Most of Friday, September 27th was spent driving from Bakersfield, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas was selected as a convenient launching off point for Zion National Park in Utah; the 10th scheduled National Park stop on our Trek. Las Vegas also provided decent internet connectivity and a selection of church service options.
Welcome to Nevada – View as we crossed into Nevada from the south
Looking eastward from our northern Las Vegas hotel room at sunset. We often observed this coloration in the eastern sky at sunset throughout the West
Saturday, September 28th we made the 45 minute drive from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam located at the terminus of Lake Mead to check out this wonder of the modern world. If you like big and high and heavy, and powerful; this is the place for you. After making the obligatory drive across the top of the dam we headed back to the Visitors Center with intension of purchasing tickets for a 2 hour full tour of the facility. Unfortunately, they were not offering that tour, so we opted for the 45 minute tour of the generating system. Everything about the dam is measured in tens and hundreds of thousands including tons of concrete, gallons per hour, watts of electricity, man-hours to construct and so on. The thing that impressed me most was the fact that it was constructed in only 3 years! One would assume that a lot of the design and engineering was well underway before the actual construction commenced; but still, the most massive structure of its time constructed in 3 years is incredible especially given all the manpower, materials and construction logistics challenges in what was then a very remote and rather stark region of the country.
Jean at Hoover Dam
Dan at Hoover Dam – Convenient Men’s Room on the top of the dam (wonder where the water goes?)
View upstream into Lake Mead from the top of Hoover Dam (water level was 60 feet below typical; but very seldom reached the top of the bleached border – talk about a bathtub ring)
View downstream into the Colorado River from the top of the dam
We wrapped up our visit with a tour of the exhibits at the old and new Visitor Centers and started back to Las Vegas for Saturday evening Mass. That is when our “adventure” happened. Our beautifully performing Jeep wagon developed a serious overheating problem. Ever since I installed a fast responding mechanical engine temperature gauge and a new coolant thermostat for the Trek, I had noticed that when starting out with a cold engine, the engine temperature would rise slowly but continually past the normal thermostat setting and then suddenly drop back to normal. I concluded that this was due to a normal lag in the opening of the coolant thermostat, and something that I had just not seen previously with the slower responding original electrical engine temperature gauge. However, as we left the Hoover Dam parking garage and started up a long uphill climb out of the canyon, the engine temperature continued rising to a point where the cooling system began boiling over. We pulled over into a turn-out and waited a few moments for the temperature gauge needle to drop to normal and proceeded back to Las Vegas with no further problems. Like many unpredictable issues and despite my superficial attempts to diagnose the problem – this one would rear its ugly head again at a later date.
Saturday evening Jean and I went to 5 o’clock Mass at a small, modestly appointed church nestled in the uptown casino district of Las Vegas; where I sought spiritual guidance on our overheating problem.