Southern Utah landscape


Looking north from the Lake Powell overlook, across the Glen Canyon dam from Page, Arizona.


Making one motel reservation after another and staying one night allowed us to cover a lot of territory. We stayed in Motel 6s whenever possible. It is easy to make reservations and if plans change, they have a generous and easy to achieve cancellation policy.

That said it was a real treat when we made reservations for two nights in a row. We did this at Moab and we did this at Page. You get a lot more quality use out of your rooms this way and it nice to break up the constant long distance travel each day, even if you are seeing lots of cool stuff.

So when we left our motel rooms Tuesday morning, we left most of our stuff at the motel and took only what we needed for the “Wave lottery” and the Upper Antelope slot canyon tour, with us in the Jeep.

There were some nice photo ops driving to the Paria River Rangers’ station that morning. The sky was clear and the morning sun is always great hitting the sandstone cliffs and mesas. We were not successful in winning a spot for Wednesday morning to hike the Wave. Only ten people get the walk in permit by lottery and there were 52 of us there hoping to get one. We shrugged off the attempt and headed for the tour guide headquarters for our Upper Antelope tour.

By the time we had finished the Upper Antelope tour I was disappointed and considered it the least desirable stop of the entire road trip, along with the Zuni Pueblo visit. But time puts things in perspective. Now I’m glad I went. The Martres photo guidebook I had along with me, warned that taking good photos in Upper Antelope was a “challenge” and I knew I would be using either my Canon G9 or G10 and stubbornly refuse to use a tripod, though I took a small metal tripod with me.

When the company switched us from the promised ride in the Suburban to the back of a bouncy exhaust fume filled pickup truck I was irritated, but not too much. The ride up the wash was kind of fun, despite the fumes. Then when we got inside Upper Antelope, Ed and the three Japanese clients with their expensive and cameras and tripods accepted that I was along for the hike and didn’t let it bother them at all that I was going to try to take photos with an advanced point and shoot rather than a DSLR with correct lens, and sturdy tripod.

Our guide however asked to see my camera when we were a short ways into Upper Antelope and before I knew what he was doing he started changing all the settings on my camera saying “too many automatic settings”. Well I kept my cool but it really made me mad. I asked him to return my camera and to return ALL the settings he had changed back to those I had on “my” camera, before he started making all the changes.

From then on all got better. The guide accepted me as an old stubborn, (probably stupid), hiker and snapshot artist, instead of a serious photographer. All of us got along famously and I was really pleased to see Ed in his element with some serious photography challenges and opportunities. The three Japanese were first class all the way, letting me take my turn at photo ops and always smiling and enjoying the canyon photo ops experience.

By the time our time was up in Upper Antelope Canyon we were all happy. Our guide played his flute inside the slot canyon and did a great job of it. The flute playing “fit” and added to the experience.

Out of the photos I took in Upper Antelope Canyon more than half of them were badly blurred, no matter how steady I thought I was holding my camera with the slow shutter speed required of the reduced and contrasting light. BUT the photos that did come out are memory makers for me. It will remind me of the fun time I had despite the “rocky” start.

In 2008, Ed, photographer friend John, and my youngest son, all visited Lower Antelope Canyon. Here you can drive your own vehicle to the trailhead; no guide required; no constraint on how long you stay in the slot canyon; and the light much more advantages and forgiving to the non-serious photographer, like me. If you can only do one while in the area, I highly recommend – Lower Antelope Canyon.

After our photo session at Upper Antelope Canyon, we drove out to hike to the overlook of the Big Bend of the Colorado River, just as we had done in 2008. As with the 2008 experience, I didn’t have a DSLR with a good really wide angle lens, to do justice to the site. Still I climbed up on all the surrounding rock tops for great views, took my obligatory snapshots and was happy with the visit.

Thus ended our full day spent in the Page, Arizona area. The next day we planned to head for Kodachrome Basin and perhaps Bryce National Park, then stay the night at my favorite “basic” motel in Escalante – – The Circle D.


At the start of year 2011, I made tentative plans to take a two week solo “road trip” through the Four Corners area (The Colorado Plateau), during the last half of March. Then, if my wife could get the time needed off from her part time job, I also planned a “road trip” vacation to the Southwest, in April with her.

When I put the plan together for the March trip, I decided to see if an old friend of mine, Ed (Flickr’s: OldWrangler), might be interested in joining me. I volunteered to take my old four wheel drive pickup truck and split the gasoline expense with him. We would each get an inexpensive motel room on the road to serve as “base camps” to hike, photograph, and explore back roads in the Four Corners area.

Not only did Ed accept but he also proposed that we take his brand new 4-door Jeep Wrangler instead of my old pickup truck. That didn’t take any thinking on my part. I LOVE Jeeps and Ed and I have always got along well (decades ago, I worked for him and we had taken a fun road trip together back in 2008, along with my friend John and my youngest son). The deal was sealed.

We left my house in Central Washington early Monday morning on the 14th of March. We returned 12 days and 3,875 miles later on Friday evening March 25th. We spent a lot of time drinking Diet Pepsi from the ice chest and keeping the hits of the 60s (and occasionally the 70s), cranked up high on the Jeep’s Sirius satellite radio sound system. Sing along music! “Road trip” tunes.

Weather often dictated changes to our proposed route and activities. We stayed flexible, and in the end we visited the large majority of places we had hoped to see, when the road trip began. We had sun and clear skies, snow, dust storms, and high winds at times. Ed’s Jeep had an outside temperature display. We drove in everything from18 degree weather to temperatures in the 70s in New Mexico.

Here in outline form are the places we saw, hiked, photographed, and visited during the 12 day road trip:

Mon 3.14.11
* Interstate travel from my house in Central Washington to Lehi, Utah

Tue 3.15.11
* Scenic back roads ( Hwys: 6, 89, & 31) from Spanish Fork to Huntington, Utah
* Dirt road travel to “The Wedge” and down Buckhorn Wash to I-70.
* Side trip to the Head of Sinbad petroglyph and then on to Moab.

Wed 3.16.11
* Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands NP (Mesa Arch & Upheaval Dome)
* The Shafer “Jeep” Trail down to the White Rim road and back to Moab.
* Hike to Delicate Arch & visit Windows section in Arches NP.

Thu 3.17.11
* Newspaper Rock in the Needles district of Canyonlands NP
* Attempt back road travel thru the Abajo Mountains to Monticello
* Edge of the Cedars museum in Blanding, Utah
* Hovenweep – Square tower group loop hike
* Shiprock and then on to Farmington, New Mexico.

Fri 3.18.11
* Bisti Badlands hike (My favorite hike on the trip)
* Chaco Canyon (Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito) visit
* Scenic highway 96 and then down into Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sat 3.19.11
* Santo Domingo Pueblo (turquoise & pueblo oven bread)
* Cerrillos and the Turquoise Trail (highway 14)
* Acoma Sky City pueblo
* El Morro national monument hike
* Zuni pueblo then on to Grants, New Mexico

Sun 3.20.11
* Scenic highway 34 through Crystal to Canyon de Chelly national monument
* Canyon del Muerto rim of Canyon de Chelly. Stay in Chinle, Arizona

Mon 3.21.11
* White house ruin overlook at Canyon de Chelly
* Drive through a major dust storm getting pelted with flying tumbleweeds
* Highway 264 across Hopi Mesas to Tuba City then to Page, Arizona

Tue 3.22.11
* Try “walk in” lottery for “The Wave” (failed…….again)
* Visit Upper antelope slot canyon
* Big Bend of Colorado River

Wed 3.23.11
* The Toadstools hike
* Cottonwood wash/Paria River dirt road to Grosvenor (Butler) arch
* Kodachrome Basin (hike “Parade” and box canyons loop)
* Bryce Canyon National Park then on to Escalante, Utah

Thu 3.24.11
* Cancelled all our dirt road travel when we woke up to snow in Escalante
* Goblin Valley State Park then on to Ogden, Utah

Fri 3.15.11
* Interstate (through some serious snow in Northern Utah) back home.

Part of the fun of any “road trip” is the many interesting and wonderful people you meet along the way. We met more than our share but a few honorable mentions:

* Fred (Sawtooth photo) joined us for a Cracker Barrel lunch in Boise
* Al Hamann (a colorful character to say the least) CEO of Sun’s Inc. Passive Solar Products at Cindi’s Café in Huntington, Utah
* 15 year old “life is good” waitress at the Moab, Utah Pizza Hut
* Ana and daughter Tina ~ Santo Domingo Pueblo (turquoise & bread)
* Patricia (owner) at the Cerrillos, New Mexico turquoise mine museum
* “Love’s his job” and knowledgeable ranger at El Morro national monument
* Acoma Indian waitress at Grants, New Mexico
* Young Zuni girl with her special puppy “Angel”

And I just as well get the big confession out of the way. I gained back 6 pounds on this 12 day trip (and it is no mystery how that happened), of the hard lost pounds I from the preceding two and half months (“New Year’s resolution”). We ate a LOT at a LOT of family cafés and had many Denny’s specials. We found a few places to eat that were just flat out fantastic:

1. Homestead Steak House in Blanding, Utah (Order the French dip sandwich, which is served on fresh doughy bread, lots of beef, onions, green pepper, and cheese). Oh my!

2. The Family Hogan in Tuba City, Arizona. They were out of the Navajo mutton stew so I had the open face hot beef sandwich and a pizza sized Navajo fry bread with butter, sugar and cinnamon on the side (a vanilla milk shake too). I enjoyed each and every bite. The food was excellent and portions – generous.

3. Escalante Outfitters café (Pesto chicken pizza). Always good food can be found here and friendly people working there.

* Skip Chu Chu’s restaurant outside the Zuni pueblo. It was worth the view and a try, but the food was just not up to “road trip” standards.

I hope you enjoy some of the selected photographs I post from this road trip.

Oldmantravels 3.27.2011

Posted by oldmantravels on 2011-04-05 21:46:52

Tagged: , Highway 89 , Lake Powell , Glen Canyon dam , four corners road trip , colorado plateau , lake foul , page arizona , horseshoe bend colorado river , king bend colorado river , colorado river big bend , upper antelope slot canyon , antelope canyon tour , utah highway 89 , navajo mountain sunrise , american southwest slot canyon