Last weekend, we visited Rich’s parents in Bullhead City, which is on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. On the other shore is Laughlin, Nevada, where we stayed at the fabulous Colorado Belle casino. Built in the early 1980’s, in the shape of a huge riverboat, it features perky red and white decorations, flocked wallpaper, crystal and brass chandeliers, and wall-sized paintings of river scenes with women in long dressed holding parasols and men in straw hats in seersucker suits.
On the first floor was the casino with a grand staircase, leading to the themed restaurants on the second floor, each decorated according to its name – Captain Buffet was nautical, Mississippi Lounge was elegant French Quarter, Mark Twain’s was rustic, Orleans Room reminded me of an old-fashioned ice cream shop, and I don’t remember how the Paddlewheel was decorated.
Downstairs was the Broiler Room, which Rich and I walked through on our last day at the casino. Promoted as Laughlin’s only brewery, it was memorably decorated with huge pipes, charts, instrumentation, riveted walls, and funky equipment as if you were below deck on a ship built by Jules Verne. Woven into the décor was the copper brewing and serving tanks.
Surrounding most of the Colorado Belle was a moat filled with koi fish, varying in size and color. The largest fish must have been two feet in length and according to a sign, weigh fifteen pounds or more. Strategic placed around the moat were fish food dispensers. For a quarter, you could get a handful of food to toss into the moat. The fish would instantly swim to the food, the larger fish pushing the smaller ones out of the water in a swirling mass of shiny orange, yellow, white and black.
On several occasions, we watched a throng of koi swim under a duck and push it out of the water in pursue of fish pellets. The duck would walk across the koi until it found a patch of water then nonchalantly swim away. It was a humorous symbiotic relationship.
In the Colorado River, which abuts the Colorado Belle, you could see large, black carp (koi are also carp) swimming in the clear aquamarine water. Intermittently, a rainbow trout would swim by. It was very enjoyable spending the morning, before the temperature rose above 100-degrees, walking along the river and when necessary, darting into a casino to cool off.
To answer the obvious question, the only slot machines we played were the fish food dispensers. Every quarter you put in paid off… at least for the koi and ducks.
It was a very pleasant few days visiting with Rich’s parents, wandering through the Colorado Belle, seeing the sites around Laughlin and Bullhead City where Rich spent many summer days, and eating way too much at the casino buffets.
On the way to the Las Vegas Airport, we made a quick stop at the Hoover Dam and Boulder City. The latter was constructed during the Great Depression as a "model" city where American people could look for hope for a better future. It was designed to house the workers who built the Hoover Dam and had many strict rules for behavior, including no alcohol. Happily, the fabulous stucco and tile-roofed buildings and house that were built in the city in the early 1930’s have been lovingly maintained and were a delight to see. I love 30’s architecture.
The Hoover Dam… the only way to describe the dam is to string together a handful of adjectives because it’s truly breathtaking, incomprehensible, a testament to man’s determination, and as mighty as a skyscraper. Built between 1931 and 1935, it is 726.4 feet high from foundation rock to the roadway, weighs 6,600,000 tons, and can withstand 45,000 pounds per square foot of water pressure.
Numbers seem abstract until you consider the amount of concrete used to build the dam could be used to create a monument 100 feet square and 2.5 miles high (taller than the Empire State Building) or the concrete could be used to pave a 16-feet wide highway that stretched from San Francisco to New York City!