9/17 - Well, we didn't make that sunrise. The warm temps broke during the night, and we were so snuggled in and comfy that we mutually agreed at some point not to get up and make the trek to Yavapai Point. Instead we snoozed until almost 7. Then we kicked into gear, with breakfast at the lodge. It was crowded again, but there was no line this time, and once again, the food was good. After breakfast, we were off.
It took us a long time to traverse Route 64 out of the park because we had to keep stopping for “just one more” amazing photo op. Yaki Point was closed to private vehicles, which annoyed me. But then I vaguely remembered hearing that back at the village. We did stop at all the rest of the sights, though. Moran Point and Lipan Point were exceptionally beautiful, and Desert View was very nice too. At Lipan, we could see rafters running the rapids on the river far below. One of the other visitors told us that when it's really quiet at Lipan, you can actually hear the rafters talking and yelling. It was hot again, and we were guzzling water big time. We kept seeing this one biker (not motor bike, regular bike!) everywhere we stopped. I don't know how in the dickens he peddled up those mountains! Our poor little car could barely make it.
We also stopped at the Tusayan Ruins, which was very interesting. It's always eerie to see remains of a past culture.
Soon after leaving Desert View, we made it to the intersection of 89 and headed north to Page. Stopped at Cameron Trading Post for lunch. I had read a lot about it on Trip Advisor, and it certainly was a busy place. Probably because it was the only decent place between the Grand Canyon and Page to stop. I expected lunch to be greasy, but it was in fact very good.
We both expected the rest of the drive to be rather boring because we just headed right out across the flat desert. Surprise! It was just absolutely amazing. We see now why they call it the Painted Desert. It looks, in many places, as if someone had actually painted it! Such colors. And it just goes on and on, mile after mile. Sometimes, pinks and whites, sometimes orange, sometimes greys. All beautiful. Of course, we stopped frequently to take photos and walk around a bit. At one point I became much less enthusiastic about the walking around when I saw a big sign along the trail that said “Watch out for Snakes and Lizards”. But we continued on and didn't see either. It was a very rocky path, though, and by now it had heated up considerably. So I was more than happy when we made it back to the car and got the air conditioner running again.
Along the way, we passed numerous little Native American roadside stands, where they were selling their arts and crafts. They certainly do have a lot of talent, but we didn't buy anything yet. I wanted to look at more stuff first. There are little Navajo settlements everywhere. They look like they were just plopped down in the middle of the desert at random and consist mostly of single wide trailers. I can't imagine how hot they must get because there's no shade anywhere around them. One weird thing we noticed is that a lot of the trailers had tires all along the roof. Can't figure that one out.
As we neared the intersection of I-89 and ALT 89, we saw these beautiful cliffs. I thought they were the Vermillion Cliffs, since this was the right area, and sure enough, that's what they were. My goodness, can there be even more amazing sights in store for us?
Soon we began an unexpected steep climb up a beautiful red rock mountain. At the top, we stopped at a scenic overview, and it was just incredible. We can't get over how one minute you're driving on perfectly flat terrain, and then you're climbing mountains the next! It really changes fast. I hadn't expected to have to drive up and steep, curvy roads today, but it turned out okay. Right after we reached the top, the road straightened out and slid right on into Page.
We decided to press on to the B&B in Big Water, Utah, where we will be staying rather than stopping and trying to find provisions. Shortly, we crossed Glen Canyon Dam, and we could see Lake Powell. Beautiful blue water. We found yet another scenic view point, and Terry gave the camera another workout! We're looking forward to further exploration in the next few days.
Soon we arrived at the B&B, Dreamkatchers, and were greeted by one of the hosts, Eric. Oh, my, what a beautiful place. I'm glad we're staying here three nights rather than two! (Will post a review.) We got unpacked and headed back into town for dinner at Bonkers. It was early, and there weren't many folks around, but it was good. We also located the place we have to be in the morning to catch our tour for our float down the Colorado. Okay, so we're not doing the heart-stopping white water. We wimps are doing the “smooth water float”. On the drive back to Dreamkatchers, the sun was just setting, and needless to say, the rocks transformed into even more beauty. There seems to be a new photo op ever ten seconds or so!
Back “home” we decided we were just too tired to do the jacuzzi thing. It wasn't that hard of a day, but it seem such continuous magnificence is just overwhelming. (Emotional overload?) We both felt like we just couldn't absorb any more today. So we retired to our beautiful “Cherub Room” for the night. Up early tomorrow for a 6 AM breakfast so we can make the 7 AM rafting trip. This is really some trip so far!
9/18 – A terrific breakfast awaited us this morning on the breakfast patio. Eric served us smoothies out front as we watched the sun rise, followed by a wonderful breakfast of Swedish pancakes.
Then we were off for our morning of rafting the Colorado river. Oh, what fun that was! We were taken to the base of the Glen Canyon Dam where we donned hard hats (in case some yahoo threw something off the bridge far, far above us) for the short walk to our raft. Once aboard, we floated on down to Lee's Ferry, which is about fifteen miles. It wasn't your death defying white water rafting. It was just a nice leisurely float with lots of interesting information given by our adorable guide, Makala (sp?) It was very warm at the top of the dam, and many people showed up in shorts and shirtsleeves. Eric had warned us it would be cold. (So did the literature we received from the raft folks, but I guess some people didn't believe it.) At the top of the canyon, Terry and I looked silly in our long pants, sweatshirts and jackets. But at the bottom of the canyon, that story changed! We ended up sharing our layers with some Brits who didn't think it would be cold. They were BLUE!
The scenery, of course, was spectacular, and the pictures nowhere do it justice. We stopped once along the way to take a short hike to some petroglyphs. We've seen examples of this before and both thought that these particular petroglyphs were exceptional.
Don't laugh, now, but I must tell you about this. We were introduced to really neat potties. They cost $10,000 each, and are composters. Not dirty, no smell, better than some restaurant potties! You learn something every day! So if you're a fastidious person who would do just about anything to avoid an “outhouse”, have no fear. After we found out what they were, we noticed them at every park and several other places, too.
As we floated through Horseshoe Bend, we could see little, tiny people waaaay up there looking down. We all yelled hello, and eventually, they answered us. Makala told us the sad story of a tourist from Europe who had fallen about a month ago. Ignoring warnings, he had ventured too far out on that soft sandstone, it broke off, and that's the end of that story. So if you go to Horseshoe Bend, remember that red rock is soft!
We thoroughly enjoyed the three-hour trip and couldn't believe we were actually floating down the Colorado!! How lucky we are!
At Lee's Ferry, we boarded our bus for the trip back to Page. We traveled 89A which we will be taking back from the North Rim next week. Looks sorta bleak out there, but beautiful.
Back in Page, we split a wonderful sandwich at the rafting center and then headed back to the B&B for a rest.
Later we went back into town to have dinner at the Dam Bar and Grille. Sort of a sports bar but quite good. Terry had fish and chips, I had the Dam Philly sandwich. It was huge but, uncharacteristic of me, I ate almost the whole thing! (Will post review.)
After dinner, we went to the scenic view just north of town for sunset. Here we were treated to great vistas of Lake Powell as we waited for the sunset, which was another beauty.
Back at Dreamkatchers, we soaked in the jacuzzi and then hit the hay. We seem to be doing a lot of soaking and sleeping on this trip!! This place is so quiet! There are two other couples staying here, but you never hear a sound. Marvelous!
9/19 – Today was the day for our hummer/slot canyon tour. We opted for the hummer experience because we heard that Antelope Canyon is getting very crowded, making it tough on photographers. Eric at the B&B had assured us that this is a sedate trip, so we headed out confidently. We met up with two ladies from Nebraska, Reba and Joanie. They were so much fun, and we were glad they were on the trip with us. But sedate, no. The driver soon realized we were all up for some fun and he gave us the ride of a lifetime in that hummer. Over rocks, up the sides of dunes, down cliffs that seemed totally vertical, flying over washboard roads. What fun!
We almost forgot that the hummer ride wasn't the main purpose of the trip.
But soon we parked the panting hummer and headed out across the desert on foot and soon arrived at the slot canyon. There is no way to explain this place. It looks like no more than a crack in the rocks. But you walk right down into it, and it's just one amazing rock formation after another. In many places, you have to turn sideways to get through. Then you look ahead and/or up, and there's another fabulous sight. The colors are amazing, and when the sun peeks down through an opening above, the rocks look just like fire. Terry went wild with the camera. It's so frustrating, because no matter how good the pictures are, they just don't do the place justice. Our guide (Bryan?) was a doll and very patient with his four awestruck tourists. He let us take as long as we wanted to photograph the ever-changing colors and shapes and several times suggested places for great group pictures. He was very obliging to take our photos and would do it over and over until he was satisfied with the result. We reached the end of the canyon and stopped to rest and chat for a few minutes before heading back through the canyon in the other direction. It was like a completely different place! So of course there was more oohing and aahing and picture taking.
Another heart-stopping hummer ride over anything that happened to get in our path, and we arrived back in town. Lunch at Dennys and back to the B&B for picture viewing and a rest.
Later, we went right down the road about a mile to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center where there are dinosaur remains that our paleontologist friend, Barry Albright, discovered. We were excited to see our friend's discovery firsthand and enjoyed learning all about the excavations in the area. Thousands of remains have been found in the Escalante area, which seems appropriate, since the whole place looks like another planet.
It was dinnertime again, and we decided on Dam Bar and Grille once more. This time, Terry had a pulled pork sandwich, and I had wonderful beef and onion soup and spaghetti. Then to Lone Rock for sunset.
Back to Dreamkatchers for a jacuzzi and fell into bed, once again exhausted.