Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fri 8 April - Las Vegas, NV - Hoover Dam trip and dinner with A&A

Our first full day in Las Vegas and we choose to see Hoover Dam. It's not like us to join a bus tour but we thought it was the most practical and cheap way to get there. So we booked an express tour for the morning. 

The bus collected us at 8.45am at Caesars Palace but we did not leave Vegas until 10am as we first went to collect other passengers from a variety of hotels, get sorted at the depot and see the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. Together with many others.

Then out of town for about a 45 minute drive to Hoover Dam. 

Since 2010 there is a bypass bridge but previously all traffic drove along the dam, one lane each way. It was slow. And after 9/11 a security check of all vehicles was added that slowed everything even further.  We arrived at 11am and started our 2 hours of touring the dam. Our tickets covered the power plant tour. 

Anther security screening and we lost all our food. No food allowed in the dam at all. Damn!
Not happy with our bus driver who had not mentioned this to us. Oh well on with the tour. 

The tour started with a 10 minute film which was quite good - we learned about how the dam was finished 2 years early and under budget. 6 companies formed a conglomerate to get the dam built and called their business..."6 companies". 

We then went down down down in the elevators, about 54 floors, to the base of the dam.

We first visited the diversion pipes with our guide Joe. Funny guy. Plenty of jokes but he was also passionate and informative. You could feel the rumble and power of water threw the metal platform we stood on. A bit eerie. 

The speed of water flowing through this one single pipe could fill an Olympic pool in 7 seconds!

Then onto the power plant room. 

These 6 generators can power 1.3 million households. There's a constant hum and vibration. 

One of the generators is currently in maintenance. 

Then outside to the top of the dam and the end of our tour. It was raining but we just loved the views. It is breathtaking. 

The dam engineering is inspiring and the new bypass bridge is of the same caliber.
It's big, damn big. To give you perspective Di is just a small blue body to the left of this photo. 

The dam was originally called Boulder Dam but renamed about 10 years later in honour of Howard Hoover who pushed for it to be built when he was Secretary of Congress. He got some agreement from all the nearby States and dollars allocated. That's quite an achievement. 

We walked across the dam and stepped into Arizona. 

The states of Nevada and Arizona share the dam but the water is split about 6 ways with 56% going to California. Hmmm...doesn't seem fair. 

Lake Mead was created by the dam and is huge, although now at 40% capacity due to droughts in the surrounding states and California. They need several above average years of big snow dumps in the mountains to refill it. The white section used to be under water. 

Lake Mead was named after a thought-leading water engineer, Edward Mead. We proudly noted that Victoria, Australia gets a mention in his bio as he helped steer our irrigation and water conservation arrangements. 

And a final photo that reminds us that th dam is also one giant power plant. 

The bus trip back was annoyingly slow. It took ages as we diverted past Boulder airport to drop off some people for a helicopter flight, then stopped at a range of hotels. Coming in to the Strip from the north side this time. At the 3rd hotel the driveway was greasy with rain and the bus driver made several attempts to get up but kept spinning. Not a great experience. 

By the 5th hotel we got off! Treasure Island was close enough to and as it was 3pm and we were starving. Remember our food was thrown out by security people at the dam? So a quick Denny's meal was late lunch (but this time we did not enjoy it) then back to Caesars. On the way we booked our "wedding dinner" restaurant for Saturday night for 6 of us. 

Then back to our room to clean up and get ready to go it again with Di's Mum Audrey and Alan (aka A&A). They had just flown in from Sydney, Australia.

No trouble meeting A&A at 5.30pm in the Flamingo lobby and we hit the streets looking for a Mexican dinner.  They were hungry and keen to eat early as they were flagging a little from the long flight. We found Cabo Wabo and had a great meal and drinks. 

Di and her Mum, Audrey. A small family resemblance?

Our shared meal of fajitas, Mexican salad and nachos was delicious. 

Afterwards, in the rain, we headed across the street to Bellagio for the Dancing Waters. Vegas at night is at its best with lots of colour and characters. 

Then to the Bellagio Dancing Waters, which was just lovely. The music and choreography is really well done. 

And looking back to Paris made us smile. 

Las Vegas is a lot of fun but A&A (and us) had a big day so we called it an early night. A big day tomorrow!

Good night. 


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