Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lake Mead and Hoover Dam

9/27 After a brunch at Dunkin' Doughnuts we set out to explore a little bit. Ten years ago, Becky and I came out here on our honeymoon. We were joined by Richie and Tara Law and well as the saying goes there.."This one time in Las Vegas...."
Anyhow Becky and I decided to drive down to Phoenix. Richie and Tara also rented a car and we all drove down to see Hoover Dam. When we were here last, they were working on the construction of the new bridge across the gorge so that traffic would not need to be routed over the dam. Tourist can still drive down to the dam and across it to the Arizona side. So we took some dam pictures and went to the dam store.
Ten years ago. Still have the woman and the t-shirt.
 This is a picture of Las Vegas Bay. The water used to come all the way up to where we were. At the end of the bay was a large marina that was left high and dry as the water level went down. In several areas, roads were lengthened and boat ramps rebuilt to get down to the lower water levels.

 When we stopped to park in the parking garage, we were told that we could not because we had the dog in the car with us and we were not allowed to take the dog onto the dam. We were told we had to park across the dam at another parking lot. At this parking lot all the handicap parking spaces are at the far end and they were not covered as the parking garage. This meant that if we left the dog in the car that she would be even hotter than if she was in the shade in the parking garage.
At the other parking lot, I found a covered spot, not labeled handicapped (fortunately they don't charge handicap the ten bucks to park). I got Iris out and walked her all over the dam and no one said a word to me. We just pretended that she was my service dog.

The spillway was high and dry.

Patrick straddles the Arizona/Nevada line. There used to be a large line painted across the road with it labeled but now all there is left is this plaque.

We drove across the bridge and back but the walls were so high that we couldn't see anything. On the there side of the concrete is a walkway for people to walk out on the bridge and take pictures of the dam. There was an long ramp up from a parking lot.

A Lake Mead marina. Lots of boats and people out on the water but the water has an algae in it and the park service was telling people to stay out of the water.

Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Pahrump to Las Vegas

9/26 Saturday We traveled the short distance to Sin City and parked at the Sam's Town KOA.

Death Valley

9/25 Friday Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil but I will sweat a lot. Must be why the cup runneth over.
We retraced our steps back into California and then got on 190 that runs north on the valley floor.
First we made a stop in Shoshone at the gas station. I was glad I fueled up in Pahrump where it was over a $1.30 cheaper.

 190 turns north from it's western track dropping us down into the valley floor. The GPS said that we were over three thousand feet going through the pass and the altimeter quickly unwound as we descended clicking past sea level and into the negative numbers.
 The temperature was in the one hundreds at this site and Death Valley has had a high of 135 degrees. I couldn't imagine laboring in the heat to prospect, mine and process gold, borax and other minerals that came out of the valley.

 The ground looked smooth in the distance but up close it was clumpy and chunky.

The next stop was Bad Water the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.  In the second picture you can see the Sea Level sign way up high hidden in the rocks.

 Just below the surface of the salt flat is water. Someone dug this hole so we could look down and see the water.
 It looked like a giant zen garden of the gods. The rocks and pebbles were all raked out smooth.
Next up was Artist Palette.

 A quick stop at the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center and a picture of the temperature. Of course there were bus loads of non-English speaking people who were taking pictures with the sign. It kept fluctuating between 114 and 115. The car temp said 118 at one point. It was hot.
 The store in Furnace Creek had Death Valley root beer! It was pretty good.
 From Furnace Creek we turned east on 190 and drove up to Dante's Overlook which sits at 5475 feet in elevation. The road signs say no vehicles over twenty two feet and no trailers and they mean it. The road runs through some tight canyons and then climbs in steep 15% grade through switch backs to reach the top.
Running up 190. Geological features everywhere. 

From the top of the overlook. 

 Turning back from the overlook, we took 190 west and then turned off on Scotty's Castle Road. We got to see some massive sand dunes at the corner of the two roads.

 Close to Scotty's Castle we saw this little guy walking along the road. We stopped to snap a pic and he turned to check us out. Not sure what he was doing out in the daytime heat.
 The first view of Scotty's Castle. Conman Walter Scott better know as "Death Valley Scotty" convinced wealthy Chicagoan Albert Mussey Johnson into investing in a gold mine. Scotty absconded with the cash and Johnson came to see the mine. Johnson fell in love with the area known as Grapevine Canyon where a spring keeps all the trees lush and green and the park service has all fenced off. Johnson purchased 1500 acres and built this house and kept Scotty around to entertain the guests.

 267 runs straight and true to route 95 which we took south to 160 and back to Pahrump. We were treated with a beautiful sunset.