Monday, October 31, 2011

Railroad Tunnel Trail

The Railroad Tunnel Trail, near Boulder City, NV, follows the path of a rail line built in 1931 to haul materials to construct Hoover Dam.

It's usually possible to walk all the way to the dam, but the trail was closed at last of the 5 tunnels for construction.

You get beautiful view of Lake Mead on one side of the trail.

It took 5 months, working round the clock, to drill the tunnels, through hard volcanic rock.

Portions of some of the tunnels have since been reinforced with wood.

At one place on the trail are some broken concrete plugs that were used as placeholders in the powerhouse floor of the dam until the turbines were installed.

We were very near Vegas and one night went to karaoke at a honky-tonk at the Treasure Island casino. Where else would you see karaoke singers in outfits like this?

I even got to meet Willie Nelson! (Believe that and I'll tell you another one...)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Viva Las Vegas!

My favorite part of Las Vegas is Fremont Street. A huge overhead screen, 4 blocks long, with 12 million lights, presents a show every hour in the evening.

The first hour was a Halloween bash.

While waiting for the next show, I saw some interesting tourists.

New this year is a zip line down the middle of the street.

And I had to go visit the money at Binion's - the closest I'LL ever get to a million dollars!

Then came the next show - my favorite, American Pie, the huge hit by Don McLean. While no one is really sure what this song is about, the first part is definitely about the day Buddy Holly died. I visited Clear Lake, IA, where Buddy Holly sang his last concert, a few years ago. To read about it, click here.

When Don McLean was asked what "American Pie" meant, he replied, "It means I never have to work again."

While in Vegas, we went to see Terry Fator. The shows in Vegas are a lot more expensive than they used to be, but this show was amazing!

Terry won the second season of America's Got Talent - he's an incredible combination of ventriloquist, impressionist, comedian, and singer.

Walter T. Airedale is the puppet that Terry has had the longest. Watch how Terry's lips don't move at all, while Walter sings one of my favorite songs.

During the show, Terry coerced an ex-Marine onto the stage to become a human puppet.

He then proceeded to sing a duet with the new Dolly Parton look-alike.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another Dam Town

Like Page, AZ, Boulder City, NV did not exist until sprang up to house workers building a dam. Hoover Dam was built in the early 1930s.

One really odd thing about the town is that bighorn sheep roam through the city park. They used to be up in the hills, but found the nice green grass too good to pass up.

The town is also loaded with some beautiful sculptures.

I met back up with the WINs here, after not seeing them since February. We stayed at Boulder Beach Campground on Lake Mead, and I had a great view out my window.

One evening we all went down to the nearby marina to have dinner.

But here's the crowning glory of Boulder City - Hoover Dam, with its unique Art Deco water intakes, and the brand new bypass bridge, built so traffic no longer has to drive over the dam. The bridge has the longest concrete arch span in the Western Hemisphere.

And look who else I met up with! - my sister, Roaming Barbara. Occasionally we do run into each other!

Near where the previous pictures were taken, there was an old WWII bunker. I had never noticed it before. We heard they are going to build a trail up to it.

Two years ago, I saw this sign on the road down to the dam and thought the picture was a little strange...

Well, it's even stranger now! I wonder what this poor young woman did to deserve this. And how long until someone tells her about it!

There is a walkway on the dam side of the bridge, so you are able to walk across and get a good view of Hoover Dam. Notice the "bathtub ring" on Lake Mead - it shows the water level at its highest point in 1988.

After all that, we had to go eat again. Notice everyone here is eating a healthy brunch except one person who is eating strawberry shortcake...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Great Falls

Whoa - where am I??? Not in Great Falls, Montana. This is the Great Falls of the Potomac River in Maryland, which I visited when I was back East for my son's wedding.

The locks next to the river are part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which ran 185 miles between Cumberland, MD and Washington, DC. There are 74 locks along the way.

The canal operated between 1831 and 1924. Today, tour boats take you through a few of the locks.

The boats are pulled by mules, just like in the olden days.

When the boat gets into the final lock, the mules are given a rest and the historically-clad humans take over.

First the water is let out, then the lock is opened.

And out they come!

At this point, it gets really interesting. The boat needs to be turned around, which is done by women with poles.

Then the passengers are let off.

You can also go out a walkway to view the falls. Believe it or not, people kayak down it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Road Trip to Bryce

It's a long drive from Page, AZ to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, but there is a shortcut - the Cottonwood Wash road.

Forty miles of dirt road sounds bad until you look at the scenery.

Wow - it looks like something from another planet!

A close up.

There's even wildlife!

And then you get to Bryce Canyon. Wow!

I walked down a little ways among the hoodoos.

To see the Queen in the Queen's Garden.

Another overlook, Fairyland Point, is one of my favorites. It's actually just outside the entrance to the park.

Then another 40 miles on dirt road back to Page. On the way is Grosvenor Arch.

And more beautiful scenery the WHOLE way home!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Page Two

Lone Rock, near Page, AZ, is a beautiful place to stay. And now that I'm old, I get in for free, and camping is only $5 per night.

Unfortunately, it's gotten a lot more crowded since I was first here 10 years ago.

But I managed to get away from the crowd and had a lovely view of Lone Rock. There is a lot to see and do in the Page area, and this is a good place to stay while exploring. (No, that's not my boat...)

A little south of town is Horseshoe Bend, where the Colorado River winds through Marble Canyon.

You can take a 5-hour raft trip through Marble Canyon to Lee's Ferry, and you can stop to use the facilities right where the Bend is. I thought about taking the trip, but it was really hot while I was there. Next time!

One thing I hadn't done before was take a tour of Glen Canyon Dam. The town of Page did not exist before the dam was built in the late 1950s. This turbine is one of the 8 original installed in the dam.

We got to walk out on the dam, lean over the edge, and take pictures.

Under the bridge you can see the blue raft boats that go down the canyon. Are you wondering how you get to them? There is a 2-mile long tunnel that starts on the other end of town and ends here.

Then we went down an elevator to see the dam's power plant.

Inside we saw the 8 generators. The one in the foreground was being rebuilt.

Now, a couple things I forgot to say in the last 2 posts. While I was in Virginia, my grandson, Jonathan, celebrated his 4th birthday.

And several people commented that they didn't think they could handle the ladders in Lower Antelope Canyon. I forgot to say that Upper Antelope Canyon is level, and only a short walk. It costs even more, but is still worth it, if that's your only option.