mishaps feature
By Lauren Wong

To me, some of the best memories come from the things that go wrong. It’s the things that suck in the moment, but lead to years and years of laughter, and good, old story telling.

This story of mishaps is from what went wrong over that three day itinerary trip I posted a couple days ago; day one, driving, day two, Valley of Fire State Park, and day three, the Hoover Dam. It was an amazing trip, but, of course, it wouldn’t really be a trip with me unless there were some bumps along the way.

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That being said, here’s the real reason why we were so late to checking into our first stay, North Shores Inn at Lake Mead Hotel. We got in with 30 minutes to spare before check-in ended. Yes, it was a long drive, but it took so long because for some reason, in this state known for its beautiful hikes, my friend and I couldn’t find anywhere to go.

First we tried to stop at Governor’s Peak along N Castle Hot Springs Road. The pictures on AllTrails looked gorgeous and it was on the way from Phoenix to the hotel. It was still early in the afternoon so we weren’t in a rush, we got out to look around, take some pictures, and take this long gravel road down to where the trail head supposedly was. 

We kept seeing No Trespassing, Do Not Enter signs, popping up every 20 feet, but I told myself it was for the property on the sides of the road, not for us. I’m still not too sure if it was or not. Anyways, it’s completely gravel and rocky, so I’m taking this 20 mph road at 5 mph, doubling the time that it takes me to get 10 miles down this road.

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The trail just wasn’t there, or at least, not to my knowledge. It ended practically in someone’s driveway, so we just did a 10 point turn and started our journey back down the long, winding, unpaved road. We got back on the highway after looking at the maps to see what else was on route. I wanted to at least make some progress towards the hotel since driving at night in this state is one of the most stressful things in the world. 

Before moving to Arizona, I lived in Florida for four years and in the Chicagoland area the other 20 years. People say we have crazy drivers, but nothing compares to driving absolute pitch black streets, winding around the mountains, with people going 80 mph. I swear everyone puts their brights on as they round the corner to blind me, as I sit at 60 mph, gripping my steering wheel so hard, pissing all the drivers off behind me. 

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After driving a couple hours we stopped at our second hiking choice, Dolan Springs. Apparently there’s some wilderness reserve, and even if there was, we didn’t make it far enough to find it. We were back on the gravel roads with my car that has no right to attempt off-roading. It felt eerie, I just got an off feeling the second we turned off the highway. 

It looked practically abandoned. The Rv’s and houses were missing walls, tarps used to replace roofs, gates that’ve stopped holding years ago, with graffiti adding that pop of color to this otherwise dull landscape. We were taking turn after turn in this flat, small town. On one side of us was a yard, randomly filled with smashed TVs, and on the other side was a broken bus that said “Classroom on Wheels.” That’s when I had decided I was done. I don’t know about you, but that did not sit right with me. Two, young, ignorant girls driving in this foreign, abandoned looking land. Time for another 10 point turn. 

It was when we got back on the highway that I told my friend to google the town and crime rate. It had an F. Statistically speaking a crime happens every day and seven hours in that 2,222 person town. You have a 1 in 6 chance of being a victim of crime. 

Lesson one: Research the area that you’re planning on hiking in.

I just wanted to get to our hotel, so we just drove straight there and got there right in time for check-in, our only food option being McDonalds. (Which meant my friend, who’s a vegetarian, had a nutritious dinner of french fries and a vanilla milkshake). 

The next day while hiking at Valley of Fire, we got lost. We had come to a dead end with no trail head in sight, while a couple from across this valley yelled out to us asking where to go. We met up and tried to figure out at which point we’d been wrong and how to get back to our cars. My friend and this couple disagreed on which way to go (I had no idea or right to add in my two cents), so we split up. Haley was right and we hiked a bit until we hit the road and took it back to our parking lot. (You’re not supposed to walk on the streets in the state park, but I figured running low on water and being lost in the desert was a good enough excuse if anyone decided to approach us). Anyways, I hope that couple ended up finding their way back to their car… 

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That night we checked into the Historic Boulder Dam Hotel. We got the keys to our room and headed up for the night, happy to be off our feet. Our lights kept flickering on and off, so again, I pulled out google. Of course the hotel was supposedly haunted, and as we sat in room 208, I read that one of the most haunted rooms is 209. I mean, I just screwed the bulb in tighter and the flickering stopped, but still. 

The thought of how many little things had been going wrong (and probably being over tired), set us into a fit of laughter. The hotel phone was one of those old turn dial phones, which honestly I thought was for decoration. Well, not long after this little dinging sound comes from the corner of the room making us go silent. I’m over here thinking it’s some ghost and part of this haunted night, but it was actually just a call telling us essentially that we needed to shut up (noise complaint). It was time for bed.

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Lesson 2: Don’t disturb the ghosts.

The next day was all good, I had set out to see the Hoover Dam for free and that meant instead of paying $10 to park, it was an eight mile trek to see the dam. I was not going to cheat by a penny. On the way back to my apartment, after hours of sweaty hiking, my friend told me that in the future, she’d always pay the $10 fee.

Lesson 3: Always take the long way, it can end up getting you some free parking in the future.

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