Gold Canyon, Az

Gold Canyon, Az
New Years Day 2015, Gold Canyon, AZ

Thursday, March 16, 2017

DAM. Real big Dam.

On Friday we left the craziness that is coastal California behind.  For all the attractions that California has to offer it simply has too many people and traffic for us.  The wide open spaces of Az, Nv and Ut are much more to our liking.  I could feel the tension in my neck muscles relax every time the highway went from 6 to 5 and eventually down to 2 lanes of divided highway.  Still lots of traffic headed for Las Vegas but the pace was much easier to deal with.  Although some of the drivers down here are crazy, just like at home, they are very accommodating when I was trying to merge into a lane.  I also learned that its legal, at least according to our shuttle driver, for motorcycles to drive between 2 lanes of traffic to get to the front of the line.  Guess that was confirmed when I saw 2 CHIPs officers doing it to get to the front of a turning lane, and their lights weren't flashing.

Pulled into Canyon Trails RV Park in Boulder City, Nv. at about 2:30 after a 5 1/2 hour uneventful drive.   Its a nice campground with wide pull thru sites and after the all night traffic noise in Orangeland RV park the quiet here is real nice.  We are only about 35 miles from Vegas however with traffic and construction it is probably an hours drive to the strip.  More importantly for us we are only 10 minutes from Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.  Red Rock Canyon is about 1 hour away and we plan a day trip at some point in our stay.  We were also thinking of making the 3 hour drive to Death Valley but as we are both fighting colds and temps are in the 90's I think that destination will have to wait for another year.

We went to Hoover Dam on Monday and discovered it is quite the operation as far as processing people.  Since 911 the security at all infrastructure facilities has increased dramatically and given the prominence of Hoover Dam security is very prominent.  On our way in our vehicle had to pass through a security checkpoint where we just got a wave and a smile but some were being pulled over for a search.  I think they had cameras under the road to look for bombs under vehicles as one of the officers yelled "clear" as we approached.  After getting thru that line and then the line to get in the parkade, which thankfully had lots of clearance for my truck, we got in the line for the search of our bags.  Then we had to remove all metal objects from our pockets and our belts and go through a metal detector and wand search.  Not much different than getting on a plane or for that matter, the security at Disney.  Guess that is just the world we live in.

The parking was $10. plus $60 for the two of us to take the Dam tour.  There were lots of people and they had the whole process down to a science.   2 elevators, each containing about 30 people took us down about 500 feet into the bowels of the Dam.  It was quite interesting seeing the inner corridors that run through the structure as well as a closeup of the electric generators.

Here are some shots of our Dam tour and our first few days of activities.

A shot downriver from the Dam.  Took this from one of the
ventilation shafts about halfway down the Dam.   The slats were just big
enough to get my camera lens through.

Some of the different jobs and their wages during construction.
My personal favourite is Powder Monkey although I don't think I'd
take the job at any price and certainly not .70 cents per hour

In its day it was said to be one of the modern wonders of the world.
Its still pretty amazing today.  All the engineering calculations that had to be done
were done without computers or calculators and much of the work was done
under 100 degree sunshine.  

A shot down from the top of the Dam.  The 2 buildings extending out from the
bottom of the Dam each contain 7 generators sending electricity to
Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and points in between.
The turbulence in the water between the 2 buildings is the water exiting the turbines.  

Notice how the towers at the edge of the canyon are leaning into the canyon.
Thats to prevent the transmission lines from touching the walls of the canyon and shorting out.
The Memorial Bridge in the background now handles most of the traffic. 

One of the generator rooms.

This was the ventilation shaft that I took the top picture from.  The shaft is just under 6 feet in diameter so no crawling required. 

These are 2 of the 4 intake towers where the water is taken in through underwater
tunnels to power the turbines in the generators.  The white line on the rocks is the
high-water mark of Lake Mead.  The current level of Lake Mead is about 135 feet
below this line as a result of almost 10 years of reduced snow-pac in the Rockies.   

This is the overflow spillway.  It has only been used once when in 1983 the lake
got to within 7 feet of the top of Hoover Dam.  As you can see there is no danger
 of it being used for awhile.

This is the tunnel that will take the water in the spillway past the dam and
into the Colorado River on the other side. 

Picture taken from the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.  Football fans will remember the name Pat Tillman.

Even this massive parking garage is built into the canyon walls.
Thousands of people pass through here every day with more than a
million taking the guided tours each year. 

On Wednesday we took the Historic Railroad Trail which followed the route of trains that hauled supplies to the Hoover Dam build site.  It provided some great views and the walk through the 5 tunnels kept us cool.

This is the view just down the street from our RV Park.
Not bad to get up to this every morning. 

The low cloud didn't allow for the full array of colours to show themselves in
 the picture but still pretty striking. 

The tunnels were originally supported with wooden beams and lined with boards
 to prevent rocks from falling on the trains cargo.  Time and a fire destroyed
most of the wood.  These re-creations are just at the entrance to the tunnels where
falling rock is a danger.  Much of the inside of the tunnels are sprayed with
shotcrete, kind of like stucco, to keep rocks from falling on the tourists. 

Lake Mead is the playground for the area.  The paddlewheel cruise ship is just
heading out to take some tourists for a unique view of the area. 

Pretty nice to have these views out your back door. 

Spring has definitely hit the desert and combine that with the abundance of rain
this winter the flowers are blooming everywhere.

Thats it so far for our Nevada adventures.  This cold has slowed me down a bit and when combined with the 90 degree temperatures siting in the shade of our trailer reading a book a about as adventurous as we got today.  Perhaps a trip into Vegas tomorrow or perhaps not.

I did get some pictures of the interior of our house which is now complete so perhaps I will do another short blog to share our new home with you.