We started the morning in Kayenta, Arizona, just outside Monument Valley. I’m sure the people of the Monument Valley Region are very nice, but I wish Kayenta was more respectful of the natural beauty that surrounds it. There are no nice photos to be taken in Kayenta, because the scenery is interrupted at every vantage.
We headed out of Kayenta, west through Northern Arizona toward Page, home of Antelope Canyon, our first destination of the day. As has been the case since Gallup, NM, we were on two lane blacktop with 65 mph speed limits.
This is an Interstate free zone!
From time-to-time I wanted to pass the car in front of me. That meant waiting for a clear spot, hoping Helaine would cover her eyes, running it up to 85 mph, and swinging into the oncoming lane.
There aren’t a whole bunch of places to do that in Connecticut. Actually, there aren’t a whole lot of places to do that anywhere. It’s a lost art. Thankfully, everyone keeps their headlights on day and night.
As we sped west, we passed through a bunch of little towns… actually, more like settlements of a few houses. The speed limit would drop to 55 mph for a hundred yards or so and then back to 65 mph. Next.
What kind of life do people have here? We were curious in an anthropological way. Is it a life to be loved, or do kids wait for the day they can escape?
Forty miles from Page, and driving parallel to its single track, electrified railroad, we got our first glimpse of the gigantic Navajo Generation Station. Two of its three stacks were blowing something white skyward.
I’m hoping it was steam, though I doubt it. There were separate cooling towers for that.
As we got closer, and the sheer size of the plant became apparent, Helaine started singing, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”
Whatever I said about Kayenta goes doubly for Page. I know we need to generate electricity. I wish there was a less invasive way. After all, this huge power plant also needs huge transmission lines to take the power away.
We were in Page to visit Antelope Canyon. It is a slot canyon. Don’t worry, until recently I didn’t know what that meant either.
This area of the country gets little rain. What they do get isn’t spread through the seasons, but falls in brief deluges which often cause flash flooding.
Over the eons, a flooded stream, Antelope Wash, found its way to the Colorado River by boring through a hillside. That channel is the slot canyon we visited.
Because it’s carved through sandstone, the walls have smooth curves and a layered look. At certain times of the year (not now) sunlight streams through to the canyon floor as beams of light.
It was unlike anything Helaine or I had ever seen before – beautiful, mystical, spiritual.
We signed up for a tour at the entrance to the Navajo Park which contained the canyon. The operation of the tour company was rinky dink. However, our guide Carol was amazing.
She knew all about the canyon and, after all these tours, was a camera expert. She spent lots of time showing people where and how to get great shots, even with little point and shoot cameras.
Carol’s expertise will be felt when returning tourists look at their photos and find her masterpieces.
We left Antelope Canyon, headed over the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam and into Utah. I believe I’m entitled to another wife at this point.
The road settled into a low area flanked by white monolithic rocks, We were in Glen Canyon.
I know Grand Canyon is larger, deeper and more well known. However, you usually see The Grand Canyon from the top looking down. Here, we were in the middle of the broad flood plain. The rock faces towered over us. I have never felt smaller nor more inconsequential.
As with the trip to Page, the roads were good. From time-to-time we’d round a sharp bend or go down the side of a mountain steep enough to warrant a sign listing the grade (6% was our personal best).
Helaine isn’t comfortable with heights. This was not her ideal routing.
We made a left onto Route 9 in Mt. Carmel, Utah and headed into Zion National Park. Of all the scenery we’ve seen so far, this is the prettiest… the most awesome.
The park road is a narrow two lane affair – definitely not good for 65 mph! It is also the first ‘redtop’ road I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why it’s red. I’ll try and find out more tomorrow.
The road dipped and curved and hugged the side of steep mountains. As treacherous as the road is, there are two places which must be worse, because two tunnels are bored through mountainsides.
At the second tunnel there was construction, which set us back twenty minutes. It also allowed us twenty minutes to soak in the scenery.
We’re staying in Springdale, Utah tonight. Everything that was wrong with Kayenta and Page is absent here. This is a spectacular little town, with shops, restaurants, galleries and a free shuttle bus system!
I’ve only been here a few hours, but I’m loving Zion National Park and Springdale.
Tomorrow we’re going to take the shuttle to the park for a little exploring before hopping in the car and heading southwest to Las Vegas.