Got up, packed up, cleaned up, and hit the road only 15 minutes behind schedule this morning. The traffic for about half the distance to my destination was awful with so much road construction backing things up. I ended up more than making up for it the last half of the way, lol. I even had extra time to stop into the BLM office for camping info in Page, AZ. AND I had time enough time to check out Lone Rock Beach, where for $10 I could camp anywhere I liked - keeping in mind the sandy areas which could get my car stuck - we don't want a repeat of Big Dune in Nevada! AND I had time to get some snacks at the gas station in Greenehaven before arriving at the North entrance of Wahweap Marina at Lake Powell
,the second largest man-made lake in the U.S. behind Lake Mead, a few miles down the road.
|Boat Cruise on Beautiful Lake Powell|
I got to the resort, paid for my ticket and within 10 minutes was boarding the 12:30pm cruise for a great ride to Rainbow Bridge National Monument
- the largest known natural bridge in the world, at 275 feet high - nearly as tall as the statue of liberty! Getting there was wonderful. The scenery was beautiful on the lake, surrounded by buttes, mesas, multi-colored shoreline complete with the white "bathtub ring" closest to the water. I got lucky when I got to Rainbow Bridge. My brisk hike there paid off when the ranger led a few of us early arrivals under the bridge to the other side where we got to see it from a different vantage point, and we also got to see the official plaques bolted into the mountainside. There I met some friendly fellow tourists (two couples) from Durango, Colorado and Minnesota! They chatted me up and sent me on my return cruise back with a bottle of beer! On the return ride back to the marina I received some great information and motivation for "The Wave" hike in the Coyote Buttes area of the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness
on the Utah/Arizona border.
After the boat ride I went back to Lone Rock and found a decent flat spot on the sand (site 5) away from the crowd of RVs, trucks and boats hugging the shoreline of Lake Powell.
Then I went into Page, Arizona
(funny, I'm camping in Utah and visiting Arizona in two different time zones, lol) to upload photos and respond to emails, etc. After several weeks I have reliable internet and IT. FEELS. GREAT!
Thursday, July 14th
|Rainbow Bridge Can't Hold ITSELF Up Ya Know! Oh wait, yeah..|
Had a hearty breakfast at the gas station in Greenehaven this morning - yogurt, string cheese, an orange and hard boiled eggs (with mayo, mustard and pepper as the clerk recommended - DEE-LISH!).
Then I went to the BLM office 30 miles north or so and got information about "The Wave" hike. I drove 4 miles west and turned left on House Rock Road 8 and a half miles south to the parking lot for Wire Pass Trail. I got my things together, paid the permit fee, crossed the road and hiked in the wash a half-mile to a footpath up a hill on the right past the sign reading "Permit Required." The next two miles I went on sense, intuition and memory of a couple of landmarks before catching up to a German couple hiking to the same spot. I hiked with Jan & Yvonne the last 1/2 mile to The Wave
, a "multi-colored chute where swirled bands of color run through the sandstone in tones of brown, cream, white, red, pink, yellow and green." The 3 of us took turns taking photos of each other, then we explored on our own for a little bit (it's not a very big area) before relaxing in the bath tub-like sandstone formation. When we were satisfied we decided to stick together, since they wanted to come with me to check out a nearby slot canyon. Before doing that, however, we hiked to a nearby place behind it that a guy named Chris, who we met at the wave, told us about. He said it was like the wave, but even more photogenic. We followed his instructions and and landmarks, but didn't feel the same excitement he did about it. It wasn't like the wave at all, and wasn't impressive like the wave. Still, the area is a beautiful, geologic wonder, and it was fun seeing the castles, beehives and other formations.
On the way back to the wash, maybe a quarter-mile from the wave, we saw a very exhausted and bewildered Chris, who was relieved to see us and admitted he got turned around on his way back. We insisted he join us for the hike back. We reached the wash, where we parted ways with Chris who headed back to the parking lot, and Jan and Yvonne hiked further with me to Buckskin Gulch
- "one of the world's best long slot canyon hikes." It was only a 1/2 mile in the wash to the start of the 3 sections of narrow slot canyons we hiked through. It was so nice and shady and cool within the canyon walls, a magical escape from the blazing sun. There was a handful of drop offs of 5-6 feet to scramble down, an enormous alcove at the confluence that looked as though it should be hiding pirate's booty, and some well-preserved petroglyphs at the end. It was about 3.4 miles round-trip, a total of about 11 miles over the course of the whole day.
I rewarded myself with a carb-load from Pizza Hut, where I randomly bumped back into Chris from The Wave! We talked for a bit and when my pan pizza was ready I called my buddy Thomas in Cali, and we settled a few misunderstandings we had a few months back :)
I picked up some cool Superman undies I saw at Wal-Mart (yes, I know it's Wal-Mart, but I'm poor) and I got my watched adjusted by the 20-year old customer service manager from Denver, who at only 20 has a masters degree in business management and is making $120k! When he transfers to Denver as Assistant Store Manager he'll be making over 300k! He was a very bright kid and really loves his job of helping people; a real pleasure to meet :)
More photo uploading and email checking at McDonald's (reliable internet), before enjoying the full moon from the tent :)
Friday, July 15th
|Hiking the "Coyote Buttes"|
Another well-rounded breakfast at the gas station at Greenehaven to start the day off right (well, besides the apple pies I bought last night, lol). I went to Glen Canyon & Carl Hayden Visitor Center in Page and paid $5 for the 45-minute tour of the dam. More extensive than the one at Hoover Dam, then I watched the video about the area's cultural history and the dam's construction, and then saw the interesting dinosaur exhibit.
Afterward I returned to the store for a couple of groceries, and walked out with a $133 cart full! Well, I guess I won't be going grocery shopping for a while. Oy!
The absolute highlight of the day was the Navajo-guided hikes of Antelope Canyon
. The The canyons are located on private property, and Navajo guides are required for both the Upper and Lower canyons, where separate companies run each of them. It was about 1pm when I got started, so when I got to Lower Antelope Canyon they recommended I actually do the Upper Canyon first, since it would be better lighting conditions that time of day. "The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse' bighanilini, which means "the place where water runs through rocks." Upper Antelope is at about 4,000 feet elevation and the canyon walls rise 120 feet above the stream bed."
I paid $33 (including a $6 reservation permit fee) plus $5 tip for the 90-minute tour of Upper Antelope Canyon, and just getting there was an awesome ride in the company's big truck through thick sand - so thick we passed a different company's truck that got stuck!
|Entrance to Upper Antelope Canyon|
Our guide Henry was great, pointing out all the interesting parts of the canyon, helping us take photos and tossing sand up into the air for effect. The canyon itself was absolutely stunning - definitely one of the most stunning, if not THE most stunning I place I have yet to be lucky enough to find myself standing in. The smooth, narrow, water-carved edges took on all sorts of shapes and the different shades of tan and red made it all that much more mesmerizing from as much as 120 feet below the top of the canyon. Beams of light shined down like spotlights on the canyon floor - amazing. While it was as crowded as one should expect in a place like this, it was an unforgettable experience. Oh, and the drive back - Henry forged the sand at over 40 miles per hour - again passing yet another stuck vehicle! Before leaving the parking lot he gave me a couple of things to do in Page. Oh, and by the way, inside the canyon I bumped into Chris from the wave yet AGAIN!
"To older Navajos, entering a place like Antelope Canyon was like entering a cathedral. They would probably pause before going in, to be in the right frame of mind and prepare for protection and respect. This would also allow them to leave with an uplifted feeling of what Mother Nature has to offer, and to be in harmony with something greater than themselves. It was, and is, a spiritual experience."
|Inside Upper Antelope Canyon|
I drove down the road just a bit to Lower Antelope Canyon and paid the $20 for another 90-minute guided tour. It was much lighter inside, since the canyon isn't so deep. The ladders in several spots added a fun twist to the hike, and this part of the canyon was narrower than the last. My camera battery went dead about halfway into it, but I still got lots of photos and I was forced to enjoy the scenery with the natural lenses of my eyes, instead of the camera, which was refreshing :) Of course I saw Chris from the wave inside the canyon - this is getting CREEPY!
I went to the town's old-school, single-screen movie theater and saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I got there a little late and they didn't charge me for my popcorn, but they did put up a huge fuss over my asking them to fill my empty bottle I brought in with me for water. They refused and gave me a cup, even though that makes absolutely no sense from both a business and environmental standpoint. Unless the cups cost less than the tap water, it makes no sense to give someone that is not paying for water a free cup at the business' expense, but rather to have someone who wants tap water to bring their own means of carrying the water. That's this week's rant. Join me next week in New Mexico, lol! Oh, and later I confirmed that I saw Part 2 without ever seeing Part 1, lol. No wonder I was so confused at first! Hell, I don't even know if I saw the Half-Blood Prince movie before that! I guess when you make 80 movies in a series it gets confusing, lol.
Afterward I hiked to Horseshoe Bend Scenic Vista
, 1.5 miles (round-trip) through sand (ugh). I went at sunset at the advice of a nice woman I met at The Wave, but sunset proved to be THE WORST photo conditions possible, as your facing the direction of the sun and it's completely eye level, shining right in your eyes and camera lens! Perhaps what she mean to say is that it's a good spot to see the sunset, but sunset is not a good time to see Horseshoe Bend. *Sigh* I'll go again another day. You won't guess who I saw in the parking lot as I was leaving - yep, CHRIS (who by the way agreed with me about the lighting conditions). Are we seriously the only two tourists in town, or what?!
I ended the night with some more photo uploading, email checking and journal catch-up at McDonalds (with coffee this time so I can stay 'til they close at midnight, instead of my usual 10pm).
Saturday, July 16th
This morning I woke up early as usual, and headed into Page to get my blog caught up, nearly peeing my pants the whole 10 miles there. I tried THREE different places to go to the bathroom (McDonald's was occupied and the people were taking forever and a day), the gas station attendant basically said I didn't want to go in there, lol, and Safeway grocery store keeps their bathroom locked until 9am! I was finally found success in Wal-Mart. Wow, it's was like I was under some sort of curse or something, lol. The coffee shop I wanted to try was closed, so I went to McDonald's (slooooowww internet) until the library opened at 10am. Now all the libraries I've ever been to have had annoyingly slow internet, but this one was zipping along at lightning speed! Perhaps the fastest wireless internet I've ever come upon - seriously. Thank you Page Public Library
(which by the way has spectacular views out of a corner of its large-pane wall of windows!
|The View From Page Public Library|
The library closed at 5pm, then I went over to Bonkers Restaurant, which of 111 reviews on TripAdvisor was rated the #1 restaurant in Page. I don't get it, because it was THE WORST PASTA I HAVE EVER TASTED IN ANY SIT-DOWN RESTAURANT. The salad bar and service was great, but food is #1.
Then I went to McDonald's for internet.
Sunday, July 17th
Today I went to the coffee shop in Page that never seemed to open yesterday. Even today the first staff didn't arrive to open the doors until 7:30, which is an aberration for a coffee place. Anyway, the internet was faster than at McDonald's. I stayed 'til about 2:30pm, then I went over to Los Delfines Mexican Restaurant located at the Rodeway Inn for a late lunch and drinks. The chili relleno was good, the margarita and pina colada were strong, the chips are served with salsa AND refried beans, which is an unusually generous bonus, and i was given a free shot of grand marnier. My server Hector flirted with me the entire time, lol. I was there enjoying the atmosphere, reading my travel guide and looking over my map for over two hours, at which point I went to the campground at Wahweap Marina for a long-awaited shower - only $2 for 15 minutes! Fifteen minutes is unheard of for at any campground that I've experienced. 8-10 minutes is standard. Then I went back into Page and rented Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, so that the second part I saw the other day at the movie theater would make more sense. I watched it in my tent, with some wine and snacks - I've never done that before! It's a weird clash of worlds, camping and technology. Ones I have never mixed before. I enjoyed it, but don't want to make a habit out of it for sure.
Monday, July 18th
|A Sunset In Page|
Today was day 3 of near all-day blog catchup. I swear my next trip I'm going away without telling hardly anyone will just keep my own little journal with pen and paper like in the old days, lol. Takes way too much time. I suppose I'll be glad to have it already all out there though when I get back home.
Anyway, I went to Beans Coffee Co like I did yesterday morning. I was there until 10am when the library opened, so I went there for faster internet, breaked for lunch around 1pm for a veggie burger and onion rings at Burger King (where they were showing Terminator 2, lol!), and returned to the library until they closed at 8pm, at which point I watched the rest of the Harry Potter rental (I drove to the empty parking lot of a nearby golf course, opened the passenger door, places the laptop on the seat facing outside, pulled up my camping chair with footstool, and watched the last half-hour or so. Returned the movie to Redbox, and here I am at McDonald's wrapping this all up! All I have to do now is put up some photos on here and attach the links to my photo albums. Am I ever going to leave Page?