Soon after doing the toadstool trail, we arrived at the town of Page, and ended up camping there for three nights. This was unusual for us; in fact, it was the first time since leaving Sarasota that we had stayed anywhere for more than one night. But Page is a tourist centre, and we found quite a lot to do there. Moreover, our campground had all the facilities we required (including wifi, though it did not always work well) and was cheap.
Things have changed since we last did a US camping trip. Back in 1996, we did not particularly want electricity on site – who needs electricity when you are sleeping in a tent? We had no laptop, no mobile phones and no digital cameras. Now we have seven items with us that need charging! So we need a motel or a campsite with electricity at least every third night. But the digital cameras are a blessing; with such wonderful scenery you want to take hundreds of photos, but in pre-digital days you were limited in the number of photos you could take. Now the main problem is selecting just a few for the blog!
Page is in Arizona. Like Utah, Arizona is on Mountain time, but (alone among the states) Arizona does not observe daylight saving time – except in the Navajo reservations. We learned this many years ago, but it’s still confusing! Especially in Page, which is sandwiched between the Utah border and Navajo territory.
As Page was the biggest town we’d been in for several days (not saying much) we decided to have a ‘night out’: dinner in a restaurant and then a small theatre which we’d seen advertised. The show was billed as a ‘Western musical melodrama’, called Who shot Juanito Bandito? We were not expecting the Royal Shakespeare Company, which was just as well. The show was more like a pantomime than anything else, and Ian remarked (with justification, if not modesty) that the script made the NFER pantos seem really good. As it happened, there was heavy rain that night, so at least we were in the dry. For culture, we’ll have to wait until we are back in Sarasota.
Antelope Canyon is narrow and picturesque: ‘the most photographed slot canyon in the USA’. The top end was flooded when the Glen Canyon dam was build 50 years ago, and we went on a boat trip to see it. However, the highlight was a visit to part of Antelope Canyon which is still dry. A guided tour is the only way of visiting, and many hundreds of people take the trip, particularly the one timed to coincide with the famous ‘beam of light’ which pierces the canyon every morning. We could not manage to do this (those tours are booked days in advance) but our afternoon tour was spectacular. The rock walls are shaped like waves (can’t think of a better description), and the colours are amazing. Photos look like abstract works of art. We’ve seen nothing to equal it, before or since.
We spent a lovely relaxing day floating slowly on the Colorado River through Glen Canyon on a motorised raft. Our guide Brad was a real character, and quite entertaining; the scenery was wonderful; the sun shone, and all in all it was a great trip. We landed at a couple of beaches, and at one of them we walked a short way to see some ancient petroglyphs. Our river journey ended at Lee’s Ferry, where a bus was waiting to take us back to Page. In Glen Canyon, the Colorado River is very calm; beyond Lee’s Ferry it becomes white water, as it enters the Grand Canyon.
Bighorn sheep by the river
The day after our river trip, we walked to some viewpoints which provided a different perspective of Glen Canyon. In particular, we walked to the Horseshoe Bend overlook; that part of Glen Canyon has to be seen from above, in order to fully appreciate how it got its name!
The ‘other’ Grand Canyon
Of course, there is only one Grand Canyon, but it has two rims. As the crow flies, it is ten miles from north to south, but the driving distance is over 200 miles. Both have wonderful viewpoints, but the north is less accessible and therefore most people go to the south. We’d visited the south twice (1976 and 1993) and the north rim once (1983). We were not planning to go to the Grand Canyon again on this trip, but when we realised that we were not very far from the north rim, we decided that perhaps it was time for a second visit.
The North Rim is higher than the south rim, and therefore cooler and wetter. After fighting through a very heavy storm on our way there, the weather cleared enough for us to complete the scenic drive and stop at a number of viewpoints – though the clouds can be seen looming in several of our photos. All park accommodation was full, including the campground, but we managed to camp just outside the boundary. Next morning there was some sun, so we were able to complete a longer walk (the Uncle Jim trail) and then revisit some of the key viewpoints, to see them with fewer clouds. We were lucky – as soon as we left the park, the rain started again and didn’t stop for some hours.