Day 3 – The Hoover Dam (Who knew it was as hot as Death Valley?)

Day 3

Date: 06/04/2016 Saturday
Starting Location: Pahrump, NV
Ending Location: Mesquite, NV
Starting Odometer: 7457
Ending Odometer:
7650
Mileage Today:  193 Miles
Mileage Total:  812 miles

All about today…

Last night I stayed at the Pahrump Nugget hotel.  For many years I’ve attended High Performance Driving Events at a number of different tracks.  One of those tracks is called Spring Mountain, and it’s located in Pahrump.  So, driving through, and staying in Pahrump was a little bit like Old Home week.  I had never stayed at this hotel before but Larry and I had eaten breakfast there when i was last at Spring Mountain, 2 or 3 years ago.  Ahhh, another memory from the past.

604-PahrumpNugget

The cost of the hotel was very reasonable, and the hotel was generally clean, and suitable for a X-Country adventurer.  I mean, this is a hell of a lot nicer than say, the hotels that Daniel Boone stayed in, or even the hotels that Lewis and Clark stayed in;  Although both of them could have come through Pahrump at some point in their lives.

Leaving Pahrump

Leaving Pahrump, I couldn’t help but stop at Spring Mountain, to see if any clubs were running events at the track.  As it turns out, no one was there, but I had to get a picture just so that I could remember it, as the Audi Club is not very fond of the management at this track.

604-SpringMountain

At any rate, since the track was closed, I decided to take a picture.

Everything is harder on a bike

Taking the picture proved to be a time-consuming task, even though it was relatively quick, as compared to, let’s say, changing a tire.  Taking the picture requires that I get off of the bike, open the tank bag, take out my phone, and get off the bike.  You can’t leave the engine running so I had to turn off the engine, and climb off.  I can’t press buttons with my gloves on, so off came the gloves and my sunglasses are polarized, so I really can’t see the viewfinder, so off came the gloves and the glasses.  I took the picture, and then had to climb back on the bike, heaving one leg up and over the seat and then hoisting myself onto the bike, where I then put away all of the technical gear, started the engine, and left.  A very fast and efficient 4 minutes…

More about Spring Mountain Race Track

Spring Mountain is a “Country Club Track”.  That means that the track is purchased as a country club membership, where members are allowed to drive their cars on the track just about any time they like.  When the Audi Club has run at this track in the past, and even recently, there have been incidents where the members don’t adhere to the more-restrictive passing protocols of the Audi Club, but that’s all water under the bridge.  And, speaking of water under the bridge…

The Hoover Dam – At last

Getting to the dam

The route to the dam was simple, and not particularly long. It was about a 90 mile trip from Pahrump, but to get to the dam, you need to drive through Las Vegas. I mean that you actually have to drive through Las Vegas, as there is no highway that cuts across Vegas, and comes out on the SE corner, which is the route to the Dam. So, I had to drive through Las Vegas traffic at 9AM, in a “relatively cool” 105 degrees. At one point the temp in Vegas hit 117, but after the trip through Death Valley, 117 didn’t seem that bad. It’s a dry heat you know… (Bullshit to that, anyone that tells you that 117 is not hot because it’s a dry heat is out of their mind. 117 is crazy hot, and inside the Klim Spacesuit that I wear to protect me from the idiots on the road, it seemed like I was driving through Dante’s Inferno.

My History at the dam

I once visited the dam many years ago.  When I visited it last time, visitors crossed the water by driving on the dam itself.  Since then, and I believe it was in 2010, that crossing has been replaced with a truly remarkable engineering feat called the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

The Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is an arch bridge in the United States that spans the Colorado River between the states of Arizona and Nevada. The bridge is located within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area approximately 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, and carries U.S. Route 93 over the Colorado River. Opened in 2010, it was the key component of the Hoover Dam Bypass project, which rerouted US 93 from its previous routing along the top of Hoover Dam and removed several hairpin turns and blind curves from the route.  (once again, lifted directly from Wikipedia.  Thanks Wikipedia!)

Interested in the dam, then you might enjoy reading about the top 10 Engineering Facts about the bridge.

Arriving at the Hoover Dam

Inside the dam

I took the Hoover Dam Power-plant Tour.  This tour lasts about 45 minutes in total, and during the tour you’re allowed to descend over 500 feet into the dam, and see the bypass tunnels, the generators, and some of the other infrastructure that is used to operate the Dam and generate electricity.

Leaving the Dam and heading for Mesquite

The town of Mesquite, NV is about 110 miles from the Hoover Dam.  You might think that you’re only a quick 2 hours away, but not so fast bubba boy.  First of all, there is no direct way to get to Mesquite.  I could have gone on back roads and connected to I15, which would have been the fastest way to get there, but it lacks charm, so I decided to to another way.

Did I really decide?

Well, maybe I didn’t actually decided on the route. You see, it’s that GPS thing again.  The same problem that caused me to drive through Contra Costa county without asking, caused the GPS to take back roads from the Hoover Dam to Mesquite.  In this case, as in the last case, it was the better of the two routes.

The route took me on HWy 169, from Hoover Dam, through the Watershed for Lake Mead, and around the north shore of the lake.  There was a really amazing canyon, which I captured some video of, for you to see.

Getting to Mesquite

The road to Mesquite was great, but the heat was once again intense.  I had to work hard to keep engine temperatures down, but more importantly, I had to really work hard to keep my body temperature down to a manageable level.  I stopped several times for fluids, and to put on suntan lotion, but even with all of the precautions, I still became overheated, and had to stop to cool down at a mini-mart.

As it turns out, my machine was also experiencing sympathy heatstroke, and it had to stop too.  The GPS system got so hot that it rebooted, and would not immediately restart.  So, I pulled into a mini-mart, and asked the nice woman behind the counter to put the GPS into the freezer for a few minutes.  While the GPS was cooling, I started wolfing down Gatorade and Potato chips.

After about 15 minutes at the mini-mart, I drenched my cool-vest in water, took the GPS out of the deep freeze, and restarted the bike.  I still had another 35 minutes to go, and it was a very hot 35 minutes, but I finally arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Mesquite.

Too hot to handle

Once at the hotel, I quickly made my way to my room, changed out of the motorcycle gear, and put on a bathing suit.  The next 30 minutes were spent relaxing in the pool.  The water was not especially cool, but it helped to bring my body temperature down, and I felt like a new man.

Hey Mom, what’s for dinner

Tonight’s dinner was to be at a Guatemalan restaurant called Antigua Bohemia.  The food was really great, but the margaritas were even better.  This evening, enjoying this great meal, it felt like my margaritas were an elixir of the gods.  What a great way to end a great day.

Let’s call it a day

Arriving in Mesquite, NV, I’ll spend the night at the Holiday Inn Express.  I might not be the most skilled rider, or the best blogger, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

Comments

  1. Wow, cool Cliff. I once took a group of unsuspecting souls on motorcycles thru Death Valley on July 4th, to get away from the traffic. I succeeded!

    But what I did for everyone was that at every gas stop and I know you have enough gas to get to NY, but I had us stop about every 1-2 hours depending on gas stations and I took a water hose and soaked every rider down the front and backs of their jackets.

    They were at first shocked, but then after getting on their bikes, loved it. I hope you did the same.

  2. Hi Doc,
    When I rode through the Mojave last September, as part of the Rawhyde training, we came upon an outpost that had an outside shower, with ice cold water. I did what you suggested, and I loved it.
    That said, I have not come upon a shower at any of the places that I’ve stopped so far. I’ve been using a cool vest, which is really working well, but in many of the places I stop, it is so hot outside that when I try to saturate the vest with cold water, I’m confronted with faucets that offer water that is cool, but not cold. But, if I soak the vest, and quickly put it on and jump on the bike, it does work magic, and I’m kept relatively cool until the water evaporates.

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