We hit the road by 10am this morning. Our first order of business was getting out of Kayente, and making our way to Page, Arizona. We had a date with the Antelope Canyon, which is a popular slot canyon to visit.
The route we took between these two towns was labeled as a “scenic route”, and I would agree that there was plenty to look at. Especially for a group of travelers that is continuing their love affair with ROCKS.
One of the more interesting sites we saw was a train powered by electricity. It had the power lines running overhead the train tracks. We found out later, this line was for hauling coal to a power plant in Page, Arizona.
In the town of Kayente, it was not uncommon to see horses walking across the highway. The concept of corralling your livestock has never really caught on in this part of the country. On the route between Kayente and Page, we saw several road signs indicating there could be cattle or horses on the highway. The situation has gotten so bad, the state has started making highway road signs.
We stopped at one scenic overlook during the entire drive, and it just so happened there were several Navajo selling their jewelry on the roadside, much like they do at Canyon de Chelly, which we visited yesterday. Stephanie and Marissa both bought more jewelry, and for the second time in two days, we were told they could not make change for us. The obvious intent is that you will spend the full amount of the denomination you originally handed them. That worked for the vendor yesterday, but today we walked back to the car and found all of the spare change we could find so that we could give them exact change. You win some, you lose some, Navajo!
We arrived at Page around Noon, but to our pleasant surprise, it was only 11:00 in Arizona. We stopped at the first tour company we saw that advertised for the Antelope Canyon. Our completely random selection turned out to be the best choice we could have ever made.
We registered for a Noon tour of the canyon, so our group passed the time in the shady rest area by playing cards, eating snacks, applying sunscreen, and visiting with the locals.
Scott got a sunburn yesterday, which really mystified him, since we only went on two scenic drives. Nevertheless, he was determined not to burn again, so he lubed himself up royally with sunscreen today. Not only that, but he borrowed one of my kid’s floppy hats to protect his head and face. When he asked Mallory how he looked in the hat, she said, “You look like a Girl Scout.”
When we left for our tour, it turned out that our tour guide was the granddaughter of the 87-year-old woman who initially discovered this slot canyon. She told us how she originally stumbled upon it when she was 8 years old, as it sits just a few miles from where she lived.
The Antelope Canyon, which is a slot canyon, has been carved out by water and wind. It is a very narrow canyon, just a few feet wide in places, but has a depth of 20 or 30 feet, or more. We arrived at the most opportune time – midday – when the sunlight is directly overhead and shines straight down into the slot canyon.
Our tour guide told us so many great stories of when she was a girl and would actually herd sheep in the area near the canyon, or the time she came into the canyon and heard heavy breathing, only to find out later it was a sleeping cow. She kept us entertained and informed. She was the perfect tour guide for us.
The tour takes about an hour as you walk through the canyon, taking photos, hearing about different formations, and then we pretty much walked straight back through the canyon for the return trip. We wore our pink vacation t-shirts today, and during the walk back through the canyon, another tourist asked us if we were Girl Scouts. We thought this was hilarious given the fact that Mallory had told Scott earlier that he looked like a Girl Scout.
We learned a lot about not only Antelope Canyon, but also about the Navajo and how they operate. It is certainly a lot different than the Native American nations we are familiar with in Oklahoma. As an example, the Navajo are resistant to opening casinos, while the Oklahoma tribes have embraced that idea, and have benefited greatly.
Once we left the Antelope Canyon tour, we found a park in Page to have a picnic lunch. We were the only people there, and the city workers who were working in the parking lot seemed to get a kick out of us being there. Maybe it was our 9 matching pink t-shirts?
Just a few miles outside of Page is another natural spectacular, Horseshoe Bend. This is a huge canyon carved into the rock in the shape of a horseshoe, that has a stream running through the bottom of the canyon.
We had to park just right off the highway. There is a sign in the parking lot that says it is a ¾ mile hike to see the formation, and you must walk up a long, steep sandy path. We took off walking but when we got top the top of the ridge, we realized that was only the first ¼ mile. We still had to walk a ½ mile downhill through more stones and sand, to get to a point where the Horseshoe Bend was visible.
The site was breathtaking. It was really gorgeous. The colors and the depth made it hard to absorb. We hung around for about 15 minutes, checking it out, and taking pictures. We could have perhaps stayed longer, but there are no guard rails at the Horseshoe Bend! And 12-year-old boys test their mother’s patience when one misstep could send you straight down 1,000 feet.
After the journey back up the hill, and to the vehicles, we treated ourselves to a stop at Sonic for ice cream, and we were once again back on the road.
Within 30 minutes of leaving Page, we hit the Utah state line, and we pulled over for a photo opportunity. Utah has a great looking, color billboard suitable for pictures. We all got out and were high-fiving each other for finally making it to Utah – “where the best ROCKS are” – and our enthusiasm was obviously so great that cars driving down the highway were honking at us. This time, I don’t think it was our 9 matching pink t-shirts.
When we were getting back in our van after our photo op, Mallory looked at me real serious and said, “Dad, I don’t feel very good.” I asked her what was wrong, and she replied, “I have Rock Fever.” Good one, Mallory! Stephanie walked to the other vehicle and replayed the conversation to them, as best she could with a straight face. Their truck erupted with laughter when they found out Mallory had Rock Fever. Be careful when we get back home to Oklahoma, because this might be contagious.
I am sure it was just a mental thing, but it seemed like the rocks were better looking in Utah, than in Arizona. One thing was for sure, there seemed to be less trash on the roadside once we crossed into Utah. Without a doubt, Utah has made a favorable impression on us so far.
One little town in Utah that we passed through was named Kanab. As we were getting closer to this town, we started to see more and more homes, but were unsure what the attraction was, and wondered why anyone would want to live there. However, as we got into the town proper, everybody in both cars agreed that this town is a destination.
They had more than a couple great looking older motels, historic downtown and shopping areas, and a great small-town feel. We passed a bar named “Laid Back Larry’s” that was closed and Scott said the place was so laid back, they weren’t even open. That is taking it to the next level.
We finished the day by driving into Zion National Park between 7:30 and 8:00. I know the park by name, but was not sure what we were going to see here. The drive through the park was fantastic. The mountains here appear to be made solely of rock. There was a mile long tunnel that also included cut-out windows every ¼ mile or so. When you could get a glimpse outside, it would be some breathtaking view of the side of a mountain.
We checked into the motel in Springdale about 8:15 and immediately made a beeline for the outdoor pool, which closed at 9:00. We were able to get about 30 minutes of swimming in. Once the pool closed, we focused on other, less important matters, like dinner. We had a picnic in the room, while Scott & Erin, KK and PK ate dinner at a local diner.
The four adults had a pow-wow outside our rooms this evening, in the motel-provided lawn chairs, and made our plans for tomorrow. Scott & Erin only get to sightsee half the day before they have to head back to Oklahoma. They were not sure how early to get started, but KK assured Erin she did not need to spend a lot of time getting ready because they will be “seeing a lot of people who compost” tomorrow.
At this point, I want to point out that back in April, Scott, KK and I all registered for a lottery that would have allowed us to visit a rock formation in northern Arizona called “The Wave”. This formation has beautiful colors and swirling patterns, and it is a formation that is unique in all the world. Access to the formation is limited to those that win an entry in the lottery, and unfortunately, we did not win. We even had to pay a non-refundable $5 just to enter the lottery.
When we found out that we didn’t win, we tried not to feel sorry for ourselves. Rather, we mocked the people who run The Wave’s lottery, because we knew they did not select anybody who would be as fun as we would be. After today’s visit to Antelope Canyon, and the awesome experience we had there, we have no hard feelings with the state of Arizona about not being selected for The Wave.
But we do want to let Arizona know that we like Utah’s rocks better than yours.