S: 2012 Trip Out West
FC: 2012 Trip Out West
1: INDEX | A. Mesa Verde N.P. (2 - 21) B. Moab, Utah - Canyonlands N.P. (22 - 29) - Arches N.P. (30 - 45) - Dead Horse Point S.P. (46 - 51) C. Bryce Canyon N.P. (52 - 71) D. Zion N.P. (72 - 95) E. Page, AZ (96 - 143) F. Monument Valley N.P. (144 - 149) G. Canyon de Chelly N.M. (150 - 165) H. Palo Duro Canyon S.P. (166 - 170) | 1
2: Mesa Verde is best known for cliff dwellings, structures built within caves and under outcropping in cliffs. These dwellings were built and inhabited by the Anasazi people between the years AD 600 and 1300. | Mesa Verde National Park | 2
3: Spruce Tree House, pictured above, is accessible to tourists without a park tour guide. This structure is located near the Museum in the Chapin Mesa portion of the park. | 3
4: Marilyn checks out the Spruce Tree House above. It's really amazing how well preserved these ruins are. | 4
5: Following our visit to the Spruce Tree House, we set out on the Petroglyph Trail, a three mile (not too strenuous) loop trail that offered varied and beautiful terrain...and petroglyphs. | 5
6: Sights & Challenges Along The Petroglyph Trail | 6
8: Above: Marilyn in front of petroglyph. Below: Closer look at the petroglyph. | 8
9: Marilyn and I are waiting for the start of our tour of Cliff Palace, the largest and best known of the dwellings at Mesa Verde. This site had 200 rooms, including storage rooms, open courts, walkways, and kivas. Dating back more than 700 years, the dwelling is constructed of sandstone, wooden beams, and mortar. Kind of makes you wonder if any structures built in our lifetime will be around 700 years from now. | 9
10: The Cliff Palace
12: Because our tour group had only eight people, we got lots of individual attention from our very knowledgeable guide. | 12
13: Having a small tour group also allowed us plenty of time for photos (and without a lot of strangers in them!). | 13
14: As we were preparing to end our first day of exploring Mesa Verde, I thought I would take a photo of the snow-capped mountains in the background. Little did I know we were about to be driving down this very high-altitude mesa while it was snowing! | 14
15: As we left, it began to rain lightly. The longer we drove the more the temperature fell; in fact it fell from 40 to 34 degrees in just minutes and the rain changed to snow. For a couple living their whole life in the South that is rather unsettling, especially when driving down a very, very steep road! (We made it safely!!!) | 15
16: The Balcony House | The next morning (sun was shining!) we visited the Balcony House. This time we had only 6 people on our tour! To visit this dwelling, you must do a LOT of ladder climbing. | 16
17: Note the people climbing up side of the cliff on the left side of photo. To get to Balcony House, you must climb the ladders to the bottom right side of the photo. | 17
18: Marilyn makes her way up the ladder to Balcony House. She is the lower person on the ladder. | Included this photo just to prove I made the climb to Balcony House also! | 18
19: Due to small group size (6), our guide was able to give us much more information than he normally is able to give with groups of up to 50 people. He really gave us a great idea as to what day-to-day life was like in this dwelling some 700 years ago. | Portion of dwelling above is where the young would be kept due to the walls along the cliff. The portion of the dwelling to the right had no wall to keep one from falling over the edge. May have something to do with a life expectancy of around mid 30's. | Photo to left is at the back of the Balcony House dwelling. This was the source of water for the residents of the structure. Water would seep through sandstone from the top of the mesa down to a layer of shale which it could not penetrate. The water would collect in the trough to the bottom right of the photo. | 19
20: Above photo shows part of our group climbing the ladder as they leave the Balcony House. Once they reach the top of the ladder they will have to grab hold of the chain and use it to climb the rest of the way up to the top of the mesa. Not only is it quite a climb, but Mesa Verde is at about 8,000 feet above sea level. Even people in pretty good shape get a little winded from the climb. The ranger said a few people suffer heart attacks each year from making this climb. | 20
21: We saw lots of lizards on our tour of the national parks out West but this one was one of the largest, prettiest (using the term loosely here) and most willing to pose for a photo. I got this photo as we were hiking to an observation point to shoot the 2-page Balcony House photo seen on pages 16 & 17 of this photo book. I just thought he was really cool looking! | 21
22: Newspaper Rock, UT | I believe the sign above says it all. We discovered this as we were driving from Mesa Verde to Canyonlands N.P. The photo to the right shows Marilyn standing beside Newspaper Rock. Imagine the stories this rock could tell. | 22
24: Canyonlands National Park
26: Canyonlands National Park is one of our favorite national parks. This park offers some of the most breath-taking views and best hiking trails of any park we've ever visited. This is the second time we've been to Canyonlands and still we've only seen a fraction of it due to its immense size. In the future, we will have to spend a week or more exploring this wonderful national park. | 26
28: The above photo was shot in the Needles section of Canyonlands Nat'l Park. The fellows behind the white car to the left had just finished climbing the huge rock formation in the background. They said they were practicing for their climb in Zion National Park later in the week. | 28
29: A self-portrait (using a remote shutter-release) in front of some of Canyonland's spectacular scenery. | Marilyn about gave me a heart attack as she pretended to be stepping onto this flimsy looking out-cropping of rock several hundred feet above the ground below! | To the left is a photo of me on top of the beautiful Mesa Arch in Canyonlands N.P. Not the smartest thing I've ever done...but, boys will be boys! | 29
30: Arches National Park
32: Above photo of Marilyn and me under Double Arch is one of my favorites from this trip. It was taken late in the afternoon with the sun to our backs, not a good idea if you want the photo to be properly exposed. Fortunately, the exposure was just right and the photo came out better than I had hoped! | 32
33: Here's Marilyn with Landscape Arch behind her. This is as close as you can get to Landscape Arch today. In 1991, a 180 ton slab of rock broke away from this arch, narrowly missing a group of tourists who had been underneath the arch moments before they fled after hearing thunderous cracking and popping noises coming from the arch above. | 33
34: Before beginning our hike in Arches N.P., we took time to visit the Tunnel Arch (above) and Pine Tree Arch (below). | 34
35: Following our visits to Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, and Landscape Arch, we decided to hike the Devil's Garden Trail, the longest of the maintained trails in Arches N.P.. We had read this trail was rated as difficult and not for those afraid of extreme height (us!). It involved climbing steep and narrow fins and crevices. Above photo shows Marilyn starting up a fin (large slice of sandstone rock shaped much like a shark's fin). | 35
36: We didn't make it far on this trail as we decided we were not comfortable climbing the slick and steep portion of the fin where the hiker in front of Marilyn is beginning to climb. We're just too happy with our lives in retirement to risk it all by continuing a climb that could change all of that with a little mis-step somewhere along the way. So, we turned around and found another trail to hike. | The next trail we tried was the Primitive Loop Trail. This rugged portion of Devil's Garden includes frequent rock scrambling and rocky surface hiking on a less-developed trail that was difficult to follow in places. Though it was challenging in some places, it offered us some spectacular scenery and interesting terrain. | 36
37: Sights along the Primitive Loop Trail | 37
38: The point where I shot this photo is where we decided to end our hike of the Primitive Loop Trail. The portion of the fin the young lady is coming down (to upper right) was just too slick and steep for us. Again, the risk was greater than the reward. Perhaps we will try it again in the future once we have a little more climbing experience. The girl did make it down safely. I might mention we watched a fellow come down behind her by working his way down on his butt all the way. I don't blame him as it was far more difficult than it appears in this photo. Oh well, we enjoyed the adventure anyway! | 38
39: That is Balanced Rock in the photo above. To give you an idea of how large this structure is, look at Marilyn to the bottom right hand corner of this photo in the red shirt and khaki colored shorts. | 39
40: The above structure is Windows Arch. | 40
41: That is Marilyn in the left "window" with her arms stretched above her head! | 41
42: Oops, the guy taking our photo in one of the windows of Windows Arch caught us sneaking a kiss! | 42
43: The photo above is of Turret Arch. You can see a group of people well behind and to the left of Marilyn. This is a family visiting from France enjoying a nice dinner-time picnic and a nice bottle of wine...how French! Also note the group of young people who are at the extreme top left of the Turret Arch structure. We spoke to a park search and rescue employee a little later in our visit and he told us he deals with many very serious injuries and fatalities each year from young people taking risks like the kids pictured above. | 43
44: A beautiful sunset over Arches National Park. | 44
45: I took this photo as we were leaving Turret Arch and the Windows Arch. | 45
46: Dead Horse Point State Park
48: Dead Horse Point State Park was one of the real surprises on this trip out West. The only thing I knew about this park was the beautiful view of the bend in the Colorado River near the park's visitor center. I really expected to only spend a few minutes at this park taking a few photos of the river bend. Instead, at the visitor center we discovered there was a hiking trail of approximately seven miles that offered a great variety of terrain and Grand Canyon-like sights. I hope the photos on the next couple of pages will give you some idea of the beauty this park has to offer its visitors. | 48
49: The trail offered a wide variety of terrains. | 49
50: Views Along Dead Horse Point's Hiking Trail | 50
52: 52 | Bryce Canyon National Park
54: 54 | Following our visit to the Moab, Utah area, where we explored Arches N.P., Canyonlands N.P., and Dead Horse Point State Park, we moved on to Bryce Canyon, Utah. This is absolutely one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen or hiked. The photos on this page and the previous page were taken from the rim of the canyon. I hope the photos on the next few pages will show that some of the best views of this park can only be seen by hiking into the canyon. Everyone should visit the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon at least once in their lifetime!
55: 55 | Bryce Canyon is famous for its hoodoos, pillars of rock, usually of fantastic shape, formed by erosion. Marilyn and I spent two days hiking and exploring this canyon and getting an up close and personal look at the hoodoos. Above, Marilyn is about to start one of our hikes into the canyon.
56: 56 | To say the views along the trails were stunning, beautiful, and fantastic is a gross understatement.
57: 57 | Could you ask for a better backdrop for a photo? Actually, every place in Bryce Canyon is a great place for a photograph. I could have easily filled a book with just photos of this magnificent place.
58: 58 | OK, I had to have at least one photo of me during our hike. Nice job Marilyn!
59: 59 | Marilyn with giant hoodoos behind her. | A gust of wind resulted in Marilyn losing her hat!
60: 60 | At the bottom of Bryce Canyon, we found tall evergreen trees, deer, and a bathroom (a beautiful sight indeed after a couple hours of hiking and drinking about a liter of water to stay hydrated!).
61: 61 | Above is one of several tunnels we went through as we hiked in Bryce Canyon.
62: 62 | The next few pages are more examples of the incredible sights we enjoyed on our hikes in Bryce Canyon.
64: 64 | If you look closely, you can see Marilyn hiking. She's the tiny red dot toward the bottom and center of the photo.
66: 66 | You just can't help being happy in a wonderful place like Bryce Canyon!
72: 66 | Zion National Park
74: 74 | From Bryce Canyon N.P., we traveled to Zion National Park, Utah's oldest national park and one of its most popular because of its incredible canyons, spectacular views, and its numerous hiking trails for hikers of all skill levels. Though we had hiked three of Zion's trails in 2011, we returned this year to hike the famous Angels Landing Trail, a trail we did not try in 2011 due to its "Difficult" rating. This is a 2.4 mile long trail that goes to the top of the 1,208 foot tall Angels Landing rock formation. Above, an excited Marilyn sets out on the path along the Virgin River to begin her ascent of the Angels Landing Trail.
75: 75 | Up to the point this photo was taken, we found the trail to be paved and in excellent condition. From about this point on, the trail was full of switchbacks which allowed it to climb at an even steeper pace than it had up to now. Fortunately our walking program back home had gotten us into good enough condition that the climb, so far, hadn't bothered us much at all. In fact, the climb never did bother us enough to consider turning back, it was the anticipated descent (falling vs walking) that eventually turned us around.
76: 76 | Our climb continued to get steeper and more scenic with each step we took!
77: 77 | Here's Marilyn at one of the many switchbacks we encountered along this very steep trail (remember, a photograph flattens the terrain!).
78: 78 | OK, I think this photo gives you a better idea of what this trail is really like! It's not for someone really afraid of heights. Further proof Marilyn has come a long way overcoming her fear.
79: 79 | It's also not a bad idea to do a little (maybe a whole lot) hill climbing back home before making this hike.
80: 80 | From the point I took the photo on the previous page, we continued to climb higher.
81: 81 | As we continued to hike, our trail became narrower, steeper, and more slippery. Oh yes, in some places it had chains to hold onto to keep you from having an unpleasant and really rapid descent down the mountain.
82: 82 | I think this is where thoughts of turning back first entered our minds! Actually, a lot of people do turn back right here.
83: 83 | By now walking sticks just got in the way, as both hands and feet became necessary for climbing onward and upward.
84: 84 | We made it to Scout Lookout and the view was spectacular! Because we thought we had reached the limit of our climbing skill level, we decided to not go on to Angels Landing. In our defense, we were not the only ones to end their hike here, in fact many people didn't make it past the chains portion of the climb. So we were happy with our climb and slowly made our way back down to the valley below.
85: 85 | Photo to the right shows people leaving Scout Lookout and beginning their hike to the summit of Angels Landing. By the way, the small photo above is an enlargement of the top of Angels Landing shown to the right. The finger is pointing at two individuals at the top of Angels Landing. I did this to give you some perspective of how much higher we would have had to climb (using chains most of the way).
86: 86 | Once down from Scout Lookout, we ran into a group of people watching a deer (see finger) munch on the shrubs along side the trail. | Just a couple of minutes later this young deer comes down the side of the rock. | Much to my surprise, the young deer walked very nonchalantly by me. The animals in Zion National Park are very accustomed to people being around them.
87: 87 | I took this photo of the Virgin River running through Zion National Park just after our climb to Scout Lookout. This was a great place to rest and relax after our climb.
88: 88 | After lunch and a couple of hours of rest following our Scout Lookout climb, we decided to hike the Hidden Canyon Trail. This was a mostly paved trail that also climbed to pretty great heights as evidenced by the photo above. Heat was the major obstacle on this climb. Fortunately, the higher we got the more breeze we felt. We enjoyed the climb but it really wore us out for the day (actually, we were worn out for a couple of days following this day's activities).
89: 89 | Following our day of climbing two of Zion's very scenic and challenging trails, we had a nice dinner in Springdale (just outside Zion N.P.) and returned to the park to see the sun set on this spectacular place. Our efforts were rewarded with the photo opportunity you see above. You may have noticed by now that I love sunset shots.
90: 90 | The next morning as we were leaving Springdale to drive on to Page, Arizona, we spotted this unique sculpture not far from our hotel. It looked as if it was put together using pieces of old farm equipment. I love it! Someone used a lot of ingenuity to assemble this work of "art".
91: 91 | In driving to Page, AZ, we used the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. This highway took us through a mile-long tunnel and the Eastern portion of Zion Park, an area we had never visited before. The scenery was spectacular! There were cars parked at every turnout and people getting out of their cars and taking photographs (me too!). Our next trip to Zion will include some hiking in this portion of the park FOR SURE!
92: 92 | Just past the mile-long tunnel is the Canyon Overlook Trail.
93: 93 | The Canyon Overlook Trail was short and very interesting. The end of the trail rewarded us with an awesome view of the winding road we had just driven up from Zion Canyon.
94: 94 | Photos taken as we drove through the Eastern part of Zion National Park. | Above is Checker Board Mountain.
95: 95 | It seemed that every bend in the road gave us a totally different type of scenery.
96: On the way from Zion N.P. to Page, Arizona, we stopped at the Paria ranger station. The park ranger gave us a lot of good information on places to visit and hike in the Page, Arizona area including "The Toadstools", a very unique place just a mile and a half down the road from the ranger station. The toadstools themselves are sandstone formations that have a harder caprock that has protected a softer, more easily weathered tower. The towers range in height from a couple of feet to over thirty feet tall. This is really a fun and interesting place to visit! | 96
97: 97 | This was one of the first toadstools we came upon after making a three quarter mile hike from the parking lot.
98: Being at the site of the toadstools was like being on another planet. It is one of the most desolate, isolated, and lifeless places we have ever seen. | 98
99: Here's a few of the many toadstools we saw on this hike. | 99
100: 100 | Marilyn taking a breather amongst the toadstools.
101: 101 | Following our visit to the Toadstools we drove straight to Horseshoe Bend just outside Page, Arizona. As is obvious from the photo, the name comes from this beautiful bend in the Colorado River approximately five miles down stream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. By the way, it's about a 1,000 foot drop from the canyon rim to the water. Spectacular!
102: 102 | Getting to Horseshoe Bend involved about a mile long hike in very loose sand. However, once the big bend comes into sight you completely forget the sandy trail and start getting excited about the view you're about to enjoy.
103: 103 | You can see from the photo above how different people view Horseshoe Bend. Some stand well back while others stand on rocks at the very edge of the rim. In the photo below you can see how I took the photo of Horseshoe Bend.
104: 104 | We began our second day in Page, Arizona by heading out to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. About half way to our destination, we (Marilyn...good going Marilyn!) saw this old structure and decided to stop, investigate, and maybe shoot a couple of photos. I should point out that we spent five nights in Page. Because of its central proximity to many attractions we planned to visit, we used it as our home base for a few days.
105: 105 | We learned from one of the local Navajo Indians this structure was a trading post over a hundred years ago. Above, Marilyn checks out the inside of the structure. If you look at the previous page you will notice the structure was built around a huge boulder much like the one shown on the next page. The Navajos were very good at using whatever resources they had around them in order to survive in this harsh environment.
106: 106 | The boulder in which Marilyn is sitting is very similar to the one the structure on the previous page was constructed around. There were many such boulders in this area.
107: 107 | After our unexpected visit to the Navajo Trading Post, we finally made it to the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
108: 108 | On our next visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon we will have to spend at least one night in this magnificent lodge. Look at that view! Unfortunately, Marilyn and I were just too worn out from all of the hiking we had done at Bryce Canyon and Zion and spent only an hour or so at the North Rim. Next time we will spend the night here and explore much more of this beautiful part of the Grand Canyon.
109: 109 | Views from the deck of the Grand Canyon Lodge are spectacular!
110: 110 | Feeling rejuvenated after a good night's sleep following our visit to the Grand Canyon, we set out to visit Upper Antelope Canyon, a place I had been anxious to see since we began this trip. The photo above is of our Antelope Canyon tour guide, Rosie. She drove us to and from the canyon as well as led us on the tour of this popular slot canyon. She also pointed out many of the best places to take photographs.
111: 111 | Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of the Navajo Sandstone by flash flooding. Over time the passageways have been worn deeper and smoother by this erosion process. Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Page, Arizona area. The photo to the right shows our group as it enters the slot canyon. While everyone wants to photograph this beautiful place, the wide exposure ranges caused by the sunlight reflecting off the walls of the canyon make photography a real challenge. I hope my photos on the next few pages give you some idea of the beautiful shapes and colors of this amazing place.
114: 114 | Formation above is called the "Lincoln Formation". What do you think? Hint, your looking from under the chin. | Some of the prettiest views were when looking up. They were also the most difficult to photograph.
115: 115 | Above photo is of a sand-fall. Actually, our guide threw a handful of sand on the ledge to create this pretty effect. | This is one of my favorite photos. It really shows how the light changes throughout the canyon.
116: 116 | After getting the sand out of our eyes, ears, hair, and clothes from this morning's Antelope Canyon adventure, we enjoyed a Subway sandwich and then drove over to Lee's Ferry, located about forty miles from Page. We heard about this place from a couple of different people and couldn't wait to try hiking one or two of its trails. We enjoyed this place so much we came back the next day to hike some of its other trails.
117: 117 | A little history on Lee's Ferry - Because of the long, deep canyons of the Colorado River, this was the best crossing point in a 500 mile stretch of the river. The Mormons built a ferry boat crossing at this point in 1873 and John D. Lee was the 1st Ferryman and namesake of this site. Pioneers sent to settle the Little Colorado River in Northern Arizona used the ferry service. The location grew to include a post office and trading post. Because of conflicts with the Navajo Indians, a fort was built but was never attacked. The ferry service was discontinued in 1928 after 55 years of use by settlers, missionaries, miners, Indians, and tourists. A couple of the old buildings from the settlement still stand today.
118: 118 | Here's Marilyn standing by the beginning of the two trails we would hike this afternoon, the River Trail and Spencer Trail.
119: 119 | We started with the River Trail, a 1.5 mile round trip hike. Though this is a short trail, it gave us a lot of challenges along the way, not to mention beautiful views of the Colorado River.
120: 120 | This was a great place to stop and enjoy the scenery along the River Trail. We also saw several rafts starting down the river toward the Grand Canyon. Lee's Ferry is where Grand Canyon rafting expeditions begin their adventures. I hope we can do that in the not too distant future!
121: 121 | Photo to the left shows Marilyn starting off on the Spencer Trail. The Spencer Trail goes up the mountain. The trail is in relatively good shape and goes very high up the slope of this mountain. How high it goes, I don't know, for we had to eventually turn back due to the threat of rain. | Although we turned back, we went plenty high up the trail. We will have to come back some day to find out just how high it goes. Oh yes, the trail leads to where Charles Spencer unsuccessfully attempted to mine gold in 1911.
122: 122 | No, that's not our car...but I wish it was. Actually, this 1922 Bentley is one of about fifty classic cars taking part in the 2012 Trans-America Tour from New York to Alaska. I learned about this tour the previous day when I crossed the street from our hotel to look at this car at a tire store. I spoke to the owner of the car and he told me about this tour and other tours he had participated in with his classic car including one from Beijing to Paris last year. How cool is that? Maybe someday my truck will be old enough that I can also participate in one of these tours! This car must really wear out tires as he carried four spare tires on this tour, two on the side of the car and two in the back seat.
123: 123 | The map above shows the route of the Trans-America Tour going from New York to Alaska. Several of the cars participating in the tour had maps of the tour painted on their exteriors along with the drivers' (2 per car) names and a car number. After returning to Page from our first hike at Lee's Ferry, we stopped by the Marriott to look at all of the classic cars parked in the hotel's parking lot. I've included pictures of some of my favorites on the next couple of pages.
124: 124 | My favorite of the whole bunch! Any way you look at this car, it is just BEAUTIFUL!
126: 126 | As I mentioned earlier, we had such a good time hiking the River and Spencer Trails that we returned the next day to do more exploring of Lee's Ferry. The first thing we did was to check out some of the massive boulders that had rolled down from the tops of a nearby plateau. Above, Marilyn is standing by the largest toadstool we saw this entire trip. I don't see how it keeps from falling. It still makes me nervous to see Marilyn beside that rock.
127: 127 | Cathedral Wash was our next stop in Lee's Ferry. We decided we would walk the Upper Cathedral Wash in the morning and the Lower Cathedral Wash in the afternoon. The Upper Cathedral Wash enters the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and the Lower Cathedral Wash enters the Grand Canyon National Park.
128: 128 | Just as we started our hike into the Upper Cathedral Wash, we met another couple doing the same, so we joined up and had quite an enjoyable hike. This trail was littered with giant boulders that had either fallen from above or had been pushed down the wash by flash floods. The photo to the right shows our first encounter with one of the boulders in the Upper Wash.
130: 130 | Eventually we parted ways with the other couple as the trail became a little more challenging than they were willing to deal with. Marilyn and I continued quite a ways further up the wash until we also became unwilling to go further, mainly because if one or both of us were hurt, it would be extremely difficult to get help since there was no one anywhere near here. Oh well, we really enjoyed the portion of the trail we did hike!
131: 131 | We had a picnic lunch after our hike of the Upper Cathedral Wash and then began our hike of the Lower Cathedral Wash. It's really hard to believe the differences in these two trails. The Upper Wash cuts through the mountains, while the Lower Wash cuts through a flat plain. They are so different even though they start on opposite sides of the road on which we had parked.
132: 132 | Photo above is an example of some of the interesting rock formations we found along the Lower Cathedral Wash trail.
133: 133 | The photo above shows how the Lower Wash just keeps descending deeper and deeper. It seemed like about every hundred yards or so we would have to climb down further to the next layer until finally we came to a drop we were not willing to attempt. Although we turned back again, we had had an enjoyable time making this hike. After all is said and done, we were blessed with another interesting and wonderful day!
134: 134 | May 20th, 2012 Day of the Eclipse! | May 20th was the day I was REALLY looking forward to on this trip. It was the reason we were in Page, Arizona, because Page was centered perfectly on the path of an annular eclipse that would occur that day. The man pictured beside me made this day even more special: he gave me a filter that allowed me to photograph the eclipse, something I certainly did not expect to be able to do. I can't tell you how thankful and blessed I felt about having crossed paths with this kind gentleman!
135: 135 | We started the day off by driving down to the Walmart to do some hiking per the advice we had received from the ranger at the Paria Ranger Station. It was at the back of the Walmart where we met the gentleman in the photo on the opposite page. After a lengthy conversation with him and his wife, Marilyn and I set out to hike down to the Colorado River behind the Walmart. The ranger was correct, it was an excellent hike.
136: 136 | We found some really interesting rock formations as we made our way down to the river.
137: 137 | The view of the river was spectacular! I doubt there's another Walmart anywhere that has such a magnificent place behind it where the public is free to explore.
138: 138 | To make the day pass a little more quickly as we waited for the eclipse, we also decided to do some hiking on the Wahweap Overlook Trail just outside Page, AZ.
139: 139 | This trail was very enjoyable and provided a terrific view of portions of Lake Powell. We will have to explore more of this trail next time we're in Page.
140: 140 | Finally, it was almost time for the eclipse! I think Marilyn and I both were surprised at how excited we were to view this eclipse. I should also add that the gentleman that gave me the filter for my camera also gave me many good suggestions as to how to photograph the eclipse. Again, I was SO BLESSED this day!
141: 141 | Hey, I wasn't the only excited person behind Walmart that afternoon! There were people there with all sizes of telescopes and different types of cameras. A few even had cameras attached to their telescopes. There was a lot of excitement when the moon began its journey in front of the sun!
142: 142 | P | Photos of Annular Eclipse Page, Arizona May 20, 2012 | 142 | We had many highlights this trip, but the eclipse is one I will never forget. It was so exciting to see the perfect ring formed when the moon was centered exactly in front of the sun!
143: 143 | The eclipse took place between 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM. The last three frames of the eclipse show the silhouette of mountains on the bottom portion of the sun as it was setting in the West. | 143
144: 144 | Monument Valley National Park
146: 146 | We spent only a day and a half at Monument Valley, and spent a good deal of that time catching up on our rest after such an active week in Page, Arizona.
147: 147 | Since our car is not four-wheel drive, we would have been required to take a guided tour of this park in one of the Navajo owned trucks along with many other tourists. We just did not feel up to it and decided to rest instead.
148: 148 | I did manage to get this sunrise shot of the park's famous "Mittens" rock formations. The sun really gives sandstone a magical glow at sunrise and sunset.
149: 149 | We will have to come back and explore this beautiful park more in the future. Just from what we saw and what we heard from others, we know this park is a very special place.
150: 150 | Canyon de Chelly National Monument
152: 152 | We arrived at Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "de Shay") after a two or three hour drive from Monument Valley National Park. It is in Northeast Arizona and is located within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. After checking in at our hotel, we took a drive on the canyon rim road. This road offers views into the canyon from many different points. We learned that access to the canyon floor is restricted and visitors are allowed to travel in the canyons only when accompanied by a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide. The only exception to this is the White House Ruin Trail. You guessed it, we hiked the trail.
154: 154 | Photo above is the side of the canyon where the White House Ruin Trail winds 600 feet down to the canyon bottom.
155: 155 | The trail is well maintained and, other than being a somewhat steep climb, it is not a difficult trail to hike.
156: 156 | The White House Ruins are shown above. These ruins, like the ones at Mesa Verde National Park, were built by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi). While not as large as some of the ruins we saw at Mesa Verde, they were still fairly large and in amazing condition considering they are about 800 years old.
157: 157 | After seeing the White House Ruins we decided to take an all day tour the next day. The tour was aboard a refurbished army truck driven by our Navajo guide (pictured above), Ron. The tour lasted over 7.5 hours and covered over 60 miles of road (using the term very loosely here) that took us over sand, big rocks, and lots of creeks. We gained a real appreciation of what soldiers have to put up with in the desert!
158: 158 | Fortunately, our tour guide stopped frequently to let everyone stretch their legs and wipe the sand out of their eyes, hair, etc., etc.. Actually, it wasn't too bad until later in the afternoon when the winds really picked up. In fact, we had to stop several times in the afternoon to allow people to hop out of the truck to fetch hats that had been blown from their heads. The turquoise colored truck above is the one we rode.
159: 159 | Our tour took us to several Pueblo ruins in the canyon. Pictured above is "Mummy Cave". It is called Mummy Cave because of the discovery of two well preserved mummies in these ruins. The Navajo also call this structure "House Under The Rock".
160: 160 | We saw many very well preserved Petroglyphs on our tour. The top photo shows paintings of Spanish Conquistadors. The middle photo shows many of the animals the Indians hunted (they believe the squiggly line represents a snake). The hand prints in the photo to the right were comparable to our written signatures today.
162: 162 | Our guide Ron was excellent! The photo above shows him giving our group a close-up look at a petroglyph. Below, Ron has stopped the truck as one of our tour group runs back to the truck after retrieving a hat blown off by a wind gust.
163: 163 | Spider Rocks - twin 800 foot towers of rock isolated from the canyon walls and a site of special significance for the Navajo - according to legend a woman living beneath this rock taught the Navajo women how to weave. Because they believed the weaving resembled a spider web, they began calling her the spider woman. Legend has it that she now lives at the top of Spider Rocks.
164: 164 | While much of the valley is covered by a layer of sand similar to a seaside beach, there are many areas with trees and green vegetation. We learned that although this area received less than three inches of rain in the last year, you only have to dig two or three feet into the sand to find water. In many places where there were dips in the road there was standing water. Amazing! This feature has enabled people to farm in this valley for hundreds of years.
165: 165 | The photo above shows how the late afternoon winds filled the air with sand. Following the tour, we couldn't wait to get back to our room and shower to get the sand off of us. Once we were cleaned up, we drove into town to get a bite to eat. Just as we got to town, a sand storm blew in that made the air in the photo above look crystal clear! We couldn't see a hundred yards in front of us and the wind felt like a sandblaster. After dinner, we drove back to the lodge for another shower!
166: 166 | Palo Duro Canyon State Park
168: 168 | On our way home from Canyon de Chelly, we were tired and getting a little homesick. Just outside of Amarillo, Texas, we saw a sign for Palo Duro Canyon State Park, a park both of us had heard of but had never seen. Being native Texans we decided we had to visit this park the next day to find out what this park was like. After a good night's sleep, we set out for Palo Duro Canyon the next morning and found a park that exceeded all of our expectations. It was beautiful and had lots and lots of good hiking trails. We'll have to return in the future and try hiking a few of the trails.
169: 169 | In the photo above you can see how the Visitor Center overlooks the canyon. While in the Visitor Center, we learned former President George W. Bush had been here a couple of weeks earlier with the Wounded Warriors Program for a three day, 100K bike ride in Palo Duro Canyon with twenty wounded veterans from across the country. I spoke to a photographer who took many photos of the former President with these veterans. He was so touched by what he had seen he got teary eyed and a little choked up (yeah, I did too) as he showed and described his photos to me.
170: 170 | Rock formation to the left is called a Spanish Skirt. | The formation to the right is called "The Lighthouse".
171: 171 | FINAL THOUGHTS | We made it home safely and were so glad to get out of our hiking shoes and back into the walking shoes we're accustomed to wearing around the house. We walked many miles in those shoes! We also shared a lot of experiences and made a lot of memories, and that is what life is all about. I read an article on travel comparing life to a book. To never travel is like limiting yourself to one page of a book. To travel is to turn to other pages that bring a variety of lessons, emotions, and memories. We are truly blessed to have completed this most recent chapter of our life and can't wait to see what the next chapter holds in store for us! I hope this book will inspire whoever reads it to go out and create new chapters in their lives. Maybe a better way of saying this is to use a quote I recently read: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed in what you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines and sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover." - MarkTwain