Monday, March 14, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Day Six:  Fire and Dams on Christmas Day
Lake Mead NRA, Valley of Fire State Park, Hoover Dam
Merry Christmas, Nevada!  Our day started with a ride down scenic Northshore Road (Nevada Hwy 169) in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, barely making it to the Circle K in Overton without running out of gas. (What is it with guys, anyway?)  Circle K was packed with people still wearing their pajamas.  I didn’t quite get that, but, yanno, “whatevs.”  Then a chat with fellow motorcyclists (they’re everywhere) sharing our thoughts about equipment, packing strategies and the like before we went our separate ways.

A view from Northshore Road near Lake Mead.  I admit it, I'm partial to a short depth of field these days.

Thanks to the park ranger who convinced us it was worth a stop (and the fact that you have to pay the entrance fee even if you are just passing through on the state road), we came across another trip highlight:  Valley of Fire State Park.

If memory serves, this is the Fire Canyon overlook.
Valley of Fire State Park 018
Colors reminiscent of grocery store sherbet, non?
Valley of Fire SP Nevada (41)
I took this whilst holding (rather tightly) a very expensive camera (not mine) over my head and blindly snapping away.
Valley of Fire State Park 093
Petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock

On to the Hoover Dam and the newly constructed Callahan-Tillman Memorial Bridge, open for tours every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas (go figure), yet completely mobbed on Christmas Day (weird, but I guess that includes us, so…).  Oh my, what a picture you could get of the newest wonder of the world, the Callahan Bridge, at sunset, with lights twinkly against the dusky sky.  If you were allowed to stop at that oh so perfect vantage point on the road, that is.  I saw a spectacular photo exhibit of the construction of the new bypass at the Etherton Gallery in Tucson.  You can view some of its photos here.  If you click on only one link in my entire blog, click on this one.  Who knew a construction site could be so stunningly beautiful?

If you have any doubt about the effects of the ever increasing population of the American West combined with recent drought (which, evidently, is more of a return to “normal” rather than actual drought), take a look at this picture of Lake Mead.  See that white stripe along the edge of the lake? That’s the world’s biggest bathtub ring.  Yup, the water level in both Lake Mead and its companion, Lake Powell, has dropped lower than ever in the past decade.  Make your own conclusions about our future.*

Hoover Dam (37)
Hoover Dam at dusk.  Well not the dam itself, I guess.

Lake Mead (8)
A quieter corner of Lake Mead
And what did we have for Christmas Dinner?  Ahh, that’s worthy of its own posting...

*Just this moment I heard a news article on the radio stating that, thanks to heavy snow in the Rockies this winter, the lake level may rise up to 20 feet by this summer.  This will stave off our imminent water shortages for 1-3 years.  1-3 years?  I guess that's better than now, but it doesn't sound all that great.  This past summer, the lake was only at about 40% capacity, and at the time of these photos, it was at its lowest level ever.  This, despite all that rain we'd been circumventing on our trip.  Yikes.

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