Posts Tagged With: switchbacks

BIKERS AND PEDESTRIANS ONLY

We left Wilsonville to continue scenic Historic Highway 30 with Jim complaining about poor signage. We kept seeing highway 84 East. We finally found the way, only to drive a couple miles and discover that Highway 30 is closed for four and one-half  miles to everything but pedestrians and bicyclers.  The roadway is a state park. The ranger informed us that the tunnel entrance and overpasses were made for Model A’s and modern vehicles can’t get through them.

Here is a picture from the visitors center showing a section of the old road we didn’t get to see.

And, an old photo of the building of this almost insurmountable task. It’s quite a show.

What we did see was pretty spectacular.  The switch-backs  take your  breath away.

The scenery does too.

No water falls on this section, but the hills were abloom. We stopped at several overlooks but the wind was so fierce we didn’t hike very far though there are many trails available.

We covered a short nine miles yesterday and dropped into the visitor’s center. We ate lunch in the parking lot and spent two plus hours viewing the history and learning about the geology of the gorge.  A very worthwhile stop for all travelers.

Unique to this center is an educational showing of several raptors they keep. All have been injured in some way and cannot be released to the wild. The kestral, above is the smallest raptor from the area.

A female red tail hawk has an injured wing.

A male great horned owl is nearly blind and can’t feed itself.

Yesterday, we visited the Bonneville Dam and fish hatchery near the end of the day. It, too is worth a visit. I had never seen a fish ladder and always wondered how they count the fish.

The ladder was built after the dam. No one knew if it would actually work, but the spawning fish took to it right away. Ladders are easier than some of the falls and rapids they have to navigate.  They are provided a resting area that funnels them by windows where counters view them and press a button for every fish they see moving  upstream.

The viewing windows for the public were pretty murky. Various breeds spawn at different times of year. The Chinook spawn is just about over. We didn’t see many fish, but it was fascinating even so. We are parked at the Dalles.

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HOOVER DAM BY-PASS TO LAS VEGAS

From Kingman to Las Vegas takes you by way of Old Historic Highway 66. There are a few old buildings reminiscent of the times, but progress is progress.

I was excited about seeing the new by-pass of Hoover Dam, having driven over the dam in the 1980’s. And, I did take pictures then of that exciting, amazing, curling, switch backed drive, but no digital.
From the  by-pass, it was a very quick glimpse from the passenger side of the motor home of a small section of the dam.  From an auto, it may not have been visible at all. The blue, blue Colorado River was in evidence, and the parking lot for tours of the dam.

Part of the electric grid could be seen, reminding travelers what this dam means to the Los Angeles Basin. The new bridge is beautiful, but the old road was spectacular. Darn.
I was under the impression that the by-pass was built at huge cost because the old road was dangerous. It certainly could be construed as dangerous, with its tight, turns, over cement abutments amid the sound of roiling water which made it the most interesting dam I’ve ever visited and one of the most beautiful. Touring the dam makes you respect the immensity of the project and dazzles your sense of proportion. At the dam, there is a picture of Blackie, a dog the original dam workers adopted. I did a story on Blackie back when I was a feature writer.
I was told by a gentleman in our last camp that the by-pass was built to prevent terrorism. Then, we watched helicopters flying over the dam for $29 a ride. So, I went to the web site and that isn’t the case at all. The tight switchbacks, and slow travel was the reason. Its the only crossing of the Colorado in the West that is connected to a viable highway. But, you can decide for yourself: http://www.hooverdambypass.org/faq.htm

Its also a given that the first thing you see when you reach the outskirts of Vegas is a Casino.  And, we have a couple shows are on our list.
Our visit here is two-fold. We will visit my son and his family and my daughter, both live in nearby Henderson. And, Jim’s son who flies into Vegas from Connecticut tomorrow for a conference.
I remember my first visit to Las Vegas, in the early 1960’s in July. I stood in the narrow shadow of a street light at every corner crossing. The heat was nearly unbearable. Yesterday was cool and mostly sunny. Ahh, the right time of year for fun in Vegas.

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