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Vegas isn’t exactly a family venue, but you can’t NOT see Vegas. Fortunately, with a lot of strategy and a little bit of luck we kept the kids from seeing anything too crazy…in fact, our closest calls with anything inappropriate were in Walmart when we stopped to buy sunscreen and water. (Seriously.) Anyway, Lake Meade and Hoover Dam are just outside of Vegas, so in this installment we’ll check out all three.

Vegas, Hoover Dam, and Lake Meade

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Here it is again…The Vegas! Look for it on my 2015 release schedule.😉

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We went through Vegas toward the Hoover Dam in hopes of seeing it before it got dark. This is Lake Meade, which was created by the dam. Even after the record rainfall that fell a month before our arrival, the lake is treacherously low. To illustrate,most of the light coloring you see near the water is actually supposed to be under water.

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Boulder City, NV sunset on the way to the Hoover Dam.

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The last time I visited the Hoover Dam – about 20 years ago – the road actually went across the top of the dam. Now they’ve built this bridge, the deck of which is a whopping 900 feet above the surface of the Colorado River below. To grasp the scale of this bridge, check out the towers to the left.

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This is the back of the Hoover Dam on the Lake Meade side. The dam actually straddles Arizona and Nevada, and in this image you’re standing in Arizona. The two towers closest to you are in Arizona and the two on the far side are in Nevada. The dam harnesses the power of the Colorado to generate electricity, so what you’re looking at is a huge power plant. Whereas the old road went directly across the dam, unrestricted, now they search your vehicle before you’re allowed to drive across. (Turns out we had a surplus of kids, water bottles, and granola wrappers.) Thru traffic traverses the enormo-bridge, which (spoiler alert) offers no view whatsoever. The sides are too high, probably to keep high profile vehicles from blowing over the edge. (We were restricted to the center lanes, if you can imagine. LOL.)

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In this view, your back is to the dam and you’re looking toward Lake Meade. Sadly, all that white rock is supposed to be under water, which really underscores the severity of the drought. (The line in the water is to keep boats from getting too near the dam.)

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This is another shot of the lake side of the dam with the new bridge at the top. Just wait until you see the other side of this dam…the bridge looks a lot higher over there!

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So it got dark and we had to leave the dam. Meh. But no worries, because it was time to show the kids the lights of Vegas. I’ll spare you a surplus of pictures – there are much better ones out there than mine – but hey, we were there. And it was AWESOME!

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Here’s a shot of the Vegas strip through my dirty windshield. (Not that we didn’t clean it, but you drive a few thousand miles and you cause some carnage, lol.)

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I have no idea how many rooms these casinos have, but the number must be staggering. You’re only looking at a portion of The Cosmopolitan in this shot, and Caesar’s Palace makes this place look small. (I couldn’t even get Caesar’s Palace in one shot, if that tells you anything.)

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The Eiffel Tower does Vegas.

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I did not drink while in Vegas, but I have a feeling had I imbibed, this little section of sidewalk would have put me on the ground, LOL. (I’ll have to test that theory when we go back without the kids.)

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Excalibur Hotel and Casino…the younger kids loved this one.

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The Luxor is a massive pyramid complete with a Sphinx. You can’t tell in this picture, but that light at the top is a beam that cuts through the sky until it hits the clouds. It’s like one of those car dealer spotlights, only so much better.

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New York, New York on the strip.

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Here we are the next morning, headed back to the Hoover Dam. Here’s another look at Lake Meade. All of that light colored rock should be under water, and it’s worth mentioning that this is just a small portion of a much larger lake.

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You are now standing on top of the Hoover Dam (formerly the Boulder Dam) with Lake Meade behind you and the Colorado River far below. VERY far below. There are CARS down there, y’all.

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It’s difficult to capture this enormity in one shot. Below is the Colorado River and the power plant. Looking up, the bridge deck is 900 feet above the water surface. That’s roughly a NINETY STORY BUILDING, you guys. O.o

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My kids in front of Lake Meade.

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This one really illustrates the water crisis. The light part of that pyramid rock – and everything around it – is supposed to be under water. If you look closely, you’ll see a few vehicles on the “beach” down there. When you consider how small those cars, you gain some perspective on just how much water is missing.

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We headed back to Vegas for a look at the strip in the daylight, then went back to the RV pack up and hit the road. When it was all said and done, we’d made five – FIVE! – trips through Las Vegas!

IMG_9717Saying goodbye to Las Vegas (for now…because we’ll come back through one more time, LOL) and heading west again, this time for Death Valley, California. YOU GUYS, I feel like I have been to the MOON, but you’ll have to wait until Monday to find out why.🙂 In the meantime, check out posts you’ve missed as we’ve literally driven across the country: