Friday 8 August 2014

Digging it in Vegas

Another year, another trip to Vegas!  On the flight in I got some spectacular views of sunset over the mountains.

Following last year's template, I ate another giant steak at the Golden Steer, and washed it down with the part-dessert, part-performance-art Bananas Foster.  Almost a tradition now!

I had just enough time before I flew out to slip in a hastily organised trip to Dig This to drive a bulldozer, ticking an item off my bucket list!  When I booked it, I had 28 minutes to get dressed, pack up, check out, leave my bag, and get a cab to the big sand lot: I made it with 0 minutes to spare :)

Blew 0.0 on the breathalyzer and sat down to watch the safety video by the founder of Dig This, who is a Kiwi, accompanied by a "no he's not Australian..." subtitle.  I guess they got sick of people asking.

Safety briefing was pretty quick and common sense.  Not much time wasted before we were in the bulldozer.
Big machines ready to be abused by n00bs
Inside the air-conditioned cab.  I was in this for most of an hour in Vegas summer heat and it was perfectly comfortable temperature-wise.  Could have done with some suspension :) 
First we drove a slalom course to get used to driving, then set about digging a big trench and piling up a 7ft dirt hill.  You use the ripper on the back to loosen things up, then start digging and dumping.  This is probably about halfway through.
Teetering right on top of my big dirt pile.  Driving over it was pretty fun :)
Guy beside me cleaning up his dirt pile and filling the trench back in.  Your prowess is measured by the quality of your hill and how much of a mess you leave afterward.  The other guy was better than me :(
We pushed these giant tractor tires around a slalom course.  Fairly tricky. 
My trench after I filled it back in.  I'm told this is a fairly respectable job, some people leave mountains...You can see the instructors chair where they supervise two people via wireless headsets.
You usually have a choice between excavator and bulldozer, although in my case they only had a bulldozer slot free.  I'd like to go back and do the excavator.  Apparently excavator is slightly easier since you can drive to the work area then just operate the arm, but when you're using the bulldozer you are constantly driving as well as controlling the blade.  I think doing both in one day would be too much, I was mentally exhausted after the single session.

I have a new appreciation for the skills of the people who do this for a living, it would take a considerable amount of practice to actually be useful on a construction site.  You need to constantly adjust the blade so that you are digging, but not getting stuck behind too much dirt.

Great fun, give it a go if you're in Vegas.

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