Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Rock on… Arizona

We had a great trip from the Grand Canyon to Page, Arizona with its red rocks, manmade Lake Powell and the gigantic power station that can be seen for miles around.  Just when you think your sense of awe has been quenched, another rock formation awaits you in Arizona.  Checking in at the Page, Lake Powell Campground, we learned that Antelope Canyon Tours were booked solid for the next few days but our host found us a spot for the five o’clock tour that day.

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Most land in the area is Navajo owned and managed.  Before our tour, a young Navajo man performed a ceremonial dance wherein he added rings around his arms and legs as well as created symbols of a bird and a globe.  He spoke proudly of his people’s traditions and ways in which old customs have changed.  He talked about the misguided portrayal of painted warriors who say “HOW” by Hollywood and explained that young Navajo today, point their thumb to their heart and wave in a “Hello, everything is fine gesture.”  When we met our tour guide, I figured I would try it out and after I followed through pointing to my heart he said “What’s that? We say “HOW!”  Yes, he was total character and entertaining throughout our tour.  He drove us to Antelope Canyon in an open bus that bumped so dramatically, we would have been thrown off if we had not been wearing seatbelts.  We also were covered in a thin coat of red dust on our clothes and I imagine in our lungs.  The entrance to the canyon is so unassuming, it looked simply like a slot into a basic cave. But once inside, the carved walls, shaped by water, were breathtaking.  The colours were rich and varied in oranges, pinks, purples, grey, buff and red.  Our guide pointed out the many likenesses to natural and human forms that people see in the caverns: bears, reptiles, hearts, rib cages, faces and draped human forms.  In a couple of spots we could observe large sticks that were lodged high above our heads from past water flow.  Our guide, self-taught, played the tri-flute inside and outside the canyon.  The almost haunting sounds conjured images of the Navajo who first entered the canyon and were overwhelmed by what they saw.  As we walked through the 2.5 miles of what seemed like an immense tunnel of sculptures, the sun began to set and darkness created an entirely different vibe across the stone.  The rocks glowed golden  as we were escorted back to the town of Page.

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We have been lucky this year to have visited so many extraordinary places.  At a certain point, super saturation takes over and we feel like we cannot look and another thing; our senses are overloaded.  We spent the following day decompressing and at sunset, ventured out to Horseshoe Bend.  Dixie joined us for the 1.5 mile round trip to the edge of a cliff that shelters the Colorado River.  Many will recognize the sight from stunning helicopter photos posted on line or viewed on travel programs.  Once again, the changing light patterns as the sun dropped were stunning.  The collection of tourists was entertaining as they approached the very dangerous drop-off either boldly or with extreme trepidation.

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On another down day in Page, we restocked our supplies and lunched on some excellent barbeque ribs at Big John’s Texas BBQ.  We moved to the Wahweap Campground on Lake Powell for a three day stay.  The manmade lake draws house boaters, kayakers and pleasure boaters alike.  Fisher-folk worked their rods along the shore but we did not see any fish caught.  Dixie shed a few pounds of desert dust swimming in Lake Powell.  The reflections of the rock cliffs in the lake around our campsite changed as the day’s light varied.  With so much sky to enjoy, the sunsets were incredible too.  We walked across the bridge and checked out the views at The Glen Canyon Dam.  People boarding the tour rafts on the river looked a centimeter high down below us.  The merging of nature and man, the engineering feats and miracles of technology have to be admired while observing the huge wall of the dam and the masses of water it holds back.

The next morning, we left Arizona as we crossed the road outside the campground into Utah.

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