Sunday, March 17, 2013

Las Vegas, Nevada

A Joshua tree in northwestern Arizona.  It is only found in the Mohave Desert.  The name was given by a group of Mormons who crossed the desert in the mid-19th century.  The tree's unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.

A member of the yucca family, the flowers are produced from February to late April.

The flower petals are very soft with tones from green to pale white.
The drive to Nevada was mainly through the desert.

Beautiful mountain ranges.

More desert.

Our first glimpse of the new bridge over Hoover Dam.

Looking out at Lake Mead from Boulder City, Nevada.

Las Vegas !!!

We drove to Las Vegas to see my sister, Sandi,and her family, and the sights.  Our first trip was to Hoover Dam built in 1935.  Hoover Dam and Lake Mead have been providing flood control, irrigation, drinking water, and power to many communities in the desert southwest.  It was originally built to protect farmland in southern California from being flooded out by the Colorado River.

Hoover Dam is recognized as one of the world's greatest engineering and construction achievements.  Built of 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete, it is 726 feet high, 660 feet thick at the base, and  1,244 feet long at the crest.  It was the highest dam in the world from 1935 to 1967.  Lake Mead continues to be the largest man-made reservoir in North America.  Built during the Depression, over 5,000 workers from almost every state in the nation joined forces to complete it in less than five years.

The Arizona side of the dam looking over to the Nevada side.

A view of Lake Mead from the dam. 

Lake Mead is 112 miles long and has 550 miles of shoreline.  When the lake is full it is 500 feet at its depth with 247 miles of surface.  Unfortunately, the lake has not reached this capacity in more than a decade.  The white lines along the shore show the drop in water level.

A spillway on the dam.

The wall holding back the Colorado River.

The Colorado River being released through the dam.

A statue representing one of the workers who built Hoover Dam.

The Mike O' Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is a bridge that spans the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada. Opened in 2010, it was a key component of the Hoover Dam Bypass project which rerouted traffic on US 93 away from the top of the Hoover Dam. In this picture you are looking up at the bridge from the top of the dam. The bridge was the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States and incorporates the widest arch in the Western Hemisphere. It is 840 feet above the Colorado River and is the second highest bridge in the U.S. following the Royal Gorge Bridge.

  Imagine driving over that bridge......we did it twice in the rig.

The bridge arches  were constructed from both canyon walls reaching toward the middle.  The opposite halves of the twin-rib arch were each made of 26 segments that hung in midair from cables until the builders placed the concrete of the final narrow closure.  The cable-way system lowered pre-made cages of steel reinforced bars into place for each concrete segment.  Workers toiling 800 feet above the Colorado River connected the steel cages by hand.  They set the forms, placed the concrete, and moved on to the next segment.

A view of Hoover Dam from atop the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bridge. 

I think this is such an amazing view.

My sister, Sandi, and me at the top of Hoover Dam.

She's older (hence the respect), but I'm taller.

During our stay in Las Vegas we took the pups out for a hike in Red Rock Canyon. It certainly lives up to its name.
Right outside of Las Vegas, it is a very popular area for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and wilderness camping.

Red Rock Canyon receives its name from the colorful sandstone mountains.  They are a record of a prehistoric desert formed 180 million years ago when an area from southwestern Nevada, Utah,and Colorado was covered under massive sand dunes.

These dunes, often several hundred feet thick, shifted with the wind and were eventually cemented together by iron oxide and calcium carbonate to form these brightly colored hills.

The pups walking one of the trails.

Sandi's dog, Sophie, joined us but since this was her first time she didn't get far away from her mama.

Clusters of cacti in shades of pink.

We got to see our niece, Stephanie, and her husband, Tim, and their son, Deven.  Deven is a big baseball player so he had to run off for a practice game.  But is that a smile, or what?

And, finally, we got to the Las Vegas strip and shot a few pictures.

I'd hate to see the light bill in this town.

We met our other niece, Stacey, and her husband Jarrod, along with my sister, Sandi, for dinner at the Cosmopolitan Casino on the strip.

The meal was great and for dessert we had a special treat frozen in liquid nitrogen.  You put it in your mouth and when you bite into it smoke comes out.  Jarrod, Brett and I thought it was pretty cool.  Sandi and Stacey not so much........
This is called the Crystal Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Casino and it is over two stories tall.

We were amazed at the size and luxury of the casino.  There were gambling tables everywhere and so many slot machines that we were overwhelmed.  We had thought we might play one but were afraid to admit we couldn't figure them out so we just went home.  Yeah, we know..........

Enough of the big city for this traveling pair.  Time to pick up stakes and head for Utah to see Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  But we are planning on coming back to Vegas and checking the strip out again.  Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky.....  Peace!


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