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We woke up in time for the complementary breakfast in Hotel 32's lounge. Joel was at the front desk, so we were able to say hello and thank him for generously upgrading our room. He regaled us with stories from when he was in the circus as a clown during the 80s-90s, and showed us one of the Penthouse Suites typically rented out for parties (holy CRAP). We gave him some elephant hairs courtesy Brett :) It was great to meet Joel, and I hope next time we'll have time to actually hang out!!

Now it was time for an adventure! We drove an hour to the Hoover Dam. After parking and signing up for the next available tour, we explored the memorials and viewpoints surrounding this amazing structure. Deco architecture could be seen all over the place. This memorial commemorates the completion of the dam, and features two winged figures seated on a diorite platform above a celestial calendar of the dam's dedication date.

Nearby we found memorials to those who died building the dam (96 workers, of various causes, none of whom are entombed in the dam) and the grave of a dog that workers had adopted as a mascot but who was run over by a truck :/

Photo of the dam from the parking garage:

From the observation deck (bowling, anyone?):

A panorama of the dam, memorial bridge, and visitor's center:

The reservoir level is currently at a record low :(

115 degrees. It was a bit hot out.

Our tour was at 2:45. We first watched a short video detailing some of the statistics about the dam:

- The dam was constructed during the Great Depression, and cost around $50 million (equal to $700 million today), an astronomical amount at that time.
- It required the merging of six major construction and engineering firms to handle the various complexities of building the dam, hydroelectric plant, etc. Many components of the dam were so large that they could not be transported from offsite factories, so factories had to be built AT the construction site.
- Around 21,000 workers were involved in building the dam, of which 96 lost their lives during construction. The average worker earned between $0.50 and $1.00 per hour, which was a pretty good wage at the time. But the hours were brutal: three eight-hour shifts, seven days a week, with only two days off per year.
- The dam was projected to take seven years to build but was finished within four years.
- The dam is 660 ft wide at the base. It was built using a series of trapezoidal columns to avoid stress on the materials and to help the concrete set faster.
- If left to set on its own, the concrete was projected to take over 100 years to solidify. To cool it faster, thousands of 1" steel pipes were inserted into the concrete and filled with chilled river water. When the cooling was complete, the pipes were cut off and pressure grouted.

There were many more facts but I can't remember them all :P (CLICK HERE to read about the Hoover Dam)

Our tour began with a tightly packed elevator ride 500ft into the bowels of the dam. The first stop was a viewing platform above one of four tunnels originally built to divert the Colorado River from its bed while construction was going on, and now used as part of the hydroelectric power plant. There was a constant rumbling under our feet as the river water rushed through this massive pipe. AWESOME.

We continued to the generator room, where seven massive turbines were lined up and spinning to generate 4.5 billion kilowat hours of energy per year, enough to serve 8 million people living in the Southwestern US.

One of the generators was being repaired and the turbine had been removed, so we got to see what it looks like. Massive, impressive, amazing!!!

Then it was on to a series of tunnels beneath the dam. This tunnel was around 300ft long and has all the original tiles and lighting fixtures installed in the 1930s. And it had great acoustics too :)

Other tunnels were less flashy. They had been formed by rolling wooden cylinders in concrete and letting the concrete cure around the wood. You can still see the wood grain lines.

At the end of one such tunnel, there was a vent letting air in through the dam's curved wall. Charlie, our awesome tour guide, invited everyone to take a turn easing their camera between the slats and taking a blind photo upward. Here is my result using the GoPro:

Here is a selfie of Jameson and I! That's Charlie on the right!

The tour ended with an elevator ride back up to the surface in an original 1930s Deco elevator. We had a great time marvelling at this incredibule structure and we learned a lot, too! If you ever visit the dam, be sure to take the full tour. It's worth it!!

After that, we drove about four hours to Grand Living Bed and Breakfast in Williams, AZ. Williams is an hour from the Grand Canyon, our destination for the next morning. I found Grand Living on Priceline, at a reasonable price and with stellar reviews, and we weren't disappointed. Our hosts Bill and Gloria were wonderful. Gloria showed us to our room with its lovely decor and private entrance.

She recommended the Red Raven Restaurant as a good place to eat, so we drove straight there for a fantastic dinner. Jameson had a delicious steak, and I enjoyed a swordfish steak with cherry pineapple salsa, southwestern potatoes and grilled asparagus.

We returned to our room exhausted, full, and happy.

The next morning we were treated to a simple but delicious breakfast prepared by Gloria. She gave us some maps and tips for visiting the Grand Canyon. We set out expecting to reach the Canyon within an hour.

Neither of us had done very much research concerning Grand Canyon National Park. I think we both assumed that we could just drive up, pay to park, and view the Canyon. We couldn't have been more wrong. After an hour of driving, we encountered standstill traffic several miles from the park entrance. We had already bought our parking pass, but there was no line for prepared people so we just had to wait. 45 minutes later we were through, only to find that the only parking spots left were in overflow parking. We were able to park quickly and hop on one of the many shuttles going toward the main visitor's center, but accidentally chose a shuttle taking the long route. The shuttle was extremely crowded with standing room only at most stops. Another 45 minutes later we arrived at the visitors center. We scarfed down a quick lunch and finally made our way to the canyon rim.

It was amazing. No photos can really do it justice...it's something that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Walking up to the rim was similar to approaching the ocean, when it's not in view just yet but you can sense something massive ahead. And then you finally see it, and it's like staring into a sea of rock that stretches on forever. It was a truly awe-inspiring sight.

(photos courtesy Jameson)

It was also surprisingly scary and void-like. As we walked to various viewing points along the canyon rim, Jameson and I both felt occassional moments of disorientation. We took our time and took it slow, waiting patiently for the good viewing spots to open up and sitting down when we needed to.

(photos courtesy Jameson)

The Grand Canyon itself was wonderful. However I feel that Jameson and I missed out much of the experience because we weren't prepared for massive crowds on a Tuesday afternoon. I was especially disappointed that taking a clean panoramic shot proved impossible; there were just too many people. We both agreed that next time we'd plan a several day visit that would allow time and energy to deal with large crowds and enjoy more viewing time.

When we were finished, we drove six hours to the train in Tucson. And went straight to bed!
Opening day was good. A good rehearsal and a good crowd.
Friday was similar. It was a split, so we returned to the train during the break to relax. I'd like to see more of downtown Tucson, but the 110 degree daytime temperature is a little off-putting to me.
On Friday evening we had some guests at the show: Gabe (Gold Unit Drummer)'s dad, and Kyle, a circus fan I've recently met on facebook. It's always nice to have friends stop by. Thanks guys!!!

Saturday was a typical day. I'm sorry I've got nothing interesting circus-wise, but Tucson is just one of those cities where we get through it as best we can and move on :/

Sunday, two shows and Jameson booked us a hotel in town. We picked up a pizza and enjoyed the hotel. Tomorrow we drive to Phoenix. More heat, yay! :P

Other stuff:

Anjo (Slack Wire) busted his knee on Saturday. Everyone please keep him in your thoughts!!

(photo courtesy Anjo)

Photographic evidence that it's hot enough to cook an egg outside here in Tucson.

(photo courtesy Jonathan M.)

I got to see Monster Jam! Sort of! Not really! :P


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2015 04:57 pm (UTC)
Ooo grand canyon! I've always wanted to go.

I hope the busted knee recovers quickly!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )