MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hoover Dam & Las Vegas

The first time I ever went to Las Vegas (4 years ago), I made sure to take a day trip to Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead Recreation Area.  Not knowing what to expect, I was struck by the beauty of the architecture inside the facility and in the area around the dam - complex mosaics on the floor, statues guarding the dam, the monument to those that built it.  It was impressive.  It was grand. And it was guarded (outside and inside).  Still,  the power it creates, the control it commands - you could not help but be awe-struck.  The water was go clear, I could see fish swimming below as I looked down the side of the dam.  Looking along the edges of Lake Mead, the drought was obvious; bleached rock illustrated the dropping water line.   And the heat... oh, the heat!  The tour guide warned everyone to take water if they wanted to walk on the dam, the temperature was well over 115 F.  But what can you expect when you decide to do this in the heat of the summer, right?

The trip marked an iconic structure off my must see list and answered curiosity I had on the storied structure.  And it left me heat sick for the rest of the day!

Hoover Dam has come up a few times the last few days.  A good friend is headed to Las Vegas for the extended weekend, and they have never toured the dam even through they have been to the area a few times.  I highly recommended it.  It came up again in a gathering of friends yesterday... there, I was told that it was now closed to visitors.  Stories of bomb plots and danger were weaved.  I was surprised.  I thought that it was an important symbol not only for the Bureau of Reclamation but as a testament to American engineering.   I had been following stories of the bridge by-pass construction.  Everyone I knew that drove over it spoke of the horrible traffic... I never had that opportunity, just that walk in the extreme heat.

After a few quick web searches, I discovered that the dam in not closed to visitors, it is closed to those that want to drive over it.   The by-pass bridge is now completed; traffic will no longer be routed over the Dam.  They say it will be quicker.  And I am sure that it will be safer.  You can still see the dam though.  All tourists to the dam will still be vetted through security... and they should.  You get taken into the bowels of the dam.  You are afforded access to the structure.  It is worth it.  So.... I am going to recommend to my friend that the trip be made.  It is worth it.  And if you are in the area, stop by Boulder City - there were quite a few local artisan shops that sold native designed jewelry.  Much cheaper than in Vegas, and a great place to get a quick bite away from the lights.

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