Friday, 31 August 2012

Just another film set!

Everyone remembers Superman putting it back together, Unisols abseiling down it and of course the governments top secret storage facility housing Megatron!....NO?
Well its the Hoover Dam to you mortals then.

When its not being blown up or hiding giant transforming robot baddies its one of the largest Hydropower generator in the USA. Saddling the mighty Colorado river it joins the borders of Nevada and Arizona and considering it was built in the 1930s its an awesome feet of engineering. Its vast, again the Americans dont do small, and has nearly a million visitors a year.

We started at the Hoover Dam bypass, opened in 2010. Just up from the dam it was constructed because the original two lane pass over the dam could not handle the 14000 vehicles a day it was getting. The new four lane bypass was to ease the congestion. A special pedestrian walkway was incorporated in to the new bridge to enable views of the dam, and they are amazing. as you are up above the dam the pics are wonderful and give you a perspective you wouldn't have otherwise had. You can still drive over the dam, which we did, and walk over it too, again, we did.
The architecture is amazing. Art Deco 1930s brass and marble everywhere. Beautiful.

As it connects the states of Nevada and Arizona right in the centre of the dam is a plaque telling you just that, with an arrow one way pointing to Nevada and another pointing in the other direction, obviously, to Arizona. Now as both states have different "Time Zones" we had to do the quintessential "Time travel thingy"...
Namely jumping from one state border to the other....Three o'clock, four o'clock,Three o'clock, four o'clock.   ha... we got a few strange looks for that.......


Hows that for Hydropower.

Thats a long way down.

New bypass.

One of the Guardians




When you think about it, its virtually time travel.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

20th Wedding Anniversary

Well yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary, and the big reason for us not only doing this trip but being in Las Vegas for it.  The plan, if you have been paying attention, was for us to renew our wedding vows, in full Vegas cheesy fashion, Elvis, Graceland's wedding chapel, the whole nine yards.  Well, it didn't happen.  No, don't panic, it was our choice.  The chapel is on Las Vegas Boulevard, the same street we are living on, and so we have driven up and down it a few times, we spotted the place on a drive by and had a closer look the next time we went past, and with that the decision was made.

We were at a bit of a loss as to what to do now though.  I came up with an idea, something to show our devotion to each other, and something truly Las Vegas. A tattoo, something to show twenty years, something to show us, Adam 'n Ali, twenty years, A'n'A 20, A20A, AXXA  thats something how the thought process went anyways, stick it in a nice font, and both get it done, my first (I don't do pain) and one to add to Ali's collection.  A trip to Club Tattoo to speak to an artist and see what we could collectively come up with, and it was nice, organic, symmetrical, nice, and $150 each! for four letters! cough, splutter, not today thank you, I love you Ali but I'm not getting ripped off for you.

Ahhh  now what.

So, in the old acronym, KISS , Keep It Simple Stupid.  We'd seen a restaurant advertised, let's just go be silly, it's only once and it is spectacular, so we went to the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino, went up the tower, had a walk about and then went to the restaurant at the 'Top of the world'.  The dining area rotates so all the guests get to see the entire skyline which was awesome, but the food was equal to the view.  We both had fish dishes, and were glad we had opted not to have starters, like any high end restaurant anything you wanted came separately and you were charged for separately, again we were glad we didn't, we were both stuffed after the fish, with hardly enough room for a pudding...  Well you can't not have pudding.  Needless to say, what with the view and the food it was a wonderful night and befitting a marker to 20 years together.

/Adam

All the way up there

Look I can see our house from here

The View from our table

Fishy Dinner

Friday, 24 August 2012

5 hour round trip for a burger.

Yet another of our special points on the map. As featured in many films but most memorably in "Independence Day" and most recently in "Paul" the "Little A'Le'Inn" cafe and bar was a must to visit.  Sat right on the "Extraterrestrial Highway" to Rachel, Nevada, its a strange little place in the middle of absolutely no where. Population 98... yes thats 98 people. Its also known as "The UFO capital of the World".

As the closest town to the legendary "Area 51", a supposed test site for secret aircraft and UFO's, Rachel beckons to hundreds of conspiracy theorists every year. Its also home to the "Black Mailbox" which urban legend would have us believe is an unofficial mailbox for "Area 51".
(The black mailbox however is actually white, and surely if it was a secret test sight they wouldn't have a mailbox on the main highway) ......just sayin....

Anyway, it was another day trip out. Again, a nice journey with brill scenery, Although it did rain most of the way.
The cafe is tiny. A wooden shack on the side of the road. It has a pickup hauling a UFO across the car-park, which made us giggle, and paintings of aliens and UFO's everywhere. Outside the front door is a Time capsule left by the cast and crew of "Independence Day" in a huge concrete block which was pretty cool. Inside where posters, pictures, mugs, stickers and anything else you could think of to put an alien or spaceship on all over the walls and ceiling. An autographed picture and plaque from the cast and crew of "Paul" has pride of place on one wall. Pat, the owner wasn't around for us to meet unfortunately. We did ask. But she was tied up in the back office apparently.....now i think back i hope they didn't mean that literally....

We stayed for lunch "The Alien burger" it was actually pretty awesome as burgers go.



The Extraterrestrial Highway

How exactly do you clamp a spaceship?

The Black Mailbox, yes i know its white...

The Alien Burger...nom.




Friday, 17 August 2012

Day trip.

Although Las Vegas is classed as being on/near the Grand Canyon, what they actually mean is its the first major city near the fault line....what that means in real terms is that if you want to see the real Grand Canyon you gotta drive 5/6 hours in to the mountains to see it... Hense the day trip.

We set off at 8am. Nice and cool in the morning here, pretty pleasant in the car to be honest. I had also packed a picnic so we didn't have to buy lunch while we where out. So ham butties at the ready we where off to the "Grand Canyon"  yey.

The trip was pretty good really. We drove through some wonderful scenery. Thunder Mountains, is what the local indians call the San Andreas range. And its an awesome site. Vast mounds of rock pushed up out of the ground by the fault shifts. The pics i took show how the mountains look all on a tilt. Not built as a normal mountain up from the middle, but pushed up against each other at angles. it was brill.

Kaibab National forest boarders the canyon and again was a wonderful site. It goes on for miles and miles, just trees, trees and more trees, sounds a bit boring when you say it like that but it was not boring at all. It was a site to see. never seen so many trees...lol.
 As we got closer to the north rim of the canyon the trees started to change. They started to thin...not thin out, as in fewer trees. But actually get thin, it took us a second to work it out but we realised they had been burnt. The main trunk was left standing, for the most part, and where black, but there where no branches. This went on, again, for miles and miles. Some of the very tall trees had limbs and greenery at the very top and there where lush green bushes, plants and flowers on the floors, so it cant have been a recent fire. It was very eerie. (on return to the rig i googled the fire at the Kaibab forest. It was in 2006.)

We reached the Grand Canyon National Park, payed our $25...ouch....and drove up to the visitors centre. A drive to any side of the canyon was half a day away. We chose the North rim as it is supposed to be the prettiest side.  Less comercial. It was.
There was a large "Lodge" as a visitors center but it also acted as a reception for hiring out the log cabins in the surrounding area. But at $169 a night Adam would not let us stay....boo hiss.....
There was the obligatory gift shop but it was very well stocked, from postcards and stickers for just a few cents to Native American carvings at Hundreds of dollars.

As for the "Grand Canyon" itself....well what can i say.  Its name does not do it justice....
Im making some surggestions to the National Park,   "Fu##ing Mahoosive Awesomeness of a Crack in the Earth", "Gigantic Great Humungus Hole" what you think..

ok so maybe "THE GRAND CANYON" is enough......


We're here.

Oh my...

Mad man.

"Fu##ing mahoosive  awesomeness of a crack in the earth"


Dont forget to see all of the pics we took just click on the link on the left that says photos...


Still in Vegas....

Ok so we have been a bit quiet the last week and a bit, we havent really done a lot. We have been back on the the strip a couple of times, more sightseeing and window shopping. We had the rig washed, he looks shiny and new now....well new for an old git, and we had a new slide out awning fitted. Thats basically what it sounds like. An awning fitted over the slide out to stop water and leaves and such from sitting on the slide out roof and damaging it.

As a result of my melt down earlier in the week (evidence on Facebook) and in fear of his life, Adam did take me to "The CSI Experience" this week...It was awesome. You go in, put on your "optional CSI vest (which Adam refused to wear) get given a clip board with your crime scene details on and get a briefing from the man himself Gil...yummy...well not really him, a video of him, but he looked right at me.... Then you are off to your crime scene.. Ours was called "Who got served?"

There was a dead body and everything, ok, it was a dummy, but it looked real. We had a dead woman in a maids outfit lying on the floor in an alley. We had to record as much as we could on our clipboards.  There was no time limit, you just walked around gathering the evidence. it was very cool.

Once you where sure you had everything you then moved on the the lab. Most of the information was on the computers in the labs already, you just had to check that you had picked it all up at the scene. Her mobile phone with texts sent and received was in evidence so we could check who she spoke to before she died. She had a suspicious bag of "White powder" that had to be tested along with some lovely magots and flys found on her body at the autopsy.....yummy, and finally she had been run over so a mould was taken of the tyre marks to check against the DMV computers.

Your put your final findings in to a computer at the end to identify your suspect... if you get it right you pass, and we did....yey.
Poor Penny was knocked off by...sorry no spoilers.
But we got our baddie... see, the evidence never lies.......



M&M World. The sweets not the singer...

My purchase. Look pink  ones.....nom nom.

No you cant have it.....

Who the hell is this?....






Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Vegas baby!

Day one,
   Well technically it's day two as we arrived yesterday, but we didn't do anything, so today is day one.

We arose early due to the time change again, we are now 8 hours behind the UK so it's all getting a bit confusing.  The site here has a pool and it was one of the  things raved about in the reviews we read before deciding on this site, so this morning we were there, and it lived up to it's reviews.  Now anyone who knows Ali knows she's not the best with water, but come the end of the time in the pool she was doing widths with a float!

After breakfast we wandered out to the main road and caught the bus into the north end of the strip, just outside of Treasure Island or ti as it's rebranded itself.....  anyways, we then spent the next six hours walking round the strip, we gave up when we got to the MGM Grand there's more to see so we will have to go back and continue again, but not tomorrow as we are both knackered.  Lunch was had at Pampas which is an all you can eat buffet with a twist, all the salad and 'stuff' is out for you to have as much as you want, but the meat is brought to your table.  You have a tag with a red and a green side, green is feed me, red is I've had enough for now.  Needless to say we ate well and it was real good.

When we got back to the RV it was hot, I'm not talking mildly warm I'm talking the wrong side of 100F.  We (I) had elected to leave the Air Conditioning off all day (A mistake I now know) So to cool off we hit the pool again! and we sploshed about till the sun was almost down, it was a lovely way to finish off the day.




Day Two,
  A Lazy but expensive day!  We went out to Camping World which is one of those big camping stores, it's a nationwide chain where you can buy everything from RV's to RV lightbulbs. anyway, we went because the awning / slide cover we have that covers our slide out is broken, the mechanism is all but shot and the material is ripped, so it's pretty much not doing what it's designed to do.  Well we ordered a new one, and it's just a case of waiting for it to arrive then get it fitted.  We did a bit of shopping too, normal household type stuff so nothing interesting, just a lazy expensive day.

Day Three,
  Today was a cheep fun day...back in the pool in the morning, which is bloomin lovely, and helps wake us up and then we spent the day in the rig, surfing, sorting out pics, calls to home, stuff like that. We had some dinner and then got our glad rags on for an evening on the strip. i have to say it was brill. The highlight for me was the fountains at the Balagio. Wonderful display to music. i got some video but it doesn't do it justice. The Volcano at the Mirage was pretty awesome too.
The whole strip lit up is a sight. This place turns you in to a kid again.. its like the first time you see the turning on of the christmas lights, but bigger...  Imagine Blackpool on acid...

The MGM from a walkway over the road

New York, New York casino floor

Outside the Balagio waiting for the fountains to start

New York, New York

Excaliber 




Sunday, 5 August 2012

Impact...

So the whole point of this trip was to see as much of America as possible and it became apparent very early on that there was a lot to see......

We had specific places and things we wanted to visit but we also knew there would be places we didnt know about. As we plotted our coures on our map, deciding on general direction heading towards large points of interest was easy and the only way to see what was in our path was to google everything.  The phrases "things to do in" or "whats interesting near" have become a way of life in the Plevin rig.....

But this has become the best and most interesting way to travel here...it may have changed our direction a few times but then we wanted the real America and not just the tourist bits.

One of those interesting places was a place originally known as Diablo Pit by the locals. Namely the Navaho indians. The 1 mile wide, 570 feet deep crater was originally thought to be a gas vent or air bubble created by lava flow deep underground that had collapsed but turned out to be the first ever confirmed meteor crater.

Words cant describe this place. amazing, awesome, BIG.... na they dont do it justice.....







Meteor Crater.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The VLA...(very large array)

Contact is one of our favourite films ever. We decided long before the flight tickets where bought that we would be visiting the VLA or very large array, which was featured in the film. Well, it didn't disappoint. For us it was a quintessential point in the USA we couldn't miss.

The VLA is the largest array of radio telescopes in the USA. 27 telescopes in a huge "Y" spread across the dessert. It may not be everyones cup of tea but we where in awe...



The array

Big....

say (very large array)

Display in visitors centre


Valley of Fires


This was a last minute decision stop. I spotted it on the web and it looked cool. It turned out to be the most wonderful and interesting place. Its basically a huge lava field. Not an eruption but simply a huge fault in the desert that just opened up and pushed lava out of the ground. It is between 2 to 5 miles wide and 44 miles long. We stayed on the only piece of land high enough in the area that did not get engulfed by the lava.

Lava formation

A crack in the Lava

A triffid...ok so its a Yuca. But it looks like a triffid...

Nobbly Kneely Down Tree. Or a 100 year old Juniper to thous that dont know...

Sun set

And again...


White Sands National Monument

video

White Sands is 275 square miles of crushed Gypsum. Mineral rich mountains surround the vast basin in the Chihuahuan Desert. As it rains the water runs down the mountain sides filled with hydrous calcium sulfate (yes i looked that up) the basin filters the water and as the deposit dries it forms crystals. The strong winds in the are break bits off the crystal deposits and steadily tumble it till its a fine sand. Resulting in the dunes.

Cool hu?

White Sands Visitor Centre

How white?

Glare!!!



The aliens are coming...


So we have been in Roswell, New Mexico for a few days now. Not only was it our first proper sight seeing mark on our original map but it was to be a stopping point to get a few things sorted...

Our postal redirection was set up so we could register the vehicles and give people an address for important contact, so, we are sat here waiting on our license plates for the rig and toad. Adam also purchased some tinterweb equipment so we are waiting on that too. Plus he has done some re-wiring of the sound and vision in the rig, and put up our new TV. I have beautified bits too. Recovering our sofa and sticking up some decals to make our plain walls a bit more interesting.

As for the sight seeing, well we visited the UFO Museum. A must for any alien enthusiast. It was very interesting actually. The obligatory account of the "Incident" namely the 1947 UFO crash was very detailed. Accounts from all sides detailing what "did" and "didn't" happen.
UFO's throughout the years with photo's and incident reports where very cool. And even a wall dedicated to bogus accounts and photo's like "hovering hubcaps".  There where plenty of "Cheesy" bits too, like life size aliens stood around a rotating dish complete with flashing lights and sound affects and a mock up of an alien autopsy. They also had a wall full of autographed posters of sifi actors who had visited the museum.

Most of the shops have some sort of alien theme. Even the McDonalds was in the shape of a huge spaceship...Little green faces peer out of most shop windows and huge billboards advertising radio stations or storage are covered in the little green men. Its pretty entertaining really.


Alien Ale from Pecos Winery
This bloke wasn't that helpful if im honest...
UFO Museum
"Star Child" the very first Alien themed shop in Roswell
According to the American Government this is one of the test dummies that was mistaken as an alien body at the site of the Roswell crash.... Whatever....