Nevada- Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas

And just like that we are in Nevada. We have entered the Pacific Coast Time Zone and will be stay in this time zone for the next 6 months while we visit California, Oregon and Washington. That means Chris is up at 5:30 a.m. working and the sun is setting at 4:45 pm right now (winter). It has taken us a week to get into this new schedule of eating earlier and going to bed earlier. We LOVE our campsite, it’s our favorite so far. We stayed at Lake Mead RV Village. The view out the front window is picture perfect. Apparently the locals think this is ugly because they are disappointed in how low it is. I still see the beauty in the fact that it provides water to 7 surrounding states. This is Lake Mead; it is the largest man made reservoir lake in the United States. Lake Mead is the by product of building Hoover Dam which is the largest dam in the US. It is at it’s lowest levels in history. It is a National Recreation Area by the National Park services so they have a nice visitors center and junior ranger program. We were able to enter free again because of Mackenzie’s Every Kid in a Park pass.

For the first time since we launched 4 months ago we had a chance to pull out our kayaks. We kayaked over to the islands in the middle because there was a round structure that we were curious to explore. When we reached the island, we hiked to the top (even though one of us had on flip flops). It was a beautiful view. When we got back we researched what the ruins used to be. The structure was built into the side of the Boulder Hills to provide a settling basin for sediment-rich Colorado River water. Clarified water was then piped to a plant below, to wash gravel used to make concrete for the dam. When the dam was finished and lake was filled, the Boulder Hills became the Boulder Islands and the tank disappeared below the surface of the lake.

Drought has reversed that process.

We enjoyed a 4 mile family bike ride Sunday afternoon to the visitors center. There was a steep incline the whole way but the girls did great. They LOVED the ride home downhill the whole way and said it was worth it. Chris bought a new bike and we dropped his old one off at a local bike shop so they could fix it up and donate it. We bought a bike cover to help protect the bikes from the extremes. They were garage kept before we moved and 4 months outside has taken a toll on them.

 

We enjoyed watching the supermoon rise over the lake on January 1st. There will be another one on January 31st so it is called a Blue Moon.

We learned about the Desert Bighorn sheep (Nevada’s state animal) and the mussel (Quagga) that has invaded the Lake.

We learned there was a park close by where a herd of  Bighorn Sheep roamed across daily. We drove up to this park, called Hemenway Park, at 9:30am and sure enough they were there! Their horns really are magnificent. The girls had fun running around the park, dodging sheep droppings. Surprising they are little black pellets like rabbit droppings.. TMI?

 

We found a cute diner in downtown Boulder City (a city that was only built for the families that built the Hoover Dam). It was called Southwest Diner. It serves good ole fashion home cooking… we had meatloaf and pot roast.

 

Hoover Dam

What an amazing engineering marvel. The Hoover Dam, built in 1931, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between Nevada and Arizona. It is the tallest concrete dam in America. You can walk across it for free but we also wanted to take the Dam tour with a Dam tour guide. . He he:) There are two different tours, one is the Power plant tour and it is 30 minutes for $15 and then there is the Dam Tour that costs $30 but is an hour and includes the Power plant, inside the Dam and the visitors center. FYI.. it’s $10 to park on the Nevada side and free on the Arizona side:)

The girls had a lot of fun standing in two states at the same time!

 

 

Tour

Our Dam tour guide was great. The Hoover Dam is one of the most phenomenal structures in history and it was built in the 1930’s.  The energy supplies power to three states (CA, AZ and NV). The project used 4.36 million cubic yards of concrete to build the dam and the power plant.  All this concrete posed some challenges like the fact that it would take years to cool and this gradual drying would have causes cracks.  To speed up the process, an engineering team designed a giant refrigeration machine, that dispensed thousands of tons of ice every day, speeding up the cooling. The air vent we climbed through is one of 4 that was developed to help continue to cure the concrete… it’s still hardening! Another interesting fact is that it is 660 feet thick!

The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (the dam bypass) measures 1,905 feet long and soars nearly 900 feet above the Colorado River, making it the longest single-span concrete arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere as well as the second-highest bridge of any type in America.

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We felt like we were in the movie The Fugitive.

 

 

Ethel M. Chocolate Factory, Cactus Garden and

acrylic (fancy for plastic) skating with family

Yes, you read that correctly, I said acrylic skating. Chris’s cousin Amy and Aunt Kathy live in Henderson, which is only about 30 minutes from where we were staying. Amy came up with a fun activity for us to do together. We planned to meet up on Wednesday evening. We met at the Elthel M. chocolate factory.  As you enter you are greeted with samples and shown how to do the self guided factory tour. We saw them making chocolate coins and caramel. During the holiday season they decorate their cactus garden with Christmas lights. It was a lovely sight to see.  They had advertised that they had ice skating for $10 per person until the 7th. It happened to be a chilly evening so we all bundled up so we would be prepared for outdoor ice skating. I paid, signed a waiver (maybe I should have read it because maybe they stated that it wasn’t real ice) and then we were sent outside and around the corner to get our skates on at the rink. I am not kidding when I tell you that it was a piece of plastic laid out next to the cactus garden with plastic guard rail put up around it. Everyone was given ICE skates to skate on PLASTIC! It was difficult to watch the girls try to maneuver on the white acrylic panels. They were not amused. They made the best of it and hung in there with their second cousins.

One evening, we took the girls down to the Las Vegas strip to show them around. We came out here with them four years ago when Chris’s mother lived here but Mackenzie barely remembers it. First we drove them to the Las Vegas sign but there was a huge line to take pictures. We all agreed it wasn’t worth it for a picture so we just drove by and took one from the Jeep.

We parked behind the Paris casino (free for one hour and $7 for 3 hours) and walked them around a Vegas block to show them the Eiffel tower (1/4 the scale of real one in France), Caesar’s forum shops and Bellagio’s blown glass ceiling sculpture and fountain. They were able to feel the energy and see the lights at night. We enjoyed dinner inside Caesar’s.

 

 

Happy New Year!

New Year’s eve was the worst ever for me. We were all excited and prepared for the night, complete with our headbands, noise makers and confetti. We started the evening eating dinner around a campfire and then roasting marshmallows while chatting with our neighbor. Then we came inside because Chris had a horrible headache and needed to lay down. He was in bed at 8:00pm PST. I was fine, out in the living room with the girls watching the New York City celebration. The girls and I were staying up to watch the ball drop at midnight on the east coast then heading to bed. Real crazy partiers here. At 8:45pm, I threw up. It came out of nowhere and for the next 6 hours I was in the bathroom every 15 minutes. It was horrible. The next day, I slept all day. Chris started feeling better in the afternoon so he took the girls to see Stars Wars again. This time at the IMAX 3D at the casino near us. It’s hard to be sick in such a small space. Luckily, the girls were fine and still are.

Let’s hope this is no indication of how 2018 is going to be.

 

 

I loved watching the sun and moon rise out our front window every morning.

Outdoor classroom

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7 thoughts on “Nevada- Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas

  1. Kristina

    The western desert are often overlooked but intresting places. You guys are doing a great job digging into the culture and history! I’ll have to remember about those big horn sheep when we head through Nevada

    Liked by 1 person

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