Category Archives: Sandstone formations

Toadstools and River Rafting

Page sits on Arizona’s northern border.  Lake Powell is located in Arizona and Utah, mostly Utah.  In Utah is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, spanning nearly 1.9 million acres.  We drove Route 89 from Page to Kanab, about a 70 miles stretch.  The Toadstools Trail was our first stop.  This is a scenic trail that is less than a mile long and leads you to the area where the toadstools are.  A toadstool is a spire-like feature with a boulder balanced on top, giving the appearance of a mushroom or toadstool.  On our way back, we could see a thunderstorm was coming our way, so we picked up our speed to get back to the car.  We made it back safely.

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We made one other stop before we reached Kanab.  It was a pretty area and we wanted to walk around it a little.  We were on our way back to the car when the thunder started.  Once again we had to rush back to the car.  Further on down the road we ran into rain.  There is a visitor center in Kanab and we stop to inquire about hikes in the areas.  Unfortunately, they had rain the day before and the hikes took you into canyons where water was still flowing.  They suggested the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.  We went there and I wanted to walk around the dunes, but again, a storm sent us back to our car.  Back to Page we went, but not without hitting rain again and even some hail.  Not a real successful day of hiking.

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The next morning gave us a beautiful sunrise.  John woke me up for this and while I was photographing the sunrise, it began to drizzle.  I turned around and there was a sight to behold.  A beautiful rainbow with our RV right in the middle.

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The Colorado River gently runs by Page.  We did a river raft adventure starting at the Glen Canyon Dam and floating past Horseshoe Bend.  Then they used motors to get us back to the dam.  It was nice gently floating down the Colorado with Glen Canyon towering above us on both sides.  We stopped at a beach down river for a bathroom break and a short hike to see some petroglyphs.  There was nothing exciting about this trip, but it was nice.

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We hiked one afternoon to Horseshoe Bend overlook.  You can get right up to the edge of the cliff to see Horseshoe Bend.  It is a long way down and there are no guard rails. We waited for the sunset hoping that it would be good, but there were too many clouds.  I still got some good shots of Horseshoe Bend though.

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Lake Powell is a beautiful lake.  We didn’t do a rental boat or a boat tour since John and I had spent a week on a houseboat on Lake Powell a number of years ago.  If you get to this area, I would certainly recommend you do that though.  It really is awe-inspiring.

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Our next stop is Albuquerque for the Balloon Festival.

 

 

 

Upper Antelope Canyon

Today was super amazing.  I can’t even begin to describe the beauty I saw today, but the pictures will tell you.  John and I went on a photo tour into three slot canyons.  There were seven of us in our group plus our guide.  We had two of the canyons to ourselves and spent over an hour in each one.  The canyons are located just outside of Page, Arizona and on Navajo Indian land.  The Navajo control who goes in the canyons.  The tour company we went through is the only one that is allowed in Owl Canyon and Rattlesnake Canyon.  There are other tour companies, but they can only go in Antelope Canyon.  More on that later.

Owl Canyon was named for the Horned Owls that nest in there.  We were lucky enough to see them.  I wished I had brought my bigger lens with me, but my 18-200 mm did a fairly good job.  We entered the canyon by climbing down a ladder, even though the canyons are not underground.  We didn’t have to do any other climbing in this canyon.  Owl Canyon was different from the other canyons, as it was wider and more open at the top allowing more light in it.  The other two canyons were very narrow and deep.

Rattlesnake Canyon was next.  I asked Kim, our guide, about the name of the canyon, if I really needed to be careful where I walked.  She laughed, no, it was named that because of all the twists and turns.  There was more climbing in this canyon and tight squeezes as well.  And it was oh so beautiful!  More so than Owl Canyon.  It was so much more striated, curvy and twisty.  I was amazed at each room I entered.  This canyon was more inclosed at the top also, so you didn’t have a lot of bright light to deal with.  A tri-pod was a must.  We were working with time exposure shots that really brought out the detail and colors.  I do not have much experience with that, and Kim was very helpful to me.  And of course, having done this so many times, she knew just where to point the lens for the best shots.  She said this was her favorite slot canyon.  I understood why, I could have stayed in there all day.

One last slot canyon to go, Antelope Canyon.  We were excited to go there because this is the canyon where you get the beams of light.  The light beam only happens certain months of the year, usually to the end of September.  The beam is not as big as earlier in the summer, and there may not be one at all this time of year.  When we arrived, there were so many tour vehicles there, which meant lots of people, well over a hundred.  We joined up with another group from the same tour company. Their guide was Josh, and he knows everything about cameras that there is to know.  He would be helping everyone to get the best shots.  Not only that, he would be doing crowd control.

Josh led us in, told us exactly where to stand and what to shoot at.  He made sure our camera settings were correct and he kept the sand off our lens with his dust blower.  All the other groups were pretty unorganized, just shooting away on automatic settings, with no direction from their guides, except to move on to another room.  I’m glad I did my research before choosing a tour company.  We were going to have artistic shots that would be worthy of framing.

The beam of light did not appear when it was supposed to.  I didn’t feel too disappointed, just lucky to have seen everything I had seen and knowing that I had some beautiful photos.  Then there it was, a skinny stream of light.  Guess what, everyone else had to stay back, while our group had the privilege of photographing it.  The beams only lasted for a few minutes and when it started to fade, Josh took us to the other side of it.  Kim, our guide, stayed to keep everyone else out.  You could still see the beam from that angle, although very faintly.  Josh had a shovel and started throwing sand on it.  It was amazing what the sand did to the beam.  Josh called them money shots, and he was right, they are worthy to be bought.  Not only that, but in another room, he threw sand on one of the ledges and it flowed off like a waterfall.  It made for some beautiful shots as well, and once again, nobody else was allowed in the room with us.

What an experience!  This is high on my list of being one of the best things I have ever done and certainly the high light of this trip.  I’m wondering if the Albuquerque Balloon Festival can top this.  We will see.

 

Page, Arizona

Leaving Sedona turned out to be quite an experience.  John decided it would be best to take the southern route out of Sedona and hit I-17 to travel north.  The other road out of Sedona is 89A and it is a narrow two lane road with hair pin curves and uphill.  Our RV does not go up steep hills well, slowing way down and holding up everyone behind us.  We came into Sedona that way and we saw all the pull offs were barricaded because of damage from flash floods.  I-17 seem to be the best choice, even with its steep upgrade for many miles, at least people would be able to get around us.  To go that way though, you have to go through nine roundabouts.  We didn’t think that would be a problem.  When we stopped for fuel in Flagstaff, we saw that one of our tire straps holding our car on the tow dolly, had come off.  We guessed it was because of the tight curves on the roundabouts.  Our tire rode up on the dolly a bit causing the dolly to get up against the car on turns.  The bottom strip on the car is dented and a big patch of paint is scratched off the door.  The passenger door was damaged by the dolly on a trip to the Florida Keys.  Time to get rid of that dolly.  We just bought this 2011 Honda Accord in May, without a blemish.  It truly brought tears to my eyes.  Oh the joys of RVing.

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The scenery from Flagstaff to Page is superb.  You pass by canyons, rock formations and the painted desert.  I just kept snapping pictures as the scenery flew by me.  Some of the pictures turned out pretty good.

We are camping in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in the Wahweap Campground.  The campground is very nice with all its desert flora, but watch out for the sand spurs.  They have big ones here and they are all over!  We have a great view.

After we got settled into our site, we rode into Page to the visitor center to pick up maps and get some information on hiking and other activities.  When we were approaching the Glen Canyon Dam, we noticed a sign about a guided hike at 5:30.  We decided to do that.  It was a half mile hike through the desert to a hanging garden.   The ranger gave a very informative talk about how this area was formed and about John Wesley Powell’s expedition down the Colorado River in 1869.

We have a Jack Rabbit hanging around our campsite at times.  His long ears help keep him cool.  They are very thin and as blood runs through the vessels the heat is radiated out through his ears.

Tomorrow we are doing a photo tour inside three slot canyons.  We had planned to do one during our travels last year, but due to delays leaving home, we had to scratch Page, Arizona from our itineray.  Not this year.

 

 

Sedona, Arizona Part 2

After our seven mile hike, you would think we would be so wore out that we would have just returned to the campground.  Not so, well, we were pretty tired and it was getting pretty warm by then.  We were just going to ride around and see some of the distinctive sandstone formations and do a little off-roading.  Pam and I did a very short hike to see the “Devil’s Kitchen,” while the guys stayed in the air-conditioned jeep.

Now for the off-roading.  Wow, the road was rough, but I guess that’s what it is all about.  There was great scenery, but we did not go as far as we wanted to.  We were really hoping the road would get better as we went along, but it didn’t.  I think we only went around four miles before turning around.

Later in the day, Pam and I rode up to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  It is built into the sandstone formations and was completed in 1956.  Great views from up there also.

The next day, Pam went to visit a friend in a nearby town.  Mike, John and I decided to go for a hike, but a shorter one than the day before.  The hike we really wanted to do was closed due to damage from flash floods, so we settled on the Fay Canyon Trail.  This trail is only two miles round trip.  We didn’t start out ’til late morning, but the description said it was shady.  Well, there wasn’t as much shade as we would have liked, but it didn’t seem to be too hot hiking.  When you reach the end of the trail, there is a big rock slide that you can climb over to reach a narrow trail that runs along the canyon wall.  That is exactly what we did. It wasn’t too bad climbing over the rocks, and I would stop every little bit and look back down to make sure I wasn’t going to be scared getting back down.  I have learned not to put myself in unsafe situations that I can’t get myself out of anymore.  It was a great trail and the views were outstanding, as they are everywhere around Sedona.  Going back down was not a problem at all.

We relaxed the rest of the day and went out to dinner after Pam returned.  It was a great stay in Sedona.  Next stop, Page, Arizona.

 

Sedona, Arizona Part 1

We made a quick stop in Winslow, Arizona on our way to Sedona.  I just couldn’t pass up the chance to have my picture taken on the Route 66 corner made famous by the Eagles’ song, “Take It Easy.”

Sedona is a very unique town, surrounded by red sandstone formations and desert flora.  The town itself is full of artsy shops.  Tourist flock to this small town to shop, hike,  and just take in its beauty, which is stunning.

We camped at Rancho Sedona RV Park, which is one of the nicer parks we have stayed at.   The sites are roomy and beautifully landscaped.  Oak Creek runs along the back side of the park.  They have some strict rules though.  The most unusual one is, all outside lights must be off by 10:00 p.m. and you must be inside your unit.  They observe Sedona’s “Dark Sky Initiative.”  I understand the 10:00 p.m. curfew is to discourage you from disturbing your neighbors, but I have never come across that in campgrounds rules before.  Usually, they just say quiet time from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. but you can still sit outside your unit and talk quietly with friends.

We met up with friends here and enjoyed dinners, hiking and just relaxing in the campground together.  John’s brother, Ed, and his wife, Judy, drove up from Green Valley for an overnight stay in Sedona.  We enjoyed visiting with them.

John and his brother, Eddie.

John and his brother, Ed.

Our first hike was a seven mile hike in Boynton Canyon.  We went with our friends, Mike and Pam, and got an early start as it was going to be near 90 degrees.  The trail was not difficult with only a 400′ elevation gain. There had been a recent sighting of a bear on this trail.  We hiked a short side trail to a vortex first.  A vortex is believed to be an area of concentrated energy rising up from the earth.  Supposedly, you can feel this energy.  We didn’t, but neither did we meditate or pray.  Sedona has a number of vortexes.

We backtracked to where we left the trail and continued our hike.  We went into a box canyon, and the views were stunning all along the way and to the end. There were a variety of wildflowers along the trail.  Near the end, we had to do some climbing and even though it was strenuous, it was not difficult.

As we were returning the way we came in, we heard a noise ahead of us and off to the side in the woods.  It sounded like a rock had fallen from above.  Then shortly after that, there was a loud snap, like a branch being broken.  Our first thought was BEAR!  Pam and I were getting nervous, but we continued on. Then we heard the noise again, and at last we discovered Mike, who was behind us all, was throwing rocks into the woods.  Good one Mike.