Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegas Vacation 2009. . . .It’s great to be back in Maricopa, Arizona

Bright and early this morning, I decided to make the 320 mile drive to Maricopa. I spent the last few days in Las Vegas, Nevada on some badly needed “R & R”. My next few posts will cover my activities on my much needed and long overdue trip. As always, I will have plenty of Photos.

Once the Labor Day Weekend is over, the infamous road construction season begins. I witnessed a multitude of projects along my journey to and from Las Vegas. Due to timing and careful planning, my trip went smoother than expected. I didn’t get held up in bottlenecks at any of these dreaded places.

My first slowdown occurred just before the Hoover Dam. Due to government generated fear and paranoia in this “post 911” world, Homeland Security has established checkpoints on either side of the Hoover Dam. Rental trucks, trailers and buses are also prohibited from crossing the dam. The RV and the van in front of me were waved over to a secondary inspection area. I was allowed to pass without any inspection at all. In my truck, were two rifles including an AR-15, a 9mm handgun, several hundred rounds of ammunition, gasoline and a tackle box full of flares. Do you Americans feel any safer knowing that?

I must say that safety is an illusion. If every citizen like myself were heavily armed, terrorists would be too scared to attack. Even if they do, they would know that their chance of failure would be greatly increased.

The most impressive was the new bridge project just south of the Hoover Dam. It is known as the Hoover Dam Bypass. This engineering marvel has been in the works for several years. I was quite impressed. The photographs I took, don’t do it any justice.

Welcome to the Hoover Dam Bypass Website

Construction of the Colorado River Bridge is advancing on the 1,060 foot twin-rib concrete arch. The Colorado River Bridge is the central portion of the Hoover Dam Bypass Project. Construction on the nearly 2,000 foot long bridge began in late January 2005 and the completion of the entire Hoover Dam Bypass Project is expected in Late 2010. When completed, this signature bridge will span the Black Canyon (about 1,600 feet south of the Hoover Dam), connecting the Arizona and Nevada Approach highways nearly 900-feet above the Colorado River. Use the web cam icon to the left, to see real-time images of construction on the bridge! Visit the What's New and Construction Activities pages for more details on how this project is advancing.

United States Highway 93 (U.S. 93) has been designated a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) route. The increasing congestion caused by the switchbacks leading to the Hoover Dam site and the restrictions at the dam crossing have led to the development of the Hoover Bypass Project. The Hoover Dam Bypass Project is a 3.5-mile corridor beginning at approximately milepost 2.2 in Clark County, Nevada and crossing the Colorado River approximately 1,500 feet downstream of the Hoover Dam, then terminating in Mohave County, Arizona near milepost 1.7 on U.S. 93.
Interstate 40 east of Kingman was being resurfaced. A new roundabout on US 93/US 60 outside of Wickenburg is nearing completion. Roundabouts are not all that common in North America, so motorists tend to get confused when they approach one. That was exactly what happened here.

US 93 is also called the Joshua Tree Forest in Arizona Scenic Road. At one time it was not a good route to travel. Motorists would more often than not encounter RV’s towing cars traveling at very low rates of speed. There was a serious lack of passing lanes. With nearly two decades of improvements, I can drive 65+mph for most of the route.

I normally expect to encounter idiots on the road. I was amazed that I failed to encounter very many. The only true idiot encounter was in the passing lane on I-17 in North Phoenix. This cranially challenged person from Colorado kept tapping the brake while he was pointing at something while talking to his passenger. If there is one thing I cannot stand is some stupid person lollygagging out in the hammer lane. If he wanted to “play tourist”, he could have gone on the frontage road.

Phoenix is almost always experiencing road construction. Interstate 17 and Grand Avenue both had lane restrictions. Despite all of this construction, I was more or less able to keep my cruise control set at 70mph for most of my trip. I have lived out here for 24 years and have yet to see any freeway get finished. The “Phoenix” rising out of the ashes is sure taking its’ good old time.

“What happens in Vegas, often ends up on the internet.” --some lady on the Rio shuttle bus

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