We're on vacation, so we all got up late at 10:30am then headed down to breakfast at the Grand Lux inside the Palazzo.
Yes that's fried chicken and waffles with pecan syrup. Mmm.
We drove 45 minutes outside of Vegas and made it to the dam.
We signed up for the $30 hour long tour that takes you into the dam. After watching a video on the history of the dam, we headed upstairs to the exhibit and waited for our 2:45pm tour.
An examply of one of the concrete buckets used to create the dam. One of these buckets came down every 70 seconds full of concrete.
On the drive up, Lacey, Jonathan, Theresa and I talked about work as we usually do. Lacey was talking about how she wants people to know that her job is important, and even if she were a janitor she'd be the best janitor at work and everyone would know it.
Funnily enough, we saw exactly that same thing when we got to the dam. Here was a guy who cleaned toilets, and did it so well that he got his name on display 75 years later.
Theresa posing and showing the size of one of the massive turbine generators.
2:45 rolled around and it was time to start the tour. See that small grate down there. Remember it. I'll reference it later.
We took an elevator down over 200 feet into the middle of the mountain.
But first we had to go over the rules. Our guide asked us if we knew the photo policy since Sept 11th. He said, there was none. You can take all the dam pictures you want. The guide was filled with many of these one-liners.
From here, Scott told us about how the dam generates electricity.
The water goes through the 4 intake valves on the right side of the picture below. From there it travels through a pipe on the Nevada side and another on the Arizona side to a total of 16 total generators.
Here's the pipe on the Nevada side feeding the generators.
From there, we headed over to the generators. You saw the size of the inside of one of them earlier. Here's what the generator floor looks like. The people are so tiny compared to those huge machines.
Following the look at the generators, we headed out of the mountain and inside the dam itself. There were a few of these long curved hallways.
We're physically inside the dam now. Occasionally on the wall there are cracks with engineer's signatures next to them showing when they last looked at it, how big it was, and whether it needed to be repaired.
Remember that grate I told you about earlier? Here it is.
We had to duck our heads to walk down the tunnel, but we were allowed to walk all the way out to it. There were lots of these kinds of pictures from the people in our group. My DSLR is too big to fit through the grates to get a decent picture.
Luckily I typically carry a backup point and shoot. That fit through the grate no problem. I shot photos in all directions and stitched it together into a panorama.
We walked to the water side of the dam where the emergency stairs are. Looking up is of course the stairway to Heaven.
And of course opposite that is the stairway to Hell.
Our tour guide Eric was one of the funniest parts of the tour. He delivered everything in a monotone matter of fact way that just made us look at each other and chuckle. And every once in a while he would spout off some random fact about the dam, someone would say "Really?", and he'd just reply with a brief, "Yes." At the end of the tour he said to make sure to follow him to the elevator because there are miles and miles of tunnels down here and the last person to get lost wasn't found for 4 days. Of course someone said "Really?" but this time we got a "No, not really." Maybe you just had to be there.
We took an elevator up to the center of the dam. I'm glad I had my fish-eye lens. It's the only way to capture the entire dam in one shot.
That is a lot of concrete. They said it was enough to pave a 4 foot wide sidewalk around the equator. They also said it's still setting and won't finish for another 200 years.
Two of the intake towers on the Lake Mead side.
Water levels are pretty low, and they have been for the past 10 years. These emergency spillways are used to maintain the water level. We were told that in 1983, there was so much snow melt that the water level was within 7 feet of the top of the dam.
Jonathan said this looked like a fun slide and that he wanted to go down it. Lacey told him to "Keep your pants on", probably intending to mean "Hold your horses". She says some funny things sometimes. 30 seconds later as we're still looking at the spillway an older man and his wife walk by us and he tells Jonathan to keep his pants on too.
Here's the overflow bypass.
Jonathan and I hiked up higher to overlook the dam while Lacey and Theresa stayed at the bottom of the stairs.
The sun started to go down and we headed back to the dam. You can see the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge in the background.
We got a group photo on top of the dam.
And one from the side.
Then it was time to drive over to the bridge.
We're 900 feet above the Colorado river and we've got a great view of the dam.
Another group photo from the bridge, then it was time to head back to Vegas.