Monthly Archives: March 2017

Slots, Horseshoes and Canyons

(Geoff has given me such a strong lead-in that I feel somewhat intimidated writing this blog, especially since I have developed a head cold overnight…but here goes.)

in some areas, Arizona looks like a dusty old desert, lots of cacti, sand and not much else.  But in other areas, it has some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere.  One feels immersed in a geology textbook; students of this science could do well to do spend a year studying the various landforms, both above and below ground.  We saw the Grand Canyon a number of years ago, but this year, snuck up on it via Flagstaff and Page.  We didn’t really see the canyon itself, just the beginnings of it in worn channels and layered hills on the horizon.  It is impossible not to be in awe of the multicolored striations, low mounds and craggy cliffs.

The Grand Canyon lies at the foot of these cliffs; the dark wavy lines are younger canyons in development.

The Grand Canyon lies at the foot of these cliffs; the dark wavy lines are younger canyons in development–come back in 200,000 years or so to prove it. The rocks in the fore-ground were arrayed as if by a skilled landscaper.  We were at the only scenic view site in miles, if you can believe it.  .

 

The colors of the landscape are reflected in Navajo art.

colors

We arrived in Page, noticing cars parked and people hiking in to a spot but carried on to our motel, deciding to visit the next day. Page is in the heart of a Navajo reserve and consequently, had many native-run businesses.  Our tour company was one.  We checked in early, then headed for River’s End, a tour company/outdoor gear store/restaurant and had an amazing smoked salmon bagel with the works.  Latte was great too, so I felt set up for a full day.  Geoff sadly, had taken advantage (if it can be said) of the included breakfast offerings at the Days Inn so was not as hungry as I.  Back at the tour office, I went in and was assigned purple tickets.  We waited outside, where we saw people forming in groups according to ticket color.  “What luck,” we thought, when we saw only one other person with a purple card.  He came over and we chatted, thinking ours would be with a small group.  Just then an Asian woman arrived. She indicated she would get someone waiting inside the office.  She was followed by her Chinese husband and six Japanese tourists!  We laughed like crazy–of course we would be on the Asian tour!  They were all lovely people and charmed by our guide, Sonny, who has learned a smattering of half a dozen languages, just enough to give a number of commands like “wait, stay to the right, come now.” We made our way to Upper Antelope Canyon.  Pictures are better than any words but not enough to describe how truly fabulous it is:

entry

Going in.  This was the last time that others were in our pictures, thanks to our guide.

The first room.

The first room.

The Bear.

The Bear.

Sunny threw sand in the air to allow us to capture this ray of light.

Sonny threw sand in the air to allow us to capture this ray of light.

The heart

The heart.

On its side, the heart becomes another face

On its side, the heart becomes another face

Amazing colors.

Amazing colors.

Faces everywhere.

Faces everywhere.

Window to the sky.

Window to the sky.

Another view to the light.

Another view to the light.

Amazing colors

Amazing colors–we have no idea how we achieved this effect!

The Wave.

The Wave.This is our photo but was taken previously by a professional who sold it for a cool million.  Google has used it (his version, not ours) as a screen saver.

This is outside the back of the canyon. Notice the pock marks on some of the walls. Before it became a protected park, some gents thought it fun to use it for target practice.

This is outside the back of the canyon. Notice the pock marks on some of the walls. Before it became a protected park, some folks thought it fun to use it for target practice.

Antelope Canyon–highly recommended!

Once returned to Page, we decided to head the mile or so out of town back to the busy tourist site we had spotted off the highway.  We made the hike to discover Horseshoe Bend.

The Horseshoe.

Horseshoe Bend – the Colorado River. It’s a long way down–1000′.  It’s been awhile since anyone fell from one of the cliffs but it was not without trying the day we were there.  One tourist jumped or dropped from the top of a high rock and slipped on the ledge below but didn’t fall.  We watched others perching on the edge of overhangs (against posted advice) for photo ops and one mother who held her toddler by one hand as he pulled towards the edge.  I couldn’t watch–had she lost his hand, he would have been gone.

Green water below.

Green water below.

Boaters...not sure where they put it but there they were.

Boaters…not sure where they put in but there they were.

And me, at a safe distance from the edge.

And me, at a safe distance from the edge.

And the two of us.

And the two of us.

Next stop, Bryce Canyon City, Utah. This place is magnificent, ancient, massive.  It was hard to get the depth perception with our cameras (same problem in the Grand Canyon several years ago) but you get an idea of the immensity of the formations.

The Paiute Indians believed theses hoodoos were beings frozen by angry gods for their behavior or crimes, similar to the ancient Greeks.  Truly stunning.  As it was very cold when we were there, with still so much snow on the ground that many hiking trails required special gear, we stuck to the rim trail and lookouts to get these shots.

One of the more tenacious pines surviving on this wind blown cliff.

Wonderful country, great experience–recommended!

 

 

The Houses of God

First, an advance warning (I cross out advance because a warning is, in itself, in advance just as YOU CANNOT PRE-BOOK YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT as you are often asked to do in haircut places. You either book an appointment or you don’t! Note some frustration there?) Anyway, back to the warning. In our next blog, which will cover our visits to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Bryce Canyon, you will be entertained by the eloquent words and stunning photos of the original writer of this blog. Yes Terry is coming back. (Rah rah, cheer cheer) However she has had a few very taxing days and needs time to recover and prepare. I assure you though,

“It will be worth it, if not for the sake of this song blog but for the
Sake of your own peace of mind.”      The Animals – San Francisco Nights, 1967

Now for the Houses of God.

After our sojourn getting us to Page, Arizona we enjoyed a fine dinner of Pringles, chocolate and wine in our room. It was like a kid’s picnic. The next morning we traipsed into downtown Page to the tour company’s office. We passed by these churches – all different denominations. They were all right next to each other – all on the same side of the street. I guess if you didn’t like the sermon in one, you could just slip next door. Church Street in downtown TO has nothing on Page.

There were actually two more - one photo was blurry and the Jehovah Witness church was a half block down a side street.

There were actually two more – one photo was blurry and the Jehovah Witness church was a half block down a side street. We particularly liked the middle one on the right – the sign is for Lord’s Gym!

We are staying at Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City, where we had a real dinner. Apparently people who come to Utah can’t do math, as we also found this on the bottom of our bill at the pizza place we went to for lunch in Panguitch.

Just a little help for you

Just a little help for you

We got up this morning ready to go for our first visit to Bryce Canyon and found our bottle of water in the car quite frozen.

Chilly last night

Chilly last night

After a few hours exploring the canyon, we went into Panguitch for lunch – quite a good pizza.

C Stop - not quite sure what the C stands for though.

C Stop – not quite sure what the C stands for though.

On the back of the door in the women’s washroom was this poster.

For three counties

For three counties – Iron, County and Beaver

Now, when the sign on the door to the men’s washroom says “Closed – Please use women’s washroom” I am left wondering if anything could go wrong…

Panguitch is a town which had a population of 1,623 in 2000 and I feel confident in saying it hasn’t grown since then. The town has a significant Mormon population.

We asked the server at C Stop where we could get a bottle of wine. She told us to go to the state liquor store on main street “Next to the hunting store but look closely because it has just a small window and you might miss it.” We are, after all, in Utah now. (Remember Provo, Ken?)

Terry is in a hurry to get her wine

Terry is in a hurry to get her wine

The store was reasonably stocked – had a choice from about 20 reds and 20 whites and there was quite a range of hard liquor. There was a box of chocolate bars on the counter with a child’s hand printed sign “Help Sam go on his school trip $1.00” and another hand printed sign that said “Mixers – Cash Only“. Apparently the liquor is the state’s and the mixers are Heather’s (it is Heather’s Liquor Agency). Our final bit of conversation with the woman working there – not Heather, disclosed that “The Jack Mormons come to the back door, tell me what they want and I take their money, get it from the shelf and bring it back to them. They can never be seen in the store.” Aaahhh Mormonism.

It also has a Days Inn…

Not quite full today

Just not quite full today

Apparently windows aren’t a big feature of Utah schools. This is the high school.

Several windows, but small and not likely to offer distraction to the students studies.

Several windows, but small and not likely to offer distraction to the students’ studies. Look closely on the right – there are windows there.

The high school is a veritable school of glass compared to the middle school across the street.

We saw all four sides - these are the only two windows in the .

We saw all four sides – these are the only two windows in the prison school. Certainly would encourage focus.

As we drove around town we came upon this place – just someone’s home with a lot of stuff.

home

Home on the Range

Home on the Range – click on the picture for a better view.

and this one

Could they do eyes there?

Could they do eyes there?

Now some more Houses of God.

House 1

House 1 – interesting doors on the garage

House 2

House 2

House 3

House 3

Why, you might ask, have I called these Houses of God. It is because they all have two very distinct entrances to the home – one for each of the wives.  We think there is an entire street which has several homes like these in a row, but sadly we couldn’t find it and Terry refused to ask someone “Hey, where is the street of Mormon houses – we can’t find it on the map.” Talk about a no fun girl!

Well, that’s about all for now. I am giving you advance warning though. One day soon I am going to put together a blog of “The Many Faces of Terry”. Wait for it.

face

BTW Bruce – I was going to use spelunker, but I try to write without technical jargon getting in the way of my ramblings.

 

Man Versus Nature

Last time I wrote I told you we were excited to be going to Kartchner Caverns. They were highly recommended to us by everyone we talked to in Phoenix. We did all the requisite research and found out that it is 78° to 80° (25° to 26°) inside so no need for jackets or sweaters. They don’t tell you that you it is only 50° (10°) outside, windy with sleet and rain and you have to stand outside for the 10 minute talk and then another 5 minutes for the “train ride” to the cavern entrance. We went on two different tours and thus Terry had to suffer twice – and you all know how she just loves being cold! Anyway, both tours were amazing. In 1964 they were discovered by a couple of guys who decided to enlarge a sinkhole the size of a grapefruit to the size of a stretched coat hanger and then crawl through. True story. Then after discovering what was inside, they did what every explorer does – they kept it secret. They had viewed other caverns in the US (Difference between a cave and a cavern? Caverns have a gift shop at the end. Ha ha – tour guide’s joke) which had been ruined through litter and graffiti and didn’t want that to happen here. From Wikipedia:

The caverns were discovered in 1974, when cavers Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts found a narrow crack in the bottom of a sinkhole, and followed the source of warm, moist air toward what ended up being more than 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of pristine cave passages with the help of Erick Campbell – a local state biologist.[3][4] Hoping to protect the cave from vandalism, they kept the location a secret for fourteen years, deciding that the best way to preserve the cavern — which was near a freeway — was to develop it as a tour cave. After gaining the cooperation of the Kartchner family and working with them for ten years, together they decided that the best way to achieve the goal of protection through development as a tour cave was to approach Arizona State Parks.[5] In 1985, The Nature Conservancy acquired an option to purchase the land.[6] The discovery of the cave was finally made public in 1988 when the landowners sold the area to the state for development as a park and show cavern. Prior to its grand opening in 1999, the state spent $28 million on a high-tech system of air-lock doors, misting machines and other equipment designed to preserve the cave.[4]

FYI: Stalactites grow from the ceiling down, stalagmites grow from the ground up and columns touch both ceiling and ground. The caverns are living caverns, which means that they are still growing and changing etc. This is because of the 6 heavy doors which create air locks and protect the caverns from drying out – which has what has occurred almost everywhere else.

Here are some photos:

There is a colony of bats in the gave. In proportion this is how big their ears are. Terry needs new earrings I think.

There is a colony of bats in the cave. In proportion this is how big their ears are. Terry needs new earrings I think.

I would LOVE to be there when they have a tour of Chinese tourists come through!

It doesn't say it, but it does show cell phones and you can't bring those either.

It doesn’t say it, but it you can’t bring cellphones either.

You aren’t supposed to touch anything since we leave all sorts of things – lint, oil, skin etc. which are harmful to the bacteria which live their.

My shoulder accidentally touched a protruding rock, which was flagged for later cleaning. The guide said not to worry about it. He said that it is constantly being cleaned because it is so easy to touch as you walk by.

My shoulder accidentally touched a protruding rock, which had already been flagged for later cleaning. The guide said not to worry about it. He said that it is constantly being cleaned because it is so easy to bump as you walk by.

This is the size of the hole the two crawled through.

This is the size of the hole the two crawled through.

Now some photos of inside.

This

This is a soda straw stalactite. It is 21 feet long, hollow and the width of a straw, thus its name.

This

This is a helicitite formation. They defy gravity and no one has ever been able to explain the how and why of how they grow.

This

This is a turnip formation. They have applied for a series of permits and permissions to take one down and open it up to see if they can discover why it grows this way. Apparently it takes years to get permission.

These are just three examples of the stalactites. Now if you are wondering about the lack of color in the photos, it is because you are not allowed to take photos in the caverns. It isn’t because of any kind of damage to the caverns. Rather it is because they had so much trouble with people pushing and shoving to get the best photo or angle or lagging behind the tour that they finally banned them all together. Thanks, Man. (Check the links to see examples)

And here is another kicker. Since we couldn’t take any photos, I was all prepared to buy a coffee table book of photos. Alas, they don’t seem to have figured out that this might be a good way to make money to help pay for the expenses of a state park. There were three post cards, and two books which told the story of the discovery – lots and lots of text but had a dearth of photos.

This is a photo of the Kubla Khan column – taken from the internet. It is the equivalent of a five story building.

Kubla Khan - named after Kubla Khan from Xanadu.

Kubla Khan – named after Kubla Khan from Xanadu.

If you ever find yourself near Tucson take the 45 minute drive and see them. It is truly awe inspiring to see the power of water.

Now a few more photos from our otherwise uneventful trip to Tucson.

I didn’t take this because of the plaits, or the woman. I took it because how often have you seen three – yes three – blind* people standing on a corner chatting away.

(* See http://www.blind.net/general-information/the-courtesy-rules-of-blindness.html)

Nice hair though man.

Nice hair though man.

This house won’t fade into the background.

Blindingly yellow

Blindingly yellow

Nor this

Blindingly white

Blindingly white

On our road north to Page, Arizona, home of Antelope Slot Canyons we saw.

Can you say striation?

Can you say striation?

or

or more striation

or Humphrey's Peak - one of the San Francisco Mountain Range outside Flagstaff?

or Humphrey’s Peak – one of the San Francisco Mountain Range outside Flagstaff?

Flagstaff’s main street

They had a foot of snow 24 hours before we arrived.

They had a foot of snow 24 hours before we arrived. The hello sign above the pickup truck is “Pato” – a fantastic Thai restaurant – just in case you ever find yourself in Flagstaff.

Marble Canyon 1

Marble Canyon 1

Marble Canyon 2

Marble Canyon 2

Somewhere in the middle of the pictures above is the Colorado River. Just at the end of the canyon it swings west and heads toward the Grand Canyon. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is about 20 miles from where we took this.

Tomorrow it is Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Every time we see something, we think it can’t get any better and yet, somehow, it does.

In the meantime

Isn't every ATM a 24 hour ATM?

Isn’t every ATM a 24 hour ATM?

BTW so far, Nature wins out!