After a heartier breakfast in a more spacious Bear Bites room (and patio!) than its sister motel in Hurricane, Utah, we made the short drive from the Travelodge in Page, Arizona to Wahweap Marina for our Lake Powell boat cruise.
We succeeded in getting on a two and a half hour cruise that enabled us to have a leisurely lunch before taking up our Antelope Canyon tour in the afternoon.
With 1,960 miles of shoreline, longer than the entire west coast of the continental U.S., man-made Lake Powell, with its clear, blue water, red rock canyon walls and sandy beaches, welcomes nearly three million visitors per year.
It was already warm and sunny, if a little breezy when we took our seats on the top deck of the boat.
We had taken a similar cruise on Lake Mead, which is linked with the more celebrated Hoover Dam, the previous year, but enjoyed this tour more. The geology was more varied, and the descent into Antelope Canyon was spectacular. The final part of the tour took us in the direction of Glen Canyon Dam, the power from which serves 1.5 million people across five states.
We had a sandwich and coffee at the Marina before returning, briefly, to our motel to freshen up. We then joined an excitable crowd at the Antelope Canyon Tours office for our 1.30pm tour.
The assembled throng was almost entirely Italian, a coach party of elderly tourists and half a dozen young couples. The former were accommodated first, and when our young Navajo driver / guide, Rosie, asked the rest of us to board her open-sided jeep for the journey to the canyon, there was an unbecoming scramble for seats, even though there were sufficient spaces (sixteen, eight on each side) available.
What followed was a jaw juddering, hair raising charge across desert and sand dunes to reach the opening to the canyon. Fortunately, we had neither had too much or too little lunch for the journey to discomfort us unduly.
What, however, added to the excitement, or alarm for those of a more sensitive disposition, was the fact that the 20 minute journey coincided with the first rain we had seen since we arrived in America.
We were drenched within minutes, and for a moment I was reminded of the eleven people who had been swept to their death in the canyon by a flash flood fifteen years before.
However, by the time we were helped, dazed, from the vehicle, the heat had dried our clothing completely and the threat of further rain had receded.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, which means that thousands of years of wind, water and sand have ripped a narrow crevice in the mesa (a raised, flat stretch of land). It is a quarter of a mile long and 130 feet deep. Access is restricted by the Navajo tribe and visitors must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide.
The array of colours and shafts of light from above make it a real challenge for amateur photographers to capture the glorious images that dazzle the naked eye. The combination of a new digital camera and a modest appreciation of the snapper’s art, did not augur well for us. However, Rosie not only set our camera for the best effect, and then reset it at the end, but also took several of the photos herself! There appeared no end to her talents.
Indeed, as the young Italian couples in our group neither seemed to possess much English, nor appeared altogether interested, she spent most of the time directing her commentary to Janet and I. And yes, she is responsible for the picture below.
Dinner was taken at Bonkers, the number one rated restaurant in Page according to TripAdvisor. In fact, we liked Page and could have stayed a week without having to eat at the same place twice. A far cry from our earlier experience in Utah!
But before anybody reading this thinks that I have treated that state unfairly, we had two more nights there later (in Moab) where we enjoyed excellent meals, washed down with fine wine and hand crafted, home brewed beer.
For now, we were looking forward to our trip to Monument Valley the next day, the most eagerly anticipated leg of our trip.