After leaving Las Vegas I passed through Boulder City then visited the Hoover Dam. It is quite a site and a marvel of engineering and construction considering it was built in the early 1930s. Here are some photos.
This one is really telling. 1983 was the last time the dam was full to overflowing. You can see the water coming over the spillway at the bottom left. The photo on right shows the water level in 2021. It has fallen over 150 feet since 1983. Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the dam, is only 27% full, the lowest level since the reservoir was filled in 1937.
This graph shows Lake Mead water levels since 1970. The lake has lost 5.5 trillion gallons of water since then. That is more than 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools lost every day for nearly 22 years.
Hydro power is also down 25% due to low water levels.
The low water level has revealed a number of skeletal remains:
The thing is, people knew this would happen eventually. About a century ago, representatives from seven U.S. states — Nevada, California, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico — struck a deal to divvy up the Colorado River. Hydrologists warned that officials were promising more water than the river could give, but in an era driven by power and politics, their warnings were largely ignored and plans moved forward. Climate change has exacerbated the problem. Oh well, we get what we deserve.
Moving on, I had a number of nice campsites in northwest Arizona. I just had to make sure I had enough ice to last the day and give me cold drinks until sunset.
I made it to the town of Kingman, Arizona and stayed a couple days. They boast about being on the famous Route 66, which is pretty cool I guess.
With construction starting 1926, route 66 is 2400 miles long and stretches from Lake Michigan to Los Angeles.
It grew, along with local businesses and communities, through WWII and after, reaching its heyday in 1956, when President Eisenhower authorized the building of the interstate highway system. By 1984, the interstates had taken over and the highway was decommissioned. Here is a link to an interesting article about Route 66.
Here is my campsite near Kingman. It was next to a ravine which had washed out the road. Note to self: do not camp in dry riverbeds that are prone to flash flooding.
The ravine that took the road out when it flooded some time earlier.
Another nice campsite in western Arizona. After Kingman I passed through the towns of Wikieup and Wickenburg. Many miles between towns so I had to camp a few times.
HOT HOT HOT
I finally made it to Phoenix and it was super hot. Here is the forecast for Sept. 3 to 12.
My strategy for dealing with the heat is first, have plenty of ice. I time my arrivals into places that sell ice so that I am there in the evening when I can perhaps get a motel, or the morning, when I can stock up on ice for the day. I try to buy at least 10 lbs of ice which fills up my two ice chests. But even then, if I fill up at 9 am, the ice is melted by 2:30 pm. If I am lucky, I will be near a store where I can buy another bag. Otherwise I have to soak a cloth in water and wrap it around a water bottle. The evaporative cooling effect works surprisingly well.
Then I wear a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off my head. I soak a washcloth periodically in ice water to wipe down my head, arms and legs. If possible, I will stop in a town or under a tree to rest in the shade during the hottest parts of the day, usually between 2 and 4 pm. With these techniques riding in 100+ deg temperatures is almost tolerable.
Fortunately, my Uncle Frank lives in Phoenix and so I had a place to stay for a week or so. I got a lot of stuff done that I have been putting off, such as washing clothes, making bike repairs, getting a haircut, and refilling my prescriptions. It was a relaxing, food-filled week. I just sat out the heat and waited for a break in the weather. Here I am with Frank at Vito’s, a great pizza restaurant.
So that’s it for now. My bike has performed well for the most part. My saddle rails cracked so my sister sent me a spare saddle. But otherwise no serious mechanical problems. Other than the heat, the riding has been ok, but much of it on busy highways, so that’s not fun. But the pedal assist has really paid for itself on hot days when that big steep hill appears and I need a little help.
The forecast shows a cool front coming in on Friday the 9th so that is when I will leave Phoenix and continue east through New Mexico and into Texas. Here is my route so far, about 1800 miles.