The drive to Boulder City, Nevada from Needles was uneventful, hardly memorable. We covered the 89 miles in under two hours and soon we were settled into Canyon Trails RV Park. A fairly nondescript RV park on the northern edge of Boulder City, not more than 11 miles from Hoover Dam and the entrance to the Lake Meade Recreation Area. Also about 20 miles from the Strip in Las Vegas. We are no fans of the Las Vegas night life on the strip, but the airport is close and there is at least one direct flight to Rochester a day at an almost reasonable fare.
After our arrival, we got in the car and headed for the historic part of Boulder City. It is a very nice shopping area and the buildings that were put up in the 30’s when the city was built to house the army of workers imported to build the dam have been preserved and cared for. Having exhausted the immediate shopping and gallery looking we drove on to the Lake Meade Recreational Area, thanking the government for the Golden Age Passport which grants free or 50% off access to the park land we own as citizens. $20 saved here and there does mount up. We found little to do in the time we had that day as I had to get back and prepare for my departure for Rochester. We did stop in the Boulder RV park for a look see. It says in the campground guides that the park cannot take coaches with slideout rooms. Indeed many of the older sites are too tight for our coach, but in the high priced area near the lake there are lovely new sites with plenty of room and there seemed to be many that were unoccupied. During our exploration we found the entrance to the old railroad tunnel trail that passes along the right of way that was built to service the construction of the dam. Carol got to hike that while I was in the frozen north.
I was in Rochester from Wednesday evening until late Friday afternoon. I spent most of my time with my mother as planned. I stopped in the office, just to see f they knew who I was, and I went o the Jewish Community Federation to hear Megillah read on Friday. Thursday night I took grandson Josh to see Mom and then to dinner with the Perlmans, Morgans and Rita Narang before the RPO Concert. This is getting to be a regular happening. Well two years in a row anyhow.
Back in Boulder City we have gone to see Blue Man Group at the Venetian and had dinner there. The show is fantastic. I had assumed that having seats in the balcony would exempt us from direct audience participation. I assumed wrong. One of the blue Men climbed to the balcony and handed me three pieces of candy (not real candy) to throw into his mouth from a distance. I did succeed with two which, after he raised my arm in victory, he promptly deposited back in my hand. This was all captured on camera for the entire audience to see on a big screen on stage. Before I could try to figure out what to do with the wet candy, an usher appeared to take them away and give me an alcohol swab to clean my hand.
The next day, Easter Sunday, we set out for Hoover Dam for the tour of everything that the public can see. Some areas had only been reopened to public tours last fall after the post September 11 panic and security shut down of everything the government could think of. I will include pictures of and from the interior in my next photo update. The total tour took over two hours including many items that you can just walk into with no ticket at all. We left the dam at about noon and the traffic was backed up all the way into Boulder City, some five miles. This included tourists wanting to see the dam and many people just wanting to get to the other side in Arizona. This is a direct route to Grand Canyon and used to also be a trucker route. Trucks are now banned on the dam and will be until the new bypass bridge is completed sometime in the next decade. The bypass is taking longer and costing more than the dam itself and I mean in adjusted dollars.
We stopped at a dam overlook and ate the lunch we had brought along and then drove out the Lake Meade access road to Las Vegas Bay Campground where we found a promised trail on the bluffs above the lake. It was a glorious 4 mile round trip hike with enough elevation change to let us know we had hiked. Monday we sort of sat around and caught up on mail and bills and other “stuff.” Late in the day we drove back to Lake Meade and hiked the Railroad Tunnels, me for the first time and Carol for the second. We did not go through to the dam as that was much steeper and we might not have made it back before sundown when the trail closes.
Tuesday morning we were up and about early and set off for Nevada Ste Park Valley of Fire. We had planned on camping at Overton Beach CG, but when we mentioned it to the ranger taking tolls (swiping National Parks Pass in our case) she said that although the maps were not updated there is no longer a campground at Overton Beach. We decided to stay at Echo Bay as it was the closest NP campground and we had no need of hookups for a one or two night stop. The first campground we came to seemed to be deserted so we went down the road a couple of hundred feet through a one lane construction zone to a much busier RV Park (note the change in terminology). There was a phone to call to register and a rather uppity young lady informed me I had to present myself at the hotel to register and besides there were no reservations available. We went back through the very narrow construction zone to the NP Campground which was very lovely and had plenty of room for our 36 foot motorhome, contrary to the listing that said 35 feet was the maximum. For $5 a night it was delightful, thank you all you underage taxpayers, we really do appreciate the benefits you are paying for us seniors. The fee for the young family across the road was $10, still a bargain. From there we drove the car up to Valley of Fire. The fire is apparent as you approach the park, the red sandstone walls stand up from the desert floor and their jagged tops look like flame. After 4 hours and two substantial hikes much of which were on deep sand, we were ready to have dinner, read a book and crawl into bed. We decided to head for Zion National Park the next day with a stop at the Overton Lost City Museum.
Resumed a week later:
WE got to our campground in Kannaraville, UT with no trouble other than the fact that Kannaraville is right next door to No Place. 45 miles from the entrance to Zion and 100 miles to Bryce. But for cheap is cheap. We paid in gasoline almost what we saved in campground fees, but we didn;t have to change campgrounds to see both parks. We spent a long day in Zion covering 12 miles of hiking in three different hikes and seeing the entire shuttle circuit. We also drove though the Zion Carmel Tunnel and took the hike up the far side of the canyon wall to look down in from yet another viewpoint. The next day I was quite ill with a cold, but we elected to press on to Bryce with Carol driving. We did the entire loop but no hikes. At 9,000 feet it was quite cold and icy and I did not have much energy. The next day, after doing laundry and some other chores we got a latish start and returned to Zion to undertake the Hidden Canyon hike. The hike to the mouth of the canyon is about 2 miles with a 900 foot altitude gain. I was recovered enough from my cold to enjoy the hike and the additional mile or so in and out of the canyon on an unimproved trail.
In case you notice that I am not raving about the views, please understand that too much eye candy leaves one unable to continue to express awe at the beauty of this part of the country. Our pictures, which will poste soon, are wonderful, but they are not much different from what you can see by going on the web and searching on the parks. We did not go off to places where no one goes, there is no such place. We saw what the active involved tourist sees and we have exclaimed WOW and similar words many times over. After four days, we moved on to Arches and Canyonland where I sit writing tonight. It is not tht I have not had what to write, but it feels like we have been on vacation and have been so busy sight seeing that I have had little time to compose my thought.
The trip to Moab, the center for all things Arches, Canyonlands, Deadhorse Point SP and any outdoor activity you might consider was uneventful, if you ignore the repeated WOWs as we entered this magnificent section of the Grand Staircase. The short story is that we have hiked in Arches and will take a ranger guided hike in the morning. We have been in touching range of Delicate Arch which is the iconic arch of this area. We took the car on a jeep trail that was rated easy and found out that easy was beyond the vehicles capability, fortunately before incurring any damage. I will not comment on the driver’s capability. We continued on Jeep Roads (note the difference between Roads and Trails) for many miles and saw a lot of out back countryside. I never knew there were two features called Monitor and Merrimac and they are next to each other and we both thought that was what they should be called before looking at the map to see what they were.
After that taste of 4x4ing or as they say around here Jeeping, we asked for the name of a reputable jeep guide and we were lead to Dan Mick by the Visitor Center person we spoke with. Dan is a wonderful character. We spent four hours in his bright red Rubicon Unlimited (the last one off the assembly line he assured us). His web site is DanMick.com and a view of Dan driving the Rubicon up Hell’s Gate which we did with him can be found on youtube He regaled us with stories of rescues and road closures by BLM and people doing stupid things getting themselves in trouble in the backcountry and he told jokes and filled us in on the geology and plant and animal life of the region all while guiding the car effortlessly through some of the most amazing obstacles I can imagine. One experience, the Belly Button. It is a hole in the rock with the bottom just a bit bigger than the car. I cannot begin to describe the walls, suffice it to say that I would not attempt to climb down them without a rope and they are bare slickrock. He descended one side of the hole and we sat and talked at the bottom for a while. I could not have climbed out by standing on the roof the car did not have. After tellilng a story about a previous trip to the bottom, Dan restarted the engine and engaged four wheel lockup in low range low and walked the car up the far wall and out onto the surface. I was leaning so far back in may seat that I could not reach the dashboard. This was only one of the many obstacles Dan handled without stopping the flow of chatter. We did have a blast and I learned a lot about extreme car handling.
To cap off the day we took the RAV4 and found a couple of way back roads some paved and some not to explore on our own with Dan’s guidance as to what we ought to be able to handle safely.
I will post this now and try to get caught up and get my picture posting to work too.