Thursday, January 28, 2016

1/29 Trip Down Black Canyon of Colorado River

I was happy today to have some old friends stop by my campsite in Willow Beach, Arizona.  They are staying in Las Vegas for a few weeks, so we agreed that this was the good day to rent a pontoon boat and head upstream on the Colorado River.  The weather has been slightly warmer and the sun was out with absolutely no clouds, so it turned out to be perfect!

The marina is about 12 miles downstream from Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Even though the river is calm because not much water is being released from Hoover Dam, a pontoon boat is nice and stable.  Lot of comfortable seating, also. We could have taken along an extra 6 or 7 people.

Loading up.  Here are the captain and first-mate!

And away we go.

This is the fish hatchery just down from the marina.  More photos of this at the end because we visited this after our two-hour boat trip.

The river and canyon were gorgeous this morning.

This is a gauging station, meaning that it was used at one point to measure the depth of the water in the river.  It was accessed a walkway hanging out over the cliff on the other side and then this cable car over the river.  Sounds like a dangerous job to check water level here!

Since we only had the boat for a couple of hours, we had to turn back at the point above.  You cannot boat all the way to the dam anyway.

Coming back, we had the right combination of shade and sun, so were able to see the bottom of the river.  Very clear water, but could not see any fish! 

The fish hatchery is just down the shore from the marina. 

Can't tell from this picture, but they are raising humpbacked chub, which they said was endangered.  All the fish for this year have already been released, so the ones here will mostly be released next year. 

As we were leaving, one of the rangers came out of the building where the younger fish were and invited us in.  There were some small aquariums where almost microscopic babies were being raised.  As they grow, they will be moved to bigger and bigger tanks.  After four years, they get released.
Overall, it was a perfect day, with light jacket weather, hardly anyone around, and a calm river!  Nice. 

1/27 Clark County Historical Museum

I had to drive the 30 miles into town to buy some sandpaper, so I decided to visit this museum, which was highly recommended to me. It's a nice museum, and since cost is only $1 for seniors, it is a real bargain!  Clark County, by the way, is the name of the county that Las Vegas is part of.

There is a substantial native American display.

Typical indoor display, but this is based on a real shelter lived in by one of the earliest residents.

And I liked their early slot machines!

As I was walking around, I overheard a couple talking about being married 31 years ago here in this chapel that was originally located on the strip. I offered to take some pictures of them, and they assured me it was a planned wedding, not a decision made at 4:00 am!  Nice that some people who got married here, stayed married.  Apparently, Mickey Rooney got married here eight times!

These are all very lifelike mannequins.  It was a little surprising to walk in on them!

 There were several homes on the grounds, each one decorated in a different era.

This was in the house that represented the 1950s.  The startling thing was that I had a record player almost identical to this one.  (Mine had a slightly different wood pattern.)  It had a record player on one side, and on the other had AM and FM radios and even a short wave radio.  I hated to throw it out in the 80s, but it was really out of date.  Gorgeous cabinet, however, even then.

And I could swear that this big TV right in the middle was like the one my dad bought in about 1958.  Sign said it was the first commercial color television.  Pretty bad when things you once owned show up in museums.

The next few photos are of the outside mining exhibit.  Some of this equipment has seen better days, to say the least.

Pretty basic jail.  Looks easy to break out of.

This cage looks a little more substantial.

1/27 Drive Into Willow Beach Marina and Campground

I had to take pictures of the drive down into one of my favorite campgrounds, where I am staying right now.  It's a unique drive in that you are a long way from much of anything, and as you drive down, you are convinced that somehow you took the wrong road, even if it is the only road around.

Heading east from Las Vegas and Boulder City, you take U.S. Highway 93, over the bridge near the dam and into Arizona.  After about 12 miles, you will see a sign pointing toward Willow Beach.  It isn't a town--it's part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Turn right, because its the only way you can turn onto Willow Beach road.

I have never seen anyone at the entrance booth, so you can skip it. You can also ignore the signs that say "Storm Damage on Roadway" because there is damage every time it rains.  Luckily, it does not rain very often, but even if it does, the road is almost always passable.

Road is fairly good with very little traffic.

You are slowly going downhill to the Colorado River. One of the rangers told me today that when he first brought his wife here, following the moving van, she was pretty upset at where in the heck he was taking her! 

After about a mile, the road enters a small canyon.  Notice that the soft sand on the right has been scraped.  Don't pull off because it is a VERY soft shoulder.  Just keep going.

The only way rain water can get down to the river is to follow this road down the canyon, so it does.  Floods pull a lot of sand with them and deposit them on the road.  Here is a section where the flood actually pulled up the asphalt roadway, so it is gravel for a short way.

Sorry for the hazy photos, but I was taking them through the windshield and into the sun.  It was really a beautiful day with blue sky, but it was late afternoon.

Almost there, but another short gravel section!  Check out how much sand they had to remove here. 

 Voila!  We come out of the canyon, and there is the marina and the beautiful Colorado River!