Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Home in Salt Lake for a few weeks

We are now at our house near Salt Lake City for a few weeks. We got here Friday, after leaving Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and then spending one night in Fillmore, Utah. Fillmore was the first capital of Utah. It has great little RV park called the Wagons West. If you are on I-15 in Utah and need a spot for an RV, it's a tidy park that only cost $18 with our Passport America membership.

While in Utah we'll see friends and family, and take care of the "stuff" we always do while home -- doctor appointments, vehicle repairs and maintenance (like replacing the rig valance that a coyote, may he rest in peace, collided with last fall) and other chores.

We're experiencing a big spring snowstorm today, but it's supposed to be sunny by the weekend. The wind that blew in the storm yesterday picked up our grand kids' plastic swimming pool and sailed it a couple hundred yards down our street. It was really windy. And today is very snowy.
How the view from our front yard looked Friday while we were unloading the rig. You can see some tulips near the bottom of the photo but it looks like deer got the vast majority of them. I usually have several hundred tulips blooming. Not this year.
The view from our front yard today, except that I took this photo this morning and now the snow is even deeper.  I also stood back a bit so the photo shows how much snow piled on our planters.
Unfortunately we had not yet unloaded our kayaks.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Staying out of the wind in Page, Arizona

It was windy, windy, windy all day last Wednesday, which was our last day in Page, AZ.  So we did a little sightseeing/picture taking, drove around Page, got some groceries, and Jim stocked up on beer since we're headed to Utah and Jim is not enamored of my adopted state's alcoholic beverage offerings. 

No kayaking, unfortunately, even though we can see beautiful Lake Powell from our campsite.  It was just too breezy.  Hopefully next time.
Our campsite at the Wahweap Campground at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  We've got a great view of lake Lake Powell.  When we got to our camp site early Monday afternoon there was hardly anyone in our section and our entire row was empty.  By the end of the day our section was full.  It's expensive here -- we paid $44 a day -- but OK for a short stay.
Glen Canyon Dam was completed across the Colorado River in 1964 and created Lake Powell by flooding the red/brown/beige/pink rocks of Glen Canyon. The lake is named for explore John Wesley Powell, who took an expedition down the Colorado River in 1869.
Bev on the swirly red rocks not far from a view of Glen Canyon Dam.  Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is comprised of 1.25 million acres set aside by the National Park Service in 1972.  
Jim did not go quite as close to the edge as it looks. The Colorado River is directly below him.
Glen Canyon is known for its dramatic rock formation. When John Wesley Powell explored the area in 1869 he called it "A curious ensemble of wonderful features." 
Cooper is 15  and doesn't hike with us anymore, but he did manage a stroll on Lone Rock Beach. That's the beach's namesake rock behind Coop.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Antelope Canyon: You can't take a bad photo

We left Prescott, Arizona, Monday amid "Red Flag" wind warnings. As usual, the wind was to get worse (gusts of up to 45 miles an hour) as the day wore on. So we quickly got on the road and headed to our next stop: Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border. The wind "shoved" the side of our rig a few times as we drove, but the worst gusts didn't hit until afternoon. By then we were at our campsite at Wahweap Campground at Glen Canyon Recreation Area.

That night we went to a restaurant at the Lake Powell Resort where we watched Wisconsin play Duke in the NCAA finals. It was a very pro-Wisconsin crowd, including us. Guess we didn't cheer loud enough. 

But here is what this post is really about: Our Tuesday morning tour of Upper Antelope Slot Canyon on the Navajo Nation just south of Page, Arizona. 

We were part of a crowd that drove to a parking lot on the Navajo Nation, bought tickets, were put in groups of 14, assigned a tour guide, and climbed into pickup-truck-type vehicles with bench seats in the beds and tarps on top. Our guide was a Navajo named Lance, who said his grandmother owned the land we were about to tour. 

Slot canyons are created when water rushes through rock and wears part of it away. More water, plus wind, sand, and time help complete the job -- which is really never finished as erosion always continues. The day we were there, sand flew through the canyon several times. 

It was definitely not a private tour -- people filed in an out a canyon so narrow that sometimes you'd have to step into a groove so people could pass by. And it wasn't cheap -- tickets were $40 each, plus $8 per person for parking. But it was simply gorgeous. 

I usually put captions under my photos, but after the first few pictures below, words are not necessary. In all of the captionless photos, I aimed my camera toward the top of the rocks.  The colors, the shifting patterns caused by light breaking through from above, and the erosion-caused swirls and grooves were amazing.
Our Navajo tour guide Lance giving us instructions before he took us on a bumpy ride to the canyon. Hang on tight during the bumpy 3.5 mile ride, he said, and then be kind to the land when you get there.
People entering the slot canyon. Lance said a thousand people a day take the tour. Including the ride to and from, the tour took an hour and a half.
Tour guide Lance took this photo of Jim and me. Despite how it looks, there were dozens of people all around us. 
Our tour started at 10 a.m.  At 11 there was a special (and more expensive) photography tour and these folks were obviously part of it. Shortly after 11 a.m. is when beams of sunlight start to hit the canyon floor to beautiful effect. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Prescott, Arizona: Kayaking Willow Lake

Saturday we kayaked on Willow Lake, which along with Watson Lake (which we paddled Thursday) was created by an irrigation dam. The two lakes are across from each other on Highway 89.

We didn't think Willow Lake is as pretty as Watson Lake, as it doesn't have as many inlets, islands and rock formations. But it still had plenty, and it's still gorgeous. 

Like Watson Lake, Willow Lake's water level is high. In fact, a woman we met on the water told us that last year she didn't even kayak on Willow Lake because it was too weedy to paddle. That sure was not the case for us. 

Both lakes have been designated "important bird areas" by the Audubon Society and support a lot of water fowl, especially during migration. And we did see lots of coots, ducks, a heron and an egret. A fellow kayakers also told us that last week he saw a turtle as large as his kayak cockpit, which is pretty darn big.
That's Jim and his kayak at the lower right. 
More clouds, more lake.
Even more clouds, more lake.
And more lake and clouds, this time with dissipating jet contrails and the tip of my kayak in the lower right.
A closer shot of some of the pinks, grays, golds and green colors in the rocks.
Several of the rock formations along the water had "hanging gardens."
I've got a food thing going on with the appearance of the rocks.  Some, like the one above, reminded me of cinnamon rolls.  Others looked like pull apart bread.
And these rocks looked ike that chocolate/cinnamon bread my brother Don and SIL Trudy sent us, don't you think Mom?
The man standing at the top right gives an idea of the size of the granite cliffs.
An inlet.
The city of Prescott is visible behind those trees, as is a corner of one of Prescott's landmarks: Granite Mountain.
I hope Scott and Karen were found and punished ... or are at least deeply embarrassed by their stupidity.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Prescott, AZ: Hiking around Watson Lake

Holy cow, we hiked a beautiful trail Friday. It was a series of paths circling the beautiful Watson Lake, a lake we kayaked the previous day.  Signs on the trail said the hike is 4.79 miles. On-line I read 5.05.  My smart phone ap said it was just under six mile, but that was door to door from our nearby campsite. But it was one of the best hikes we’ve ever taken, with lots of different terrain. 

When we got off the flat Peavine Trail and onto Lakeshore Trail, a sign said something like “Difficult technical hiking.” We weren't sure what that meant. Hiking with ropes and a body harness, maybe?  If so, we'd turn back. But we've hiked terrain marked "difficult" at Utah's Capitol Reef that didn't seem too bad, so we forged ahead. 

Then at the junction for a trail called "Over the Hill," the sign actually said “This trail is even more difficult than the previous one.” Oh well. We have good hiking boots, are in fairly decent shape, and were loving it so far. Plus the trail was extremely well marked with a sign and map at each junction, and white painted dots marked the route. At one point we came to a stream, looked for the dots, and saw them on the other side of the water. Jim got through with just one wet foot, then threw an extra log of the stream and I got across with two dry feet.

A very fun, very beautiful hike.
Near where we started our hike: Watson Lake and the rippled rocks that look like pull-part bread 
After we left a rocky trail and walked by a marina, the path took us through a green area with lots of Cottonwood trees. 
After the Cottonwoods, we walked on the Peavine Trail, once the site of the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad.  The part we were on was completely flat and full of walkers and bikers. 
Jim after we left the flat Peavine Trail and got on Lakeshore Trail. Here we entered the stone sculptures of the Granite Dells, which is what these rocks are called.
More cool rocks, more beautiful lake, as seen from the east side of Watson Lake.
A lot of the trail stepped us from one big rock to another, just like in this photo.
Jim balancing on a trail that was trickier than it looks.
We had lunch of fruit and granola bars at about the four-mile mark.
We took the "steep" instead of the "steeper" but "steeper" did not look all that bad.
Other than birds, lizards, and a deer skeleton, this was the only wildlife we saw.
View near the end of the trail.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kayaking on Prescott's Watson Lake

Yesterday we kayaked Prescott, Arizona's Watson Lake, which is a quarter-mile hike from Point of Rocks Camground where we are staying.  

The lake was created in 1916 when an irrigation dam was built across Granite Creek.  Per a sign we saw at the lake, the city of Prescott bought Watson Lake, nearby Willow Lake, and surrounding land in 1998 to preserve them as recreation areas.

The entire lake is a "no wake" zone which means no fast boats. It's also a no gasoline engines zone, which is good for fish and other wildlife and perfect for kayaking. We got in the water about 9 a.m., kayaked for three hours, and saw few fishing boats and or other kayaks until the end of our trip.

Granite cliffs surround the lake and apparently are popular with rock climbers.  I also read where the lake is the home of a local high school rowing team. Didn't see the rowers but the views were magnificent.
When we saw the view from where we put in the boats, all we could say was "Wow."
Two guys at the shoreline told us the water in Watson Lake had not been this high in 15 years.  Proving that the water is usually lower were these trees we kayaked around.
Cactus flowers near the shore at one of the inlets we explored. We have a view of blooms like these from our campsite, too.
I thought the top part of this rock looks like the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, minus his hookah.
At first Jim thought the goose at the right of his kayak was approaching to chase him away.  Then Jim realized Goosie wanted a hand out.  I noticed the goose, pointed my camera and Jim said, "Hurry up or this goose is going to be in my boat."
Jim paddling around a rock island, with more cliffs behind it.
At the top left is a rock climber using ropes.
A view from Bev's boat.
Two mallards and a pekin duck pose near shore.
All the inlets and islands made Watson Lake fun to paddle.
In addition to inlets and islands, Watson Lake has big expanses of open water.