Arizona--Painted Desert, Lake Powell, Colorado Riv
Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
32Trip End Jul 12, 2009
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DAY 35, Wednesday, May 20--We left Williams following Old Route 66 through Flagstaff. Both cities have retained the vintage look of the old motels and eateries along the route. In Flagstaff, we had the best hot dogs ever for the "Dog Haus". Mike learned that "Chicago Style" meet everything in the house on his dog, including whole hot peppers and other veggies. Heading north toward Utah, we traveled through the Painted Desert. We had seen it from a distance from Desert View Grand Canyon Overlook, but didn't envision how gorgeous and spooky these badlands in the northern part of the Petrified Forest were. Covered by a soft layer of earth, mineralized water flows and mineral deposits created the desert's colorful erosion effects over eons. Winds blew sand into big clouds at some places, and the horizon has a pinkish hue. The temperature was highly variable as usual here: 54 during a rain shower north of Flagstaff and then up to 82 in the Painted Desert.
Cameron Trading Station along the route has been a popular tourist stop since 1910. Along with every typical Navajo and Grand Canyon souvenir you could want, there were Navajo blankets up to $20,000 and even a collectible basket priced at $120,000. We bought jars of prickly pear cactus and hot pepper jelly, costing less the $5 each . . big spenders. The Painted Desert is Navajo Nation land, and the living quarters on the reservation appear to be run-down trailers and small wooden dilapidated houses on land useless for much of anything else.
Passing the Vermilion Cliffs and coming through Antelope Pass, we arrived at Page, AR at about 2:00 in 88 degree weather and set up camp at Wahweap Campground in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the beautiful Lake Powell. With a few daylight hours to spare, we checked out the scenery: Lake Powell Resort's Rainbow Room vistas of the lake and Navajo Mountain, the Glen Canyon Dam, the 700' high bridge over the Colorado, and overlooks of Lake Powell and the Colorado River. Awesome!
The really BAD thing, however, was the lack of TV service here . . . and this night was the American Idol Finale. We went on a mission; we found TVs in the Driftwood Lounge of the Lake Powell Resort, where we watched the very entertaining show with the disappointing end with like-minded folks. When the winner was announced, a roomful of boo's arose, as Adam Lambert was the favorite, considered by all to have the superior talent and star-power. At least now he won't be held to the sticky AI recording contract. Go Adam!
DAY 36, Thursday, May 21-- The highlight of today was a 5-hour trip smooth-water rafting on the Colorado River. We got up with the tour Colorado Discovery in downtown Page, AR, rode a bus a few miles until we entered a TWO-MILE dark tunnel and went down, down, down to the base of the Glen Canyon Dam. There we disembarked, put on green hard hats, walked 50', took off the hats, and then boarded our blue rafts for the trip. The trip went down the part of the Colorado River below the dam to Lee's Ferry, where the Grand Canyon white-water 3 to 21-day raft trips begin. The huge raft carried 22 people, and our guide provided insightful commentary on the picturesque scenery. The trip was very safe, and provided us the opportunity for numerous photo ops of the dramatic red sandstone cliff walls. At the dam, the walls were 700' high and gradually grew to be 1400' high at the end at Lee's Ferry, the first accessible canyon crossing. Mormon Brigham Young sent John D. Lee to establish the ferryboat service to get him out of town because of his involvement in the Meadows Massacre. At a stop along the way, we visited the $30,000 potties beside the river, where we saw a grey garter snake, a chuckwaller (lizard), and ancient petroglyphs on a cliff. On the trip back, the bus crossed Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon (see photo) and Balance Rock (now too tired to get off the bus for a picture). That's getting your money's worth!
Friday will be a relocation day to get set up for Zion National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.