Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Big Dam to Zion Canyon

Ned, "Dam, That's Big!" Joe, "I Don't See Anything!"

We were up early today so we could get Pap-Pap to the airport. He was heading home. It was great having him along. The boys were almost as upset as when Mary left us a week ago.

After dropping Pap-Pap off at the airport we were on our own again. We went back to the hotel and finished packing our stuff. I had hoped to get the car serviced but since it was Sunday it would have to wait. I also wanted to visit Hoover Dam before heading to Zion National Park. So after a quick breakfast at Whole Foods we drove to Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam, wonder of the modern world, was built in 1935 to tame the Colorado River and provide water for irrigation and power for cities. It is 726 ft high and is 1244 ft wide at the top. We parked on the Arizona side of the dam and walked across. I have been to the dam a few times before but I had never taken a tour. We decided to take the Powerplant Tour.

The tour starts with a 10 minute film describing the massive construction effort behind this engineering marvel and how the dam helped change the developing West. Then an elevator takes you 530 ft down through the rock wall of Black Canyon and into a tunnel to the Penstock Viewing Platform. The Penstock is one of four huge 30 ft diameter pipes that transports up to 90,000 gallons of water a second from Lake Mead to the dam's hydroelectric generators. As we stood there we could feel the vibration of the water passing beneath. Another quick elevator ride and we were at a balcony for a view of the 650 ft long Nevada wing of the powerplant and eight of the dam's 17 huge generators.

After the tour we went to the top of the visitor center to get a look at the dam and the progress on the new Hoover Dam Bypass that is under construction. We then walk back along the Lake Mead side and returning to the car headed for Zion National Park.

The Powerplant at the Base of the Dam

The Source of the Power Deep in the Dam

Walking the Dam Tunnels

Hoover Dam from the Visitors Center

The New Dam Bypass Bridge Under Construction

The drive to Zion National Park took us back through Las Vegas so we stopped at In-N-Out for lunch. As we neared Zion the weather started to get stormy and when we arrived it was pouring and late. We checked into the campground and then went to the movie theater right outside the park. The movie playing was Kung Fu Panda which we had already seen but it was good and it was raining. It was still raining when the movie was over so that night we slept in the car.

Las Vegas, NV to Zion National Park, UT, 237 miles 5 hrs 49 min

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