THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Grand Canal to Grand Canyon


Not a bad run
First stop, the Hoover Dam
Private sector road sign
The Nevada turbines (there are more on the Arizona side)
I have nothing to say about the Grand Canyon yet. I am in an hotel nearby, but I haven't ventured near. I was here years ago with my family and we saw it in the best possible way, from a six-seater light aeroplane. I can't imagine anything I do tomorrow will better being flown inside it in a lazy circle.

Today's short video (above) shows the drop off zone outside my hotel as I waited this morning for the parking valet to bring Speranza round. Nicely understated, isn't it? That's Vegas for you.

My tourism today involved a visit to the Hoover Dam; a masterpiece of early 20th Century engineering. I took the tour of the subterranean generators and stood more than 500 feet beneath the surface, hoping that those 1930's workmen - recruited hastily from America's unemployed by the six company joint venture that built it - reinforced the concrete properly for the tunnels we were in.

The film they showed us as part of the tour was oddly Soviet in tone. I can't imagine they have changed it since the 1950s at least. My libertarian nature was disturbed by such lavish praise of politicians, however long-dead they all were. I am confident they were no less scoundrels than the current crop. Who else but a scoundrel would even be attracted to a career that involves taking money by force from your fellow-men to bribe your voters spend on things you arrogantly think will be better for them than their own choices?

I was even more suspicious of the notion that such an enormous piece of infrastructure, which makes life in huge tracts of America possible by supplying electricity and water as well as by preventing the floods that used to bedevil the region only generates just enough income to cover operating costs. Private enterprise built it, of course. It would have collapsed long ago otherwise. Had the private sector also been left to finance it, surely a better business model could have been devised? That such a massive, technically-successful, investment produces no profit at a stage when all the capital investment has been recovered and it should be a cash cow seems unthinkable.

In fairness a European equivalent would probably run at a loss.

I did enjoy driving over the dam, twice. I entered Arizona by that route briefly before returning to continue there by normal roads. I was puzzled to see a notice about changing time zones, even though the "Arizona time" and "Nevada time" clocks on either side showed the same time. It turns out that Arizona doesn't do daylight saving time, so that its version of Mountain Time is currently the same as Pacific Time. That will change when I venture to Utah and then New Mexico.

I was nervous about entering Arizona as the gentleman whose company services Speranza and prepped her for this trip had an unfortunate experience with manacles when pulled over by a State Trooper where when driving the Bullrun some years ago. I went over his coaching as to how to speak to an Arizona State Trooper in my mind repeatedly as I drove. He made the very English mistake of being cheeky to a policeman, apparently, which did not go down well. I am under instruction to use my youthful acting experience to play the part of a submissive statist if pulled over. I am driving very conservatively, to the amusement of the local boy racers, in the hope I don't have to put those long-disused skills to the test.

The day was also somewhat dampened because I suspect another slight problem with the car. A slight rattling noise has appeared from somewhere beneath. I suspect an exhaust pipe fixing, or something similar, has been vibrated loose by the rough roads. I shall find some roadside auto shop in the next couple of days to get her up on a hoist and tighten whatever is loose before something worse transpires.

I think I also need to check my tyre pressures as in the 111℉ heat of Arizona today, they were high. The tyres were running at up to 155℉ (Speranza has tyre temperature monitors like a Formula 1 car). That probably accounts for the higher pressures. It may also have hardened the ride sufficiently to contribute to vibrating something loose. I couldn't let air out of hot tyres of course, but I can check the pressures in the cool of the morning. Or the lesser heat of the morning, to be precise.