Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ

After leaving Monument Valley we wandered south on US160 to stay in Kayenta, AZ, for a few days to visit and hike the three ancient ruins of the Navajo National Monument. (I can't find the CD with those pictures #%* :-((   Take you time to walk and feel the raw nature of these areas.

It's kind of around your elbow, but after Tuba City, turn north toward Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam at Page, AZ. I'll discuss the Lake and Dam in the next post. If you want to see Zion NP, Bryce NP, or the Grand Canyon's North Rim, this is the route to follow. We continued north on US89 to Page.

You know when you arrive in Page because they have the only Wal-Mart for about 100 miles or more. It's open and busy 24/7 to serve the locals, RVers, hikers and other tourists.

Plan ahead to arrange a Navajo tour into Antelope Canyon. Yes. they take tourists all day long, but the choice time to visit the canyon is an hour each side of noon (Remember, the Navajo don't follow the white man's Daylight Saving Time, so be sure you are on Navajo time when scheduling a jeep tour.)

 The entrance to Antelope Canyon.

Like Monument Valley, pictures don't show the depth and richness of the coloring of the places like Antelope Canyon. This is a "slot" canyon formed by the water run-off from the mesa above. The canyon is about 50-feet deep and runs about 1/2 mile into the mesa. There are several slot canyons in the area and each offers unique rock formations. Each is worth a visit. Some require more strenuous hiking than others; the tour hdqtr will provide up-to-date info and weather (They don't take you if rain is forecast.)

These shots are from near the entrance and the "slot" is wider and lets in more light.

The width of the "slot" varies from 3- to 12-feet. Think of how long, in thousands of years, Mother Nature took to carve these wondrous contours.

 No flash was used in these shots. That is the natural light around mid-day.

At high noon the sunlight shines nearly straight down into the "slot," Providing great scenic pics with sunbeam. The winds carries grit from above, which results in beautiful photo effects. (Plan to bring a plastic bag to cover your camera when not shooting, the grit gets into the lens and shutters.)
Google is giving me a hard time - it rotates some of the saved pics 90d from vertical????????????????

 As you walk deeper into the slot, the light and shadow create illusions of motion in the sculpted rock as if water still flowed.

 I'm frustrated that I can't add the pics oriented correctly. I hope you can click on link and enlarge and rotate to enjoy. I'm more frustrated, I just checked -- you can't click and enlarge these pics:-((

There is much to see in the Page area. Plan on a few days here. It is an interesting little town and many neat shops and restaurants. Enjoy your visit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monument Valley, AZ

Driving south from Moab to Monument Valley is scenic wonderland. There are many side trips in Utah before you come to Monument V. If you have the time, spend a day or two in Blanding, UT.
We have a large sedan and didn't have any problems visiting the well-known places in the area.

Remember once you enter Navajo land, they don't acknowledge "daylight savings time," so be sure you know where you are to know what time it is. Because it is Navajo Land, we hired a Navajo guide, which allowed us to go to areas not usually travel by tourists in there own vehicle.  Yes, in a way it is condescending, but the other side is it gives them a chance to gouge the "white man" for a change.

If you couldn't tell, the grandeur this area is unbelievable. We have so many pics of this area, I didn't know where to begin. The scientist in me must say, as you look at those great mesas, a thousand feet in the air, remember that 100,000+ years ago, the top of those mesas was the bottom of a vast inland sea. Over time, the weight of all that water compressed the sand into rock. When the vast sea drained, it eroded the bottom of the sea. Then, eons of wind and rain eroded the shapes we see today. Also know that during those eons, volcanoes in the mountains around Las Vegas NV created "acid rain" that hastened the erosion.  The other interesting feature is this area has been arid since those day, so that the rains were infrequent.

There is water out there, but you have to know where to look.

We stopped at a reproduction hogan. Between the thick clay walls and shade from the hot sun, it felt cool inside.

As mentioned above, the constant wind and infrequent rain creates marvelous structures.

This is called "The Ear of the Wind."

This cave has a Top Hole the sun shines through. The stain on the wall is from rain running down from the hole. That's me in the blue shirt with out Navajo guide, which give a perspective as to it's size.

In closing, the classic shot of the vista with the Right and Left Mittens. (Think of a mitten thumb sticking out to left or right when viewing the spire separated to one side or the other.) For perspective, those dots on the road in the foreground are cars. The mesa tops are over 1,000 ft high.

A visit recalls the great John Ford/ John Wayne movies. It's worth the drive to visit here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We're still in the four-corners area, heading west with a stop at the Hovenweep National Monument along the Utah border. There are several different sites to visit. Take your time and don't rush them.

I like the US 491 drive, in part because after driving it the first time, I wrote a scene for one of my novels describing the Delores Valley. US 491 connects to US 191 and leads north to Moab, UT.

Moab is a charming get-out-walk-around-have-a-beer kind of town. We try to spend a week here--there's just too much to see. Nearby are Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Canyon Rim BLM Rec Area and rafting on the Colorado.

 Unfortunately this beautiful "Delicate Arch" in Arches NP collapsed in 2013. This pic is from 2011.  This arch was over 300 yards long. As I say in one of my novels, "and carved by God's great hands."  There are so many amazing rock formations in Arches that is difficult to pick out favorites.

These are the Arches that appear on the T-shirts and License plates, particularly the ones on the right.

This formation is called the elephants for obvious reasons.

These formations are called the beehives.

These few pictures do little justice to the beauty of this NP -- visit for yourself!

West of Arches NP is Canyonlands NP. Again pictures don't relate the grandeur of these vast areas.

These scenic loops were cut by the Green River before it joins the Colorado a few miles downstream.

Each turn in the road produces a new vista  with scenic wonder.

Moab, UT

This arch is in Canyonlands NP with the canyon vista behind. We try to visit late afternoon to get the sunset colors reflected in the red rock canyons.

If you want to try something unusual. Before you cross the Colorado River on US-191, turn east on State-128 (some folks use this as a cut-off to reach I-70-it's a scenic drive, but not always open). After you visit Castleton and Fisher towers, on the stretch of road between Castleton and Fisher, there is a small ranch on the north side of the road along the river that will take you on a mule-ride into the Arches or Canyonlands for 1-5 days. Mules are much easier to ride and the slow pace is ideal for taking lots of pics in area where most folks don't walk or hike.

I hope you can see why we schedule a week in Moab-- there's so much to see, you don't know where to look next.
Enjoy the American west.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mesa Verde and Durango

A place we visit often is the Four-Corners of AZ, NM, Co and UT. It's hard for me to pick a favorite place with Monument Valley, the Colorado River, Glenn Canyon, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Mesa Verde NP, Durrango CO, the Durango Silverton RR, and of course, Silverton, to chose from.

The thing that has always fascinated me about Mesa Verde are the multi-story rock buildings with square corners and perfect circle kivas. In 1,000 ACE (AD for us old timers) there were few multi-story rock building in Europe. Mesa Verde represents both a cultural and architectural achievement for it's period. The key-hole doorways represent both economy of form and function. The door's are shoulder width at the top, while being foot-width at the base-a clever and functional design.

We stayed in near by Durango. We loved the town, even if it is a bit tourist-y. Take the time to ride the Durango-Silverton narrow-gage RR. The view is spectacular and worth the price of the ticket. Hint: buy a one-way ticket up and take the bus back down; the price is about the same, but it offers a different scenic view over the mountain.