholic country. I’m sure they observe Lent there.