Tuesday, August 28, 2007

(17) Hoover Dam, Las Vegas Nevada

Hoover Dam
Las Vegas

My trek from Kingman Az took me the loop route to Boulder City Nv, via California! Afterwards, I found out that my camper could have made it down the switchback road leading to the Hoover Dam. And it could have saved me about a hundred miles. Route 93 is more direct, so for all you Rv’ers, you can take it on your way to Las Vegas from Arizona.

After settling in in Boulder City, I of course toured the Hoover Dam. It creates Lake Mead which has over 550 miles of shoreline. Our tour guide said the dam was built of solid concrete, without any rebar or metal inside and it’s estimated to last 2,000 years. Of course at the rate the water is going down behind the dam, approx. 10 feet each year over the past 5 years, it may not be needed in the future. It’s actually gone down 45 feet in those 5 years. They say at this rate, Lake Mead could be dry within 15 years. My friends Betty and Dave told me Las Vegas is building a large pipeline to carry more water to Vegas to handle this extended drought.

But I have to wonder, after seeing all the Indian Cliff Dwellings and pueblo’s that were abandoned so many years ago due to droughts and lack of water sources, could this happen again in modern day? Or will mans ingenuity figure out a solution. Water from the polar ice caps???

Although I enjoyed touring the Hoover Dam, I was not impressed by the 1.5 million dollars spent on the visitors center and tour. The film was short and grainy and the tour consisted of going down 50+ stories into the heart of the dam (which was cool) to see a portion of the diversion tunnels and the hydro-generators. That’s it. The tour I took two years ago at the Glen Canyon Dam was much more extensive and educational. But I did learn that the locals (the tour guide In particular) is very concerned about the shortage of water and the explosive growth in the Las Vegas area. Demanding more and more water every day. Oh and the new bridge, which will be a spectacular height over the Colorado River will be completed in 2008. It will be used to bypass having to cross over the Hoover dam. (See the pillars on the side of the mountain)
Las Vegas. I’m staying on the Nellis Air Force Base’s Fam Camp. My friends Betty and Dave are camp host here and have been in the area off and on for over 3 years. Betty and Dave live in a “well lived in” motor home. Vegas is a little too hot for my taste. The last couple of days have been in the 100-105 range. Today we are having a dust storm, which I gather they have fairly frequently. Expected wind gusts of 55-65 mph and lots of dust to obscure the views. Speaking of dust and wind, I’m on the north side of town, lots of industrial type buildings and vacant lots. The thing I noticed the most on this side of town are the chain link fences with lots of litter and paper trash blown up against them. Makes the city look really dirty.

Of course, one can see the bright city center from just about anywhere in this flat bowl shaped city surrounded by bare brown mountain ranges. It’s a gorgeous view at night.

Dave and Betty had me over for dinner the first night and a couple days later, I was invited to a BBQ at their neighbors. Met a lot of really nice folks from the area. Another evening, Dave drove us downtown so I could see the sights at night without my having to drive. Thanks Dave! Oh and just before we got onto the main strip in Las Vegas, Betty pointed out a couple of blocks of homeless people with blankets hung from fences in a lean-two style. Right there on the main drag! Kind of sad, so close to all the glitz and glamour of the Vegas strip.

Celine Dion. There was an article on Celine Dion in the local paper out here. Including a recent picture of her and her son on a magazine cover. The son is 7 years old and has really long blond hair, below the shoulder. Not a pretty site, unless he wants to look like a girl…. Which he does. Celine has him home schooled, so he has almost no contact with other children. And Renee, her husband, has been reported as continuing to have a major gambling problem to the tune of about a million dollars a week. Looks like most of the money she’s earning, working out here in Vegas, is going to his gambling addiction. Oh and he’s teaching his son how to play poker… Hmmm let’s see, a looser teaching his son how to play the game. I think they are all living in a fantasy world and Celine is going to be the big looser in the end. I know my Canadian friends won’t be happy to here this… I’m just the reporter guys….

Mid week Betty, Dave and I went to visit with a former co-worker, Bob Havens. Bob has moved from Orlando to Vegas and has bought a nice small two bedroom condo on the west side of town. The condo is in a more upscale area, with lots of trees and water hungry lawns. Bob’s condo complex has stopped (or slowed down) building, as many of the units are unsold. After an extensive tour of his condo (currently unfurnished after a year) (how one can have an extensive tour of an empty condo is beyond me) and pool/clubhouse, we were off to see the Red Rock Canyon State Park.

Now here’s a great park for viewing and hiking the many mountain ranges of Nevada. Did you know that Nevada has the most mountain ranges of all 50 states! We didn’t do any of the hikes, as Dave is still under Doctor’s care, but the car ride and views were just wonderful. And it’s literally just minutes outside of the edge of town. Which of course keeps expanding. The desert in this region has very little vegetation. Little to no cactus grows here. Just some dried up sage brush. They tell me the extreme temperatures, from the 120’s down to freezing doesn’t permit plants to survive well here.

The following day I finally did the Las Vegas strip crawl. Now even though I walked up and down the strip for about 6 hours, I only saw about half of the really large casino’s. I did have lunch at Bellagio’s (a high class buffet for $20.00) (including lake trout, fresh haddock, curried duck, pasta and many other goodies) and I gambled at Cesar’s, The Mirage, Billy’s Gamblin’ Hall (where I did real well) (I.e. I didn’t loose money) and finished my tour by seeing The Wynn of Las Vegas, which I personally think, of all of them, is the most elegant. The best exterior goes to Paris Las Vegas. I was surprised at how tightly they are all crammed together. I would even go back to the Wynn as I noted that a couple of their restaurants were very affordable. In the $18-$20 range for dinner.

Now as a full time camper my impression of going in so many of the big hotel/casino’s was this.
Watching all the visitors waiting in lines to check in, towing luggage, waiting for rides to the airport, I couldn’t help but think, I am so lucky to have a camper that has everything in it. I just pull up, set up, and I’m ready to explore a new destination. No packing, unpacking or waiting for someone to check me in and out of a hotel. And the cost of camping sure is considerably less than a room out here. I understand the basic rooms are now going for $200 a night. Yikees. My $18 a night at this campground sure seems a lot better.

Odd note. Las Vegas tries to hide their cell phone towers. They’re disguised as big pine trees which of course looks completely out of place, as this is a desert and there are no trees that tall anywhere in the state, just desert, rocks and mountains.

For those interested, here are my camping and gas expenses for the past couple of months:


MARCH $339.07 11.30 $750.65 9.02

APRIL $584.30 19.48 $636.85 9.7

MAY $431.47 14.38 $700.96 not available

Of course just double that amount for other expenses (food and entertainment) and you have a basic idea of my travel expenses and unexpected things like $900 repair bills.

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