Category Archives: Nevada

Wrapping up Arizona; Flagstaff & Phoenix — October 16 – 24, 2018

On October 16 we said goodbye to Buck and Parks, AZ.  (Bill was in Missouri on a visit to his mother.  Colleen was in Phoenix, helping her sister adjust to the  sudden death of her husband Douglas.)  We settled into the expansive Phoenix RV Resort “Desert Shadow”, where Barb and I spent days (days, I tell you) cleaning and then applying 303 protectorant to the roof of the bus and then washing and then waxing the bus.  Days, I tell you.

On October 19, we had lunch with Barb’s second cousin Bill Carr, who shares Barb’s interest in genealogy.

On October 22 we got up early and drove up to Flagstaff to see some doctors, and then had lunch with Buck (on a shopping expedition) and Barb’s son Jeff (passing through on his way to Moab.)  They had plenty to talk about since they own similar Jeeps.

On October 24 Bill (back from Missouri) and Bruce met us at Phoenix’s RV Harbor where they helped us shoe-horn the bus into a covered storage spot, where the poor bus will languish for approximately six months.

We then drove our CRV to the Las Vegas home of Barb’s father Cliff.  Our poor auto will languish there for approximately six months.  

We are currently in Atlanta, Georgia to see Nellie and her Atlanta family and will tomorrow briefly visit Barb’s granddaughter Kristen.  But more of that and our subsequent visit to Savannah the next edition..

Catching Up with Loved Ones — August 26 – September 16, 2018

When it was time to leave Barb’s brothers in Washington, we made our way back to Bill’s home near Parks, AZ.  We left the RV Bus there and took our toad to Las Vegas. I flew to San Francisco to see my son Wil, and Barb flew to Bismarck to be with Mom while sister Zona spent about three weeks in Europe.  I spent the weekend with Wil, and then flew to Bismarck to join Barb and Mom.  Later, Barb flew back to Las Vegas to help her father Cliff celebrate his 93rd birthday.  

San Francisco

My son Wil has gotten into wall climbing, and has been very happy with what the new hobby has done for his level of fitness.  Unfortunately, he slipped one day and fell onto folks below who should not have been there.  Their presence prevented him from executing a momentum-absorbing roll and hence he sustained the “crunch” of two broken bones in his ankle.  When I arrived he had just gotten out of a rigid cast and was in a new boot and learning to use a peg leg.  

His new condition changed our plans, but we still got out to local coffee shops and one of Wil’s favorite local restaurants in the famous Castro district: Delfina.  We have been there on previous visits as well; it continues to be fantastic.  Not so good was a more remote restaurant that Wil had been to some time ago: Front Porch.  We went back because it features southern cooking and we thought it would be a fun way to recall our eating experiences in Savannah, GA.  Alas, not so. The boiled peanuts were saturated in something resembling soy sauce.  The fried green tomatoes were overcooked.  Even more so the tiny bits of okra so overdone as to be near lumps of charcoal.  The mashed potatoes were cold and lumpy.  The collard greens were drowning in overpowering vinegar.  The fried chicken, instead of having a tender tasty interior, was stringy and dry.  Folks, this ain’t southern cooking the way we knew it.  To taste the real thing, go to Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah, GA.

On one of our excursions we walked past a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  Alas I din’t have my camera with me.  I had to ask Wil later what we had just seen.

From Wikipedia:

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), also called Order of Perpetual Indulgence (OPI) is a charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and satirizes issues of gender and morality. At their inception in 1979, a small group of gay men in San Francisco began wearing the attire of nuns in visible situations using high camp to draw attention to social conflicts and problems in the Castro District.

Las Vegas

A number of Barb’s family gathered in Las Vegas to celebrate her father Cliff’s birthday. They included her brother Mike, her sister Audrey, her son Jeff, Cliff’s brother John and his friend Barbara, and Cliff’s brother Joe and his wife Rita.  Cliff was presented with a special gift from a niece: a printed copy of a commissioned  painting she had done for a former school mate.  Now a successful eye doctor and a world traveller, he requested a painting with multiple scenes from his North Dakota upbringing.  The copy, by Theresa Stahl, now graces a wall in Cliff’s apartment.

A few days later, when the birthday celebrants  had dispersed, Audrey and Barb joined Jeff for a ride on Lake Mead on his new boat — a boat which bore strong resemblance to the one we owned so long ago in Savannah, GA.

We’ll write about our Bismarck visit in a subsequent post.  Here are some pictures from our two visits to Loved Ones:

On the road in our Allegro Bus; Part One — June 9-23, 2018

We concluded our last post with this paragraph:

We left Parks on June 9, driving up to the [Las Vegas] KOA campgrounds at SamsTown Casino on Boulder Highway.  Barb’s dad Cliff lives here in Vegas, as does Barb’s son Jeff.  Jeff’s son Zane will join us soon from Utah.  Barb’s granddaughter Abigail has already flown in from Rincon, near Savannah, GA.  In a few days, Norwegian friends Rasmus and Kari will be here, and we will all attend a Cirque du Soleil performance.  At the end of the week the Norwegians will return with us in the RV to Parks, where we will visit for some days before we all head out (in our two RVs) on a leisurely tour of some of the National Parks on the way toward Salt Lake City, from which Rasmus & Kari will fly back to Norway….

We enjoyed seeing Jeff and Zane and Abigail in Las Vegas.  Barb took Abigail for several trips to the Strip, and one day we took Abbey out for a quick visit to The Valley of Fire.  It was hot, but nevertheless we went for a noonish hike at White Domes.  We misinterpreted a trail sign and got diverted onto a long and lesser-used trail that we followed for a time before realizing our mistake and backtracking.  Abby was not a happy camper hiker.

We got together with Rasmus & Kari for lunch one day, and we joined Jeff and Zane and Abigail for some bowling. And we all, Rasmus & Kari, Jeff & Zane, Abigail, and Barb & I, enjoyed the performance of “O” at Cirque du Soleil.

Leaving Abigail with Jeff in Vegas, we returned to Parks with our RV and toad and guests Rasmus & Kari.  Bill & Colleen hosted them in their home after our arrival.  We spent about a week there, during which we hiked every morning before breakfast.  Bill showed Rasmus the nearby Lava cave.  Colleen took them both to the nearby Bearizona Wildlife Center.  And we had many group meals on picnic tables on Bill’s garage driveway, and we all gathered for a movie shown on the TV housed on the outside of Bruce’s  RV.

Joined by Buck in his own class A RV, we took our Allegro Buses up to “boondock” on National Forest land just a bit south of Grand Canyon.  We spent  three days there, taking our toads up to the South Rim.  Bill, Rasmus and Buck hiked down the Bright Angel Trail into the Canyon, descending all the way to Plateau Point.  And one evening we all splurged and enjoyed a wonderful meal at the historic El Tovar Lodge, which first opened for service in 1905.

We then returned back to Parks so that Bill could get some dental work done in Flagstaff.  While headquartered in Parks, Barb & I took Kari & Rasmus to The Walnut Creek National Monument near Falstaff.   

Walnut Canyon was formed by 60 million years of water flowing first as a gentle creek across the plateau, then etching and carving its way through steep passes. Deep gorges formed in the sandstone, limestone, and other ancient desert rock some 20 miles long and 400 feet deep.

The ledges formed by the winding Walnut Creek left natural alcoves that were perfect for sheltering native peoples from the wind and snow that reaches the Monument’s higher elevations. Sometime between 1100 and 1250, over 100 people lived in Walnut Canyon.

The Sinagua Indians grew crops along the canyon’s rim and along the walls. No one knows for certain why they left, but they left behind fascinating cliff dwellings that render the Monument well worth visiting.

Stay tuned for Part Two, where we continue our account of our leisurely trip toward Salt Lake City with Bill & Colleen in their Allegro Bus and with our guests Kari & Rasmus aboard our own Allegro Bus.

Back in the States — April 30 – June 9, 2018

While still in Bonaire, we bought a 40′ 2011 Allegro Bus, sight unseen (by us).  After months of searching on the web, it was the first (and last) to meet our desires.  It had less than 23000 miles, and virtually no hours on the generator.  We wanted a single-bathroom floor plan.  We wanted a propane stove, the better to support boon docking.  We wanted a propane/electric refrigerator, for the same reason.  Paradoxically, Barb also wanted a dish washer.  And a stacked washer/dryer.  Barb wanted more counter space than we had on the 32′ gasser.  We wanted a queen-sized fold-out bed/couch for guests.  I wanted Diesel power to better handle hills.  We wanted a bigger Diesel pusher than Bill’s 36-footer.  ūüôā  (Just kidding.)  We had a contact in Eugene, OR, who took an initial look and reported back positively.  On March 13, Bill (nee Dolce Vita) and Bruce flew to Eugene and took delivery at RV Corral and drove it all the way back to Parks, AZ.  How amazing are that kind of friends?  After winterizing, Bill took it to Rt. 66 RV Storage in Belllemont, AZ, to await our arrival.

We left Bonaire about a month earlier than we had planned, because 99 yr-old Mom was experiencing some health problems.  Spent a few days putting Tusen Takk II to bed at Curacao Marine, and then flew to Bismarck, ND on April 30.

After about a week, when it appeared that the crisis had passed, we flew from Bismarck to Phoenix, where Bruce and Jan Dodge put us up and let us use their car so we could search for a vehicle to tow behind the bus.  On May 10, we chose a 2013 Honda CR-V, because we were impressed with it, and because Bruce and Bill had each also recently purchased CR-Vs and had already successfully modified theirs for towing by adding a base plate and braking system.

On May 11, 2018, we arrived with our new Honda in Parks, AZ, at the home of Bill and Colleen.  Next day, we began a month-long project to get the Allegro Bus and Honda CR-V ready for extended travel.  Why did it take almost an entire month?  Because we undertook so many tasks.

We

  • Replaced the transmission oil and filter
  • Installed an Eez tire pressure monitor system (EEZ-RV-TPMS10) on the bus and auto
  • Installed a Blue Ox baseplate for Honda CR-V
  • Installed a Blue Ox BX7365 Alpha 6,500 lb tow bar
  • Installed Blue Ox lock
  • Installed an Air Force One Braking System in coach and car
  • Installed a Cobra 75WXST CB radio in the RV
  • Replaced the Fleetguard CV50628 Crankcase Ventilation Filter in the RV
  • Added two additional Interstate GC2-ECL-UTL house batteries to the existing four
  • Checked air filter to replace, but it was in good shape so we stored the replacement
  • Installed Progressive Industries EMS-LCHW50 surge protector in the RV
  • Installed two Canadian 310 watt solar panels on the roof of the RV, sending wires down to the controller in the basement via the inside of the vent pipe for the grey water tank
  • Installed Victron solar controller
  • Installed battery monitor in the RV
  • Replaced all four slide toppers (Tough Toppers)
  • Replaced the seal on driver’s side front slide
  • Installed Pioneer MVH-1400 NEX radio in the RV
  • Installed SiriusXM tuner in the RV
  • Installed Garmin 770 LMT-S GPS navigation system
  • Bought a 50 amp extension cord and a ‘ 50 to 15 amp’ dog bone
  • Repaired HWH hydraulic pump (for the leveling jacks) that was leaking, first replacing three o-rings and re-installing and then removing again and replacing another set of o-rings, this time with more success
  • Drained the RV coolant and replaced five different hoses
  • Replaced the alternator belt
  • Replaced the fan drive belt
  • Replaced virtually all tungsten bulbs in the coach with LEDs.

A large cast of characters was involved in the efforts.  The “service center” was provided by Bill & Colleen, who live on a large tract of land at an altitude of 7300 feet adjacent to public forest.  They have a beautiful home, and of significant relevance to the RV project, a very large “garage” that is well-equipped with all manner of tools and three bays, one of which has been expanded to accommodate the full length of their 36′ Tiffin Allegro Bus.

Bruce & Jan, long time friends of Bill & Colleen, often come for a visit, and they were there for some of the effort.  Bruce is as much of a gear- and electronics-head as Bill.  They had parked their “new” 43′ Allegro Bus, purchased just after we bought ours,  at the extra electric pedestal and sewer line that Bill installed near the garage.

Casey, a “homeless” free spirit who Bill met on a hike a few years ago, often stops by for a visit.  He owns no house, and sleeps in his car and subsists by eating mostly cold canned goods.  He is sympathetic to some aspects of Buddhism, is philosophically inclined, and seems to believe that by engaging in meditation he is not only attending to his own spiritual needs, but is also somehow helping the Universe to progress.  His role in the RV project was limited to being a bemused and benevolent observer.

Buck also became acquainted with Bill by virtue of their having met on a hike.  Periodically during the project he would take a day off and go charging up a mountain, sometimes carrying extra weight for training purposes.  He is a gentle giant of a man with a self-effacing humble attitude, despite the fact that he is every bit as mentally sharp as he is physically capable.  He is also interested in Buddhism, with an emphasis on becoming “mindful” and learning to tune out distractions.  He just retired early from a career as a lineman for a utility company.  His ex-colleagues and Bill call him “Meat”.  He recently purchased a class ‘A’ RV and accepted an invitation from Bill to park it back behind the garage and live in it for the summer.  He became an instant friend of Barb and me because of his attitude.  When my arthritis hindered my efforts, Buck would take over.  Soon, anticipating my handicap, he initiated his participation.  He was a tremendous help during the project.

Bill & Colleen and Casey (before he left) and Buck met in the house almost every morning for an hour-or-so of meditation.  Afterwards, they would be joined by Barb and me and (when present) Bruce, for a 2+ mile hike along a circular path in the woods.

Toward the end of the project, Bill and Colleen’s long-time friends Jeff & Donna joined the group.  They appeared in their new-to-them fifth wheel camper, pulled by their new-to-them truck, both of which they bought from Bruce when he traded up to the Bus.  Jeff brought along his tools for concrete work; Bill & Buck joined him in pouring a floor in the extension for Bill’s RV.

This enormous RV project could not have been completed were it not for Bill, who provided the tools, the know-how, and — frankly — much of the labor.  Bruce was there for some of the early projects,  providing important how-to check-lists for operating the RV and contributing specialized tools, since by the time we arrived in Parks, he had also accomplished many of the same tasks.  In order to continue to provide continuing service for the impressive fleet of three Tiffin Allegro Buses, Bruce and Bill purchased and invented important support tools, such as large tanks to capture fluids and a pump with appropriate attachments for fluid transfer.   I cannot overstate my gratitude to Bill, Buck and Bruce.

Barb was the de facto supply officer for ordering the to-be-installed stuff from Amazon and Tiffin. She installed the tire monitors and replaced the light bulbs.  And she made a thousand trips to Flagstaff to buy parts and/or supplies.  She found new homes in the new RV for the stuff we had in the old RV.  She advertised the old RV and the old tow vehicle, and successfully oversaw their (independent) sale in remarkably little time.  She also sold the Honda bumper that we removed while installing the baseplate.

We left Parks on June 9, driving up to the KOA campgrounds at SamsTown Casino on Boulder Highway.  Barb’s dad Cliff lives here in Vegas, as does Barb’s son Jeff.  Jeff’s son Zane will join us soon from Utah.  Barb’s granddaughter Abigail has already flown in from Rincon, near Savannah, GA.  In a few days, Norwegian friends Rasmus and Kari will be here, and we will all attend a Cirque du Soleil performance.  At the end of the week the Norwegians will return with us in the RV to Parks, where we will visit for some days before we all head out (in our two RVs) on a leisurely tour of some of the National Parks on the way toward Salt Lake City, from which Rasmus & Kari will fly back to Norway.  But that account will have to wait for the next installment of “the travel adventures of Chuck & Barb”.

Camping on Our Own — Valley of Fire, October 1-7, 2017

At the recommendation of son Jeff, we left Las Vegas on October 1 and drove the approximately 55 miles northeast through the Mojave Desert to The Valley of Fire State Park. It is the oldest Nevada State Park and was dedicated in 1935.  It covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres and was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago (Mesozoic Era).  These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun‚Äôs rays.  Other important rock formations include limestone, shale, and conglomerates.

We had a marvelous time driving to the various named sites and then hiking about. The last day we went on a ranger-led hike to the Atlatl petroglyphs.  We had been there earlier in the week, but thought it might be interesting to get more information.   We were amazed at how many petroglyphs were in the immediate area that we had not noticed.

 Jeff came out and visited us for a few hours one afternoon in his new Jeep Wrangler.  

Next time you are in Vegas, take some time off from the glitter and gloss and spend some time in this beautiful patch of nature.

Heading East & North, Part I — Devils Tower & Belle Fourche, SD, Sept. 27 – Oct. 2, 2016

We returned to Las Vegas from Atlanta, GA (and from Nellie & Michael’s lovely wedding) on September 25. ¬†We spent a few days visiting with Barb’s dad Cliff and sister Audrey, and with replenishing our groceries for our trip back to the midwest. ¬†Oh, and we picked up the RV from the Vegas Chevrolet repair shop, where work had been done in our absence. ¬†It started with a recall: ¬†brake calipers needed replacing, for no cost, of course. ¬†But we also asked that they replace a leaking seal on the left front wheel. ¬†And then they checked the right side, and it was leaking too. ¬†And then while replacing the calipers they discovered the rotors should be replaced. ¬† And the brake pads. ¬† And I asked that they flush the radiator and replace with new coolant. ¬†By the time we got out of there, we had spent well over three boat units! ¬†(Forgive the inside reference.)

Barb and Audrey went out to a musical at the Smith’s Center one night: ¬†Beautiful, the Carole King Musical. ¬†I had no interest in joining them for the show, but I did regret missing their dinner: ¬†All You Can Eat Sushi.

Next day, we began our long trek back toward Bismarck. ¬†We spent two long days (stopping at Walmart parking lots for the evenings) before getting to Devils Tower, in northeast Wyoming, where we were joined by son Jeff (who was returning from a summer of¬†exploring Alaska) for a few days of R&R. ¬†In an adjoining campsite we noticed a single woman who was camping in her car. ¬†Speaking to her out on a trail, we learned she was from Switzerland, and had remained behind for an extra month¬†when her tour group had moved on. ¬†We invited Nicole¬†over for grilled pork tenderloin followed by S’mores. ¬†Very enjoyable encounter.

On October 2 we (including Jeff) moved further east to the Rocky Point Recreation Area campground adjacent to the Orman Dam near Belle Fourche, South Dakota (where my father grew up). ¬†At this time of year there are very few campers in this part of the world. ¬†The ranger at the entrance suggested that if we wanted to be together, we could use the group site. ¬†That worked well, since we were the only ones present there and since the site was commodious enough that I could fashion an unofficial “pull through” and avoid disconnecting the dinghy.

We parted from Jeff when we left Belle Fourche, Jeff heading south and eventually west, and we continuing on toward Bismarck.  But that is the subject of our next post.

Carr Family Reunion & B’day Celebration — Las Vegas, September 9-13, 2015

We flew out from Bismarck, ND, to Vegas on Wednesday, September 9, in order to attend yet another in a string of Carr reunions. ¬†This one would be extra-special: ¬†Barb’s father Cliff was turning 90 and two of his siblings — Evelyn from California and Joe from Idaho — attended. ¬†We spent the first night at an east-side hotel/casino, and then gathered with the other attendees to move into a large multi-dwelling residence on the west side of Vegas. ¬† We had used the same place two-times ago, so we knew the commodious property would serve us well: ¬†large equipped kitchen with multiple ovens, comfortable seating everywhere, gazillions of bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool and a pool table and a large poker table. ¬†Everything got used. ¬†Perfect for a reunion with 38 attendees. ¬† Folks took turns preparing meals, with Dan taking responsibility for the BIG meal on the day of the official birthday celebration. ¬†Two prime ribs, baked potatoes, vegetarian squash-pasta, and salad. ¬†After the birthday cake, everyone gathered around the huge high definition TV to watch the slide show Barb had put together featuring pictures of Cliff from childhood to the present. ¬†He was in the Navy, a farmer, rancher, pilot, father of twelve, ran a trucking company, built the Carrington Livestock Auction in ND and ran it for many years, ran a dude ranch in Minnesota, sold real estate in Las Vegas, and became a skilled woodworker. ¬†He is on his computer every day playing chess and is the first person we know to have upgraded to Windows 10 (which is something we would not have done until forced to). ¬†He has been writing short stories for a number of years and has self-published a few of them. ¬†Quite a remarkable guy!

The nine siblings kept track of the food expenses, with the contributions equalized at the end. ¬†Audrey had primary responsibility for securing the venue. ¬†The reunion was a four-day get-together, so everyone had an opportunity to partake of some of the famous madness on the strip. ¬†We had gone to one of the Cirque de Soleil “Zarkana” shows a month ago, and so only went to the “Bodies” exhibit at the Sphinx.

Very successful reunion.

Oh, and we sold our Camry to Audrey since we had purchased a (very) used Chevy Tracker to pull behind our camper.  We flew back to Bismarck on September 13, a visit that was covered in the previous blog.   To learn what we did AFTER Bismarck, tune in next time.

Out West; Nevada and Utah — July 8-12, 2015

Our first destination on our return to the States was Las Vegas, where Barb’s dad Cliff and sister Audrey live. ¬†We stayed in one of the many hotels associated with a gambling casino, but did essentially no gambling. Instead we focused on visiting our relatives and on looking for a camper. ¬†By coincidence, cruising friends Janice & Steve (nee Sailacious, and now owners of the camper they’ve named Sloth) were temporarily staying in a campground at Lake Mead, so we drove out for a short reunion and to get their advice about campers. ¬†(More about the camper in another post, but I will say here that we were so impressed with their choices that we upgraded our own desires.) ¬†After a fruitless search in Vegas, we learned of a private¬†offering to the south. ¬†We spoke with them on the phone, and ultimately met at a “half-way” point in Searchlight, NV.

And then we drove north into Utah to visit Barb’s brother Mike, who lives in Parowan but has a cabin high above Brian Head near Cedar Breaks at an altitude in excess of 10,000 feet. ¬†Audrey came too. Barb’s son Jeff subsequently joined us in Mike’s commodious cabin. ¬†We had a number of enjoyable walks and drives in the area. ¬†But all was not peaches and cream, since Barb and Audrey suffered from altitude sickness and had to return down to Parowan for some spells until they could get acclimated. ¬†But the landscape and wildlife and the visit were great.

Hoover Dam — September 12, 2014

On our way to Las Vegas from the home of Bill & Colleen, we stopped at Hoover Dam.  There we signed up for a tour of the powerhouse and the interior of the dam.  Our guides were excellent, and we found the tour fascinating.  Most of what follows we were told, but in fact I have refreshed my memory by doing some research on the internet.

The design is a massive concrete¬†arch-gravity dam. The monolithic dam is thick at the bottom and thin near the top, and presents a convex face towards the water above the dam. The curving arch of the dam transmits the water’s force into the abutments, in this case the rock walls of the canyon. The wedge-shaped dam is 660¬†ft thick at the bottom, narrowing to 45¬†ft at the top, leaving room for a highway connecting Nevada and Arizona, a highway that was supplanted in 2010 by the four-lane Hoover Dam Bypass due to security concerns following 9/11. The Dam rises 726 feet and is 1200 feet wide at its crest, and it took 91.8 billion cubic feet of concrete to create and weighs an estimated 6.6 million tons.

Hoover Dam was the most expensive engineering project in U.S. history at the time of its construction between 1931 and 1935, costing $49 million. Adjusted for inflation, it would have cost nearly $700 million to build in 2010.   The  Dam has become a major tourist attraction; nearly a million people tour the dam each year.

The Dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume, but currently at very low levels due to regional drought.

Before the dam could be built, the Colorado River needed to be diverted away from the construction site. To accomplish this, four diversion tunnels were driven through the canyon walls, two on the Nevada side and two on the Arizona side. These tunnels were 56 feet in diameter.

To protect the construction site from the Colorado River and to facilitate the river’s diversion, two cofferdams were constructed. Work on the upper cofferdam began in September 1932, even though the river had not yet been diverted.¬†The cofferdams were designed to protect against the possibility of the river flooding a site at which two thousand men might be at work. Once the cofferdams were in place and the construction site was drained of water, excavation for the dam foundation began. For the dam to rest on solid rock, it was necessary to remove¬†accumulated erosion soils and other loose materials in the riverbed until sound bedrock was reached. Work on the foundation excavations was completed in June 1933. During this excavation, approximately 1,500,000 cubic yards of material was removed. Since the dam was an arch-gravity type, the side-walls of the canyon would bear the force of the impounded lake. Therefore the side-walls were excavated too, to reach virgin rock as weathered rock might provide pathways for water seepage.¬†The men who removed this rock were called “high scalers”. While suspended from the top of the canyon with ropes, high-scalers climbed down the canyon walls and removed the loose rock with¬†jackhammers and dynamite.

The first concrete was poured into the dam on June 6, 1933, 18 months ahead of schedule. Since concrete heats and contracts as it cures, the potential for uneven cooling and contraction of the concrete posed a serious problem. Bureau of Reclamation engineers calculated that if the dam was built in a single continuous pour, the concrete would take 125 years to cool and the resulting stresses would cause the dam to crack and crumble. Instead, the ground where the dam was to rise was marked with rectangles, and concrete blocks in columns were poured, some as large as 50 feet square and 5 feet high. Each five-foot form contained a series of 1 inch steel pipes through which first cool river water, then ice-cold water from a refrigeration plant was run. Once an individual block had cured and had stopped contracting, the pipes were filled with grout. Grout was also used to fill the hairline spaces between columns, which were grooved to increase the strength of the joins.

More than 582 miles of cooling pipes were placed within the concrete. Overall, there is enough concrete in the dam to pave a two-lane highway from San Francisco to New York.¬†Concrete cores were removed from the dam for testing in 1995; they showed that “Hoover Dam’s concrete has continued to slowly gain strength” and the dam is composed of a “durable concrete having a compressive strength exceeding the range typically found in normal mass concrete”.

There were 112 deaths associated with the construction of the dam. The first was J. G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned on December 20, 1922, while looking for an ideal spot for the dam. His son, Patrick W. Tierney, was the last man to die working on the dam, 13 years to the day later.

Chinese labor was forbidden by the construction contract, while the number of blacks employed never exceeded thirty, mostly lowest-pay-scale laborers in a segregated crew, who were issued separate water buckets. While on the tour we saw historic pictures of Navajo high scalars.

Denver artist¬†Allen True was hired to handle the design and decoration of the walls and floors of the new dam. True’s design scheme incorporated motifs of the Navajo People and Pueblo¬†tribes of the region. The images and colors are based on Native American visions of rain, lightning, water, clouds, and local animals¬†‚ÄĒ lizards, serpents, birds¬†‚ÄĒ and on the Southwestern landscape of stepped mesas.

Complementing True’s work, the Norwegian-born, naturalized American sculptor¬†Oskar J.W. Hansen designed many of the sculptures on and around the dam. Hansen’s bas-relief on the Nevada elevator tower depicts the benefits of the dam: flood control, navigation, irrigation, water storage, and power. (See my photo, below.)

Before water from Lake Mead reaches the turbines, it enters the intake towers and enters four gradually narrowing penstocks which funnel the water down towards the powerhouse. The intakes provide a maximum hydraulic head (water pressure) of 590 ft as the water reaches a speed of about 85 mph. The entire flow of the Colorado River passes through the turbines.

Power generation has allowed the dam project to be self-sustaining: proceeds from the sale of power repaid the 50-year construction loan, and those revenues also finance the multi-million dollar yearly maintenance budget. Power is generated in step with and only with the release of water in response to downstream water demands. Lake Mead and downstream releases from the dam provide water for both municipal and irrigation uses. Water released from the Hoover Dam eventually reaches the All-American Canal for the irrigation of over 1,000,000 acres of land. Water from the lake serves 8 million people in Arizona, Nevada and California.