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Old 09-09-2010   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by melliedee View Post
I love this pic, so cute.

It looks like a wonderful vacation. Kids that age will not soon forget someone like your guide talking about the mountain lions. I can remember being so awed by a ranger/guide in Canada discussing the forest (I was 10 at the time; my brother 12) and have never forgotten that vacation with my family.

I really need to visit this part of the world soon.
You really do need to visit this area if you have not. It is truly awesome, and I do not exaggerate.

I love that you remember a specific part of a vacation from when you were 10. We really tried to time this trip where our younger son was old enough, could be pushed a bit physically and could value what was being placed before him. He did great. I hope that and presume it will have a lasting impact.
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Old 09-09-2010   #17 (permalink)
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After a good nights sleep, we woke up early found our way to some good coffee, had a quick bite to eat at the continental breakfast and headed to Wahweap Marina, just on the other the Glen Canyon Dam. We were off for an expedition on Lake Powell.

As you saw in the picture above of my son looking at the map of Lake Powell, it is more like a bunch of squiggles than a lake. It is very long and has tons of offshoots or fingers that reach into was were once narrow "slot" canyons, filled in when the dam was built and the Colorado backed up. These offshoots can be miles long. 90 percent of the lake is in Utah and the remaining 10% is in northern arizona, which has most of the marinas.

Like Lake Mead, at the other end of the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell is a favorite place to go houseboating. The size of the boats are incredible, and haul along whatever pleasure toys one wants to rent for the trip, jet skis, small ski boats, kayaks etc... It would be a super cool vacation if you have a large enough family or like traveling with others, as they are expensive. YOu can cover a great deal of ground, bed down where you want, and explore the lake, its offshoot canyons, do some hiking, tubing, waterskiing..whatever suits you.

We were pondering renting our own boat as the place to be in Page,/Lake Powell is on the water. However, August is monsoon season, with heavy and unexpected rains and lightning cropping up at any time, usually in the afternoon. I was simply not ready to be in control of that situation, and ruin a vacation. Leave it to the pros.....

So...we decided on a Kayak tour by Hidden Canyon Kayaks. We met our guides, Dave and Clint. Dave is a guy who visited the west from Massachusetts when he was 20 and has been there for 20 years. Clint is a 20 year old guy who was born and raised in Page, Az.

Dave and Clint:





We left on a pontoon boat at about 8:15 am with a young couple from NYC. Two guides, and six guests. Nice and intimate. Just like the James and Anna tours.

As we left, it was grey and doom was impending..... and was only getting worse. Happy I left this whole boat thing to the professionals. Not only that, but I would not be able to discern any landmarks, because it is all red rock cliffs and they dont look too different unless you see them all the time. I could see getting lost...

The further we got form the marina, the more remote it was.....there was simply beautiful rock formations and water. The inclement weather might have even cut down on boat traffic.

While the weather behind us was really turning bad, Dave found his favorite hiding spot in this small unmarked, unnamed canyon to get out of the main lake. However, his favorite spot to tie down was already taken by a gigantic houseboat. You can see the houseboat tied down as we enter the cove....it looks small.



As we enter the cove, the rain is really coming down in the main lake and we are leaving behind whitecaps....

This cove is an oasis. We find the only other tie down spot as everything else is shear cliff walls. Captain Dave is planning to wait out the storm and see what the weather brings us. In the meantime, the boys go for a swim.




Again, that houseboat is huge, but you cant tell.

The kayaks are brought down and we a get a quick taste of the water as the storm is passing by not so far away.....





The kayaks are re-loaded, the bad weather is passing and we are on our way to explore Face Canyon. You can see the darker grey skies in this picture, heading east....see you later storm! As you can see in the picture, there is a portion of cliff that is whitish near the water. That is the "bathtub ring". That is the water level changing over the year. The ring is 60 feet high!



Once we enter Face Canyon, Dave drops Clint and the touristas in their kayaks and heads into the canyon to find a place to anchor and get lunch together.

We get our own boats. We are bit worried about Charlie having his own boat and getting tired, but the double kayak is taken by the couple form NYC. Charlie and Nate had just come back from an overnight camp in Algonquin Park, and had done multi day canoe trips. They were awesome..



I am here to tell you that I have never been in complete silence before. No wind, no cars, no bugs, no birds, nothing but me. I entered a tiny side canyon by myself and it was complete silence. It was amazing.

We then ventured deep into one arm of Face Canyon.

After Lunch, Charlie trying "paddle boarding":



The canyon just gets narrower and narrower, but the cliff walls remain high over head. It is beautiful.



Nate and Gretchen:



Nate tries Paddle Boarding:





Gretchen and Charlie:



On our way back out:



Me:


Back on the boat, tour returning to marina, Gretchen and Charlie enjoy a bit of bonding...


Steering the Boat:




Random shots....


Charlie is a clown:


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Old 09-09-2010   #18 (permalink)
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WOW! That kayak tour looks amazing! I'm loving this trip report. I've visited some of the places you're writing about, and I'll definitely be going back some day. Now I'll have to add a canyon kayak tour to my list of things to do.

Your boys look so happy in all these pictures! What a great experience for them. I'm sure they'll always remember this trip.
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Old 09-09-2010   #19 (permalink)
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WOW! That kayak tour looks amazing! I'm loving this trip report. I've visited some of the places you're writing about, and I'll definitely be going back some day. Now I'll have to add a canyon kayak tour to my list of things to do.

Your boys look so happy in all these pictures! What a great experience for them. I'm sure they'll always remember this trip.
Thanks Tara. A definite highlight of the trip. It was a great "working vacation". Lots of being active.....

If I were to do this again, I would do a tour which consisted of boating out to the more remote areas, and combining kayaking, hiking and camping for a few nights. We just didn't have time this trip. As can see, and will see, we had more to squeeze in.
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Old 09-11-2010   #20 (permalink)
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After an awesome kayaking trip, which left us at the dock happy, and a bit tired, we still needed to cram a bit more into our day. So we headed to Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe bend is a bend in the Colorado River southwest of the Glen Canyon Dam. It is located about 5 miles outside of Page, Az. I am pretty certain it is on Navajo land, but there are no barriers, charges or any fees for parking, entry or anything else. You simply get out of your car, walk up a sandy incline then down a sandy incline (a little over a half mile) and you are greeted by this:



To get the full scale of this, you have to trust me that at the very bend, directly in front, there is a house, and a huge houseboat moored up, but you can't even see them. If I recall correctly, the canyon walls are about 500 feet down to the Colorado.

Another view:



If you do this, make sure it in the morning, or late afternoon or evening as it is HOT. The later you go, the darker, almost black, the water appears.

While one top of the plateau, we found a friend:



The boys:



As you can see in the picture above, it looked like it was going to storm to the south of us. Actually, we were concerned that it was going to storm on us, being at a nice high elevation, with no place to hide.

It didn't rain on us while we were at Horseshoe Bend. But it did rain while we went out and for a bite to eat. Got some of the worst $15 hamburgers ever...blocked out the name of the restaurant..... but did get a double rainbow after dinner, and before ice cream.




Took it easy the rest of the night, the last night in Page, Az. We had one more goal to accomplish in Page, AZ and hoped to squeeze it in the following morning, before we left for another leg of our journey. Anyone know what we planned?
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Old 09-12-2010   #21 (permalink)
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One thing we really wanted to do was visit Antelope Slot Canyon before leaving Page, Az. The story goes that a young Navajo girl was herding her sheep, and one fell into a crack in the ground and in rescuing the sheep she discovered this slot canyon, which traverses below ground level. From above, it just looks like a long crack in the dry desert sandstone.

If you time your visit right, you can be in the canyon when the sun beams slice through the cracks above your head and create spotlights on the canyon floor. This is a very popular tour spot and there are navajo guides to take you to the canyon. There is a lower and upper slot canyon. One is a very organized tour company, with photography tours and guides by your side to help you with your shots. The other is a bit more rag tag, where the guides let you in and leave you alone. The latter is substantially less crowded. Each is spectacular.

So, as I said in my last post, it had rained the night before, after our great day on Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend. After rains, any rains, anywhere in the area, slot canyons can be very dangerous places as they are prone to flash floods. The water follows its path of least resistance and this happens to be low ground in these narrow slot canyons.

Weeks before our visit, an unexpected rain storm caused the Antelope Slot Canyon to flood, leaving like eight people trapped on a ledge and requiring rescue. As a result, the tour guides became more cautious about protecting their guests and the canyon cannot be visited if the potential for danger exists.

The rain we experienced the evening before had caused some degree of water through the canyon and the main tour companies weren't ready to open the place up for visitation the following morning when we planned to go. However, the young man who was going to let us in to the lower canyon was sure we would be alright, but was going to check the condition before doing so. We waited and waited,but simply ran out of time. We had to check out of our hotel and head on out to our next destination... Sometimes you just have to be flexible in your travels.....cut bait and move on.

While it is unfortunate that we were unable to undertake the tour, I wanted to bring this incredible thing of natural beauty to everyone's attention in the event that one is lucky enough to be in this area. We were right on top of this area. Here are a few photos from others lucky to have been down inside...







Anyways, we had a big day planned as we were heading to Bryce Canyon National Park in Southwestern Utah. We checked out and got on the road, due to my tripadvisor planning, I learned that there were two routes to take, each spectacular, but with different offerings. (actually there is a third route that the family from michigan took that I told you about earlier. No thanks...)

We chose to take Alt89 across northern Arizona, through Lee's Ferry, Jakob's Lake, before entering Utah at the Town of Kanab then heading north to Bryce... For much of this route you follow proceed through or along the Navajo reservation, see more native craftspeople and beautiful country.

We stopped at Lee's Ferry. Lee's ferry is where the river raft trips enter the Colorado River for the 12-18 day trips through the Grand Canyon. There are very few place to put in other than Lee's Ferry.

Here is a group getting ready to go. They have just received a lecture on what to expect, ground rules etc.... The water coming from the bottom of the Glen Canyon Dam is 48 degrees. We put our feet in. Even that cold it was a welcome relief from the hot weather.



Back on our way, the scenery is pretty cool.



We cross Navajo Bridge, which is a critically important commerce structure built to attach the east and west in this area, over the Colorado River. It is significant now as it is a primary nesting area for California Condor, being nursed back into the wild. We did not see any but had a good time looking.


We stop for MORE native jewelry shopping. Love this picture. If you look closely, you can see thecraftswoman in her white hat bending over to get some supplies. She must have been 85 years old. It was about 100 degrees. She said that she was sitting under her "Ice cream cone". That rock is huge and provides her a bit of respite.



Off to Jakob Lake, famous for two things...the entryway to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and...cookies at the general store. The cookies were awesome.....

On our way out we saw another coyote. It was a better photo op than the last one in the Grand Canyon.



We continued on our way and came upon this plateau with this amazing wall of rain directly in front of us, churning across the land.........




We caught the tail end of the storm on our way to Kanab. I don't know what this town is famous for. One slice of heaven is the Best Friends Animal Shelter.

This is the largest last chance shelter in the country. It is a shelter that houses animals of all types and sizes. Of the 300-400 dogs it houses continuously, it has several of the Michael Vick dogs, some of which have been adopted and many more of which are in foster homes after having been reintroduced to the dog population. It is in this incredible canyon and is hundreds of acres. It has a beautiful pet cemetery.

People come from all over the world to volunteer just like the Peanut Pet Shelter in Playa. That was our original intent but time prevented this as it was basically a full day affair with training etc... With travel restrictions, we simply didn't have the time. However, we still wanted to visit to show the boys what a wonderful place it is... We arrived late and didn't get to see the dogs....but saw some of the larger animals. We wanted to show the boys the devotion to animals and it worked...

Here are some pictures...







In this picture is the pot belly pig in its kennel in Hog Heaven...a pig colony, if you will. Unfortunately the picture does not show the dog inside the enclosure. The dog and pig are best buddies and have been together for 13 years and the condition of taking on the animals is that they remain together. SO this dog hangs with his pig buddy and all of the other pigs.



A truly special place with people with an absolute passion for animals...

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Old 09-12-2010   #22 (permalink)
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AWESOME pictures! AWESOME report!
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Old 09-13-2010   #23 (permalink)
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AWESOME pictures! AWESOME report!
Thanks. Glad you are enjoying it.
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Old 09-13-2010   #24 (permalink)
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So, after a great visit to a beautiful animal shelter, we started to head north to Bryce Canyon National Park. The ride, about an hour, took us through some beautiful countryside. Obligatory moving car photos….






Bryce Canyon is a small national park in the Dixie National Forest, in Southwestern Utah. I say small, as it is a park that you can really cover thoroughly in a two night stay, but can get a true taste of it if you have about 24 hours there and still feel like you are not cheating yourself.




As we had so many stops along the way, we didn’t get to Bryce Canyon until almost 5:00 p.m.

This was the locale of our only truly aggravating experience of the entire trip. When entering the park, I provided my America the Beautiful Park pass and drivers license, and the park employee/ranger at the gate, felt that my signature was “distinctly different” on each item. Although I had paid for the annual park pass, she was going to charge me admission to the park… I pulled out my passport and my New York State Bar ID and showed her that my signature varied on each document to some extent, but was clearly by the same person. She played a power trip for about 15 minutes and then let us through. My blood was boiling. Not only had no other ranger given me a hard time about this, but in an hour, they simply leave the gates open for people to come and go for the remainder of the night. She reminded me of someone’s bitter old aunt!!!

In any case, it’s pretty hard to stay pissed off long when you are in such a beautiful place. We went to the lodge and checked in. We had rented a historic, almost 100 year old cabin on park grounds. Really cool and rustic on the outside, rustic/old motel on the inside. It is actually a duplex, with one shared wall. Here is a picture…



Best part was the gas fireplace. Although we were in Utah in the in desert in the middle of August, we are at a high elevation and the nights cooled down to about 55 degrees. Once that fireplace went on, we did not turn it off.

Our cabin was about 100 yards from the rim of the canyon, through a small patch of pines. This place is simply otherworldly. I don’t think there is any place remotely like it on the face of this earth. Here is what we were greeted with on our arrival at the rim. ….





The pictures here do not do this any justice. The incredible sandstone red rock formations are called “Hoodoos”, which I think is a great name.

The rim is on the western edge of the canyon, with drop downs of about 300-500 feet. There is no eastern rim. This means the following:

1. On a relatively clear day, you can see for over 100 miles to the east, which we found to be particularly cool later.

2. Sunset is not particularly exciting here. The sun sets behind you and the colors do not reflect on the hoodoos. In fact, although there is a vista known as Sunset Point, it is no different than any other locale at sunset.

3. Sunrise is “THE THING”. In fact, we were told that Sunset Point, not Sunrise Point, was the best vantage for a sunrise.

We walk the rim for a bit, get our lay of the land, before heading to dinner. As the park is small, there is only one dining room on grounds and it is a fancy, expensive place in the Lodge. No thanks.. We are told about the Bryce Canyon Pines three miles out of the park gates.

On our way to the restaurant, another storm cropped up and swept through. Brief, but very hard down pour. Followed by this…..



And this…..



The restaurant was excellent. Great, and I mean GREAT, burgers. Great beers. Killer home made pies….. In a place where dining options are few and far in between, it was perfect.

My beer.. check out the label…. How funny is that?!



We headed back to the park to hear the night park ranger talk about the stars and planets, as this is one of the darkest places in the lower 48 and your elevation is quite high. However, due to a scheduling snafu, the talk was about something we were not too interested in. Instead, we again wandered right to the rim and watched the stars come out. Saw this sign, thought it was funny...



Remember an hour earlier it had stormed,. Now it was clear skies above and TONS of stars were in the sky…

However, far to the east, past the canyon, deep in the forest, you could see several campfires blazing, which was really cool. However, it wasn’t as cool as the huge puffy white clouds of a lightning storm just after dusk, sweeping in a northeasterly direction, lighting up the sky every 45 seconds as it rapidly moved across the landscape. Just awesome!!!

Coming up…. The pact for an early rise by the whole family is upheld ...

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Old 09-13-2010   #25 (permalink)
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By the way, if anyone has any questions or wants to plan a trip, please do not hesitate to either post on here or pm me. I sort of obsessed about this planning and was so excited. It was everything I hoped for and more...
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Old 09-14-2010   #26 (permalink)
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So, as I previously said, we were told that sunrise is the thing in Bryce Canyon.

Based upon this, before bed, I made the family promise to get up with me to see the sunrise. We got our wakeup call in our cabin at about 6:00 am, struggled to put on the limited warmer clothing we brought with us, took some towels as extra layers and headed to Sunset Point. When we got there, about a 5-10 minute walk, there were about 5 other people there. A few more straggled on over.

First, the sun, before it rose over the horizon to the east, hit the clouds above, then gradually lit up both the sky and the canyon…



























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Old 09-15-2010   #27 (permalink)
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Wow - awesome pictures.
This has always been a trip I want to take.
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Old 09-16-2010   #28 (permalink)
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Thanks Tappy. Schedule the trip!!!! So cool!
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Old 09-16-2010   #29 (permalink)
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this report brings back great memories of a seven week tour of national parks with daughter and gf
we ended up camping every night in the parks
as brilliant as the photos are, the real thing is that much better
just awe inspiring, what a beautiful country america is!!!
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Old 09-16-2010   #30 (permalink)
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After a great sunrise, we quickly went back to our room, had “breakfast in bed”, ok mini bagels and peanut butter… on the bed, and went for our only hike in Bryce Canyon.

The classic hike is a combination of two trails, Navajo Loop and Queens Garden. Again, a bit of research helped us out greatly here. Started at Sunset Point, where we watched the sunrise an hour earlier, and worked our way through the loop until it intersected with Queens Garden, proceeding up Queens Garden to Sunrise Point. The trail is usually done in reverse, probably because of the whole Sunrise to Sunset thing. However, the Navajo Loop portion near the rim is substantially steeper so it is easier to proceed down than come up with tired legs.

It is just a really nice easy-moderate hike, about 4 miles in total, including one mile at the top of the rim. For the first fifteen minutes we had a little company. After that, we literally went about our way for about 45 minutes without anyone else. It was so nice. It really pays to get up early and do things on a vacation like this. It was getting a bit crowded as we went up the Queens Garden trail to the rim at 9:45.

I will just post photos of the hike without commentary after this post...

However, you have heard of “tree huggers”. We are. However, we are now also “tree sniffers”, as you will see. That is weird, I know!!!!

Can anyone guess the name of the tree without looking at the pictures? If you think you know the tree type, what does it smell like?

Smell this tree if you get a chance!!!! It is really intoxicating.
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