Craig writes: 25/05/13 We left San Juan Fawlty Towers and headed to Monument Valley which is now on the lands of the Navajo Nation.
|Empty nesters on the move and doing it in style. Love it!!|
|This amazing formation is called Goosenecks|
This region has been immortalised by film director John Ford in several of his epic westerns and the images they left are forever imprinted on the minds of many when they think of what the Wild West was, and still is. I'm sure you'll recognise some of the images below.
|Pick any western and you'll likely see this or a part of it|
|What a backdrop!!|
|The famous "Totem Pole"|
|We headed down that dusty track for a closer look|
We stopped in for a late breakfast at Gouldings lodge and had a look through the original homestead and trading store.
|Behold the wonder that is... "Biscuits and Gravy", the old timers used the leftovers to fill the cracks in the walls of their log cabins.|
Established in 1924 by Harry Goulding and his wife "Mike"(her real name was Leonne) ,it was used by the Navajos as a place for them to come trade livestock and handmade wares for food and other necessities. A lot of John Ford's legendary western, StageCoach was shot here. They have John Wayne's westerns on an endless loop in the movie room of the museum. Talk about getting sucked in. I couldn't take my eyes of the earnest campy wooden acting and the marvelously floppy scenery. It was a lot of fun to watch. I could have stayed there for ages.
On to Lake Powell in Page Arizona. This gigantic body of water was formed when the Glen Canyon Dam was built and the power of the mighty Colorado River was harnessed. It's the second biggest dam in the US behind Lake Mead, straddling the borders of Utah and Arizona and holding approx 27 cubic miles of water.
|The soft creamy limestone walls of Antelope Canyon|
We did a tour of the dam which took us to very edge of the top, some 715 feet high, and then an express elevator all the way to the very bottom. Entry to the dam is akin to entering a foreign country. There are airport scanners to walk through and very earnest looking security guards continually scanning the large group we were in and talking on their radios at the same time. You get the impression that a cavity search is not out of the question if you give them half a reason.
|From the top of the dam|
|715 feet above the run off zone|
Due to the enormity of the dam and the volume of power and water it supplies to the West Coast it is considered to be third on the terrorist hit list. The lake is over 180 mile long and there are about 90 different canyons to explore along it's length and breadth. We were only there for two nights so opted for a boat tour which took us up to the base of the dam and then down Antelope Canyon. The lake is a major attraction for both locals and tourists, about two million a year, so there were people everywhere in hired speed boats, kayaks, house boats and jet ski's. I saw one guy paddling with a border collie standing on the front of his kayak. But, even with the crowds the canyons were still hauntingly beautiful. The resort was nice enough, no wifi in the rooms which for us is a bit of a mortal sin, but the gym was good and it had a sauna.
A big highlight was the tour through the Upper Antelope canyon with our Navajo guide, Robin. We were so lucky here. Our tour was towards the end of the day so it was just us four and him. These amazing sandstone canyons are located on the Navajo Nations lands and are the most photographed slot canyons in the American Southwest.
|It looks like it's been lit up for a rock concert|
|But it's all just Mother Nature doin her thing|
|You could imagine the force of nature needed to carve this out|
|The boys inspecting cavalry bullet holes made when they chased the Indians|
Monsoonal rainwater floods into the canyons at tremendous speeds bringing sand and all manner of debri that carves and polishes the passageways into a unique pattern that when the light is right, produces the most ethereal and beautiful images. This was our last stop before heading out early the next morning.
27/05/13 We arrive at Jacob Lake Inn at the Grand Canyon, still in Arizona and about to go see the "Grand Daddy" of em all, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Jacob Lake Inn is a combination of rustic log cabins and some small hotel rooms set amongst the ponderosa pines, spruces, firs, bob cats, mountain lions, coyotes and deer of the Kaibab National Forrest. The story goes that the enterprise started back in 1922 when a young Harold and Nina Bowman bought a 50 gallon drum of petrol and sold gas of the back of their truck. Today it's a bit of a sprawling complex with a huge gift shop, general store, restaurant and diner and a very descent trade in home baked cookies.
|The Jacob Lake Diner|
Unfortunately the rooms leave a little to be desired. No micro, fridge, tea and coffee and fairly ordinary wifi. It is however a great base to go visit The Canyon.
Six million years of natures hard work has resulted in what is quite justifiably one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Up to 275 miles long, one mile deep and 10 miles at it's widest, it is a masterpiece. The North Rim is 1000 feet higher than the South Rim and as such is cooler and has a more lush landscape. The blisteringly cold winters with their heavy snow falls make the park inaccessible between November and mid May. There is only one road in, Highway 67, and when that freezes over the shutters come down. They drain all the pipes of the local lodge and close that down too. Over four million people a year visit the Grand Canyon but, due to it's isolation, less than a tenth of those get to the North Rim. The result of so much less attention and traffic is a landscape in pristine condition. Once again we hope the pictures will speak volumes.
|The majestic North Rim|
|One small step for man...|
|His middle name is Danger.|
|We seem to be developing a habit of standing very close to very big cliffs.|
28/05/13 In a total juxtaposition, we leave behind the embrace of Mother Nature, her majestic landscapes, her virgin air, her silence and unpredictable blend of violence and beauty, for the faux world of Las Vegas. It's a hard pill to swallow as we edge into the thick traffic, the tacky gargantuan plywood and plaster replicas and the fug of desperation that hovers over this city. But we have to drop the car off and catch a plane from the Vegas airport the next day so we have no choice. The only redeeming features of our stay were, it was only for one night and we were staying off The Strip, the Hotel we stayed at, The Sun Coast, was perfectly adequate and at $44 a night including a United Nations style breakfast buffet,was the best value place we have ever stayed and we had an amazing dining experience at HoneySalt, a restaurant recommended by our good friend Tracey. It was one of the outstanding dining experiences of our trip. The next morning we board a Southern Airlines plane that I swear was only a three quarter scale airplane and head to the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport in Little Rock Arkansas. Here we have the good fortune of meeting Daimon at the National Car Rental counter. This very lovely fellow easily surcomes to our silky Aussie charm and we get upgraded to a thing called a Yukon. It sounds like a Himalayan mountain, and for good reason. It's one of these monster mountains of metal that takes a weeks wages worth of gas and needs two car bays to park in. Daimon handed us our keys and a step ladder and bid us good luck.