Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Grand Circle - Utah & Arizona

Day 361 – October 24

After leaving Vegas we hit the road and drove straight to Zion National Park in Utah. We went to the visitors and center and luckily got one of the prized permits for tomorrow that would all us to hike to what they call ‘the subway.’

We then drove back to the little town near the entrance to the park called Springdale and explored the Michael Fatali Gallery for a bit (we had been told by a photographer we met to stop by this gallery and WOW he does have some amazing stuff).

This is his camera, it was on display in his gallery

We then made our way back to the city of Virgin and checked into the campground there. There were SO many kids around – a family on one side of us and a school group of kids on the other – crazy busy! But getting there before dark meant Murray had time to prepare his cameras for the hike tomorrow, and I was able to cook us up some grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup – nice. Then I reorganized Dolph again, before logging onto the wifi to check our emails. Once dark came we crawled in and watch the movie Jindabyne on our laptop – very very odd movie!

Day 362 – October 25

We got up early and drove to the trailhead - getting there at 8:30. Then it was straight off to the trail. The first bit was all downhill and VERY steep.
But when we got to the bottom the view was worth it - stunning

Then it was time to start following what I will call the 'non trail'

We just walked up along the river, back and forth, zig zagging

Trying to follow footprints, when we could see any at all, climbing over trees, scaling rocks we couldn't get around, etc. It was TOUGH to say the least, definitely our toughest hike yet in North America!

Finally at 11:30 we arrived at the amazing.....

The subway is a unique tunnel sculpted by the Left Fork of North Creek.

Churning water has chiseled the rock floor, forming shallow potholes that fill to the brim with frosty water

This is the view looking in from the place we hiked into the area

This is the view back down the tunnel, once you hike up inside of it

This beautiful puddle is also where I dropped our guidebook in (opps) and Murray dropped his lens cap

We quickly snapped up the cap though - thank goodness it didn't float away!

The rocks were SUPER slippery and those holes in the rocks hide VERY deep pools, so we had to be careful

It really is a beautiful place

This is a photo he got on the way back of what is called a slot, it is a crack in the rock that water flows through - this viewpoint is looking down at it (it was part of the 'ground' of the river bed we walked up - the fall leaves really make the photo striking). I LOVE this photo

Walking back up the valley we got a bit disorientated about where exactly it was that we came down the mountain (there is a traversing path - but it is almost impossible to spot until you're on it).

We got worried after hours of hiking, that perhaps we had missed the one small sign that told us where to go back up the mountain. Thankfully we came across a group of guys that had hiked this route MANY times and knew exactly where the path was, so we followed them (we still had another whole mile to go before heading up). We got back to Dolph around 4:30, completely exhausted, that hike back up was killer. Diet coke NEVER tasted so good. After a quick snack we hopped in and hit the road - our destination was Bryce Canyon National Park.

We were trying to get to Bryce Canyon for the sunset, however we arrived at 7 - JUST as the sun was setting, too late for photos - bummer! So we checked into the local campground, showered, made some tuna pasta & soup then went to bed!

Day 363 - October 26

It was COLD this morning when we woke up.....

Dolph said it was 29 degrees Fahrenheit - this was at 6:50 in the morning, so it must have been much colder in the middle of the night

We drove to the appropriately named Sunrise Point, where already half a dozen photographers were set up (all bundled up - it was freezing cold!) Above is the pre-rise glow - a flat light.

I popped out for a quick look, then went back to try and keep warm in Dolph & read a book. The sun is now on the horizon giving glow and shadow.

While Murray snapped away as the sun created some beautiful colors on the rocks

Despite its name, Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon, but rather a giant natural ampitheater created by erosion

At one point in the morning, a German guy accused Murray of stealing his camera (ummmm huh?) - in broken English. He was patting his pockets, then turning to Murray saying you were the only other one here - you must have it?? Murray helped the guy look, but said hey I don't have it! After MUCH accusing, the guy found it, in his own pocket, hidden under one of his belly rolls! Too many sausages!! geez

Then we drove to Sunset point - to check out the view from there as well

Hoodoos (those tall tower like structures) are composed of soft sedimentary rock and are topped by a piece of harder, less-easily-eroded stone that protects the column from the elements.

Next we went to Inspiration point to see what the view was like from there

We then stopped by the visitors center (the movie there about the park was just ok) then we went to the lounge at the Inn by our campground to hook into the internet and keep nice and warm. Bryce is so cold because it is at elevation!

We went back to Sunset Point to get some sunset shots. The sun is glowing the back of these hoodoos and bouncing some reflective light - hence the 'glowing' tips.

But there was a LOT of shadows (although I still think the photo is lovely), so we didn't stay for long.

The it was back to the campground for a lazy cereal dinner, we watched a movie and then went to bed early.

Day 364 - October 26
It was an even colder morning today, we actually found the inside of our topper coated in ice crystals from our breath! First time that has happened on this trip!! Freaky!

Up early and off to sunset point (which funnily enough is actually BETTER for sunrise shots....)

While Murray was taking photos, I got to chatting to a nice older couple in the parking lot. Turns out the guy graduated from the same high school I did, granted - 50 years ago! They were really nice!

Murray was out taking shots until 11 - lots of great viewpoints. Here above is Thor's Hammer.

Some more Thor's Hammer

Amazing that trees can grow in this area

Then it was back to the truck for a nice zebra cake treat! (after our subway lunch it - was just too cold and windy to cook for ourselves)

And that was that for Bryce Canyon! Lovely place, but SO cold!!!

Next we drove to Escalante. We stopped by the visitors center for some info, and then checked into a local campground. It was a VERY dusty place (no grass to be seen...) and so windy, so we just took our laptop into the laundry and set up there for the afternoon. We worked on some admin stuff, and after a quick tuna & rice dinner we called it a day.

Day 365 - October 28

Thankfully it wasn't AS cold this morning - in the mid 40s!

We got up early and drove the hole-in-the-rock road in the area called the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument to a place called Devils Garden.
Beautiful formations - especially in the early morning sun

Later we followed the precise instructions from the visitors center (drive over the third cattle guard and park there, then head East..... hmmmm)

We did NOT have great instructions, to say the least. We were told to look for a side path off of the main wash - I thought this one looked like what they were talking about

Lots of footprints at least - surely we are on track, but this arrow is the way back to the truck?

Ummmm no - this is definitely not the correct way to go. We are looking for a fork in the wash, but there are 100's along the way...very frustrating when you have to be at the location at the right time for the right light! Oh and with a 70 pound backpack! (murray)

Ahhh the cattle guard - they did mention this (it is hung from wire because flash floods come through this area)

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument spans nearly 1.9 million acres

This high, rugged, and remote region, where bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs run for distances that defy human perspective, was the last place in the continental United States to be mapped. Above are petrified sand dunes.

Amazing anything can grow out here!

Are we lost - again??? It was 2 miles of walking down the wash, before we were to turn and go another quarter of a mile. Its an amazing feeling to be hiking out into this harsh land, and to not see anyone after hours of hiking!

YAYYYYYYYYYYYYY - we finally did find what we were looking for - the Zebra Slot!
(the last 1/4 mile to the entrance was awful - DEEP sand, so exhausting to walk through)

Murray pointing in to the entrance to the slot

WHAT ARE THOSE????? We took some pics and asked more questions back at the info center and 'google'. Seems there's a link to planet Mars?

Early this year, scientists announced the discovery of tiny, spherical grains of hematite, a type of iron oxide, in some Martian sediments. Those spherules were dubbed blueberries because their distribution within the sediments reminded one of the scientists of blueberries in a muffin. The hematite blueberries provided one of several lines of evidence that suggest water once flowed on the Red Planet (SN: 3/6/04,p. 147). Although many of the Martian blueberries examined by NASA's Opportunity rover were still embedded in rocks, erosion had freed others.

The same type of iron oxide concretions form within some Utah sandstones, says Marjorie A. Chan, a geologist at The University of Utah located in Salt Lake City, is the flagship public research university in the state of Utah, and one of 10 institutions that make up the Utah System of Higher Education. in Salt Lake City. These terrestrial nodules come in spherical o·void having the oval shape of an eggs.

These lumpy shapes and can measure 20 centimeters or more across, while their Martian analogues are typically spherical and range up to only 5 millimeters in diameter.

The Utah nodules probably formed when a stream of groundwater rich in dissolved minerals, including iron, encountered chemical conditions that caused the iron to precipitate. Some of these nodules have a homogeneous internal structure, says Chan, while others appear to have growth rings or an outer rind. These features suggest that the concretions may have grown in episodes rather than all at once, she notes. Chan and her colleagues describe the Utah nodules in the June 17 Nature.

The size and spacing of hematite nodules within Utah sandstones depend on many factors, including the salinity, pH, flow path, and flow rate of groundwater that's coursing through the porous rock.

Me, helping to bring the tripod in even further

It was squeezey!

Interesting place to try and setup a tripod that's for sure

Such a gorgeous rock formation though - beautiful zebra like stripes

Nice how the light comes in too

The happy photographer

And the BEST part? It was ONLY us there!

Me squeezing back out with the tripod

On the way back we were noticing how DRY the river bed 'wash' was

When we got back to town, we picked up a subway for lunch, then headed to the grocery store to buy..
some frozen corn to put on Murray's knee (it was quite swollen and sore from that awful Subway hike)

I also needed to reorganize the food we had stored under the bed, but I didn't want to do that at the campground cause it was too dusty. So, we just parked in the paved parking lot of the grocery store and Murray rested his knee in his reclining chair by Dolph...

While I reorganized the back - darn those fruit cups - would we EVER be rid of them?? I just put stuff wherever there was room, because reorganizing so we could reach everything meant taking EVERYTHING out!

Ahhhhhh very nice and organized now - just perfect

Murray's viewpoint - lol

Me back in our laundry room office - ha. That night we had a LOT of corn in our pasta - that was nice:) We even managed that evening to start on Season 4 of the show 24 - fab!

Day 366 - October 29

Today we slept in a bit (well, til 9) which felt great! After breakfast & wifi we set off to drive to Arches National Park. We got there around 3:30
Driving towards the park - gorgeous

We made a quick stop at the visitors center for info

then drove to the delicate arch trailhead and headed off on the hike. It was only 2 miles to get there, but VERY uphill on smooth rock - difficult to hike up! The calves were BURNING!

Wow was it worth it though - quite a stunning arch - that's Murray standing beneath it! You can see how huge it is!!

Then Murray decided to climb out on a ledge to try and get a good angle for sunset photos. I sat up on a safe flat part and just yelled once and awhile to be careful!!! Murray said that he was perched on the cliff edge with about two inches for his feet, below a 5 story drop.....he needed new shorts after the 'shoot'.


The photographer - at the end of the shoot

Murray & I & delicate arch

Can't beat that sunset - stunning

Once we got the sunset shots we headed straight back to the trail, as it was starting to get quite dark! We eventually made it back to the truck, drove into the nearby town of Moab and checked into a nice campground. It was too dark and we were too tired to cook though...
So, Pizza Hut worked just fine!

The pizza was good, shame the service was SO bad. After we finished eating we sat for over 20 minutes waiting to catch the waiter's eye for our bill (as he chatted to friends at another table). Eventually I had to loudly say 'excuse me, can we have our bill please' and he hopped to it!

Day 367 - October 30
Our first stop of the morning (back in Arches National Park) was to get this shot of Balancing Rock with the sun rising just behind it.

Next, we drove to the Devils Garden trailhead and hiked in to see this - called Landscape Arch

then it was on another mile and a half - hiking up what they call sliprock - quite scary!

We had to walk across this 'fin' of rock at one point, then climb down the side to continue on the 'trail'. As you can see we enjoyed the thrill of feeling like it was just us out there...exploring!

Eventually we reached our destination - Double O Arch

Look closely above and you can see Murray's camera and tripod perched on the cliff edge - the necessary angle to take the pictures of the Double O Arch!! Gulp!

While Murray climbed around and took photos, I read my book & relaxed with the gorgeous scenery

When he was finished up, we sat down to have a snack before hiking back - these little guys were watching us VERY carefully

hoping for scraps

Oh hello there - do you have any food for me?

Yes, we gave them a peanut - bad, I know! But gosh they were just TOO cute!

Our view back at the arch as we left to hike back

See those little rocks at the lower left hand side of the picture? Those are trail markers - to let us know where to go - VERY hard to see as you're hiking along! VERY HARD! We had quite of few trail 'tangents' along the way. ha ha

Me on the 'trail'

This is where Wall Street arch used to be, now it's just a gap

This is a photo of a photo that was taken as a piece of Landscape arch fell - scary huh?

We thought the sticker on the back of the truck was hilarious!

We then drove back to the visitors center, watched their movie about the park (it was made by the Discovery Channel and was EXCELLENT!)Then we drove to the nearby Canyonlands National Park

We got to the visitors center JUST before it closed, got some info, and then drove to the Willow Flat campground to find and pay for a spot for the night. Once we had claimed our spot, we drove to the Aztec Butte trailhead & headed off!
Me on the trail. We hiked half a mile up to the butte (in DEEP sand - so exhausting) then half a mile up the sliprock to the top. Then we had to go to a ledge on the far side that was down about 10 feet, and follow it around to our destination....

Aztec ruins - with an amazing view of the valley

See the ruins - on the far right side. They believe this structure was an Aztec storage place for grain.

The MOST amazing part though? We were the only people there...... truly fantastic. Complete isolation and silence - just the slight breeze. Here is Murray with his gear all packed up after the shoot, standing on the cliff edge and admiring the sunset. We felt so fortunate.

Later, back at the campground, we prepared for dinner by first setting out our dessert

Then we had a nice easy (but yummy) meal of reheated pizza

Day 368 - October 31

We were up and back on the road by 5:30 - heading to the Mesa Arch trailhead. It was just a short drive from our campground, and thankfully the hike was only half a mile (because it was still very dark - we had to use our headlamps).

When we got there - two photographers were already set up, so Murray quickly got his stuff out and set up a spot for himself

Then 4 more photographers showed up, and it started to get a bit crowded!

And sunrise was coming quickly

Stunning - just stunning, to appreciate the shot you need to see it larger.

It's just a shame it was so hazy and cloudy that morning - this is the difficult thing about having SO much to see and only so much time to do it in. The haze prevented the red glow underneath the arch from truly reaching its potential.

Still VERY pretty though

We decided to drive back to Arches for a few more photos...
of Balanced Rock (again - different sun position)

Then, we went into town and checked into the hospital. Murray's knee had been bad ever since that hike to the subway. Not only was it swollen and sore, but now he could barely bend it past 10 degrees - it was time to go and see a professional. It was strange checking in - because a lot of the staff was dressed up (for Halloween)! We eventually met our (odd) doctor who made a lot of lame jokes, and then finally decided that they would need to drain the fluid from Murray's knee and then inject steroids (to keep it from happening again) and painkillers. I watched - it was awful (and painful)! About half a beer can of stuff came out of his knee - gross. They say it was all due to what they call 'overuse syndrome.' causing tendon/ligament damage. We finally got out of there around 3, after having to shell out nearly a thousand dollars - fun fun. Easy McDonalds lunch, then we checked into a local motel (a cute place and we actually had our own kitchenette too - just what we needed)!

Murray rested while I walked to the nearby grocery store to pick up his painkiller prescription and get some food for dinner

We had pork loin with sauce & rice - yes I KNOW it looks hideous, but really it was quite tasty!

Day 369 - November 1

We checked in for one more night today, just so Murray's knee could have a bit more healing time. We just spent the day relaxing, watching tv and working on the blog.

Day 370 - November 2

We checked out at 11 (the latest we could check out) and then hit the road. First we stopped by the Tom Till gallery in Moab, to check out his photos (just ok if you ask me.....)
And then we hit the road - how funny is this painted sign? I guess THAT is where the hole is lol

We drove 25 miles south of Moab through the town of Blanding and on to find the trailhead for the next day called Mule Canyon. Then it was back to Blanding for a subway lunch and to find somewhere to stay. Of the two campsites in town - the first was closed for the season and the other one looked just miserable - I couldn't face it. So, we checked into a dumpy little cheap motel in town - that worked! It was called the Palace which was too funny, but it was the cheapest hotel we had stayed in yet (cheaper than most campgrounds) and nice to have some tv to watch!

I probably was not allowed to do this.... but oh well. I cooked up our dinner in the room - a nice garlic rice with tuna and fresh green peppers - quite nice actually!

Next door to us a lady was staying who left her dog in the car. He scared us nearly half to death when he was wondering around outside and we had to go to the truck - he only had 3 legs!

Day 371 - November 3

Our alarm didn't go off for some reason, but we still managed to head off a a decent time and drove back to Mule Canyon. It was only a mile hike along a river bed (from where we parked dolph on the 4WD track) to our destination known as 'house on fire.'

Murray standing by house on fire - which is a Anasazi Indian ruins which they believed was used as a grainery and was built around a 1000 years ago

Setting up the camera (just us there - fab!)

And THIS is why it is called house on fire - the rock forms what looks like flames out of the top of the structure - so beautiful but you have to catch it at exactly the right time for the light.

Stunning. Another wonderful experience of being alone, in the middle of nowhere and appreciating some amazing ancient historical sites.

We finished up and got back to the truck by 1 - time for a quick cereal lunch then we had to hit the road again
The road ended up bringing us down the side of a mountain on some scary dirt switchbacks (and one frightening encounter with a huge grater and us on the side closet to the edge!)

Finally we were able to see Monument Valley in the distance - Dolph was very pleased

It really is a beautiful approach to the area

We drove up to the entrance, but because we didn't have any cash we had to turn back. So, we went instead back to the one campground in the area and check in

Then we headed back to get a good viewpoint of the sunset and the valley

John Dee Dee loved the view

I waited in the truck (it was SO windy and quite chilly out)

Lovely sunset and moon.

I was the traffic watcher, since most of these shots were taken with Murray in the middle of the road - worth it though!

Once we finished up with sunset shots, we headed back to the one restaurant in the area and ordered the local delicacy - the Navajo Taco

Fry bread (basically just a huge doughnut without the sugar, toped with ground beef in spicy tomato sauce, veg & sour cream/guacamole. Lovely but SO bad for you!

I was thrilled to order the salad bar - which meant 2 trips to the soup and 3 trips back to the salad bar. I was craving veggies!!

Day 372 - November 4

It was REALLY windy last night - it really rocked Dolph around, but thankfully we were tucked up nice and warm inside away from the wind
After paying our entrance fee (this park is on Navajo lands so isn't part of the National Park system) and checking out the visitors center (it was not very good at all) we set off to drive the 17 mile loop to see all of Monument Valley

The drive around was gorgeous - but WOW was the road bad

We are convinced they leave the road to ruins just so you will want to book a guided tour instead of submitting your poor vehicle to the huge pot holes

We drove around for two hours - lovely isn't it? (click on the photo to see it bigger in it's 'panoramic glory'

A formation known as The Thumb

And I had a bit of a snack on the way (I love the crumbs at the end of the bag!) Ok, I love the chips before the crumbs too! I LOVE CHIPS! We love Ruffles, and love the pronunciation in Brasil "Roo-fless"!

Along the way a few local artists had set up booths of jewelery, so I checked it out

It is a beautiful place but WOW is it windy - so windy I didn't want to get out of the truck - at all. Red sand blowing all over the place and tumbleweeds flying by. I asked a guy we met at one of the craft booths if it was always this windy and he said today was about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5, usually it was blowing like a 5. Ummmm wow

Dolph quite enjoyed himself. Wow, isn't he STUNNING!

The structure on the left and middle are called the 'mittens'

We went back to the lodge for lunch (there was no WAY we could eat outside - it was really THAT windy!). Murray had a fab bacon, guacamole, cheese & mushroom burger - I had a chicken fajita that was SO yummy and Gigantic! Then it was time to head back to the park and wait for sunset.

It ended up being QUITE cloudy though

Pretty cloud formations, but not a lot of color

We set off just before dark to drive to Page. It took us around 2 1/2 hours, stopping on the way at a Navajo trading post to buy our cheapest tank of gas yet! Once we arrived in Page we found the local Wal-Mart, browsed a bit, rented a dvd (yay redbox!) and FINALLY watched the Sex in The City movie - yay!!

Day 373 - November 5

We woke up early and COLD then drove to the Paria Ranger station - arriving at 8:30 We put our name down for the lottery, and then waited around until 9am for the drawing. Only 20 people a day are allowed to hike and see the famous 'wave' formation in the area. We were SO lucky that we got 2 of the 10 permits available for the next day (around 25 people were waiting around like us hoping to get one - the other 10 permits per day can be booked ahead of time on a website). Whooo hoooo! We got all the info we would need, then drove to the Grand Staircase Escalante Southern Visitors Center for some more info on the Wahweep Hoodoos.

Eventually we made it back to Page - this power plant on the outskirts of the city of Page is pumping 24/7 - pretty gross!

Back in Page we stopped by the town's visitors center for info on Antelope Canyon, then we went to the local coffee shop called Beans for some yummy drinks & wifi.
We then drove to Horseshoe bend for some photos - check out how close to the edge you have to get for a good photo down of the horseshoe shaped valley - scary!

It's pretty though! Awful trail to get to it however - deep sand - but thankfully only a quarter of a mile trek. Murray took this picture above, but was just hanging on to the edge with one hand! The wind was pumping when you set your tripod up - so camera shake was an issue to say the least.

Afterwards we drove to the library in town, which we had heard had free wifi. We settled in at a comfy table and Murray worked on blog photos while I read magazines - quite a nice place to hang out! We left at 7 when they closed.

We decided dinner out would be nice, so we went to a local place. We went CRAZY at salad bar that which was included with both of our main meals.

Murray had the giant 'catteman's cut' prime rib - holy COW it was huge

WOW - that's a LOT of food!

I had ribs and a baked potato - lovely. It was all you can eat ribs - but I barely got through ONE plate - they were massive!

Then it was back to Wal-Mart for another dvd (21) and another COLD night!

Day 374 - November 6

We got up in the morning and drove to the House Rock Valley Road (which took about half an hour to get to) and then we drove the 8 1/2 miles down that roar to the Wire Pass trailhead.

We set off with a vague printout from the visitors center and tried to stay on the 'trail'

You'd think seeing footprints in the sand would be helpful - but often they go in ALL directions!

Murray consulting our directions as we climbed up and over a rock section

IT was quite confusing to find our way - VERY hard to spot the little piles of rock that showed us the way - here's me wondering where the heck we are?? GPS tool would be great at this stage.

After awhile it all just looks the same - hard to find any sort of direction

Hmmmm maybe we should have bought that hand held gps after all....

And then finally - we spotted it - The Wave!

The Wave is a multi-colored chute that has been cut into a sandstone mountain

The colors and shapes change with the light as the day progresses

Me in the middle of the Wave

Deposits of iron claim some of the responsibility for the unique blending of color twisted in the rock, creating a dramatic rainbow of pastel yellows, pinks and reds

John Dee Dee thought it was really beautiful!

The Wave is located on the Colorado Plateau, near the Utah and Arizona border

Beautiful colors and patterns in the rocks. This one is like a wood knot in a stone...and when you look carefully - it's a scary face!

This is what it looks like from a higher viewpoint

We also hiked around the other side of the cliff to see what they call the Second Wave

Along the way we spotted what they call the Brain Rock!

And a formation that they call The Hamburger!

The second wave is much lighter in color - but perhaps even more beautiful with the sunlight hitting it

The Second Wave - just georgeous

Me posing for one more photo at the Wave before we headed out to hike back

We decided to hike back with the 6 other people we had met out at the Wave, as we all knew it would be difficult to find outr way back. Even the guy with 2 gps instruments didn't help that much! Luckily with 8 of us, we eventually made our way back to the parking lot at the trailhead.

We drove out as dark was starting to come and headed - of course - to Wal-Mart, for a subway dinner & a dvd rental.

Day 375 - November 7

This morning we drove to the Upper Antelope Canyon parking lot and paid to get onto a tour with our Navajo guide Carol (they own the land - so you have to go on a Navajo tour to see the canyon).

It was an easy 10 minute drive through deep sand, her brand new suburban just ate it up! It was then time to go and walk through the 1/4 mile long slot canyon

Antelope Canyon is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse' bighanilini, which means "the place where water runs through rocks."

Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes
Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways
Over time the passageways are eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic 'flowing' shapes in the rock This is the entrance to the canyon

It really is SO beautiful how the light enters this slot canyon

After two hours in Antelope Canyon, Carol brought just Murray & I to a nearby slot canyon called Rattlesnake Canyon

She let us wander in on our own to explore

It was beautiful, and such a great change from the VERY crowded Antelope Canyon

We spent about half an hour in this canyon exploring & taking photos

Me, just before leaving the canyon

What a great day - so fun to see such amazing sights. Back in town we spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and then doing admin tasks in the lovley Page library.

The Chinese buffet we went to for dinner was just ok - but nice to have selection!

Day 376 - November 8

This morning we drove back to the upper Antelope Canyon parking lot to meet Carol's son Lane at 10am. He drove us to Sheep Canyon and left us there to explore for a few hours. It was a bumpy deep sand route, and Lane's little three year old nephew was flying all over the place in the front seat - not very safe!! Thank goodness his older suburban was 4 wheel drive!

Arriving at the entrance to Sheep Canyon

Me & Murray ready to spend a day exploring in complete isolation.

Carol told us about this canyon, saying not many people visit it, and that it is quite pretty

It was pretty chilly in the shade though

Some parts got quite narrom to walk through

At the end of the canyon (which was about a mile and a half long) we got quite a fright when an owl flew down and out of the canyon, just over our heads! He was sitting just up above where I am standing

Some interesting tripod manuevering took place

A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock

A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide

The camera - working away!

The state of Utah has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world

Imagine sand dunes, violently blowing and twisting in the wind, over 170 million years ago

Time passed as sedimentary rock was eroded away, slowly, by violent storms, floods and wind pounding the stone, carving twisted canyons into works of art

Thus, the narrow crevices we call slot canyons were formed. Whirled striations forged into soft rock.

At one point we had to climb up ladders to get to the next section of the canyon - scary!

We had a gret time exploring this canyon, especially since we were the ONLY people there!

Once back outside by the entrance, we sat down to have a snack and wait for our lift back to Dolph (we had spent over 5 hours in the canyon)

We then headed (of course) back the library until it closed at 5, then back to that same steak restaurant for that fab salad bar and all you can eat ribs (however, unfortunately the ribs Murray got were not as meaty as the ones I had the other night - bummer).

That evening we rented the dvd 'Into the Wild' which we had wanted to see for AGES and WOW it was fantastic!!

Day 377 - November 9

We were up and on the road by 5:30 this morning (yawn) to dfrive to the Wahweep Hoodoos trailhead . We eventually found the parking spot and set off with just a bit of light in the sky down the 'wash' (dried up river bed).

It was dark and cold when we set off! DARK AND COLD!

We followed the wash for 4 miles, as there was no real trail to follow. Once again, just us fools!

It was cold!

What the wash looked like. Wide and desolate!

Eventually we found the hoodoos that we had come to see

John Dee Dee climbed up for a view

And he sat back to enjoy the view

The cap of the hoodoo is Dakota Sandstone which was a beach of an incoming seaway, which is 100 million years old

The post of the hoodoos is Entrada Sandstone that is 160 million years old

There should be a layer of Morrison Sandstone but for some reason it wasn't laid down and isn't present. This is why there is such a large gap in the age of the cap and post

Such an odd looking composition of rocks & stones

Some of them are massive - really tall!

These white columns are located near Big Water at the edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

It was a beautiful place, but SO SO cold, so we took some photos, and then heade back towards Dolph. Murray was cursingg the masive effort we made for a day that ended up having no light. He was frustrated to say the least!

This shows how rough thewater here can be - totally knocked over this cattle guard

me walking back

When we got back to Dolph we were hungry and cold, so I heated up some soup before we hit the road again.

We drove straight to the Grand Canyon

We made quick stop at a viewpoint

There it is - the great big grand canyon!

Quite a cloudy evening

A map of the canyon that we looked at in the visitor's center

And wouldn't you know it - it started to SNOW!!!

So, we gave up on the idea of camping (how miserable) and checked into a hotel just south of the park

Poor Dolph had to sit outside in the snowstorm

IT was a NICE place, and quite reasonably priced with cable & wifi, so we were thrilled!

That evening we went next door to a little cafe for dinner..... which proved disaterous the next day.....

Day 378 - November 10

We got up JUST early enough to stock up on the free continental breakfast, then decided to not go back into the park because it was so cloudy and foggy out. This eneded up being a good decision because by the afternoon Murray was violently ill with food poisoning all day.

Day 379 - November 11

Murray felt a bit better today, so he worked on the blog photos all day.

By evening he was felling well enough to go to Yayapal point for sunset shots.

Unfortunately we got there 20 minutes too late for the full sun on the rocks - opps!

We decided to go safe for dinner - which meant of course - Wendy's - yay for shakes!

Apparently all Murray could think about when he was throwing up was Strawberry milkshakes?

Murray was having a bad time photography wise...the last week was a lighting disastor day after day. It's hard to get a good photo unless you have days at each spot to wait for the right light. Sadly we had been plagued by bad weather for quite some time..

Day 380 - November 12

COLD morning!

Murray went to Mather Point for sunrise shots (he says it was hazy, washed out and with no color - bummer) while I stayed at the hotel and uploaded photos into blogger. We had some nice breakfast (bagels, oatmeal. banana nut muffins, apples yogurt & juice - nice!!) and then worked on the blog until we had to check out at 11.

We then went into town and found a cute little coffee shop with free wifi. Murray had a yummy strawberry smoothie while I enjoyed my latte and worked on the blog.

Around 3:30 we packed up and drove back into the park and towards the East exit.... part way there we came across a lot of stopped traffic.... At first we thought it was just a large group of female Elk and their young but then we spotted..

Two BIG bulls on the side of the road!

They were massive!!

We stopped at Navajo point for sunset

lovely moon shot, no fake colours here - this was exactly the scene

And while Murray finished up I cooked us some dinner! It was nice to have a hot meal before hitting the road again. We drove to Chilne which took us a few hours. We found the campground at Canyon de Chelly National Monument (which was free - how odd) then settled in for a few episodes of 24 before bed.

Day 381 - November 13

It was a VERY cold night! When we got up we drove back up to the Canyon de Chelly visitors center They had displays there about the pueblo dwelling that use to be commonplace in this area

Me by a recreated dwelling outside

The inside

Later we drove down a very very rough road with huge bumps and potholes....

We came across these odd but beautiful structures (Fins)

Then we parked Dolph and headed out towards

We were there to see this - the Hope Arch

Murray standing IN the Hope Arch

Me in front of it

We both scrambled up and laid down to look up and the top of the arch - pretty amazing!!

Then we drove back to Canyon De Chelly to see
Spider Rock, a sandstone spire that rises 800 feet (240 m) from the canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon

Holy Spider Woman is an important deity in Navajo mythology. It was she who taught the People how to weave.

Next we hiken 1 1/2 miles down a steep mountain via switchbacks - some of the path was actually cut into the mountain - pretty amazing!

We were down there to photograph The White House Ruins. It is just SUCH a shame that they have had to fence off the base of the mountain the ruins are contained in due to people stealing artifacts from the ruins - sigh - people are no damn good!

These ruins date from about 1200 and are some of the oldest in the canyon

These ruins were built by the Anasazi, a Navajo word meaning the Ancient Ones

The hike back up was KILLER - really really exhausting - but on the bright side - the LAST hike of our trip!!!!
The view back down into the canyon

The ruins from a distance
That evening we went to the local Holiday Inn and had dinner in their restaurnat so we could use their wifi while we ate to finish off a blog (LOVELY totilla soup!!)

Day 382 - November 14

We got up at 5:30 to drive and get a few more shots of Hope Arch to get a few sunrise photos

The moon!
I think it looks like a heart- or perhaps the superman symbol

On the way back to the main road we came across a large loud group of cows grazing about

Back in town we did our laundry before tailgating lunch in the parking lot (with a LOT of sad skinny looking dogs looking at us like they were starving - so sad).

Our dessert was yummy!!! (the 3 minute camping trip lol)

And yes, I admit I gave those sad dogs a few granola bars - it was just too sad, tugged on my heart strings.

Then we drove again back to Monument Valley, for another attempt at a good sunset shot.

We watched MANY 24 episodes in Dolph while waiting for the sunset.

Click on these photos to see a larger view - the light was bad - again.

After Murray got his shots, we ate the other halves of our subway sandwiches and we were amazed when the moon rose - looking like a glowing sun - absolutely gorgeous......

Coming asap - the big road trip blog - Arizona to North Carolina & finally up to Minnesota!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really do luv your blog...I have to make sure I am eating everytime I read it though as the food pictures make my mount water!!! AND HOW CUTE IS BROCK!!!! anna :0)

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