Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Nevada was a vast, almost uninhabited desert with small scattered towns built by miners in the era of the great Western adventure.
The eastern part of the state especially, including the Las Vegas area, was a desolate desert with very little water and vegetation.
There were, however, some water sources, the most prominent of which was Lake Mead.
Because of its unique status, the Nevada State government built a trail park in the area, including 110 miles of Lake Mead and 67 miles of Lake Mohave.
Li Du had some interest in this wetland, which was based upon a rare sand-water terrain. That is to say, the wetland was next to the desert, and there was no gradual transition between them. The great lake and the desert were near neighbors.
Driving on the 93 highway, they soon saw a large building outside the city. This was the Allen-Barber visitor center, which provided the trail park with entertainment and information.
The best way to enjoy a visit to the park was by walking and cycling.
Li Du followed the local custom and prepared to rent bicycles to enjoy the pleasant scenery around Lake Mead.
Hans shook his head. “I won’t do that. The tour of Lake Mead is 32 miles, my good fellows!”
Li Du said in disdain, “Then just stay and sit in the car. However, as your friend, I still have to suggest you exercise more. Can’t you see how your body is ruined by alcohol and debauchery?”
Hans thought about this for a moment, then got out of the car and hopped onto a bicycle.
Li Du and Sophie were on a tandem bicycle, bags on their backs. Crispy Noodles and Ah Meng were in the attached basket and the other three followed behind.
Many people visiting the scenic area took pets with them, but none brought along big cats and kangaroos, so their little entourage instantly attracted a lot of attention.
Upon seeing them, many children pointed excitedly and shouted,
“Look, a kangaroo!”
“That’s a tiger cat. We just learned that in science class…”
Li Du accelerated, and the bodyguards followed without any difficulty.
Hans called after him, “No, no, no, slow down! Ah, I can’t breathe, have mercy…”
Starting from the visitor center, there were two scenic roads around Lake Mead, named North Shore Oath and Lakeside Path. Of the two, Lakeside Path was the longest, and one could follow it to another beautiful scenic spot, the Fire Valley State Park.
Fire Valley State Park was a fine specimen of the desert landscape, full of fantastic sandstone and wonderful displays of desert life.
However, that wasn’t Li Du’s goal. After they turned around Lake Mead, they took the direction of Hoover Dam.
The day was fine. As they rode up to Hoover Dam, the long, winding shoreline emerged in stark contrast to the bare landscape around it.
They made their way to the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, a walkway on which Li Du stood looking out at a perfect bird’s-eye view of the Hoover Dam.
Sophie refused to get on the bridge. “No, I won’t. It’s scary.”
The bridge was built across the river, far above the surface of the water. It was easy to get dizzy when one looked down continuously on the rapidly flowing stream.
Li Du beckoned. “Come here. The scenery is very nice. You are not afraid of heights, Sophie. You took a plane with no trouble.”
“No, I’m not afraid of heights, but I don’t like places like this,” Sophie still shook her head.
Curiously, Ah Meow tried to run up, but Sophie pulled him back and scolded, “Stay back, if you lose your balance… Oh, dear!”
Before she could finish speaking, someone jumped off the bridge into the water.
Li Du was startled, thinking that someone had tried to commit suicide. Another man jumped into the river, trying, Li Du presumed, to save the first one’s life.
On the bridge, people were holding cameras or mobile phones to take pictures and videos, cheering as they filmed. “Oh, beautiful! China team diving posture!”
“Ha ha, that idiot Kyle, is this a Nazi drowning ceremony?”
Seeing this scene, Li Du finally understood. These young people were doing high-altitude diving.
“Playing with their lives,” said Li Du moodily.
The bridge was at least thirty meters above the water, and Sophie did not even dare to come up. However, there were youngsters who stripped their clothes and dove right in.
At one end of the bridge, there was a security guard. Seeing what the young men were doing, the guard rushed over, shouting anxiously, “What is this? What are you doing? Get out of here, you fools!”
High altitude diving was an extreme sport, and every year there were many fatal accidents. Sometimes Li Du thought this had to be one of the reasons why foreign countries had declining population: if so people were playing with their lives, how would the population rise?
The young people laughed, got into their car and fled. Li Du stayed under the scrutinizing glare of the security guard, who was evidently prepared to lunge forward and prevent them all from jumping down like the young man had just now.
“Shall we give it a shot?” asked Hans.
Li Du gave him an exasperated look and said, “If you want to die, go ahead. I won’t stop you.”
Hans said in disdain, “This is only a few meters. I took part in a high-altitude stunt diving competition in Los Angeles. I jumped 48 meters from a special steel platform. And in Mexico, there was a traditional cliff diving competition. The cliff was up to sixty meters, with the sea below. It was fun! God, just thinking about it makes me so excited.” The more he talked, the more enthusiastic he became.
Li Du waved, and Brother Wolf, Madman, and the others went up, pushing Hans towards the bridge. “Come on, I’ll help you jump.”
“F**k!” cried Hans.
Sophie was horrified. “Stop it. Why are you kidding around like this?”
Li Du let go of him, and Hans stopped boasting and quickly backed off.
In the evening, they went to the nearby town, which was surrounded by a scenic area. Most of the inhabitants were immigrants, causing villages to swell into towns.
With epic scenery as its selling point, the town was mainly engaged in tourism-related industries, with many hotels and restaurants.
They found a western restaurant famous for its chicken and pork, with plenty of food to go with the freshwater fish native to the Colorado River.
In addition, there were many kinds of beer. Oak beer barrels served as bar seats, imitating the style of the original Western gold rush era.
The restaurant was best known for its homemade baked goods and oatmeal pancakes, and locals in town were lining up to buy them.
After a leisurely day outside, they returned to the hotel and waited for the elevator. While they were riding up, the elevator stopped. A few men strolled in lazily and when they saw the group, they suddenly asked, “Mr. Li from Phoenix?”
Seeing them, Li Du couldn’t help smiling. He said, “Yes, and you are..?”
He did not know them, but he had seen them before.