Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Northern AZ Road Trip: Part 2

Onward and upward...

The next stop on the trip, excluding the pseudo-detour to Sunset Crater Volcano, was Page, Arizona.

Advertised as a resort town, Page was nothing more than a glorified rest stop. Before I delve into the details of Page, though, I want to talk a little about the drive up.

For those of you who can appreciate a nice sunset and a panoramic view of the world as far as the eyes can see, I recommend a trip to the desert at some point. Between Sedona and Page, the only city you come near is Flagstaff, and only near enough to see the snowcapped mountains of its ski resorts.

But when you take Route 89 north through the vast, empty expanses of the Arizona midlands, you get breathtaking scenery. Hills rise into mountains, and mountains shed their curves to become jagged rocky crests, flatlands open into canyons. Greens and browns and reds and oranges in shades you've never seen envelope you. We managed to catch this treasure right as the sun sank beneath the mountains on the horizon. The wide open skies let you see the entire gradient of colors in every direction. Behind us, it was a shade of pink-orange that Crayola probably couldn't name. In front, there was a deep purple-grey that hovered over the Vermilion Cliffs in the distance.

Unfortunately, our cameras could not do these moments justice, so you'll just have to trust my descriptions.

To Page.

Had we seen this sign upon first entering the town, we would have thought "Nice, they outline some of the attractions for us." However, we entered during the night and did not see the sign until the following morning. Of course, after discovering what the town had to offer, we just laughed. A lot. And circled around to get a good picture. That was IT. All the town had. No downtown. No restaurants open past nine. The hotel was nice enough, though.

I bet you're wondering why we went to Page in the first place? Let me answer your question with a question. Have you ever seen anything like this?

This is Antelope Canyon. One of Arizona's famed slot canyons. The canyon is formed by a combination of flash floods and wind passing through soft sandstone. Unfortunately, I don't have the photography know-how or a good enough camera to really capture this place either. To get to the canyon, we had to hire a Navajo guide to drive us to the entrance, which you would hardly notice if you weren't looking for it. It's named a slot canyon for good reason: the entrance is a narrow slot in the side of the canyon. And the roof of the canyon is a narrow slot in the ground above us. We caught it at a slow time for tourism, but also at a bad time for overhead sun. Summer time gives you the best view, but you have to fight hundreds of people through the canyon and wait your turn for pictures, all the while hoping no one gets in your shot and ruins it.

Antelope Canyon is about five miles east of Page.

Next stop was Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. I didn't know what either of these were, but they were both about two miles northwest of Page.

Page (and the surrounding attractions) sits right on the Arizona-Utah border. So we decided to drive a little way into Utah so we could say we were in Utah. That was about all it was good for. The nearest city was 60 miles away, and we had more on the agenda for the day. So, our 10 minute trek into the next state was enough. We pulled a U-ey and headed back south toward Marble Canyon and Lee's Ferry.

So, down we go. Next entry will chronicle our southbound venture toward the Grand Canyon. I'm going to delay the grand finale with a post about Marble Canyon and the Navajo Bridge before we wrap this thing up together.

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