Friday, October 24, 2014

Our Vacation...Not Quite Over.

I thought I would start this entry from where I left off the other day.  I am including some more pictures from the Antelope Canyons 'cause I just can't get enough.  When you are in these canyons you can feel the force of the water as it carved the walls.  The movement of water is shown within these walls and everywhere you look there is something more breath taking.  Members from the tour groups had similar reactions whenever we turned the corner...Wow!  Amazing!  Oh My God!
As mentioned in the last entry, the Lower Antelope Canyon has more colour and more sculpture to the walls.  There are ladders, stairs and tight areas that you go through but in the end it is so worth the slight workout.  The Upper Antelope Canyon is beautiful and most colour is in the tan tones with some purple hues.   We didn't want to miss anything this is why we decided to do both, and when I say 'we' you know it means 'I' but Craig was so glad that we did.

After the canyon tours we headed back to the hotel to collect our belongings and head across the bridge to see what was over there.  A lady from the first tour told us to go there and take a right, she didn't say why so of course our curiosity got to us.  You could see the bridge from our hotel room but not sure what else was over there.  It ended up to be Glen Canyon and the Glen Canyon Dam.  I am sure there was more to see but we had a long drive ahead of us that day as we were heading to Phoenix for the night.

The bridge that we had to cross to see the dam

We didn't go into the museum due to lack of time so
this is the only view we had of the dam.

Lake Powel (in distance) formed when they built the dam

This was our view point
We were hungry after the canyon & dam tours and we needed to eat as we didn't want to stop until we reached Phoenix.  We noticed this restaurant on our way to the canyons and had a feeling it was going to be awesome and we were not disappointed.  Our waitress was from Texas and the surroundings made you feel right at home.  They had 3 large barbeques at the front (Texas-style),  the tables outside were covered in checkered table clothes and had a large bucket of peanuts as an appetizer.  Craig ordered the pulled pork sandwich and I had the ribs, both had helpings of homemade beans and fresh coleslaw.  Both dinners were amazing and the meat fell off the ribs.  Thanks to the Southwest I am now addicted to Sweet Tea and I am going through withdrawal.  I may have to start making my own once I am home.  So if you are ever in Page, Arizona head on over to Big John's Texas Barbeque and I recommend the ribs.

What state are we in?

Craig having his appie of peanuts
When we first drove up to Page we noticed many roadside vendors where the Navajo would sell their crafts. On the weekend it was packed but on our way back down from Page there weren't that many open.  We stopped at this one, there were two ladies selling their crafts of jewellery, pottery and rugs. We purchased a couple of items from both and would of loved to take home some of their pottery but was afraid it would break.

Our flight from Phoenix was pretty uneventful , in San Francisco we had a stop over of about an hour and noticed many canines working.  Just in our area alone we had 3 Labradors taking turns sniffing everyone and their belongings.  We were traveling after the tragedy in Ottawa so I guess that's why there were so much security in the 'Canada section'.
We arrived in Edmonton at midnight headed to bed.  Yesterday we did our last minute shopping and enjoyed a nice dinner at Ricki's, the restaurant at the hotel.  As per usual we had a morning flight from Edmonton to CamBay and were surprised when our tickets were not stamped 'Subject to Landing'.  You see the weather in Cambridge Bay was not looking too promising, high winds with blowing snow. 
We arrived in Yellowknife and was greeted by the guys from Great Slave Animal Hospital and the dogs.  Needless to say Molly & Blitz were pretty happy to see us.  Everything was going smoothly, paid for the dogs, went through security with them and then was told that our flight was canceled.  I knew it was too good to be true.  So we are now in Yellowknife for the night and are scheduled to fly out tomorrow.  The weather is still not looking good for tomorrow so we will see if we make it out tomorrow or if we will spend another day in Yellowknife.
Blitz & Molly are making themselves at home in the hotel
Talk soon!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bucket List # 45 - Check

Ok I must confess I really don't have a formal bucket list but I do have certain things that I would like to do and see in my life.  On this trip I have checked off a few: feed a giraffe, (feeding & petting a rhino was a bonus), seeing the Grand Canyon and walking through the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. 
Today was all about touring the Antelope Canyons, we had back to back tours starting at 8:30am.  Now 8:30 in the morning comes early when you closed your eyes about 1:00am and get up about 6:00am.  I guess you could say I was excited, even more excited than the Grand Canyon, maybe because I knew it was going to be an up close and personal tour of these famous slot canyons.  Leonard Nez was our very knowledgeable tour guide for our first canyon, he would check your camera settings if you needed help and point out to you certain characteristics of the walls.  If you ever get the chance to see this canyon ask for Leonard!
Antelope Canyons were formed when flash flood waters eroded the Navajo Sandstone.  Flash flooding is still a concern today and we were told that in 1997 11 tourists died when flash flooding occurred in the Lower Canyon.  They have upgraded the safety features of the canyon, one being a better ladder system and sirens to warn that flood waters are coming.
Ok back to our first tour of the Upper Canyon with Leonard.  He warned us as we entered the open truck that the ride was going to be Navajo therapy, and it was once we entered the park.  The ride was not much different than riding the bumpy tundra in a 4 x 4.  The other tourist from the group were fantastic, very friendly and from all over the world.  They all get this dumb founded look on their faces when we tell them where we are from, I even had a person ask if we live farther than Toronto.  Now how funny is that? 
I took more than 500 pictures so here are a few of my favorites from Upper Antelope Canyon.
Our ride to the canyon

The entrance to the canyon
Doesn't look like much from the outside

Leonard explaining a few things to us before we enter

My first view inside

It got better as we walked through it

Colours were always changing

Notice the 'stick'?  It had to be about 8 feet long, brought in by a flash flood

So many views

The Heart

Leonard threw sand on this ledge and
told us it was a Navajo waterfall

When the light hits the canyon comes alive with colour

Looking above us

Winding through the canyon

Can you see the bear?

Our tour guide Leonard and us at the end of the tour

Once everyone from our party was out of the canyon we were treated with a couple of stories from Leonard and then he began to play his flute.  What a relaxing, peaceful sound that he made and I could of listened to him all day.  Here's a small sample of what he played for us.

After we drove back to base camp we were ready to get into the car and head back for our next tour, which started in about an hour.  Instead we were greeted by a Navajo hoop dancer who was training for a large competition.  He was amazing and below are a couple of pics and a small sample video.

After his performance we drove back to the park as this tour you had to meet your tour guide there. In the past you never needed a tour guide but the Navajo decided to have a guide due to the fact that people would litter and write on the canyon walls.  As for myself I prefer a guide for something like this as each of them gave you a bit of history of the canyons and pointed to some great photo opportunities.  Our guide for this tour was Buddy, he was a bit shyer than Leonard but knew his stuff and helped you walk through some of the narrow passages if needed.  One person needed help often as she just had knee surgery but we all encouraged her and told her she was doing great. 

Now the Lower Antelope Canyon is so different than the Upper Canyon, first thing is that you do not notice the canyon until you are right above it.  You enter it by going down steep stairs and ladders and to be honest I was a bit nervous going down the ladder backwards...maybe Craig was more nervous as he didn't want me to fall.  Fall? Who me?  I made it down without incident and this canyon was more colourful and not as rushed as the Upper Canyon.  If you had the choice I would do the Lower Canyon before the Upper.

Can you see the entrance?

So many wonderful colours in the Lower Canyon

The Waves

More Navajo Waterfalls

Can you see the Indian Chief?

Buddy was great as he was more than happy to grab your camera
and take a picture of you and your partner/family

Some places were a bit narrow

They call this 'Sunrise Over the Rockies'

US Postal Eagle

An example of the stairs

The dust would show the sunbeams coming in

Myself and Buddy

This is the exit of the Lower Antelope Canyon
You could say it's narrow

The sunset on the way to Phoenix tonight

I have more to share with you but it is midnight and it's been a long day so I will share more pictures and stories of our vacation at a later date.  We fly out of Phoenix tomorrow and arrive in Edmonton at midnight where we will stay a day to do some last minute shopping, head back to Yellowknife to pick up the dogs and then back home on Friday.  This 50th Birthday vacation has been more than I expected and I will leave Arizona with great memories and the need to return another day.

Talk soon!