I truly wish everyone had an outlet as ours, as I know Spirit feels the same, when riding down the road. It is almost inexplicable! 50 years doing it and still every single time with no exception, wind in the face, no barrier above or around us unlike a car which as riders we call a "cage"… it just does not get any better! The feeling is even more accentuated when at idle for a couple of days, the direction this time was Page, Arizona.
I was so unprepared for Page! We have been used to vast areas where one can camp anywhere, all I had in mind was the ride, a 400 mile round trip, visiting the upper and lower Antelope Slot Canyons and working on the logistics regarding Spirit. We even stopped in Goulding, by Monument Valley, to get some provisions and ice… ice is my luxury on the road, I like my ice water and I always make sure one of my soft coolers has some. The ride was fine, I am getting used to the heavy winds even though the big draw back going in was my fuel mileage dropping considerably, between 25 to 30 miles per gallon. A first time taking the road from Monument Valley to Page, the scenery as expected in Utah was candy to the eyes… and the camera! Of course looking at the map one wonders why the southbound detour? Mountains, beautiful mountains.
Big surprise arriving in Page. Utah’s population must be split between here and Salt Lake City! What do I see? A Walmart Super Center! Had not seen one of those in ages and started smiling at myself for not checking into the status of the town before… a big City! So where do we camp now! A Tourist Center sign caught my attention and dealing with a not so friendly and in a hurry "clerk" I found out about a campground 11 miles north of town, in Glen Canyon on Lake Powell called the "Lone Rock" campground with primitive sites… still $10 a night and actually in Utah… again! Right crossed the border, a National Park… two more years and I will get a 50% break on those fees! There is BLM free camping available across the road but requiring a four wheel drive due to deep sand, my knobby in the rear is melting like butter and I did not feel like chancing it, specially fully loaded with camping gear.
The usual excitement at the gate from the little group of all Lady Rangers, picture, picture and more pictures… all looks serene, nice and quiet even though I am told that the lakeshore is pretty crowded. I don’t see anything… we ride in and passed the first Dune probably 300 RV’s are lined up by the water! A weekend City… We don’t need to be by the water and ride away about a couple miles from everyone, we are all alone on this great spot… only hot wind which makes me move a bit slower and luckily find some rocks to help with the tent set up.
It was perfect, with even a fire ring, toilets and outdoor showers… a couple miles away! All this for $10 a night… We settle in and confused as usual we took a ride to the Canyons, I needed to find out which one was the guided tour. As it turns out it is the upper one, the more popular one and so decided to do the lower one the next morning. They open at 8am, best time I was told for the light rays filtering through for pictures. Navajo land entry has a $6 fee, unless one does both Canyons the same day that fee is per day. The entry fee was $20, at first thinking of it as pretty pricey… but today… trust me, worth every penny specially the fact that one has the freedom to stay as long as they want…
That was it, that was the entrance!… and I was in for a big surprise. Spirit did not come with me, the young lady at the ticket counter kept an eye on him, he was in the shade with plenty of water, at 8am he was still sleepy anyhow!!! He did make it through the upper canyon however the next day as they did allow me to take him with me and he was really cool and well behaved about it. They even said so themselves… the guides that is and other visitors.
My first reaction? My heart beat accelerated and the sights left me speechless. The colors are what they are in the photos, I had the camera set on 200 ISO and added a couple steps of the built in color filters with Magenta and Orange combined. That is it! One leaves with a guide but can stay as long as they want as long as other groups can pass you by, generally in a small chamber as it is narrow, very narrow, even needing to walk sideways at times and with the help of many very well constructed metal ladders. I cannot emphasize enough not to miss this if and when in the area… I will go back again! I already decided… this time doing it in late afternoon to catch a different light. Totally worth the entry fee. Of course now, with close to 500 pictures… which ones will I post?
You can see the walkway in the above picture, sand, it was like being transported in another world, an incredible touch and feel experience.
A Photographer’s Heaven! And at the same time a bit tricky because of the shadows sometimes in high contrast with the sunlight rising throughout the morning, but I think the camera did well, I am not too often pleased with pictures… I am this time as myself will look upon them quite often, till I return again.
I cannot even envision a Human Being trying to even come close to sculpting such free form designs and dimensional arrays that goes on for a mile or so!
The the older Navajos, entering the Canyon was as entering a Cathedral. They would pause before going in to be in the right frame of mind and prepare the respect and protection. This would also allow them to leave with an uplifted mind of what Mother Nature has to offer, and to be in harmony with something greater than themselves. It was and still is a Spiritual experience. How can it not be.
One can even come back through the Canyon to exit, the guides were really awesome chatting with and truly appreciated the fact that all I could say and repeat was… "this is phenomenal!".
I will most likely as I did when visiting Barber Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham and had to many photos to post, create a Gallery on Smug Mug and post the link here. Will need a few days to accomplish that one!…
I did manage to take the "Classic" shot of light and dust in the upper Canyon the next day which I will post later on… while almost pushing and… professional Photographers all lined up as a barrage of weapons directed at us, as the time of the day was perfect for it with the sun at high noon. I am generalizing saying this, but I must say it, as outspoken as I always am… some professional Photographers are truly not very nice people!!!… I just cannot see crossing over the invisible wall and doing Photography as a Job… I think one might loose their Artistic sense if one "had to" take these shots versus doing it for fun. I did say that I am generalizing only from recent past experience! Actually, if I would have been smart I should have taken a picture of them… ready for the attack… the growling even might have been there, I could not hear it above the sound of the shutters.
Till next time… enjoy and all be well…
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