Hoover Dam, Arizona (and Nevada) – October 2022 – Soon to Hold No Water

A stop by Hoover Dam in the early morning light, with few other tourists around.

The well known multi decade drought and over use has resulted in Lake Mead being the lowest levels ever since the dam was completed in the mid 1930s.

The dam was built at the height of the art deco period, with examples everywhere.

While water conservation is a key component of the dam, so is the power generation. On this day we were too early in the day to take the interior tour of the turbines.

The bypass bridge was completed in 2010.

The dam remains an architectural and engineering marvel nearly 100 years after it’s completion. Let’s hope with better water policies and some rain Lake Mead returns to a more acceptable level.

Las Vegas – October 2022 – Fremont East Murals

Fremont Street was the first paved street in Las Vegas, and since the beginning of gambling in the 1930s, was the original center of entertainment until the Strip came along a couple of decades later.

Today Fremont Street has a massive cover (more in a later posting) essentially connecting the downtown hotels. Just to the east, outside of this cover, is an area far less glittery known as Fremont East.

A number of the buildings in Fremont East have large murals.

One building was covered on all sides.

Las Vegas – October 2022 – Random Sights

A stopover in Las Vegas….

A 14 floor tall mural on the side of the Plaza. It is difficult to tell from this angle but the Plaza was used as the model for Biff’s Hotel in Back to the Future II.

Private Cabanas at the Golden Nugget.

The Giant praying mantis outside the Container Park art colony.

Vegas Vic without working Neon.

Need a lit up liquor store at 6 AM – no problem.

Giant showgirls on the Strip.

The Circus Circus has been along the Strip since 1968.

How to combine a band that broke up 53 years ago along with a circus in a casino in the middle of the desert surrounded by palm trees. True Las Vegas

New York in the desert

And on to Egypt – which actually is in a desert.

Our final stop is Mandalay Bay and their Griffins.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada – October 2022 – Part 1 – Aztec Sandstone Formations

The Valley of Fire State Park is about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, but a million miles away culturally. The Aztec Sandstone formations are a result of 150 million year old petrified sand dunes.

One of the more interesting aspects of Valley of Fire is the variation in the colors of the rocks.

It is difficult at times to judge the scale of the landscape, until you notice the couple at the bottom center of this photo.

The erosion has left some strangely shaped rocks.

Midway, Utah – September 2022 – Driving School

To my surprise I had access to a free day of performance driving school included in the cost of the new car I purchased a few months ago, a Ford Edge ST. Apparently because they are considered ‘high performance SUVs (to me an oxymoron)’, Ford Performance sends out letters to all new owners inviting us to this training.

Since it was included in the cost of the car, and a good excuse to spend a week running around Utah, off we went. And the good news was Ford provided the cars for the day.

The instructors were all professional drivers, mostly those who run in the SCCA or IMSA type races. Our leader was referred to as Reverend Jim who preached the gospel of speed.

We left Park City for a 45 minute drive to the town of Midway. Each car had a walkie talkie where Reverend Jim gave us play by play of the drive, the features of the car and other amusing, if not always useful, comments.

Eventually we arrived at the Soldier Valley Olympic Facility. This facility hosted the cross country skiing, as well as the biathlon – a combination of cross country skiing and target shooting.

The first part of the day was learning how to manage your vehicle during a skid. To do this they have a car outfitted with specialized hydraulics that the instructor could at any moment force the car into a skid.

Next up was to show the amazing ability of the Ford Edge ST (and many of today’s cars) to apply the brakes if the car decides you are not paying attention and are going to run into something. This is done with a combination of Radar and the cameras in the car.

The training was to accelerate towards a ‘balloon car’ and once you get to the point of no return you let off on the accelerator, do not touch the brakes and steer directly ahead. The car will sense the balloon car just ahead and hammer on the brakes for you – a very weird sensation but some cool technology.

The Olympic cross country loop is paved, allowing for athletes to train year round using rollers on their ski’s. Because we had the facility to ourselves today we were permitted to drive the course – slowly.

We arrived back at the start/finish line where the target shooting facility was located.

Once there two of the U.S. Biathlon Olympic team members were there to give us an overview of the sport, some history and some instruction on the target shooting. I last shot a gun when Gerald Ford was president but with their instruction was able to hit the target, which turned out to be 7 times larger than the target the Olympians shoot at.

Our day continued with an auto-cross. This is basically a course set up in a parking lot with constant sharp turns. We used what Reverend Jim and the others had taught us for the day and saw how fast and hard we could get Ford’s cars through the course.

All in all it was a fun day, with Reverend Jim and the other instructors helping facilitate a learning experience.

Park City, Utah – September 2022 – Bobbing and Jumping

Our final posting for the visit to the Utah Olympic Park is highlighting a tour we took of the ‘sliding center’, the bobsled, skeleton, luge track and the ski jump runs.

Th bobsled track runs for about 8/10 of a mile and drops almost 350′ through 15 corners. The luge track runs down most of the same path with a slight difference at the top, resulting in 2 more corners.

The ski jumps are very impressive from the top. With some water sprayed on the run it is used year round.

At the bottom of the hill is a pool that is used for the freestyle folks to practice year round. With the museums and the tour the Utah Olympic Center is a great place to spend the afternoon. Sadly I missed by a few days of being able to take a ride in a bobsled – next time!

Park City, Utah – September 2022 – Olympic Medals and Pins

The museum at Park City also has a collection of medals pins, starting with a bronze and silver example from those 2002 games.

Over the years all participants in the Olympics received a medal, regardless of their finish. The museum at Park City has a great collection of those for the various winter Olympic venues.

Another tradition at the Olympics is the trading of pins from your respective country with your competitors from around the world.