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** Arizona/Utah FLIP **
** All Pictures FLIP ** new **
A week in Arizona/Utah
- with Ola's pictures
- [second draft: 2004-07-26, 4:55pm]
|2004/06/27 - 2004/07/04||
Grand Canyon and Las Vegas
were on the mind of my 3 angels -- Aneta (Sugar), Ewka and Ola. And they
got to experience Grand Canyon the right way, made it to Las Vegas (though
without me) and together we saw Arches National Park, Monument Valley,
Lake Powell and Bryce National Park. Our week long trip covered 2,400miles.
||Denver, CO... Arches, Utah ... Recapture, Utah
We left at crazy 4am, since our
target night stop was over 600miles away, and there were things to see
along the way too -- like Monument Valley. The daybreak came before 5am
and the sun painted the rolling hills and mountains with beautiful soft
light. Our 2 cars chugged happily up the constant uphill on I-70 heading
towards Utah. It sure felt nice to floor a V8 on the uphills
We passed Grand Junction at 9:30am
-- the little red Subaru looked cute, but has been struggling up the big
hills. My black beast was making circles around it. Colorado ended and
we entered Utah. We wanted to see Arches or Canyonlands and since Canyonlands
was 25miles off the highway, we only visited Arches. We stopped 10 times
after the entrance, but the best part was the huge arches themselves at
the end of park.
After Moab I was driving at the
front, anticipating Recapture and wanting to stop there. I knew we were
close. Then suddenly Ola was passing me on the left -- noooooo. And of
course only 20 seconds later i saw the sign for Recapture. It was Ola's
great idea to stay the night. She and I were the only brave souls to jump
into the cool lake at 6,061ft elevation. It was a shock when i jumped
in feet first -- i still have mostly Arizona blood in me
. We made fire that night in our own little private camp-spot. That's
the way it should be -- the best campgrounds are free and people-free
as well. We setup our 2 tents before dark. Before leaving Denver, I considered
bringing my 7-year old 4-person tent in addition to my 2 person NorthFace
tent. I dismissed it with plans of tentless camping. But there were times
throughout the trip when I wished I brought it ;-).
||Monument Valley ... Lake Powell
I was up first, and then Ewka
got up. I sneaked into Ewka's empty spot in the middle of the tent. When
Ola and Aneta first opened their eyes, the first thing they saw was my
grinning face. Ola drove with me as we stopped just 1 minute after leaving,
for lake pictures from the road level. Ewka and Aneta blew past us without
stopping. I had no idea that we won't see them for the next 10 hours.
After 30 miles of chasing we decided
that they were not in front of us, and after waiting we returned to the
possibly confusing spot only a few miles from our lake. We constantly
looked for red cars during the 27 miles back. We couldn't reach them on
the cellphone because they were out of range. We never made contact and
finally knew that they are not lost or waiting behind us. By the time
we reached Monument Valley we heard a voicemail from them. They were ahead
of us, at least by half an hour -- but that's a lot of time to make up
in pursuit. We stopped for pictures of monuments and goats too and after
eating we were in pursuit again. I missed the turn to Page just after
Kayenta. I realized it 30miles later and then it was the same distance
to keep driving and take the next right turn. We met the girls in Page,
bought firewood and food, and headed to Lake Powell just 12 miles away.
We all arrived at Lone Rock (Lake
Powell) just before sunset. I was driving my jeep in sometimes deep sand,
and it was good Aneta's Subaru didn't follow all the time -- sometimes
I didn't know how deep the sand was until I was inside of it, and then
i needed 4x4. We played in the water in our shorts, throwing a ball. The
water was surprisingly warm but not enough to tempt us to swim. And then
I saw a most beautiful sunset with orange and red and blue. It wasn't
just in a little area like in the mountains, but it covered the whole
horizon. My camera was resting in the car 60 yards away, and for once
I decided that it's ok. It was too much fun playing in the water to stop.
Sometimes a picture is just a picture. Even if it's the most memorable
one of the whole trip. No regrets.
We cooked fish in the campfire
and then I took a chance sleeping without a tent. The angry skies were
not just a tease, but throughout the night the rain was limited to just
2 times of 5 minutes each. I just pulled a cover over my sleeping bag
without opening my eyes and I was fine
. The girls slept happily in their tent.
||Lake Powell, Utah to Grand Canyon, Arizona
We played in the sun in the morning,
ate a watermelon (another great idea by Ola ;-) from the day before),
and time flew by. I was using my SPF 100 sunscreen (old school European
bed sheet), preferring to suntan by accident rather than on purpose. 60mile
cycling -- now that's my idea of suntanning with SPF 45 on as well :-).
Finally I gave in since Sugar offered to use her skilled hands to apply
. They even tempted
me with a spot in tent if i turned brown by the end of the day. More watermelon,
some addictive junk-food potato chips, then we showered at an outdoors
shower... and yeeeeeeehaaaaa to Grand Canyon.
When we arrived in Grand Canyon
(South Rim), the sun was setting and though the wind was blowing at 7,000ft,
the 3 supermodels hung in tough. I pulled out Black&White film for
the first time on the trip -- it seemed appropriate. The campground had
a "Campground Full" sign, but we knew better. Spot #13 was free
and it was already 10pm -- nobody could have it booked and still arrive
now, not #13. And so it became our camp-spot.
It was Aneta's dream to come to
Grand Canyon. It was probably the same for the other 2 angels -- it is
one of the 7 wonders of the world afterall. I came mostly for the company,
hoping for a night-time uphill struggle while running out of breath. And
of course daytime pictures. I hiked on Bright Angel trail and South Kaibab
trail before ( see
2001-08-19_Monsoon in Grand Canyon )
, but today's adventure was the best of them all.
It was almost 1pm when we started
on Bright Angel Trail. Getting up late, packing, eating, the shooower
-- and yet 1pm probably was the best time to start. Not according to the
ranger who stopped us after an hour of hiking -- he "recommended"
not going past the 2mile mark. Riiiiiiight. Something about the bare shoulders
and shorts of 3 girls walking side by side -- but at least my angels had
hiking boots, not flops on bare feet. We met a family earlier, about 15minutes
down. They were all wearing matching flops and only came to get a "Grand
Canyon family picture for Christmas Cards" -- and 1 digital picture
was all they needed, taken by a willing stranger -- Ola. They rushed uphill
after the first click of the shutter.
Actually only Aneta had bare shoulders
and welcomed the idea of Ola's shirt to cover them. I had my standard
desert wear -- all covered, starting with long loose shirt, long pants
and a round hat. If you don't respect the sun, you pay. Sometimes the
red burning skin is not too bad, but it's not a price i am willing to
pay -- not in the desert. I prefer to wear my shade. Our target was the
Plateau from which the bottom of Grand Canyon could be seen. To reach
the bottom required another 4hours.. and then there would be the brutally
long 8h+ uphill. The angels were small but there were 3 of them -- i couldn't
carry all of them.
Indian Gardens was a great spot
to eat at, and i instigated the idea. We even had benches to sit on. Amazing
how good freshly made bagel sandwiches with cream cheese felt, and with
4 pairs of hands helping all was done in no-time. Cucumbers, green peppers,
tomatos and eggs -- we had it all. Half an hour later we arrived at Plateau.
Very nice view of the canyon walls and the river below. It was a good
time of day for pictures too. We spent an hour there, and I wished we
stayed for sunset, but i wasn't pushing for it. It was late already and
the uphill was supposed to last over 4hours.
Ewka and Ola took the front and
put on a military pace. Aneta and I dropped 100 yards back but our pace
was close to theirs. When we arrived in Indian Gardens, we met a young
group of 4, resting and wondering if they can sleep somewhere better.
They had overnight gear -- something we wished we had now too. We headed
uphill at 9pm in the same formation as before. Sometimes we saw the duo
at the front, sometimes we heard them in the twilight of the approaching
night. They kept the brutal pace, hoping to outrun the night. My body
was saying "when do we eat, when do we eat?". I found apple
sauce cups in Aneta'as backpack, and that delayed by hunger. I knew the
inevitable though, and when we arrived at the 3miles-to-go mark, I asked
for bagels and cream cheese from Ewka. I wanted to suggest eating as a
group because the tough uphill was still to come and it was 3 miles long.
I didn't think my advice would be welcome, so i didn't offer it -- "quick
and dirty" was not the way to go, but some people need to learn from
mistakes. I offered my headlamp to Ewka -- even if i could see better
without the headlamp, flashlights sometimes give people peace of mind.
I lasted maybe 5 minutes before
i pulled the bagels and cream cheese from my backpack. I walked with a
plastic container with vegetables and ate on the go. Eating now was the
only way to keep close to their pace. Personally I prefer a lazier though
"go forever without stopping" pace, but I was ok with their
assault pace -- let's see how things turn out. Aneta took the lead with
Ewka. The fast pace was now taking a toll on Ola who dropped to the back.
She walked just ahead of me. Not too long after i finished eating, i had
energy for 2, but I kept Ola company in the back. After another mile Ola
finally let me take her little backpack and the four of us even rested
at 1.5miles-to-go mark.
I have been singing for a while
and wanting to carry all of their backpacks. I had the energy and motivation
to do it. They didn't take advantage of my offer, maybe thinking that
my singing would stop if i was loaded with 4 backpacks. Finally they wanted
to stop to eat something because they were starving. Just a quick 3 minute
break for apples and other fruits. We kept going as a group now. The leaders
were sweating and had nothing more than t-shirts on top. The wind felt
colder since the night progressed and we have been going higher and higher.
When the wind became more frequent, i put my 2 ponchos on Aneta and Ewka
-- just loosely as windbreakers. Ola and I had long-sleeved shirts. We
have made 4miles since Indian Gardens, and we could see the top already.
But is it the real top? At 4.5 miles i said "just 10 more minutes".
And 10minutes later the same forecast was about right. The wind was blowing
at the top, not constantly and not more than 20mph, but we felt cold.
We reached the summit at 12:20am,
after 3h 20minutes since Indian Gardens. It sure was a result of the brutal
pace and few stops. I enjoyed it immensely, but the rest of the gang could
have been more comfortable if they were willing to listen. But some lessons
are best learned on own skin. A group photo would have perfected our adventure,
but i settled for a photo of me :-). Our little adventure lasted nearly
12 hours since our departure at 12:55pm. It's the things you shouldn't
do that memories are made of.
||Grand Canyon ... Flagstaff ... Sedona (me) / Las Vegas (they)
Getting up late was justified,
but all of us still got up at 9am. And that included a foot massage in
the tent, compliments of yours truly. I never seek massages other than
from my own hands, but the female body is a much more sensitive instrument
. We headed for showers which were
already closed the previous night. When we returned to our campsite, our
trash-bag was in 100 pieces -- compliments of our neighbourhood crows.
We stopped halfway to Flagstaff
at a place with wigwams (Indian tents -- what's the difference between
a teepee and a wigwam?). I thought Ola would like to take pictures, but
instead the gang stormed the store withan initial plan of sending postcards.
I put some water and ice on my feet -- just 24 hours to recover, boys.
There was a chance my tomorrow's Brasilian date had hiking ideas. Oh yeah,
the angels approved of Erica whom i wanted to meet while they went to
Vegas. I wasn't motivated for Vegas -- no money and no honey :-). My feet
got all the ice they could melt and then i went inside the souvenir store.
I picked up"the colt that won the west" and thought about the
poor Indians. One of the angels saw the gun in my hand and suddenly they
In Flagstaff we walked for 10
minutes in the old town, then ate, and they were gone. It sucked to be
alone now, after 4 days with them. Sedona was on my mind, and that's where
i headed. 10 miles out of town, and 10miles into the dirt. I was speeding
at 40mph on a dirt road and then were was a Cherokee in front of me. I
was behind him for 3 minutes and finally a spot to pass him, leaving him
in the dust, literally. I had to go!!!! Just before my secret camp-spot,
the bad road felt pretty bad right at start -- good, keeps the tourists
away. Then i couldn't find my spot!!! I got out, walked on foot, nothing.
I drove down then back up... where is it? I was very happy to find it
uphill from where I initially looked. Hopefully those thumps were just
rocks hitting skid plates on my car. I made a campfire in the peaceful
solitude of the night, and then i went to sleep without a tent -- the
best way to camp in Arizona/Utah/California (if you know the neighbourhood
to be scorpion-free and bad-guys free).
||Sedona, Arizona to Lake Powell, Utah
I woke up around 7am, or was that
8am? And was that Arizona time or Colorado time? I drove to Sycamore Trail,
after a couple scary offroad spots but no more rock scraping like previous
day -- why does it always feel like the jeep will tip? I never tipped
either of my jeeps, but would be nice to know what the limits are :-).
I didn't stop in city of Sedona, I just headed on the scenic route to
Flagstaff. Just one spot caught my eye, looking down at a bend in road
with cliff wall on one side. Flagstaff too was of no interest to me now,
but then those Snowbowl horses... Humphrey's peak was in the background,
and somehow when i ended with them it looked like i was out of time for
my 3:30pm date. And the girls called while i was playing with horses,
and now i called them back and... and... I was 20minutes late for my date
in Grand Canyon, inspite of speeding at 95mph and passing everything with
wheels. She wasn't there, and i strolled the hood for almost an hour and
nothing. Wait a tick, that means I'm single again.... yeah baby, yeahhhhhh!
So i could meet the girls now
for sure. Except that they had a little delay that stopped them from leaving
all day, and when I arrived at Lake Powell 3hours later (after stopping
in Page, and photographing sunset at Lake Powell), they only barely left
Vegas. I was turned off by that mostly, along with with not knowing where
to meet them exactly in Zion, where to sleep, when they would arrive,
and their inability to call my cell-phone (i had to keep calling them).
Plus, do you know how hard it is to leave Lake Powell once you lie your
butt down in the warm sand just after sunset? Desert baby, yeahhhhhh.
I opted for the campfire free option, and i lied in the dark watching
my stuckup Lexus RX-300 neighbors. I photographed their silhouttes lit
only by their campfire -- 1.5 second exposures, 3 second exposures. Good
things happen sometimes during experiments like these -- the potential
for nice pictures was there.
||Lake Powell ... Bryce Canyon, Utah
I was up at 4:47am, and ready
for pictures -- 4:47am Colorado/Utah time. Or maybe 5:47am Colorado/Utah
time, which would be 4:47am Arizona time. Well, i was up early. Before
8am i was out the camp too, heading for the Marina area, with scenic views
of Lake Powell. I found 2 great spots, one far above the water with occasional
boats approaching me (and the Glen Canyon Damn). The other spot was at
the lake's bottleneck -- the boats had to get pretty close to me, and
the blue sky was right behind them. I took a lot of pictures -- maybe
6 rolls total and by 9:30am i was out of film. Good, because the good
light was gone anyway :-) (10am til 2pm is generally not a good time for
I got more film in Page, and after
a 10minute non-stop swim in Lake Powell, I was going to head out to Bryce
Canyon. Well, i started chatting with John and Bill, and though they were
70 and 65 years old, we had stuff to talk about -- Lake Powell. "I've
never seen the water level that low before. See that crevass over at Lone
Rock? That's where the water level should be." Each of them brought
a big RV camper from Los Angeles, and Bill also brought his kids and grandkids.
Eventually I was on my way, but not in time to get to Bryce by noon. And
did Ola mean noon Vegas/Arizona time, or noon Utah/Colorado time? I joked
with her: "ok then i'll expect you around 2pm there".
I was in a hurry and passed everything
moving again. The wind was crazy at times... ok so maybe i kept my front
windows 100% open as usual, that might have added to the crazy wind effect.
I was in Bryce Canyon at 3pm Colorado time (2pm Vegas time). Finally after
calling them 20 times, and leaving 2 voicemails i could hear Sugar's voice
on the other end. They were still in Zion and couldn't leave for a while...
"Are you upset, Robert?" I wasn't, i honestly wasn't, I just
wanted to see the angels at this point. I thought maybe they have come
to Bryce and left already. I did previously question the rationality of
driving 150miles to Bryce, meeting them for 1 hour, then driving 150miles
back to Lake Powell... because after Bryce they were heading back while
i still had 2 full days before needing to turn home. But now i just wanted
to see them; in Bryce Canyon. I have been there for the past hour taking
great pictures of magical scenery, and just wishing for some company with
me (though best scenery pictures I could take alone, it's not a path i
I told them to meet me at Bryce
Point. This was one of many "Points", but since it was named
after the canyon, it must be good. It was the first Point i headed to,
and stayed until angels came. We spent an hour together and then they
had to go. No kidding, 7pm already and 600 to 700miles ahead of them to
Denver. They had some commitments for 4th of July activities, but now
they would prefer to stay another day or two.
Hesitantly i headed to Lake Powell
to sleep. Driving to Denver now was too crazy, i could only last for 2
hours driving and then need to sleep... even with one of the girls driving
my car, it wasn't the right thing to do. I was in Kanab, a halfway point,
when I got a cop on my tail. He followed me forever and even driving under
speed limit didn't shake him off. And then his lights suddenly went on
and he was making a U-turn. He didn't need me as a shield, the night came
already... but he caught someone speeding in the oncoming traffic. He
should have seen me speeding that morning, whatever this guy was doing,
i was going faster than that :-).
||Lake Powell via Bryce to Denver, CO
I wasn't in the mood for pictures
in the morning, and i stayed in my sleeping bag until 8am. or 7am. Ok,
8am Colorado/Utah time. Pictures were not on my mind, and i didn't even
take a picture of John or Bill at all... my mind just wasn't there. I
kind of wanted to return to Denver, and kind of I didn't, i just didn't
want to be where i was and i didn't know where i wanted to be. Maybe stop
somewhere along the way... oh and definately go in the direction as the
girls went -- along I-89 then I-70 -- a totally new frontier I have not
gone in that direction before. Who knows what awaits. I saw Lamas and
horses the previous day, and now they might be my subjects. And those
cows with big horns too.
The lamas were too far from fence
and the spot wasn't the best, but then i drove by the horned cows. Cool.
Crossing the river in my sandals, socks and long pants didn't seem like
a bad idea -- better than barefoot. Oh the socks in sandals? I still had
my pyjama top, light gray with green cuffs and neck circle.. the socks
were just a finishing touch. And the socks were a first step to putting
my hiking boots on, for desert walking when taking pictures. If you ever
walked in real desert, you know that sandals don't protect your feet from
cactus at all. (Bushes, needles, thistles, stuff on the ground... it's
all cactus) So it all makes sense, see? Case closed.
The cowards kept on moving, none
of them would pose for me. (Isn't coward derived from "cow"?)
Or they would pose but with wrong background -- the gray bushes just don't
do it for me. And then these 2 youngers with little horns just stood there
looking at me, only feet away. Okkk if these guys start charging I'm in
trouble. Go, go... woof woof. So it was actually good when the cows were
moving, at least they're not stirring dust with hoofs and ready to start
chasing me. Those big boys sure looked nice though, huge horns and gray
bodies... photo material. I took some pictures, wished for certain setups
but couldn't achieve them... it's hard to do alone. With 2 people, one
can chase and the other sit and harvest the pictures :-).
I saw the horses just for a fraction
of a second while driving, but i could make out that two baby horses were
lying on the ground. And a great spot for pictures too. I was in heaven,
there were 3 baby horses and a bunch of big horses. Pretty soon the baby
horses were next to their mothers -- so it's 3 mothers with one baby horse
each. Interesting. They were much easier to work with and posed in unique
formations, sometimes just like a family portrait... sometimes with 1
trouble-maker showing his butt while 3 other horses posed. I took pictures
of the horses on green grass with blue sky behind, closeup of 4 horses
together.. mother and baby... baby only.... i almost ran out of new ideas..
but then i was out of film, so i just thanked my models and moved on.
The big I-70 soon started which was good for speeding but not as good
for scenery. All I had now left was Black&White film. It made me think
differently of the pictures i wanted to take. I generally prefer to use
Black&White film when it's overcast in cities/mountains, or sometimes
for people (when I know the people will co-operate
. Night already set when I saw a fireworks show -- I was just approaching
Rifle, Colorado. It felt like Rifle was celebrating my arrival. I was
home just after midnight. Great trip. Really really great trip.
|Total Trip Distance: 2,400 miles
All pictures here are from Ola's digital camera... mostly by Ola
Next trip will be Yellowstone Park, Wyoming
During a photo shoot at Independence Pass, Aneta said that "Baby"
was confusing with all 3 girls in the picture -- that's when Sugar got
Arches Nat. Park is great, Zion is ok, but Bryce Nat. Park is the
best -- see Bryce National Park
if you can only see one park in Utah.