I-40 West Arizona, Snow Storm: Snugglin Up in the Mini Van

We were on cloud nine after being able to experience the Grand Canyon in it's cool blue mood! Leaving the park, the snow seemed to have lightened up and we were ready to coast back to Vegas. We stopped at the first gas station outside the park (that was still open) to fill up with gas, and I couldn't resist checking out some of the beautiful indian jewelry being sold inside. We browsed for a bit and then hit the road.

Paul took the second leg of the drive since Kevin drove on the way out, and ironically as we were leaving, the snow started to fall again! It actually started to come down so hard it was kind of like Star Trek's Warp Drive, moving in warp speed the way the snow was flying at us. The snow was sticking and the ground was getting soft and slippery.

We drove about a 100 miles through the snow and it was coming down hard when we started to come up on traffic. It wasn't too bad, we had completed about a third of the trip back, but no one wants to hit traffic! After rolling on and off for a little while, traffic came to a DEAD STOP! We had limited cell coverage, but of the six of us in our Dodge Caravan, the two iPhones had the best signal! ;) hehehe

We called 511 without much luck on what all was going on, and actually stepped out a couple times to talk to some of the truck drivers (cause they have the CV radios), to see if they had any information.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUdiINTxsGc&w=750&h=411] 
So apparently there was a wreck with multiple tracker trailers (one including explosives) that were blocking us from getting through. It was around 8pm by this time, and we had a long drive ahead of us. We were checking news sites online, and calling the department of transportation to see when we might be able to move. It was at least another hour or so before they told us the road was closed without any definitive open time.

We had a feeling it was going to be a LONG night! It was time to snuggle up! We were stopped in the middle of the road, engine off waiting. Paul, Kevin and I played Monopoly on my phone until the battery started to die, it seemed to be a good way to pass the time (monopoly is the never ended game, and we ironically didn't finish it before we got back to Vegas!). We had no information about when we might move, but felt it was necessary to stay up just in case a miracle happened! Paul and I were in the front, so we took turns starting and stopping the engine to heat everyone in the car every so often. With no indication that we would be getting back to Vegas any time soon, we all gave in and slept on and off through the night.

Night fell and morning came with a snowy mountain-scape and wall of trucks! We were all getting hungry although we had packed plenty of water, snacks (chips) as well as alcoholic beverages that helped pass the time! The on-board ac-dc converter would not power the blender, but snow worked well for my skinny girl margaritas! Elaine and John wanted more to eat, so they traded a pack of cigarettes with a truck driver for some fajitas, rice, and some beef and gravy! MMMMM YUM! haha People were wandering around to just get out of their cars and trucks after being cooped up all night, some were even making snow men! You gotta make the most out of such a crappy situation right??

After a while, the police drove by checking to make sure everyone had enough water, but ironically did not have any news about when we would be able to start moving. Another hour or two had passed that morning, and finally we heard over the speaker of a police car that movement would begin and we were all to return to our vehicles! We were finally moving!

We could not believe that this had happened, getting stuck on I-40 for over 16 hours!!! What are the odds... you'd think we would have a better chance of winning in Vegas than that happening right?? Obviously not! It was a once in a lifetime experience that I hope will only happen once in my lifetime!

The Amazing Hoover Dam and Surrounding Landscape

On our second full day in Vegas we were pretty ambitious planning to take a trip to both Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. Ironically our timing wasn't quite right and with the hour lost going into Arizona, we quickly realized this day would be a Hoover Dam day...

But in either case, it was a pretty awesome sight! The Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge provides a great view of the dam. As you walk up the walkway on your way to the bridge, there is all kind of information about the dam and the bridge. It was pretty cool. We of course stopped and got a picture of the state line.

The bridge we were on spanned 1900 feet and was made of 30,000 cubic yards of concrete and 16,000,000 pounds of steel! Kara had been to the dam years ago and they were just starting to build it and it was just finished a couple of years ago. It was awesome to see it from this perspective. Standing on the bridge, we were 880 feet above the river.

Leaving the bridge we took the scenic route on our way to the Grand Canyon and got a better glympse of the workings of the dam as well as Lake Mead.

On our way to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at this gas station and were convinced by the locals that it wasn't the best idea to head that direction. So it wasn't long before we turned around to head back to Vegas. I was a little disappointed, but we were going to make it to the Grand Canyon this trip, so it was all good!

As we were headed back, we saw an overlook that is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and had to stop to get a look at the amazing views.

After our little climbing adventure we hopped back in our SEXY Dodge Caravan and hit the road! Hoover Dam... "check!"