Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vegas, Baby part III

Vegas, Day 1
Vegas, Day 2

The Dam bus arrives early at the Monte Carlo. Which required me to set an alarm clock. As the alarms of the construction site could not be guaranteed to go off at the correct time. Or again within 9 minutes to constitute a snooze. So we alarmed. Snoozed. Showered. And dressed.

As we went down for breakfast. Alarms actually started going off in the hotel. Fire alarms. With flashing strobe lights. It was very loud. But no one seemed concerned. Not the workers in the food court. Or the bosses in the pits. Well. Those security guards that were running. They might have been concerned. Yet no one said "get out!" Or "run for your life!" So we stayed and had breakfast. In the food court. With the sirens. And the strobes.

We headed out the doors and looked for the sign to the dam bus.

The drive to the dam is really not that long. It's maybe a 20 minute drive. However. There are two things that slow you down. One is that everyone must go through a security check. No commerical vehicles are allowed to cross the dam. When our bus pulled over, an officer from homeland security came aboard so that he could go through all the overhead compartments.

The other delay is simply traffic. There are lots of people that want to visit the dam. And there are even more people who simply need to pass on by. But they get stuck with all the tourists. And then there are the commercial vehicles. Who simply need to pass on through. They are re-routed about an hour and a half out of their way. At least for a bit longer. As a huge bridge is being built over the canyon and will provide a much more convenient bypass.However. That bridge. That bypass. Is about 2 years behind schedule. And part of it blew over this year. More work is a good idea.

So...our bus parked. And sent us on our merry way to yet another line. Another security check point. X-rays. Metal detectors. Body cavity search. And we were in like Flynn. To yet another line. This time to see a dam short film. Short dam film? It was dam fascinating.

Next? You guessed it. Another line. This time to an elevator. Into the bowels of the dam. We rode down to a spot beneath the dam to see the original tunnels that were built to divert the river during construction.

(See the dam in the diagram above? And the "pipes": that look golden, then gray, then blue? The pipes at the top...there is a line that goes vertically through the diagram? We are at the intersection of the gray pipe and the line at the top. Dam clear, huh? If only I knew photoshop and could write on my picture with an X and say "we are here")

Next we headed back up. This time to see how the water is used to turn turbines so that they can harvest electricity. Electricity is the bonus in this project. And makes it so that the dam can operate as a non-profit.

Finally we headed up to the top and the observation platform. It really is a sight to see. Amazing. And so large that I could not capture it all in my lense. And now that I look at it. I realize that we never had the chance to actually walk across the bridge. Or rub the toes of the winged statues. Sigh. Next time.

In the gift shop we found some very exciting souvenirs for the girls. Dam placemats!

And then we were off to the next part of our three hour tour. The Ethel M. chocolate factory. Chocolate samples for lunch sounded like a splendid idea. And going to a chocolate factory at lunch time. When you are starving. Dam brilliant marketing plan.

So...what about you? What US landmark would you like to visit? What is your favorite chocolate?

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26 comments:

CaraBee said...

I would not have been able to resist asking where the dam bathroom was. And the dam exit. Yes. I'm Homer Simpson.

I would love to see the Hoover Dam, although I'm a little sketchy about heights.

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Hmmmm....

There's so many I've been to that I so badly want to take the girls to. Mt. Rushmore popped into my head first... followed by pretty much all of DC. Though I wouldn't mind taking them up to New England to Plymouth this time of year.

Wendy Hawksley said...

I'd go home to Massachusetts. And stay. We have plenty of gorgeous landmarks there!

Right now the next landmark I'll probably visit is the DMZ.

You are so much braver than me - I could not drive over such a height!

Wendy Hawksley said...

Ooh, obviously the DMZ is NOT in the U.S.

Sooo, um... Hmm... I honestly don't know which U.S. landmark I would most like to visit! I'm focused on everything here at the moment!

Cairo Typ0 said...

I didn't realize the dam was so close to Vegas. I wish I'd done that tour on previous visits.

Is Disney World a US landmark? *grin*

Trish said...

well, since the only US landmarks that i can remember seeing are the Hollywood sign and the Big Chicken, I guess any others would be good! I think a year long RV tour of the US would be a blast! Wanna come?

Samvach said...

Your trip sounds so fun! We visited Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky back in May with the kids and it was fabulous - weird but fabulous. I have a dream of visiting all of the major National Parks with the kids but in reality, it will probably happen when in retirement with my hubby. Hopefully...
Samantha

texcindy said...

Boston/Cape Cod/Nantucket rank high on the list for future landmarks to see. And since we're going to LA this summer, we'll probably take in a few there.
Your dam comments are probably as common as driving through Blue Ball to get to Intercourse, PA. Those were worth hours of fun for the family!

Becky said...

LOL at TexCindy...having grown up in PA and being to Intercourse many times, I still find it funny. The Intercourse Pretzel Factory is fabulous. :o)

Hoover Dam and Mt. Rushmore are on my list. Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz as well. Been to NYC but would love to go back at least 1 more time...maybe after Ground Zero is complete. I've been lucky to travel as much as I have to see some great places. Been to DC, Niagara Falls, Plymouth, MA, the Vermont Granite Quarries...still lots more to see out there though.

Elena said...

We didn't do the dam tour when we went. We just looked at it from the outside, so I love to see your inside pix. It is truly one of the most massive things I've ever seen. It hardly seems real. And I love the pictures of the new bridge. I don't think it had even been started when we were there.

You know we just got to do Mt Rushmore, and that was a landmark goal fulfilled, so I don't know where I'd like to go next. Statue of Liberty maybe? As for chocolate, ANYTHING milk chocolate I love. But the very best choc. I've ever had was in Amsterdam. They were truffles that seriously were like silk in the mouth. Oh my SOOOO good!

Tam said...

I have major HEIGHT issues. Any landmark that is ground level is good for me. DC holds a special place in my heart for many reasons and I can go there a thousand times over and be happy.

I am a chocolate ho so I am not to choosey but if you want to send chocolates...godiva, lindt...I am just saying. LOL

Gina said...

Mmmmm, I was getting sick to my stomach just looking at your pictures, so I will probably skip Hoover Dam....
I would like to see the Grand Canyon- from the bottom. I have seen it from the top a few times- when I was much younger and much more fearless.
I vote for Mt. Rushmore.
And, hate me if you want- but since I don't like chocolate, I will stick with the Jelly Belly factory.

Linda said...

Don't know if I could do the dam. Scares me too much. We took a field trip to a little dam near here when I was in 5th grade. I threw up just looking at it, couldn't go in it or on it. Nope. I would love to see any landmarks on the East Coast ... I've never been east of Missouri.

Can't wait to hear more about your Vegas trip!

Brandy said...

Ethel M Chocolate is soooooooooo GOOD!!! Everytime my daycare parent went TDY to Vegas she always brought me some chocolates back so when we went to Vegas ofcourse I had to get some for myself and her! Looks like your having a blast!

Michelle said...

Oooo gotta love the chocolate shop tour -- though I notice there are no pictures or details from that visit ;)

Vegas is definitely a world apart though. Interesting on the fire alarm. I assume they knew it was a prank or mistake or would have requested you leave. I hope!

Teri said...

We visited Hoover Dam. Doug was totally into it, of course. Engineer.

Hey, what is that? I see a picture of the two of you together. :-)

Melissa said...

The Grand Canyon. I have been to the Little Grand Canyon in Georgia and the Badlands in SD, but it's still a dream of mine to go to the GC....it will be mine....oh yes, it will be mine.

Mom Taxi Julie said...

So did you think the tour was worth it?

Jennifer P. said...

I would like to see all the lighthouses on the eastern coast. I read there's some kind of sea tour to do this--sounds cool.

And for chocolate: Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Marzipan. Mmmmm.


Looke like it was worth it...dam it :)

Mariah said...

I went to that Dam a few years ago, the whole thing is Dam impressive!

I'm easy, I like cheap chocolate

Tam said...

Stalked over to say HI and hope all is going the way it is suppose to be going for you!

Jerri said...

Great pictures! I'd love to go to the Hoover Dam sometime.

Angela said...

Great pics! I came over from Lizzy's to say hi and agree with her - yep, we need a new post from you, ma'am!

(I know I should not talk. I have only logged like ten posts in five months, LOL!)

Happy Weekend!

Tam said...

Sending you a vitural cattle prod! Miss your blogging!!!

Elena said...

Yep, here from Lizzy's too. I've been thinking all day that I needed to find out if you were still alive, and then when I read lizzy's post decided I'd come to the blog and help "prod" you. Maybe if you find your prod, it'll help me find mine. I'm having a hard time making myself blog too.

American in Norway said...

WHERE ARE YOU?--- I didn't come over from LIZZY's.... just thinking about you wondering where you have been!? Off to check out LIzzy's now! COME BACK! (we miss you!)