Hoover Dam and Sin City

First, a few thoughts about Las Vegas… We were not supposed to be here. We were supposed to stay in Palm Desert, California instead. But fate intervened. On past stays in the Cochilla Valley, Mrs Bear rented a touring bike and rode each morning while I played golf. Obviously, her broken leg disrupted our plans… We switched to Las Vegas because we thought it was a more adaptive spot for her needs.

So we drove in from the California Coast through some very pretty desert country. In particular, the Joshua Trees in the Mojave Desert were striking.


Las Vegas is not our style. We are not gamblers or people who partake in other sins. Mrs Bear was not all that enthused about even rolling around on the strip. She came out once, and then opted more for sights out of town…More on that in a bit. The pic above was from our villa window, and it looks like this all night.

My thoughts about Las Vegas: Walking the Strip is like walking through Times Square in NYC, only 15 -20 times longer. Everything is neon…Wild advertisements of shows (rather than Broadway musicals)… Weird people dressed up in weird outfits ( like NYC), But there are differences. New York is much more international…Tourists from everywhere, speaking all kinds of languages…Las Vegas tourists are predominately American with a smattering of Chinese and Hispanic-speakng couples. The food, attractions, and stores are either high end or low end, nothing in between. I went to one show: Circus Soleil’s tribute to the Beatles…It was great. I found myself thinking that I could go to shows every night for a few days and, overall, have a good time.


The hotels are huge and gaudy…They try to attract people by having some outlandish motif…There was a French theme, complete with an Eiffel Tower, a Roman theme, New York, Venice, and others. It was fun to walk the street and see the reproductions The night photo shows the twin towers of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings.

On our second morning, we skipped town and toured Hoover Dam. This dam, which most of you would recognize from photos, came about when Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover ( Coolidge Administration) negotiated a compromise between all the states that wanted their share of the Colorado River’s water.


Work began in 1931 and was completed by a group of five major building companies that formed a consortium. Since this was the period of the Great Depression, lots of men came seeking work. Concrete was poured nonstop for years until the project was completed. Well over 130 workers were killed during construction…Falls, “pneumonia ( which was probably carbon monoxide poisoning),  being in the wrong place at the wrong time, etc.  FDR dedicated it in 1935, and generators, 15 in all, were brought on-line for hydroelectric power.

There are are two tours available…Mrs Bear was able to go on the tour of the generators, which are housed on either side of the dam, as seen above right. We were also able to roll across the top of the dam, from Nevada to Arizona. At the top, Hoover is only 45 feet…But as one looks down, the dam thickens to 660 feet in width. The height is 726 feet.


The photo above shows the generators on the Nevada side. Water is pumped through them at high pressure in the same way it was utilized in the Alaska gold mines: By making the tubes smaller and smaller which builds up the pressure and turns the generators.

This is video shows the dam construction in 14 seconds !!

Finally, a couple photos from the top…One looking towards the Colorado River upstream (l) with the new highway above, and the other looking at the beginning of Lake Mead (r) which now holds 156,000 acres of water with a maximum depth of near 500 feet.

Mrs Bear and I had been looking forward to this experience and were not disappointed.



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