We depart Kachina Lodge and travel out along the Desert View Trail around the rim and the Cameron Trading Post for a lunch stop. This is a big trading post run by the Navajo. We have been driving through land beside Indian Reservations (in this area there are 27,000 square miles of Indian Reservations) and at the side of the road we pass little markets selling jewellery and pottery. The jewellery is made from turquoise and silver and the pottery is in the colours of the clay and rock – shades of blues, greens, oranges, browns. Housing is basic with tiny simple houses propped on rock and sand. The drive is picturesque through the painted desert valley and on to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon and our accommodation is right on the edge of the enormous lake. Lake Powell is a reservoir which straddles the states of Arizona and Utah and there is a large dam called the Glen Canyon Dam. Our visit begins with a truly awesome boat cruise through the Glen Canyon. It is difficult to describe because the beauty of the huge canyon was amazing and, like the Grand Canyon, photos just cannot do it justice. It is a curious ensemble of amazing features – the huge rock with its patterns formed by water and wind towers above the boat; there are alcoves in the rock; there are huge jagged pieces stretching out from the walls; there are large cracks indicating the passage of time and events (mainly floods) and there are colour and strata changes everywhere you look. When we got to a narrowing of the canyon the skipper had to turn the boat in a very small space – so small you could literally reach out and touch the sides of the canyon – if you were silly enough! Of course, the boss just loved being in this ‘ere boat too!
Today we had an early start to travel in to Page, a bustling little city here in what is known as Canyon Country. Page was established in 1957 to house workers who built the mighty Glen Canyon Dam here on the Colorado River and the second biggest dam after the Hoover Dam. We set off for a visit to the Antelope Canyon – another remarkable marvel of nature. We were taken by the Navajo owned company in open jeeps out of the city and then over a dusty sandy road in the desert and we jiggled along hanging on for dear life to get to the slot canyon here in the American Southwest. This has been featured on National Geographic and if you Google it you will see some pretty awesome photos. We then came back for breakfast and time to do the chores which involved getting out the amazing Scrubba bag and the blow up coathanger and putting the washing on the verandah to dry in about 30 minutes!
We then set off for a raft trip on the river by the dam and in the Glen Canyon. We were taken two miles down a tunnel to descend 700 feet to the river and into the boat which took us 12 km up down the river observing the amazing sandstone walls of the canyon. We had a stop at a little beach for some cooling off time and I can tell you that even though we were melting in 41 degrees in that boat, the water was freezing!! Even so, when you are as hot as we were it was necessary to get in the water and put up with the pain of the toes aching just to cool ourrrrselves a little.
The boss was pretty happy that we descended down in a tunnel where he could not see just how far down those blimmin rocks we were travelling! Otherrrrwise I can tell y’all that he would have been stayin at the top of those cliffs and not havin a barrrrr of this excursion!
So it was back via a stop a Safeways to get cold beers and lemonade and sit in our cool room and drink shandies to replenish the fluid – as you do!
Now the Hillary and Donald soap opera continues this week with the Democrat Convention in Philadelphia – a place we visited a few weeks ago. Oh yes – this roadshow (and the GOP Republican one which has just finished) has completely dominated the papers and TV channels here. In fact you would honestly think there was nothing else going on in the world – you flick through the TV channels and about eight are simultaneously running the same stories – ie the next chapter in the Hillary and Donald drama! Thank goodness the boss managed to find the Tour de France channel which was a very welcome relief!
We have crossed into the state of Utah now as we make our way to Bryce Canyon and the “Bonanza” music has been playing ‘ere on the bus! We are still in the desert with its expanse of orange sand and sage plants and we have just lost an hour. We are now in the heart of Mormon country and staying at Kanab which is a small western town and the Cowboys are evident – in fact the boss is regretting not packing his holster and leather vest with the fringes!!! To get there we drove through the Red Canyon in Dixie National Park to add to the woven tapestry of scenic places we are enjoying.
Bryce Canyon is a very different landscape with distinctly red rock formations with the hoodoos balancing on high towers of rock. It truly looks like a movie setting. The hoodoos are formed by water trickling into the rock and freezing. During the day the ice melts and water trickles into the soft rock and then freezes again so making a bigger crack. Over time water and ice chip away at the rock forming walls, then openings develop to form windows. When the top of a window breaks a freestanding tower is left behind – hence a hoodoo. Now, as you can see we are getting a crash course in geology ‘ere in this amazing place! We finished the day at a foot tappin country and westerrrrrn show and dinnerrrr and then outside to see the stars which were meant to shine brightly in the darkest place in the west – trouble was at 9.15 pm the sun was only just goin down.
Then it was on to Zion National Park – a magnificent park here in Utah. We drive through a mile-long tunnel and then switchbacks to get to the floor of this canyon which is primarily Navajo sandstone towering 800-1000 feet above us as we do the 2 mile walk to where the canyon narrows so much you would need to wade the river to continue. Several rockfalls are evident here but the walk is magnificently picturesque and in the shade (which is a relief on a 43 degree day) and fairly flat.
We crossed into the State of Nevada very briefly for a comfort stop in Mesquite – temperature 43 degrees. I can tell y’all that we are excited any day when we see that the temperature ‘ere is less than 38 degrees!
We are now truckin right on in to Sin City – so Las Vegas ‘ere we come!