Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Route 66: Day 13

by Kathy 19. March 2010 19:40

<< Day 12: I Can See Time! | Day 14: Viva Las Vegas and Home! >>


Just Take the Dam Tour


We woke this morning to the sound of hundreds of small birds chirping. The musical notes were coming from a tall wall of bushes nearby.

Genevieve and Sebastian ran over to the playground to climb and slide before we started our drive. The playground was small, but the enjoyment factor was high.


Sebastian at the top of the slide . . . :

. . . and shooting out of the bottom:

We were heading north today toward Las Vegas, with a stop at Hoover Dam. We had traveled the first section of the road last week when we visited the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

At the base of the hills to our right, we could see the large overburden dumps from a mine.

We ventured off the road to visit the former mining town of Chloride.

According to a roadside historic marker, Chloride was founded in 1863, with a few mines in the surrounding hillsides. By 1900, the town had about 2000 residents, with more than 50 mines nearby.

The current population was about 350 people, who seemed to delight in the accumulation of eclectic metal objects.

The objects were sometimes attached together to form sculpture.

A large rock Santa had a jumbo hat:

One corner was covered with a wall of western characters:

The old gas station had railroad tracks that swept across the front:

The post office has been here since 1873:

The bank:

This small home was for sale:

Another cute home:

The town’s flair for whimsical items extended to the cemetery:

We wandered through, looking at all of the different items and paying our respects to those who were buried here.

This grave must be the resting place for a motorcycle enthusiast--it had a small rusted motorcycle tank and some rims:

One cross was decorated with horseshoes and other items, with a bucking bronco on top:

Other graveyard items:


Genevieve and Sebastian:

This beautiful tree was in the cemetery:

Back on the road, heading north toward Vegas, we passed this billboard advertising automatic weapons.

(We didn’t try one.)

A small community stretched across the desert:

We started climbing the mountains that lie between Arizona and Nevada:

We began passing large dump trucks and other road construction vehicles, and saw large flattened stretches where a new road was being built.

The current 2-lane road snakes through the mountains and crosses over into Nevada along the top of the Hoover Dam. (Yes, the top of the dam has a road on it.) Because of traffic congestion, combined with federal security concerns about someone driving across the dam with explosives, a new 4-lane bypass is being constructed that routes traffic away from the dam on a high bridge. The new road also cuts a straighter sweep through the mountains.

Ahead was a section that will take eliminate a lot of curves by taking traffic straight over a small canyon:

Before reaching the dam, we had to stop and allow some federal police to come aboard the RV, as well as to search our exterior storage bins, to make sure that we weren’t carrying explosives or other illegal items.

With a big thumbs up from the inspection agents, we proceeded to the dam.

We were planning to take a tour of the dam, and Genevieve and Sebastian were very excited:

Hoover Dam:

The Hoover Dam blocks off the Colorado River and creates Lake Mead, which stretches for over 100 miles behind the dam.

The white color along the rocks indicates how high the water was in the past. The large cylinders rising out of the water are the intake towers for the power plant.

We could see the continuing construction on the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge high in the air, behind the dam.

On the Lake Mead side of the dam was a huge spillway, designed to catch high rising water and channel it into a tunnel that goes through the rock canyon wall to the other side of the dam.

We walked across the top of the dam, stopping often to marvel at everything around us—the rocks, the dam, the intake towers, the bypass bridge, the lake . . . . Wow!

The dam is over 700 feet high. We all peeked over the edge. Here is Genevieve:

The cement dam wall was humongous:

At the bottom was the powerhouse area, where the electricity is generated.

In the middle of the dam was a marker that not only declared the dam to be a “civil engineering marvel of the United States," but also marked the dividing line between the states of Arizona and Nevada.

Another view of the dam wall:

A rectangular cement building now houses exhibits, but it once served as the headquarters for soldiers who guarded Hoover Dam during World War II.

Two 30-foot statues, called the Winged Figures of the Republic, sat beside a flagpole:

The artist, Oskar Hansen, wanted the figures to express “the immutable calms of intellectual reason,” “the enormous power of trained physical strength, and the “triumph of scientific accomplishment.”

Nearby is a commemorative plaque honoring the 96 men who died while helping to build the dam.

We took an escalator underground to the security checkpoint and ticket booth, where we purchased tickets for one of the dam tours. We chose the Power Plant tour, as Sebastian was only 7 and did not meet the 8-year old age requirement for the longer Hoover Dam tour (which covered the power plant but also included passageways within the dam itself).

After purchasing our tickets, we were ushered into a small theater, where we watched a 10-minute film about the history of the dam. Here are some of the things we learned:

--The dam was built from 1931 to 1935. The first step was diverting the Colorado River from its course. Four long tunnels were drilled through the rock canyon walls so that the river could flow temporarily around the dam area.

--The Great Depression was occurring, and the dam project employed an average of 3500 workers who worked 7 days a week for $4 a day; 3 shifts rotated around the clock, with two days of rest each year.

--The dam was initially called Boulder Dam, but the name was changed in 1947 to honor Herbert Hoover, who was President from 1929 to 1933.

--The dam used enough concrete to make a 4-foot sidewalk around the equator.

We then met our guide, Dave, who enthusiastically proclaimed that he hoped we would enjoy our “dam tour.”

He put just enough emphasis on the word “dam” to make the children look up at us with big eyes that questioned whether they had just heard a “potty word.” This play on words would be repeatedly continually throughout the tour, each time followed by a big smile from Dave and snickers from our fellow tour members.

“Let’s continue with this dam tour, shall we?!”

We then descended 530 feet in an elevator and took a short walk to the Penstock Viewing Platform. We looked through a large window and could see that we were on top of a pipe.

This pipe is 30-feet in diameter. Along with three other pipes, it funnels 880,000 gallons of water per second from Lake Mead to a series of smaller, 13-foot diameter pipes that lead to the dam’s hydroelectric generators. There was a large diagram of the dam, with its tunnels and pipes so that we could understand the process better.

We rode another elevator up a short distance and then walked through a rock tunnel.

At the end was the Nevada power plant, with a room containing 8 huge generators; each had a 34 ton turbine turning 60 miles per hour.

The generators are 70 feet tall and extend under the floor.

Genevieve and Sebastian in the turbine room:

The terrazzo floors in the balcony area were installed in 1936. An artist named Allen True had created patterns that contained elements of Art Deco and Southwestern Native American designs.

Mr. True had also picked out the rich red color for the exterior of the generators.

We were then free to explore the exhibit area upstairs. There were many photos and displays that were full of information. We learned that the dam’s main purpose is to provide water for many communities, such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The release of water from the lake generates electricity.

One of Genevieve and Sebastian’s favorite parts was an interactive exhibit in which they created electricity to run various household items by turning a crank—the more they cranked, the more items they could turn on. They had to turn the crank really fast to run multiple items at the same time.

An elevated platform held a sculpture called “The Bronze Turbine” by artist Lauri Slenning.

The panels represent the blades of a turbine, with relief images modeled after the artwork found on the dam’s elevators.  (You can see more of Lauri Slenning's sculpture on her website.)

Genevieve and Sebastian liked the sculpture, and they also liked the open space around the platform—without crowds, there was freedom to move all of their body parts and be silly.

We exited onto the Observation Deck for a fabulous view. Here is a picture showing the location of the deck, on top of the cylinder of cement that is attached to the brown building:

Ben on the deck:

Here I am, with Genevieve and Sebastian:

The expansive dam stretched to our left. Sebastian peeked over the edge of the wall:

To our right was the new bridge:

A small cage was carrying some workers along a wire high up in the air:

I don’t think anyone could pay me enough money to work on this bridge. I used to think that I was completely fine with heights until I went bungee jumping about 15 years ago. (I did eventually step off of the platform, but it took every bit of courage I had.)

The exhibit area had some drawings of how the completed bridge will look:

Returning to the parking lot, we walked back across the Arizona state line.

On the road again, heading west, we drove over the top of the dam and entered Nevada.

Here was the inspection station for vehicles traveling east across the dam:

One last look at Lake Mead:

Beyond the electrical wires, we could see some large homes that had a lake view:

Soon, the Las Vegas skyline appeared against the distant mountains.

Just south of Vegas, we passed the South Hills Community Church, with its motto “Making Jesus Famous.”

We were staying tonight at the Circus Circus KOA. We entered “the Strip” where many of the casinos were located:

Our “campground” was basically a large parking lot, with some amenities, but we were happy.

Circus Circus has a small amusement park inside, so we wandered over there after dinner.

First, Genevieve and Sebastian chose a ride that spun them up and down:

Then they rode around and around:

And then they had to go upside down (I joined them for this experience!):

This was Sebastian’s first loop-de-loop roller coaster, and he loved it! So much, in fact, that he went four times!

On wobbly legs, but with huge smiles, Genevieve and Sebastian made their way back to the RV tonight. There would be more fun tomorrow!


<< Day 12: I Can See Time! | Day 14: Viva Las Vegas and Home! >>

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin