Sunday, October 3, 2010

Oasis in the Desert

Each year, Brian and I leave our work behind and spend a week exploring the U.S.  This year, we flew into Las Vegas, rented a car, and made a loop that took us through Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Sunset Crater, and back through the Mojave desert into Las Vegas.  In the last post, Brian talked about our stay in Cliff Dwellers, Arizona, but I'd like to go back to the first day of our vacation, spent in Nevada.
Our first stop on this trip was Hoover Dam.  I've always wanted to see this engineering feat after seeing Chevy Chase get lost on the tour in National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation.  While we didn't do the full tour, we did enjoy walking through the dam's leaky tunnels and viewing the Generator Room.  On top of the Dam, we got to walk around in approximately 110 degree heat as I searched desperately for a water fountain.

Hoover Dam with the new bypass bridge in the background

After the Dam tour, we had some time to kill before driving over to Bootleg Canyon for our flightlines tour, so we went into the town of Boulder for some ice cream and then drove along Lake Mead, where the turquoise blue lake visually pops among its desolate, moon-like desert setting.  After a quick drive, we found our way to the flightlines office where we geared up in paragliding garb and hopped in a van that took us to the top of the mountain so that we could descend via flying through the air at approx. 75 miles per hour.  When we first got hooked up to the line and I looked down to see how far I might possibly fall to my death, I got a little nervous.....but as soon as the guide released the brakes and I went flying, all nervousness was forgotten as I was having the thrill of a lifetime.  There were a series of 4 lines that we got to go down before reaching the bottom, and each one offered a unique perspective of the canyon as the sun began to set.  In all, the tour took about two hours to complete, and after spending all that time flying through the air, we were ready to head back to the casino/hotel and pig out on our first of three (yes, three!) buffets. 

Bootleg Canyon flightlines
Modeling my flightlines gear

Stay tuned for a future post on Vegas and Valley of Fire State Park...