"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Four Flats in the Desert

You may remember the goofy hikers. Now we've done an encore as the goofy bikers. Got our bikes out for a scenic ride through the desert on the trails in the State Park and ended up with four flat tires and a long walk home. Some kind of stealthy little Arizona ground plant with tiny spikes that jump on to your bike tires.  I know not to drive into a cactus, but how do you avoid what you can't see? Do the locals know about these things?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sedona Vortex

No, I didn't feel it. Kind of a reverse vortex - it spit me out rather than sucking me in.  In fact the town of Sedona, AZ seems more of a center for new age tourists craving crystals and exotic forms of comfort/adventure than anything else. It's really kind of funny. How may crystal and incense stores can one possibly need? Yes, it is located in a truly beautiful spot geographically - a valley surrounded by red rock formations and rolling orange hills with plenty of greenery. The town itself is a strip of tourist oriented galleries, restaurants and high-end souvenirs crowded with cars and jeeps for hire.  The residences around it are impressive adobe and Spanish style homes and condos.  There are more psychics, tarot card readers and "Native American" spirituality dealers than you can shake a rain stick at. This is not my kind of spirituality.  It seems to be overly dependent on props/materialism. Lots of people making money off of this.

I try to be nonjudgemental about the cultures I encounter in our travels, but I think that the commercialism of this, and that fact that I've been there and done that, sends me over the edge. I apologize if I've offended.

Just yesterday a "self-help author" who runs spirituality workshops in Sedona, was convicted of negligent homicide for the deaths of three people during a sweat lodge experience he was leading. You may have heard about it in the news. He said an interesting thing: He has become aware that his profession has a great deal of arrogance, and that the experience has humbled him. Thank goodness. I hope it humbles a few more spirituality peddlers as well.

Anyway, we passed through Sedona a couple of times, but stayed in Cottonwood, in the Dead Horse Ranch State Park. (Now that name is about as far as you can get from the pretty spirituality of Sedona.) Cottonwood is kind of an old funky cool town with plenty of coffee, wine and antique stores, along with Walmart and Home Depot nearby for supplies of the more mundane sort.

Tuzigoot is an ancient pueblo ruin located in Cottonwood. There is another ruin nearby called Montezuma's Castle (a misnomer - no connection to Montezuma). I found them both sweet, majestic, peaceful and visually poetic.  (More "vortex" than in Sedona as far as I'm concerned.)


Inside Tuzigoot


Montezuma's Castle

Our stay here has included numerous road trips to surrounding towns, including Jerome, Prescott and Flagstaff.  All have a bend toward tourism but maintain a sense of their own purposes. Jerome is an old mining town on the mountainside, and Prescott and Flagstaff are college towns.

Spectacular scenery continues to amaze us everywhere we go. I think our favorites here were the Mingus Highway between Cottonwood and Prescott that winds its way over Mingus Mountain, and the Oak Creek Canyon Road north of Sedona.

Slide Rock State Park - A natural water park and this would be the lazy river.

Both are actually 89A.  It, and route 89 are great roads that we've travelled on since up in Montana.  I'd recommend them for sight seeing, but not always for RV travel. They are often turny-twisty passes through mountains and canyons.

It's fall here again for us. We've been following fall south through Montana, Idaho, Utah and Arizona.

Arizona Sycamore

Now we are moving on to Nevada. We'll be in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. Hope to see one of the Cirque du Soliel shows and visit with some friends there. It certainly won't be like a traditional Thanksgiving, and we'll miss being with friends and family, but that won't interfere with our having a lot to be thankful for.

Thank you Rick!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Deserted High Desert Dessert

We're at the end of our stay at Lake Powell, and I think we saved the best for last.  We've taken two boat tours on the lake,

one to the infamous Rainbow Bridge.  If you can see the tiny people under the arch on the left side (one has a red jacket on), that will give you a sense of how huge it is.

We rafted down the Colorado through Glen Canyon, drifting through and then later overlooking another often photographed landmark, the Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado:

We've visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon,

and taken some beautiful hikes.

But the creme de la creme was the 1/4 mile hike through Lower Antelope Slot Canyon:

When I viewed all my photos from the slot canyon it looked like I was trapped inside a taffy machine. It was certainly sweet. I was a little giddy right from the start; it's kind of a heady experience because it is so unusual. It's very narrow, and requires maneuvering some tight squeezes and climbing up and down some steel ladders.  The canyon walls are all the same pinky orange sandstone, but the depth and the bounce light create the range of colors from golden to purple and sometimes even blue.

Lake Powell is a hub of spectacular scenery. It's especially grand this time of year when the lake is almost deserted. In peak season the campgrounds are packed and the lake is buzzing with house boats, ski boats and jet skis.  The canyons would have been crowded with photographers. But now we have it almost all to ourselves.  The weather has been chilly: low 50's in the day and just below freezing at nights, so swimming, except for Kona, is out of the question. Kona and I have been to almost all of the sand and rock beaches around here, and they are as beautiful as any tropical ones I've seen.

We'll be leaving tomorrow, heading for Cottonwood, AZ, near Sedona. More red rocks.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lake Powell and Glen Canyon

Here's our new home, for a couple of weeks: Wahweap campground on Lake Powell near Page, Arizona.

View of Lake Powell from our campsite.

It is situated right on Lake Powell. The area is high desert and rock mountains, mesas and canyons. Most of the Glen Canyon was turned into Lake Powell by damming the Colorado River in 1957.

Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge

Yesterday we took a raft trip down the 15 miles left of Glen Canyon, from Page to Lees Ferry, where the Grand Canyon begins.

A perfectly still moment on the Colorado River, in Glen Canyon.

The raft trip took about 3-4 hours. It was a peaceful ride - no white water. The temperature was perfect, warm in the sun and cool in the shade. In the summer we hear it can be brutally hot. The scenery was spectacular. The Navajo and Kayenta sandstone cliffs range from 500 to 1000 feet on both sides.  Our little raft was really dwarfed. In the next photo the tiny dot that you can barely see on the river in the distance is a 20 person raft like ours at the end of a 2 mile straight stretch.

You really begin to lose perspective of how huge the canyon is after drifting for a few hours. This moment was a reminder.

The rock itself is fascinating. Rick and I are going to take a geology course on DVD so we can understand more
about what we are seeing. The southwest is so much about rocks.

We will be exploring Lake Powell as much as we can while we're here. We've already kayaked and explored the shore lines nearby.  We'll barely scratch the surface as the lake is 254 square miles. The shore length is 1,900 miles, with all the convolutions from the canyons. People rent houseboats here and spend days, weeks, exploring the lake.

Kayaking on Lake Powell
But we'll do what we can.

P.S. I changed the look of the blog in honor of the season, and the aesthetics of the southwest.