Southwest 2015 – Julia’s Birthday and Hoover Dam

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Saturday, November 28th, 2015
It had been a year since Julia and I ventured out on our Giant Eastern Sierra Photo Venture and it was high time that we did it again. This time however, we would be celebrating both our birthdays which meant that this trip would be 18 days of fun fueled adventure and exploration. Unfortunately, our original plan was ruined thanks to a rotten person who went back on their word and will certainly not be named on this blog, but Julia and I managed to figure it out last minute and met up at the Las Vegas Airport instead of Cedar City like we had originally planned. Naturally all the accommodations, hotels, events and the like had to be cancelled and re booked, but the important thing was that I got to see her on her Birthday to celebrate it properly. Most of the day was spent sorting out a way to meet up and Julia finally secured a last minute flight via Southwest to McCarran Airport in Vegas.


Southwest_iPhone_v001I started my 3 hour drive north toward Vegas to wait for Julia’s flight to arrive, but I got there about 2 hours early, so I hung out at the Silverton until the time got closer. Words cannot express the feeling I get when I see her after going for so long without her companionship, but I just gave her a huge bear hug which pretty much said it all. The first thing I had to do was get her to dinner asap! I found a great Sushi restaurant in Henderson called “Spicy Tuna”, but before we headed in however, I wanted her to open her gift. So we sat in the parking lot for a short while as she opened up her very appropriately pink gift bag.

From one photographer to another, she received a set of Lee Scotch Glass Filters to add to her existing collection. She also got an iTunes gift card and various other little goodies and treats. She was still getting phone calls from all her family and friends well into the night. Today, this girl was very much loved and the forthcoming road trip would be all for her and maybe a little for me too.

I had spent a lot of time trying to get the hotels sorted out again and without any real idea of what we were going to do, I was unable to book anything too far in advance. It appeared that this trip was going to be a “Play it by ear” scenario. Julia and I sat down to celebrate her birthday with some very much needed Sushi!

At this point, we talked about our new plan and decided that tomorrow we would stay in Henderson to shop and stock up on groceries, snacks and drinks for the new trip that we were concocting. This was actually a better idea as it would make it less stressful than just taking off tomorrow, so we spent the rest of the night enjoying dinner and eventually shacked up at the Hampton Inn, Henderson, NV.


Henderson, NV

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

We had started our morning very early by heading out to a place we discovered via Yelp the night before. Eggworks was our destination at 7am and when we got there, I have to say that it was in time too, the place started to get a bit crowded, but fortunately we got seated moments before the big breakfast rush hit.


The food here was absolutely delicious!, Julia ordered their Works Skillet which came with their famous Banana Nut Muffin and I got the Steak and Eggs which came with some of the best seasoned potatoes I’ve ever had. The potatoes are one of their signature items which they call “Habla Diablo Potatoes”, but they are not very spicy, just very tasty. We also split an order of French Toast. I was surprised we weren’t rolling out of there after all that, but hey, we were on vacation and it’s good to try new things.

The service is pretty solid and friendly, the price for our breakfast wasn’t outside of what would be expected for what we ordered, just $34.48, not too bad.


Shortly after breakfast, Julia and I rushed back to the hotel to get showered up and changed. We had the whole day to get around the Vegas area and chat about where we were going to head out tomorrow morning. From our hotel, we darted off toward the strip and eventually ended up at the Bass Pro Shop near the Silverton. As far as I was concerned, it was still very much Julia’s birthday and I was going to take her on a rocking shopping spree to get her all the clothing she desired =)

“Together again at last…”


“This is by far the absolute biggest Bass Pro Shop that I have see to date!”


Julia and I bought a few things here and took a stroll over to the back side of the shop which we discovered to be connected to the Silverton Casino. This should come as no surprise, just about every shop in Vegas has a casino attached at some point…lol. If you haven’t been to the Bass Pro Shop here, I would highly recommend you check it out at least once, it’s like walking through a museum in some places, a zoo in other places, and Disneyland in other places, especially the area just outside the shop where the Casino is attached.

“Julia having flashbacks of our most excellent trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.”

“They had a freaking mermaid in the tank!”


“I love that the everywhere we went, the holidays were in full effect.”


We left the Bass Pro Shop and hit up many, many stores around the area. Julia was having a great time and that’s all that mattered to me. I even got her some very cool knee high boots and a sweet military green jacket to match the one that I have. Naturally we were starting to get very hungry, so we drove around a bit and Julia not only plays the role of navigator, but she Yelps as we pursue the places we want to eat at.

Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of options that we considered “Healthy”, so by this time we just said “screw it” and hit up the one place that used to be our favorite place to grub when we lived together in Grover Beach. Jersey Mike’s was a definite go to place and since there are none in Utah, this was an especially tasty treat for her.

“She is all smile as she gets ready to chomp down a tasty sando and of course, there’s a shot of the shopping damage we did for the day.”

Hoover Dam, NV/AZ

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Today was the day that our official road trip was set to begin and after having an entire day to get all the shopping out of the way and orchestrate what today would entail, we were more than ready to get this adventure started. I had not driven out to Hoover Dam since the canyon bridge still getting worked on, so this was going to be a new experience for me as well. Heading in that direction, I had to make a quick pit stop in Boulder City to get more of these awesome mugs that I bought from the South West Cafe there so many years ago. The price went up, but I was willing to pay it.

“Little did we know that our massive road trip would share the same title as this diner, Southwest!”


After leaving the Boulder City, we started our drive to Hoover Dam and as per usual, I had to pull over for inspection at the security booths a couple of miles before the dam. I had already anticipated this so I had unlocked my snug top tonneau cover to speed things along. I greeted one of two police officers who asked if I could open the back, I did and they took a quick gander to see if I had anything of suspicion or concern. I had purchased a full tank of propane for the gas powered heater I brought along for this trip and I was not sure if they were going to give me any shit about it, but fortunately, they just said “Okay, you’re good to go” and on our way we went. Julia had been to the dam a couple of years back with her dad, but she said that it was a very crowded when they went so the fact that we were visiting on a monday and in the off season would prove to be a much better experience all together.

“Approaching Lake Mead as we travel Highway 93 to Arizona.”

Hoover Dam

GPS Coordinates: 36.0156° N, 114.7378° W

Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named after President Herbert Hoover(cont…)

“We had finally arrived at Hoover Dam, still glad we are allowed to drive over it.”

Since about 1900, the Black Canyon and nearby Boulder Canyon had been investigated for their potential to support a dam that would control floods, provide irrigation water and produce hydroelectric power. In 1928, Congress authorized the project. The winning bid to build the dam was submitted by a consortium called Six Companies, Inc., which began construction on the dam in early 1931. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before, and some of the techniques were unproven. The torrid summer weather and lack of facilities near the site also presented difficulties. Nevertheless, Six Companies turned over the dam to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule.

Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume.The dam is located near Boulder City, Nevada, a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project, about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction; nearly a million people tour the dam each year. The heavily travelled U.S. 93 ran along the dam’s crest until October 2010, when the Hoover Dam Bypass opened. (source: wikipedia)

“The parking structure and visitor center are nested along very steep cliffs here.”

“There she is!, my biggest fan and personal paparazzi girl!” <3


“This plaque states, ‘A modern civil engineering wonder of the world’. Nevada on the left, Arizona on the right.”


“Just below the plaque, Julia pointed out a survey marker!, Of all places, I never would have suspected one to be placed here. Good eyes Julia!”



“The water level is unfortunately so much lower than I remembered it 10 years ago.”


“With a total of 4.4 million cubic yards of concrete placed, the amount would be enough to build a two lane road from coast to coast.”


“Nice wide shot of the new Hoover Dam bypass bridge that connects Nevada and Arizona.”


“One last pic with Rudy the Bear before we hit the road to Williams, AZ.”


We definitely got our fill of Hoover Dam for the trip and so we saddled up and started to make our way to Williams, AZ. I had booked us a few nights over at the Roadway Inn & Suites which was literally on Route 66. Julia and I were excited to see what our next adventure would bring us, so we continued on Highway 93 south to Kingman where we would hop onto Interstate 40 Eastbound and Down!

“Racing the sunset while heading south on highway 93 from Hoover Dam to Kingman.”


Williams, AZ

We didn’t know it yet, but out three day booking at Williams would become five days and the Roadway Inn would become our primary headquarters for hitting up all the local destinations not just once but twice such as Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Bearizona. Julia and I were getting pretty hungry on our way to Williams, but we wanted to get the check in process over with and then headed out to grab ourselves a most delicious Rib Eye dinner at one of the local restaurants in downtown Williams. Everything was within walking distance and this made it perfect for us to get some additional exercise in.

“Just made it with very little daylight to spare.”


“The Red Raven restaurant served up the best Rib Eye in town, we actually went three times in the following days.”



The steak was a bit much to be having at 9pm in the night. I was not accustomed to eating like that again, especially with such a large portion of red meat, so Julia and I grabbed her a tasty little desert to go and walked around the downtown area to settle down the heavy dinner we just had. It was really good, but a bit too rich for the palette at this hour. Once we wrapped up our walk in what I can only describe as absolutely freezing weather, we arrived back at our place of lodging and were welcomed by the kick ass heater that was warming our cozy little room since we had first checked in.

“A bit on the small side, but a very cozy place nonetheless.”


Well, that pretty much wraps up this portion of our southwest venture. Check out the second installment when it gets posted, there are lots more photos to see and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Stay tuned for “Southwest 2015 – Chapels and Cathedrals”

Until the next travel blog, remember to get out there and “Shoot the Planet!”



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