Thursday, April 30, 2009

Water Holes Canyon, Page, AZ

Today there is no wind and it is beautiful here on the beach at Lake Powell. Just caught the sunrise from the living room window this morning.

P4290012  Here’s another picture of our campsite on Lone Rock Beach.P4280007

One of the things we planned to do here was to visit Antelope Canyon, a beautiful slot canyon near Page. As we researched going there, we found that you cannot hike the canyon without an Indian guide and a hiking permit,  which cost anywhere from $26-$32 for a one hour tour, depending on which tour company you went with. I found a link to another canyon nearby, which you can still go into without a guide, called Water Holes Canyon. The photos looked as pretty as Antelope, and since we are cheap and did not really want to be herded through with a bunch of other people, we took the short drive from Page to a bridge south of town. There are no signs, but we found the pull-off and parked. Of course, there was a no trespassing sign, unless you had the $6 permit. Since we failed to find the office to buy one, we took some money in case a Navajo came along checking for permits.

This is the bridge from down in the canyon.


We had a little trouble finding our way down, the first place we tried being way beyond our rock climbing abilities. Walked some more and came upon a much easier way in. The dark shadow is the opening to the canyon, which is why it’s called a slot canyon.


Once down below, the hike was pretty wide open for a good while, nothing like the photos we saw.


That soon changed, and we began going into the narrow passages.

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It was really incredible to see the sun coming through between the sculptured, swirly rock, and it created some surreal images.

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After maybe a mile we came to an impasse, although some more adventurous souls might have been able to crawl up into the next passage. We turned back and found a way up and hiked the rim back to our car for a different perspective.P4290037


Came back to the beach and got to sit out and read and enjoy the pleasant afternoon. These ducks are moochers, obviously used to so many people feeding them that they just come right up and sit in front of  you.  Decided to hang out here another night. Can’t beat the price for the scenery.P4290042

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Canyon de Chelly, AZ

Cottonwood Campground 3

We spent last night at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, in Chinle, AZ.  Cottonwood Campground is a National Park Service campground near the visitor’s center and there is no charge to camp here. Of course there are no hookups, either, but they have a dump station and drinking water to fill your tank. We were surprised at how nice the campground is. There are lots of trees and the sites are spaced far apart. Hard to believe they don’t charge anything. Also surprised by the number of people here, since we are pretty  much in the middle of nowhere in Navajo country.


There are 2 scenic drives along the north and south rims, and one hiking trail that goes to the bottom of the canyon. This is the only trail you can go down without an Indian guide, so that is what we took. What a spectacular hike.


For $15/hour you can drive your own jeep or 4wd into the canyon, or take a guided Indian tour, but I think hiking down is the best way to see it.P4270360

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At the bottom, there are ruins of the ancient Anasazi from 1000 years ago. Pretty amazing how they built their villages in the rock.





The overlooks from the scenic drive had some beautiful vistas, especially at Spider Rock, where these 800 foot “skyscrapers” just come out of the canyon floor.


Also interesting was this character who was painting something (didn’t look anything like what we were viewing, but he was a little different.)  Had a bicycle with a motor and somehow he carried this giant canvas on the bike.   


Left there this morning for a 200 mile drive to Page, AZ, again through Navajo land most of the way. Unfortunately it was fairly windy, and the landscape was nothing but dirt, so much of the drive looked like this.P4280046 The wind finally subsided and we made our way into Page and over the dam at Lake Powell. We ended up at Lone Rock Beach, which is actually in Utah. Camping is allowed on the beach, so here we are. Quite a lovely spot. And also free.


Of course the wind started up shortly after we arrived , so even though it’s warm and sunny, sitting out is not much fun with the blowing sand. We’re hoping it gets better as the evening wears on!

Friday, April 24, 2009

El Malpais National Monument, NM

Took a drive to Grants, NM and then south about 15 miles to El Malpais (which means Badlands in Spanish). This is another volcanic area, which we seem to gravitate to just like the petroglyphs. This is a larger area than Valley of Fires, and is prettier because of the sandstone cliffs around the lava flows.

Our first stop was the Sandstone Bluffs overlook, which gave us spectacular views.





Then we hiked the Narrows Rim Trail, which goes along a ridge where you can see the lava and the mountains in the distance. It is a 3 mile trail but we only went 2 and turned around. It was getting late and we still had to hit Wal-Mart in Grants on the way back. And get ice cream! That is what motivates Jim to keep hiking.



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Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Bluewater Lake


We are really enjoying this park. Haven’t gone anywhere in the car in 4 days since there is so much hiking to do here. I’ve ridden my bike a couple times and we’ve walked around the lake and down the canyon twice.  Unfortunately the trails are not well marked, so we’ve had to do some extreme hiking (for us) to find them. We saw these horses from the canyon rim yesterday and tried to find the trail down.


After a little rock scrambling, we managed to get down to the bottom. The horses heard us and kept moving away on the other side of the stream. In order to get closer, we had to cross to the other side but the water was too deep. After crouching through brush and thorns (Jim has a nice cut on his head to prove it), I found a shallow spot to get across. Had to throw my waterproof boots over to Debbie to wear so she could cross without getting wet feet.


It was worth it, since the horses finally realized we were not a threat and stood around grazing while we watched.



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We went back up the only well marked trail and as we were approaching our sites, we saw this in the field right in front of the campground. Our neighbors said they walked right up to them behind our site while we were gone. Pretty cool!P4220362

And contrary to what Jim said, it’s been in the upper 70’s , the sun is shining, not much wind, and we’ve worn shorts the past couple days. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bluewater State Park, NM

We left Albuquerque a couple of days ago and arrived here.


Bluewater Lake State Park is a few miles from Prewitt, NM between Gallup and Grants.

Map picture

We are getting closer to Arizona again and will probably be back in that state next week.

One constant since retiring is the cold. Somehow I had gotten the impression that when one retired and traveled it would be flip flops, shorts and margaritas from then on. But as fate would have it we have rarely worn shorts.

It was too cold in Albuquerque and just when we thought there might be a chance of warming up, Gayle  moved us here. It is a beautiful park but the elevation is around  7,400 feet.  So far, the days have been in the upper 60’s and the lows get into the mid to high 20’s. Who would have thought it would get colder the higher up you go.

The terrain and views here are very nice and it is good to get away from the city again.


Something else that is found here in great quantities is horse poop.  Sorry, I have no pictures for those of you who have never seen it.  Apparently, horses from neighboring property owners are allowed to roam freely on the park land.


The above shot was taken with the zoom out as far as it would go. These horses were on the other side  of the lake.  Debbie swears that horses have gone by her rig in the very early morning, but then again she swears that the sun comes up early in the morning too.  I will believe that when I see it.

Finally, here are some shots of the dam and a beautiful canyon located here in the park.

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