Friday, June 1,2012
What a day! Some really highs and a few lows….but overall it turned out well.
We were up at 6:15 to be at the Marina at 7:00 for our trip to Rainbow Bridge. A quick breakfast and check of the gear and we were off. There were probably 50-60 people on our tour. The cruise boat was very nice with an upper deck with chairs and a lower deck with padded seats. We opted for the upper deck on the way out which would be cooler than the return trip.
I can’t begin to describe the trip out to Rainbow Bridge. It was a 50 mile trip over the crystal blue waters of Lake Powell. Lake Powell is nearly 200 miles long and as I think I already mentioned was formed when the Glen Canyon Dam was built. The multicolored buttes and mesas that we passed today were really over 300 -400 feet higher than they now appear above the water. The water is on average of 300 feet deep and filled in all the canyons in that area when the reservoir began to fill. Left sticking out of the water were the peaks, buttes, and mesas we see today. The photos will just have to speak for themselves. There is much boat traffic on the lake. We saw numerous houseboats, speedboats, and lots of jet skiers enjoying the wake from our boat. We passed through several canyons and larger bodies of water and finally began to follow the main channel of the Colorado. We left from the Marina in Arizona but spent most of the dtrip in Utah. The Rainbow Bridge itself and much of the land we passed today is part of the Navajo Indian Reservation.
One interesting happening on our trip out was stopping for a boat tied to a buoy. Evidently this is sign of distress. The folks in the boat had blown an engine and needed a tow so our captain called them one.
When we were close to Rainbow Bridge the captain told us we were leaving the main channel and passing through two channels to reach the Bridge. The channel became narrower and narrower with the red sandstone cliffs towering above us on both sides. In most places there was room for a small boat to pass us but at one particularly narrow section before the captain turned into the channel he blew the warning sign so no boats would enter. He had perhaps 3-4 feet clearance on each side of the boat. I was amazed how he could twist and turn the boat with the twists and turns of the narrow canyon.
The Park Service had worked out an agreement with the Navajo Nation for respectful viewing of the Rainbow Bridge which is sacred to their religion. It was declared a national monument soon after it was made known to our government. The Indians had known of its existence for many years before early explorers found it. The Bridge is the largest known in the world. From its base to the top of the arch, it is 290 feet-nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty-and spans 275 feet across the river; the top of the arch is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide. The tour boat is as large a vessel as could possibly have made the trip into the narrow canyon. The Park Service has installed portable metal long docks and we as well as several smaller craft could tie to the dock. Then we walked first down probably 100 feet of portable docks to a bit larger dock with bathrooms before continuing on a narrow path that was partly paved and mostly sand. We could just make out about ¼ of the bridge and as we continued along the path for about ½ mile total we came to two viewing locations that were agreed to by the Navajo Nation. They believe no one should walk beneath the bridge. It was very hot. On the boat you did not notice the heat but here you felt it and there was very little shade. We made it fine and enjoyed the talk by a ranger there below the bridge. The bridge is an outstanding site and certainly something we are glad we were able to see.
The Captain gave us 1 hour and 15 minutes at the bridge and then the boat would return to the Marina. We chose to sit in the lower portion of the boat for the return trip. It was very hot and we felt we had probably had enough sun – even with sunscreen it would have been too much. In spite of the absolutely wonderful scenery I found myself shutting my eyes now and then! We did take a few more photos. The excitement on the return trip was stopping to leave mail for the Dangling Rope Marina – only way in or out of the marina is by water or helicopter. The tour boats are their link to the outside. They have a solar panel farm that gives them all their power. They sent someone out to our boat to pick up their mail and some supplies. Then as we were closer back to the marina we slowed considerably for a search that was underway for the body of a man who drowned a week ago. With water as deep as this searching must be very difficult.
We had eaten a snack lunch of the return trip but upon arrival back at camp ate a bit more and drank, drank, drank – water and Gatorade. They had given us water and lemonade and we took Gatorade with us but the temperature was now hovering around 98. We rested in the shade for a few hours and began to recover from feeling washed out! Finally about 4 PM we gave up and called a motel and left our campsite for some cool temperature!
We had slept fine last night with a fan in the camper but today was about 5 degrees warmer than yesterday AND we had to make it until the temperatures dropped and the sun went down around 8 PM. Then we knew we had tomorrow at the campsite until about 11:30 when we left for our Slot Canyon Tour - it was just more than we could handle.
After a shower, clean clothes and half an hour in the cool motel – we headed out for our anniversary dinner. We chose Blue Budda a Sushi Bar that also served other Asian dishes and Seafood. We made a great choice. We had Shrimp Tempura with dipping sauces and some noodle dishes. Ben had Coconut Curry and Jane had Thai Peanut. Both were beef, assorted veggies, and noodles. Excellent!
A perfect ending for an almost perfect day – if we could have just had about 15 degrees less heat we would have been fine!