Audrey and I had a fabulous spring break trip to Las Vegas. Penn & Teller show; Hoover Dam; THEspa at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay; dinner at the revolving restaurant at the top of Stratosphere; casino-hotel-shopping-hopping; tiny amount of roulette in which I donate money to the house.

Hoover Dam (named after the president who got the project going) was built from 1930-1935 in the height (or depths) of the Great Depression. Five thousand men came from all around the country, desperate for work. A village was built in the desert to house the workers and their families. Nearby Las Vegas saw a lot of business on the weekends, although work on the dam continued 24/7, 3 shifts. The work was physically grueling, and also dangerous, as the cliffs of the canyon around the Colorado River are sheer and rocky. Nothing grows there and there is no rain year-round to speak of.

The dam actually created Lake Mead, upstream of the dam, which is today a popular recreation area. This resevoir holds (I think) about 3 million acre-feet of water and has a maximum depth of 271 feet. Hoover Dam is the highest dam in the world, at 727 feet. It is 650 feet thick at the base. It is greater in volume than the Great Pyramids in Egypt. That includes 6,600,000 tons of concrete. It stretches between the Nevada and Arizona borders - about a quarter of a mile across. You can walk across a bridge/road that goes above the dam today. There are a visitor center, tours, two gift shops, and a place to eat.

During construction, they carved (blasted) four tunnels around the dam site, for diverting the waters of the Colorado while they built the dam. This feat in and of itself is remarkable.

The dam serves many uses: flood control; irrigating millions of acres in the southwest and California; water supply across the southwest; generating electricity for Arizona, Nevada and California.

  1. Two of the four enormous intake towers at Hoover Dam. They stand in the waters of Lake Mead that feeds into the dam itself. They are 726 feet tall, or about a 70-story building.

  2. Here you see all four intake towers (just barely) and the top of the dam itself - that curved concrete structure.

  3. I am not sure what this is (seen from the bridge above the dam) but I liked the swirl of concrete.

  4. Lake Mead from the south.

  5. "A Modern Civil Engineering Wonder of the United States / One of Seven Selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers / 1955"

  6. One of the two intake towers on the Nevada side shows the time in Nevada. A twin on the Arizona side shows the time in Arizona - an hour later.

  7. The rocky mountains they had to work with.

  8. I guess I am in love with the look of the 30s style architecture set against the mountains.

  9. Moi-meme.

  10. Two statues of long-winged angels (?); a bit puzzling but cool.

  11. Art Deco meets (Soviet-style, worker) Realism?

  12. Good posture.

  13. Hoover Dam. See how the enormous intake towers, in back, are dwarfed by the enormity of the dam.

  14. Below the dam, the river winds on.

  15. The engineer and the river.

  16. I dig the contrast of the rock and the smooth concrete.

  17. A rat's nest of electricity. I'm not sure you can say electricity abides in a rat's nest.

  18. Back to Vegas. After relaxing in the hot baths and eucalptus steam rooms at the spa, we headed out for dinner at the Stratosphere. The view at dinner. The strip is dowm the middle. If you know what the hotel-casinos look like, you can pick out some of them.

  19. What happens when you use the flash. I kind of like it.

  20. Close-up. If you peer hard and have faith, you can pick out the new "Wynn" hotel-casino, slightly to the right, quite tall. His name is in lights.

  21. Audrey in the grand lobby of Mandalay Bay, where they even have an aquarium. The shark reef is downstairs, though.

  22. And in front of THEhotel (actual spelling), a new addition to Mandalay Bay. It is physically separate and is only a hotel of two-room suites - no casino.

  23. The oversized lighting fixture (chandelier?) in the Mandalay Bay lobby.

  24. Audrey in front of the casino at the Luxor, the Egyptian-themed hotel in the shape of a giant pyramid. We rode the inclinator (travels sideways instead of up-and-down like an elevator) but that wasn't too exciting as there are no windows and you really only barely perceive that you were traveling sideways.

  25. Statues at the Luxor.

  26. Walking the strip. Coca Cola world! M&M world!

  27. I didn't know they had palms at the Eiffel Tower.

  28. Last of the big spenders. Audrey at the 1-cent slots. Luckily I didn't get busted for taking an (illegal) picture inside a casino.

  29. We had lunch inside Ceasar's Palace shopping concourse, at a deli called Stage Door (I think). Very charming and great food.

  30. They serve each table a bucket of pickles (two types). We ate most of them.

  31. The lobby in the Bellagio. I don't remember if the (cherry?) blossoms are real or artificial. Honestly, in Vegas, it could be either way and it's usually hard to tell.

  32. These incredible blown-glass petal or flowerss adorn the ceiling at the Bellagio.

  33. 15-foot high glass flowers in a "greenhouse" adjacent to the lobby in the Bellagio.

  34. A snail of roses. The roses are real.

  35. I would need a different camera, one that does wide shots or tall shots, to photograph these flowers.

  36. The somewhat Venetian-style glass chandelier in the lobby of THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.

Marianne Mueller
Last modified: April 3, 2006