Day 7 - Arizona
|Thursday, November 23, 2017: We got up nice and early on Thanksgiving because we had a big day ahead of us.
|We were grateful that the Page McDonald's was open. Being a tourist town, it wasn't too surprising, but we still appreciated it.
|We backtracked out of town the way we had come in, because we had some sightseeing to do, but this time, we got a better photo of Page and Lake Powell.
|There's the slice in the rock ...
|... and here's the valley below.
|There's a canyon down there with a very special river running through it, but it is really hard to see.
|We came down the long hill to the valley floor. Here's the view looking back up.
|Up ahead are the Vermilion Cliffs, ...
|... and here they are up close, because we were just around the corner from ...
|... the Navajo Bridges!
|We were the only ones in the parking lot when we arrived. We were later joined by one other person and then a van pulled up as we were leaving.
|But we had these beauties all to ourselves for a while.
|On the left is the Historic Navajo Bridge, built in 1929. It is now only for pedestrian use, but back in 1978 and 1980, Debbie's family was one of many that drove across this bridge to get from Page to Lees Ferry to start a river trip, prior to the new bridge being built.
|On the right is the current Navajo Bridge, dedicated in 1995. This is the bridge that we used in 2006 to get to Lees Ferry.
|Here's the view from the old bridge looking upstream in Marble Canyon. We got this same shot in 2006 from the new bridge.
|Here's the view looking downstream with the new bridge.
|Hey! What are those birds? They sure look big. They had numbers on their wings, identifying them as condors who are being tracked. Score!
|According to condorspotter.com, F1 is condor #441. He was hatched in the wild in April 2007. His father and mother are condors #134 and #210.
|L3 is condor #593. She was hatched at Oregon Zoo in March 2011. Her father and mother are condors #135 and #52. We spotted her brother, V5 (#885), when we visited in 2021.
|54 is condor #354. He was hatched at World Center for Birds of Prey in June 2004. His father and mother are condors #62 and #51. We saw him again when we came back four years later.
|We were going to head to Lees Ferry to take a quick, nostalgic look, but the entry fee for the Glen Canyon Recreation Area was $30 and it just wasn't worth it for a 10 minute stop. Sigh.
|Instead, we looked at it from a distance. It's over there somewhere.
|So we headed back to Page ...
|... and went to Horseshoe Bend next.
|It's about a 10-minute sandy walk from the parking lot to the canyon's edge, with fairly steep inclines on either side of a short flat stretch.
|Five minutes in, it still seemed pretty far away.
|It was stunning and terrifying at the same time. Debbie was immortal and fearless as a teenager around canyon edges, but things were different now.
|It was an effort to get close enough to the edge to get the full bend of the river in the photo.
|It was also difficult to get a light balance that showed both the color in the rock and the color of the river, so here is a photo for each.
|The edges were crowded with people, so it's amazing that people don't often plunge to their deaths here.
|Debbie's fear of tripping and falling near the edge turned out to be well-founded, because she took a major tumble on the rocks as we headed back.
|The parking lot was packed. It turns out that there were many people who had chosen to spend Thanksgiving week in the Lake Powell region.
|We had just enough time to freshen up at the motel, grab our stuff for our next adventure, ...
|... and get to Colorado River Discovery headquarters.
|We checked in for our tour ...
|... and picked up the bag lunches we had pre-purchased. The rest of our belongings were packed in a clear bag in order to comply with Homeland Security regulations.
|Originally, we were concerned that our tour might be cancelled if there weren't enough other passengers, but there turned out to be enough people to fill three boats.
|Our bus pulled away and we passed the old Sanderson River Expeditions building, which was just up the street from CRD. Sanderson was the company Debbie's family ran the Colorado with in the 70s and she had been to this building once. It was now owned by Hoss Sanderson, one of the guides on her first trip.
|We drove to the Glen Canyon Dam and entered a tunnel that would take us along the edge of the canyon to the base of the dam.
|It was a four-minute drive through the two-mile tunnel, with the only light coming from occasional windows carved in the rock on the left.
|We had to quickly exit the bus, ...
|... grab a hard hat to protect against falling debris from the bridge overhead, then walk quickly to the boat dock.
|There was a large group traveling together, so they went on one boat, and the rest of us were divided up among the remaining two boats.
|In just minutes, we were loaded on Brad Newman's boat, ...
|... and were thrilled to be there. We were now officially in Glen Canyon National Recreation Site.
|We departed on a half-day tour of Glen Canyon.
|It was amazing to be so close to the dam and to be able to get such a fantastic photo.
|We were seated on the tubes that flanked the boat, just like our past river trips, so it really felt like a genuine Colorado River trip. The only difference is that it would end after a few hours instead of seven days and the roughest water we would see would be two patches of riffles.
|Debbie noticed a patch of blood on her knee from when she had fallen earlier at Horseshoe, so she investigated the wound. It was pretty impressive, you have to admit.
|Glen Canyon now consists of the approximately 15 miles between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry, which is where Marble Canyon begins.
|Here are some ducks posing nicely.
|No idea what these birds are, sorry.
|It was Thanksgiving Day, so obviously we were going to eat turkey.
|The tour company offered a variety of sandwiches to choose from, so we selected the gourmet turkey sandwich, ...
|... and the turkey bistro sandwich. Our bags also came with potato chips, granola bars, cookies, and apples, so we were all set. However, we had heard a rumor that there might be Thanksgiving food served later, so we saved everything else.
|Many stretches of the river were calm to the point of being almost completely flat.
|Here's a little waterfall. We got a closer look later on.
|More river scenery.
|Up ahead is the roughest water we'd be encountering on this stretch of water. There are ripples, riffles, and rapids, and these are riffles.
|You're not likely to get splashed by riffles, but they're still pretty fun.
|Brad pointed out some markings in the rocks left by miners long ago.
|There are two sets of stairsteps on the rocks in this photo, ...
|... and here's a sluice box carved into the rock for sifting rock and sand for treasure.
|Up ahead is Ferry Swale - two indentations in the canyon wall that were carved by the river eons ago.
|The water here is incredibly clear; so clear that you can see trout swimming below.
|Here's a closeup of one.
|Here's the Ferry Swale campsite, just across the river from Ferry Swale.
|A man and his river.
|As we rounded this corner, we entered Horseshoe Bend. We could see tiny figures on the canyon wall up ahead, and they could see us.
|We would be getting closer later on, but for now, ...
|... we would be stopping on this beach for a while.
|It was a short, pleasant walk to the main attraction here: ...
|... ancient petroglyphs carved into the rock.
|Here they are.
|And here's the view looking straight up.
|Tom took that picture for you. You're welcome.
|While one of the guides gave a talk on the petroglyphs, we headed back to have a quick restroom break, ...
|... and then to take a walk on the sand and look longingly at the river, wishing it was warm enough to jump in.
|Then it was time for Thanksgiving dinner. Our boatman, Brad Newman, has been preparing and serving Thanksgiving dinner for river passengers for 31 years now.
|There was hot chocolate, smoked turkey, bread, ...
|... and Dutch oven spice cake with frosting.
|One of the other guides, George Hedeen, was recording the occasion for two reasons. 1) He planned to write an article for the Lake Powell Chronicle about Brad's streak of Thanksgiving dinners, and 2) this was Brad's last day for the season and Colorado River Discovery's last weekend of the year for these trips. A new vendor would be providing these trips starting next season, so CRD will likely not be running these anymore.
|After Tom went back for seconds, George told us about his trip to Budapest a few weeks earlier. It turns out that George is Houdini's great-nephew and had been invited to Budapest as a guest of one of Europe's greatest magicians. George only told us about the Budapest part. The rest we learned when we read the Lake Powell Chronicle.
|Across the way, Debbie spotted ...
|... two bighorn sheep.
|Here's one, ...
|... and here's the other. So cute.
|Back onboard, we drifted downstream toward Horseshoe Bend. See those people up there?
|Not yet? How about now?
|Thre they are. This is a zoomed-in shot of the area in the left side of the photo above, which is itself a zoomed-in shot of the area just to the right of center in the photo above it.
|Brad got out his guitar and played us a couple of songs. The other boats pulled up nearby to listen too.
|As we floated, the boat slowly turned in the water so we were facing the other direction.
|After the concert, it was a good time to have a beverage. No way. Here is actual Country Time Lemonade in cans, something that simply doesn't exist in the Midwest. The only time Debbie had ever had this before was back in 1978 and 1980, when it was a featured beverage on previous river trips. Needless to say, it was the most delicious lemonade that has ever been consumed in the history of time. We probably should have picked up a case before we left town, but unless served from a drag bag that was chilled in a river, it just wouldn't be as tasty.
|Brad read to us from John Wesley Powell's exploration trips down the Colorado River back in the 1800s.
|Here's the view beyond Horseshoe Bend where we did not go. Just a few miles beyond that is Lees Ferry, where Glen Canyon ends and Marble Canyon begins.
|Brad fired up the engine and we started back upstream.
|Check out that beautiful water.
|Brad had showed us how to crush a can, and was now in the process of showing a young passenger how to make a duck call out of a can tab.
|There's an agave plant. Given time and expertise, we could have made tequila to go with our lemonade.
|There's the mighty wake we left in the water.
|Rainbows danced alongside us in the spray.
|Here's one part of Ferry Swale again.
|We spotted a great blue heron on shore.
|Here he is.
|Our boatmates were a couple of families with kids and a pair of Russian couples.
|Even more scenery.
|Another great blue heron.
|There's that little waterfall again.
|We pushed the boat right up next to it and one of the passengers took a sip of the water. Brad had previously said that he'd drink right from the river, but wouldn't drink from a waterfall because he didn't know where it had been. Smart man.
|Along the right side of the river, we started to see holes in the canyon wall. These were the windows into the tunnel we had taken earlier. Each window had a pile of rock debris below it where the excavated rock was dumped.
|It's hard to see, but there are several windows in the rock in this photo.
|We stopped for one more river concert, with Brad leading a round of "This Land is Your Land."
|The boat with the large family group on it sang the loudest. This was very helpful because only a few of the people on our boat knew the song.
|There's a closeup of one of the windows in the rock. This one has an observation deck that the others do not have.
|Impressive Glen Canyon Dam beckoned, signalling that the tour would be ending soon.
|There were still sights to see, including another beautiful heron, ...
|... another window in the rock, ...
|... splits in the canyon walls where the water seeps out, ...
|... and the water spillway tunnels on either side of the dam.
|We thanked our guides, climbed the stairs, wore our hardhats, boarded the bus, ...
|... and entered the tunnel for another four minutes of darkness.
|Back up to the top of the hill to the mesa where Page is located, ...
|... and back to Colorado River Discovery headquarters four hours after we had departed. What a fantastic tour it had been!
|We hopped in our van to do some Lake Powell sightseeing.
|First, we crossed over the dam and parked in the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. It was closed due to Thanksgiving, ...
|... but there was a little dinosaur display outside that we could take a look at.
|We walked to the bridge over the dam, ...
|... and looked out at Glen Canyon where we had just been, ...
|... and down at the boat dock.
|The boats were all tied up for the night and the staff was long gone.
|Here's a closeup of the boats.
|Here's the view from the other side of the bridge.
|That's the visitor center perched on the side of the canyon overlooking the dam.
|Next, we drove to Wahweap Overlook to check out Lake Powell.
|Here's the view to the far left (north), ...
|... overlooking the marina, ...
|... and looking back toward Page and the dam.
|Here's a typical houseboat out for a cruise on Lake Powell.
|We headed back toward town, ...
|... grabbed some dinner in the new part of Page below the hilltop, ...
|... and settled in for another relaxing evening at ...
|... the Page Boy Motel.
|We enjoyed another lovely sunset from our room with the windows open, ...
... and drank a couple of local beers.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy