Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lower Antelope Canyon

This is our third visit to Antelope Canyon, located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona. There are two sections to Antelope Canyon, the Upper and the Lower. We have been through the Upper Canyon twice and the post about those visits can be found at the following link Upper Antelope Canyon.
This year we were able to go through the Lower Canyon which was quite different from the Upper. It's a longer, more strenuous hike with ladders going up and down throughout the canyon, some very narrow passageways and tricky footing in some spots.

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon which has been formed primarily by flash floods cutting through the Navajo sandstone. Because of the risk of flash flooding, guides are required to tour the canyon. In 1997 eleven tourists were killed in a flash flood going through the Lower Canyon and there is a monument to them the entrance to the canyon. Even though the rain was falling over seven miles away on that day, it quickly moved downstream and whipped through the canyon. More safety measures have been put into place since then but there is always the risk of injuries from a flash flood.

From the surface it's very difficult to tell what lies within the canyon. I think it's a bit like scuba diving in the sense that you don't know what's beneath the surface until you go down.
It doesn't take too much imagination to find images in many of the rocks, such as the face in the photo above and the woman in the photo below.

We took our tour mid-morning which is supposed to be one of the best times because of the lighting which is a bit softer than when the sun is directly overhead.

We had a wonderful time and will do it again one day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monument Valley

This was our third trip to Monument Valley since we began RVing seven years ago. The landscape is overwhelming in size and beauty. There are miles of buttes and mesas with occasional pinnacles of rock, and the colors change with the seasons and position of the sun. Much of the scenery is familiar since it's been a backdrop for so many movies and commercials. John Ford was the first to start making movies here and John Wayne starred in several of them. There's even a cabin labeled as John Wayne's behind the old Trading Post at Gouldings. The area known as Gouldings is like a little town in the middle of the Navajo Tribal Lands which has the Trading Post, museum, restaurant, RV park, gas station and several stores. It seems that Harry and Mike Goulding bought the land from the Navajos in the 1920's but we're unclear as to how it's still private land in the middle of tribal lands.

Above is the view from the Trading Post. Brian's Aunt Mary ran the hotel at the Trading Post in the mid 1950's, and her husband Martin Gambee was an artist who painted in Monument Valley. They were there at the same time as John Ford, and the family story is that when Martin had some medical problems Mr. Ford flew Martin to Flagstaff, AZ in his private plane. Another family story tells of how Martin may have been the first white man allowed to paint the Navajo people in the 1930's. When approached by a group of Navajo men Martin got into a conversation about how the Navajos had so little facial hair. They told him they pulled out all their facial hair with pliers and asked if he could handle that. Martin said yes, and after pulling a few hairs they decided he was a good guy. Several of Martin's paintings are hanging in the museum at the Trading Post.
The RV park has a nice view of the valley and I took the picture below on the day we arrived.

 The second day was incredibly windy and there were dust storm all day. Same view on that day below.

Pretty crazy, so we put off our sightseeing until the next day which was sunny and clear. Following are some photos from our drive.

This was taken of John Ford Point which has been featured in many movies, The Lone Ranger being the most recent we know.

It's difficult to show the scope of the landscape but the little blue car on the road will hopefully give an idea its immensity.

Brian took this shot of some man-made rock sculptures in front of the real thing.

And of course Tilly and Sue enjoying the day.

There is so much information about this area which is part of what is known as the Grand Circle. Most of the people we see are from foreign countries and it seems like such a shame that we don't see more of our fellow US citizens exploring this amazing area.  Here is one of many links where more about the Grand Circle can be found . . .  . . .

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Colorado Flooding

We made our yearly stop in Lyons, Colorado, this year and were having a great time until the rains came. Meadow Park in Lyons has (had) 9 RV spaces and was about 30 yards from the St. Vrain River. We have always loved staying there. It's beautiful, generally very quiet, and we were able to take long daily walks along the river.

We had planned to leave on Thursday, Sept. 12 and fortunately had started picking things up in preparation for leaving. The rain was pretty continuous for a couple of days, and kept coming down. Wednesday afternoon Brian and I went to some of the usual places we go on our walk and were pretty amazed at the volume of water coming down the river. He took a picture of one of the bridges we usually walk over while I was standing on it. The river was much higher than we had ever seen it and we thought this picture showed how much water was flowing. At this point the water was probably still about 10 feet below the bridge.
I went to bed about 10:30 but woke up around 12:30. I could hear the river roaring and what sounded like thunder but was probably the sound of boulders crashing into each other. It was still raining hard and things just didn't seem right. I went out to the living room and Brian told me that 3 motorhomes had just left and maybe we needed to leave as well. At this point a Boulder County sheriff showed up and told us we had to evacuate. We packed everything up in the rain and dark and moved the Bus and car to higher ground at the entrance to Meadow Park. As we were evacuating I was wading through water that definitely shouldn't have been there. With memories of the Big Thompson Flood in 1976 and the devastation it caused, Brian said he thought we should keep moving and go into Longmont. Great idea. I drove the car and followed Brian and Tilly who were in the Bus. When we drove out of Lyons, water was running over the road pretty close to where we took the picture above. Very scary for me as I had visions of the car being swept away, but when I saw Brian take the Bus through I figured I could make it, and I did. We made it to the Longmont Walmart which we knew was on high ground around 3:00 AM and finally felt safe.
The next day we saw the following picture of the bridge I had been standing on. So hard to believe it.
We have been in touch with the camp hosts at Meadow Park who made it out as well, and they confirmed what we already knew - the park is gone. As far as we know our fellow campers made it out ok and some even joined us at Camp Walmart.
Once we were at Walmart we had to settle in for a few days because the roads around us were closed. We had a window of opportunity on Saturday and made it to our next stop, Colorado City which is just south of Pueblo. Evidence of flooding could be seen along our drive. The whole experience was mind boggling to say the least.  
The news has shown many pictures of the devastation in Lyons and the surrounding area, and it's hard to have much to add to that. We feel extremely fortunate to have gotten out when we did and made it safely to Longmont. Others have not been so fortunate. It will take months, if not years, to recover from this flood.