Keeping with our weekend’s Vegas theme, Kris and I got out of the city during our last day and visited Hoover Dam. I must say, all this things you hear about Vegas being in the middle of nowhere are absolutely true. Anyway, maybe we should begin at the beginning…
We had just finished our morning coffee and were trying to decide what we wanted to do for our last day in Vegas as we had already walked the entirety of the strip and had a number of unique experiences. Running a quick Google search for excursions, I stumbled across a tour group called, “Pink Jeep Adventures.”
I found a number of cool trips that were full-day, half-day and some that were just a few hours. Searching the list of adventures there were only a few that were not sold out. Apparently many folks had the same idea as me. There were two remaining with room for Kris and I. We had to choose between Joshua Tree National Park and Hoover Dam.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go see Joshua Tree Park however I didn’t wish to be in the “Pink Jeep” for several hours to drive there… not this morning and not with a belly full of coffee and pastries… Hoover Dam won out in the end and we hastily gathered up a morning’s provisions and headed to the lobby awaiting a call from our driver and tour guide.
Mere moments later our guide Phil called and we wandered outside the main lobby to find a bright pink van awaiting. Phil introduced himself and gave us some water and snacks and ushered us into the van. Phil was an awesome guide (we could tell he had been doing this for years). As we careened down side streets from casino hotel to casino hotel we picked up several other couples who had a penchant for hydroelectric power.
During the drive out of town, Phil regaled us with tales of old and new Vegas. There is a very colorful history in this city and it would seem like it has been thriving by keeping an eye on the horizon of entertainment and changing to meet the times. Headed out of town we drove past several new high-rise hotel and convention centers, the T-Mobile Arena (home to the NHL’s Golden Knights) and the new NFL stadium which was nearly completed at this time.
A mile or so out of town things began to become quite desolate (think Tatooine from the original Star Wars without the Jawas). Eventually the road became rougher and the terrain changed to a canyon filled landscape and in the distance Lake Mead and portions of the Colorado River were visible.
Driving through a small defense department roadblock, we were allowed onto the Hoover Dam Road that runs atop the dam itself. With Lake Mead on one side and the spillway and Colorado River on the other, it was truly an impressive site. On the Arizona side of the dam we departed the van and the tour began. As always I missed the entire thing because I was taking pictures of anything and everything. Honestly, I think I have a disease… Anyway, I gathered that the spillway has only been activated a handful of times in the dams existence and that at this time it was well below capacity as could be seen from the lines in the escarpments above the lake’s surface.
Further along the dam we took some snapshots at the state lines of Nevada and Arizona then all the touristy images one would expect. Moments later the tour went into the actual dam and we got a look at the turbines and innards of the edifice. Now, I like hydroelectric power and riparian rights as much as the next guy, but I never expected to see the grandeur of a facility such as this. Apparently the Hoover Dam provides electricity to much of the geographic region as well as controls the water distribution for nearly the entirety of the American Southwest!
At the end of the tour we emerged in… the gift shop. That is so tacky, I mean, how come it always has to be IN the gift shop. Naturally, I perused the shop and spent too much for a magnet, postcards and the like. Loaded back into the pink jeep we returned to Vegas and spent the rest of the day wandering in and out of casinos on a search for “Big Elvis.”
In regards to the Hoover Dam, my words do no justice to the magnificence of this feet of engineering. Maybe if I paid attention I would have gotten more out of the experience and had more to share. I’m going to blame it on being in a daze from the glitz and glamour of Vegas and our pending hunt for “Big Elvis.”