The canyon below Hoover Dam...Arizona on left, Nevada on the right...
Another day away from Las Vegasâ€¦with Hoover Dam the primary target this time. An easy drive to get there from Vegasâ€¦Iâ€™m guessing a good hour, but we ate at a pleasant Mexican restaurant in Boulder City and the interruption might throw off my estimate. We started ascending as we exited Boulder City (a town created by the construction of the dam) and were presented with a majestic panorama of Lake Mead as we rounded a tight bend. Lake Mead is enormous, and Iâ€™ll elaborate if I ever find the time to get this blog updated through Thursday. From this point traffic picked up and we twisted slowly down into the canyon.
Muh, muh, muh MY CORONA!
There is a security check point, but they must deploy profiling because the officer merely waved us through without having us stop.
If you arrive at Hoover Dam from Vegas, I recommend pulling into the first parking opportunity you encounter. This is on the Nevada side and is a garage constructed with red rocks that mesh with the hillside it is built into ďż˝" we thought it was brilliant architecture! You can continue driving over to Arizona, but it is just parkingâ€¦so you have to walk back across to enjoy any activities (and endure the painfully slow traffic across the bridge twice). Pedestrian walkways crisscrossing the bridge to accommodate teeming masses of tourists taking in the sights is what causes vehicle traffic to creep along.
The sights are wonderful. Hoover Dam is a precipitous plunge of concrete in a tight canyon. The dam itself looms large, but Lake Mead is equally spectacular expanse of bright blue. We didnâ€™t opt for the tour you could take, so apologies that I canâ€™t give you the skinny on that option.
After strolling about a bit we got back in the car and departedâ€¦making our way back to the city before veering back north towards Lake Mead National Recreation Area so we could visit the Valley of Fire. The good news was that it was only $5 for the carload to gain entrance to the Rec Areaâ€¦but the sobering news was that the Valley of Fire was 55 miles from there! I usually devote a lot of time to researching our travel destination, but Vegas was such a non-event in my mind that I am sorry to confess how clueless I was. It was already 3:30PM and we decided that this was too far away (we had promised to go swimming with Spencer at our resort that evening).
Time to improvise, and fortunately Kim had grabbed a few brochures --- we figured Ethel Mâ€™s Chocolate Factory wasnâ€™t far away, and although we didnâ€™t have a good map, soon found ourselves in their parking lot. There was a free tour, which like Old Nevada made this a treat. The tour is short, but sweetâ€¦especially since they give you free samples! For a free tour it is actually done up very well, and there is also a splendid cactus garden that I explored while my family scoured the gift shop for souvenirs.
From here we pushed on downtown to find the International Marketplace on South Decatur. My wife is an amazing cook, and her literature indicated this place had every unique herb, spice or exotic food you could imagine. The International Marketplace is near the Strip and much easier to acquire than Ethel Mâ€™s, although our shabby maps made for another adventure. Itâ€™s really nothing to speak of, akin to an aging warehouse, but they arenâ€™t lying about whatâ€™s there! You name it and it and they had it --- my wife was elated that to come across the Israeli couscous we couldnâ€™t find at home to complete one of her recipes and Eric stumbled upon the Japanese Pocky Sticks that he treasures. Probably not your usual tourist destination, but we had a swell time here!
Time for dinner and we cast our fate to the wind, driving north and scanning signage for sushi, which was our daughterâ€™s announced dining preference. We should have hit a casino because fortune was smiling on usâ€¦stumbled upon a sushi buffet, Makino, within a mile of the International Marketplace on Decatur. They had a fantastic selection and unlike most buffets, the sushi was pretty good! Weâ€™ve usually discovered the food quality to be lacking at such buffets.
Ericâ€™s sinuses were acting up, so we ducked into the nearby grocer to score some medsâ€¦and I grabbed an enormous Corona that grabbed my eye Ă and consumed it while penning this blog entry that night in our condo!