Friday, 14 July 2017

Sin City, Here we Come!

Leaving Williams, it was back onto Interstate 40 for a while until we reached Seligman where we turned off onto the longest intact section of Route 66 which we would follow all the way to Kingman where we would leave I-40 and head northwest to Las Vegas, crossing the Colorado alongside the Hoover Dam on the way.  Here's the route: Williams to Las Vegas.

Seligman is lined with route 66 tourist stores, each of which had a tour bus or two parked outside. We gave them a miss... One of the landmarks is the "Roadkill Cafe". Too early for lunch - and a couple more tour buses parked outside. We carried on...

It's all desert and Reservations until Kingman is reached with just a few remains from the time prior to the Interstate being built. If you've seen the movie "Cars", the little cameo about the roadside businesses on Route 66 dying seems to be absolutely true

Above and below - Route 66 between Seligman and Kingman

 Kingman is a stop for victuals at Wal-Mart - the store of choice for those with RVs as the car parks are huge and easy to access; and no-one seems to be bothered that we are taking up 4 spaces. It is turning hot and the wind is getting up. The next part of the journey is along a road that is scheduled to be replaced by a new Interstate, so is busy, busy, busy. And with a 30mph crosswind gusting to 50mph, it is not enjoyable as we have over 400 square feet of side area to act as a sail. 

Eventually, we pass through Boulder City and Henderson to find ourselves in downtown Vegas. After a few arguments with the satnav, which naturally I lose, we pull into the Oasis RV Resort. The satnav remains cool and collected while I am getting more and more agitated about missing turns and needing to make a U turn across an eight lane highway.

The use of the term "resort" rather than campground is most appropriate - security guard on the entrance, reception like a 5 star hotel, a Wedding venue (this is Vegas of course), a huge pool and hot tub complex complete with a beach and well laid out plots to park our RV. A little close together, but very acceptable.

Hoover Dam

We had arranged a tour to Hoover Dam before we left home. The amount of choice of tour companies is overwhelming, but one caught our eye as it was small groups of no more than 6 people and operated using limo style Hummers. Ours turned up a little early and met us at the park reception. It was to be ours exclusively. Our driver and guide, Thomas, was an interesting character. He'd served in the US Army as a combat engineer and re-trained as a teacher of English as a foreign language, working in South East Asia. driving tours pays better, but the fact that he is married to a professor of economics might help. Big Horn Wild West Tours if you are looking for a recommendation.

You probably know the story of Hoover dam and how it was built as a flood control and irrigation project for central California and that electrical generation is a side benefit that just happens to have paid for the construction and running costs. Its actual construction was the work of a genius civil engineer and unlike many such projects, this one is actually attractive to look at with many art-nouveau features.

Hoover Dam from the lake mead side showing the inlet towers. The size of the cars crossing the dam road gives a clue to its size

the dam itself, looking at some of the detail in the design

Looking over the edge down to the generating halls below. Not recommended for those who have vertigo

The Colorado River now tamed and given up its energy for electrical generation continues to flow out to the Gulf of California in Mexico. The bridge now carries the highway, prior to it being built, all traffic travelled over the top of the dam.

Our tour then took us down to the dynamo hall, passing through one of the original diversion tunnels constructed to carry the flow of the river while the dam was built. These now carry the pipes with the water to power the turbines that in turn power the dynamos.
You don't want to think about what might happen if that pipe was to burst with all the weight of water behind it...

One of the two generating halls, each of which houses 7 turbine driven dynamos, of which 5 are in service, one is undergoing maintenance and the other is spare.  The staircases help to give an impression of size. I fully expected Blofeld to appear at some point

Kevin & Ann hit the Strip

Time to behave like proper tourists in Vegas and look in amazement at the hotels along the Strip. We call a taxi, which will arrive in 5 minutes. After 30 minutes we are still waiting, so call the cab company, who are going to send a second cab which will arrive momentarily. Which it doesn't. Ann goes to ask the concierge to call us a reliable taxi as ours turns up. the trick, we discover, is not to use the regular cabs, but to use Uber. but first I have to update my Uber app as it is set for my UK phone, not the US one. Lesson learnt for future trips...

We start at Bellagio and quickly find we have walked to Paris!

It's all a bit mad!

Sunday is a chill out by the pool morning, with a second trip to the Strip for the after
noon before seeing "Michael Jackson" in the evening. Ann, being of a certain age, wanted to see Donny & Marie Osmond, but they obviously heard we were in town and had cleared off for the week.

"Michael Jackson", otherwise known as "MJLive" is a good show. He certainly had the moves and a better "moonwalk" than MJ himself!

So that was Sunday; Monday is another day of soaking up the lunacy of this place and seeing the "Australian BeeGees" in the evening. We started at the Venetian:
Looks like the market near the Rialto bridge in Venice, but it is inside the hotel
Even dafter is the gondola rides on the canal inside the hotel

And a perfect replica of the Rialto Bridge
 Crossing the road, we are back in the USA again at The Mirage. Apart from gambling, the attraction here is a dolphinarium and a collection of big cats. I'm not at all sure it is a good environment for the dolphins and the cats didn't look much better, but they are at least accustomed to the heat and they had plenty of shade. 

And then, just up the road, we found ourselves in New York

Then on to Excalibur for dinner in an Italian restaurant as we fancied a pizza (don't bother!) and the night's entertainment. It must be the Night Fever, etc...  really good tribute band. See them if you can!

And then to round the evening off, we went to Luxor

So that was Las Vegas and we'll be moving on to two National Parks next: Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, both in Utah. But before leaving Las Vegas, look what overlooks the entire Strip:

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