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.

video

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.



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!

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