Sunday, June 3, 2012

Slot Canyons - Page AZ to Flagstaff AZ

Saturday, June 2, 2012 - .

Such a leisurely start to our day..we woke up in the cool motel room and ate a buffet breakfast looking out over the Lake Powell Valley.  We caught up a little on TV - Ben got to watch Cavuto (his favorite FOX show) and the internet. We planned the next few days of our trip – the Indian Section.

About 10:30 we packed up and went back to the campground to take down the tent-fly – we were just too hot to do it yesterday afternoon and after all the site was paid for!  It did not take us more than 14 minutes to get packed back up in better shape than we were late yesterday.
Last View of Lake Powell
The Glen Canyon Dam is near the campground so we did stop there briefly to look around their exhibits and look for a Rainbow Bridge Stamp for the Passport Book.  It was there and the clerk changed the date back to Friday for us.  The other catch up task from yesterday was to look for the US Post Office to mail our postcards. In addition to sending one to Daniel from each State we are in we are trying to send one to a young Park Ranger at White Sands. She and I were discussing postcards and it seems she collects them from National Parks and really wants one from Smoky Mountains. I promised to send her one and have sent a few others as we have traveled around. Finding post cards is much easier than finding the Post Office! In small towns it is easier – seems the post office was about ¼ block from where we ate dinner last night!

We got to the Hummer Slot Canyons Tour building about 11:30 for our 12 noon trip and had lunch in their cool lobby area. At 12 noon sharp our driver Josh introduced himself to us and the 3 other individuals who would be on our tour. They were a young man and two women from Thailand. Only the young man could speak much English. We did converse a little during the day but it was difficult to be sure.There were only the 5 of us and the driver in an air-conditioned Hummer. Josh explained we would be driving about 30 minutes to the canyon, walk a short distance, spend about 1 ½ hours in the canyon, and then return.  He assured us we would all have lots of fun and be laughing by the end of the tour – but there might be a few scary minutes if we were not familiar with all the things a Hummer can do.
Type terrain we covered
We drove a few miles on the highway and then began the “hair-raising” part of the tour – some free-wheeling on sandy back roads (?) across a mesa to the Secret Canyon. The owner of the Tour business had found this canyon about 10 years ago and worked to negotiate with the Navajo family (name of Mason) who own the rights for the land to allow the tours on their property. No one else (outside their family and his tours) has use of the roads or can come into the canyon area. It was obvious Josh enjoyed his job very much…he was an excellent driver and did put the Hummer through the paces he said it was made for – we drove over some slick rock, up pretty high inclines, and at one point he said we were only on two wheels.  I would not say I was scared but I was anxious a time or two! Obviously the vehicle is made to take to that sort of terrain – sand and slickrock.  
Entering Secret Canyon
 We arrived at the location where we walked about 200 feet to the secret slot canyon. It was hot – 95 to 98 and we were walking in very soft deep sand so it was slow going.  The really funny thing was the cultural difference in handling the sun – all three of the Thai individuals had umbrellas….and Ben, Josh, and I had hats and sunscreen.  Same outcome – protection from the hot sun!  So across the sand we went – umbrellas and hats alike!  I had noticed the long slim container one of the ladies was carrying and assumed it was the tripod for the young man who had lots of camera gear – no it was their umbrellas!!
Look Closely - 3 umbrellas and my hat
 We arrived in a very short time at the opening of the canyon that was about 1500 feet long – I don’t know if that sounds like a long way or not but when you are looking overhead and sideways in every direction to see the various colors, rock formations, and shadows all the time being sure you were not bumping into the next formation or tripping over a rock…we were in the slot canyon for over an hour…no place was it wider than 3-4 feet – we traveled single file. We saw and heard the others but were always able to take the time to photograph with no one in the pictures. Josh was helpful and explained many things to us as we went along.
We enjoyed taking the photos and the entire experience. To compare our tour with the competition –Antelope Canyon Tours – I can only do from some observation, reading on line, and hearing a few comments from Josh.  There were 5 of us on this tour while most of the Antelope Canyon tours have 20 or more. We rode in air-conditioned comfort in the Hummer while the other tour transports sitting on benches in the back of a large truck.  We were essentially alone in the canyon. Josh says Antelope Canyon is not as long as Secret Canyon but is twice as wide. His comment was that often there is one group of people coming in – going one way – and you pass a second group of people going out – so it would be very difficult to take photos with no one around.  I know from reading you have to climb down a ladder in one of the Antelope Canyons.  Secret Canyon is fairly level.  I include a selection of our photos.

  The Hummer Tours – having limited access to the roads to and from and the canyon totally control the flow of people. There was one Hummer leaving just as we arrived. They would not want two groups on the road at one time - so they waited for us to arrive to start back. This is definitely a situation of you get what you pay for. This time it was well worth the money for the quality of the experience.

Trip back was just as exciting as going out…at one point I was trying to take a photo of a butte and suddenly Josh went up a sandberm for a little thrill!  I said “Oh, you ruined my photo!” as we dropped instantly and I was not expecting it!  So Josh said “ Well then we will just have to do it AGAIN! “ and he did….  If anyone is in Page and wants a really great experience in a slot canyon – talk to Hummer Secret Canyon Adventures – you will not regret it!  
We climbed this! - well the Hummer did.
Back to our Hummer
We were back to Page, bought gas, stopped at McDonalds for a burger and coke and were headed south to Flagstaff by 3PM.  The trip was without incident – it was slightly different landscape with small sand cones in a variety of sizes and colors throughout the first half of the drive.  About 75% of the drive was through the Navajo Nation; so there were small homes and hogans along the road.  

We stopped at Cameron Trading Post about half way and looked at rugs, pottery, jewelry, and other crafts.  There are some beautiful things and then there is also a lot of tourist junk.Then we began climbing again as were nearing Flagstaff. As the elevation increased the temperature decreased – it is nearly 7,000 feet here at the KOA in Flagstaff.   

We have stayed in KOA campgrounds fairly often – they are reliable so you pretty much know what you are getting. They are pretty close to having the privacy of a National Park or State Park but always have good bathhouse, laundry, electric, and WIFI.  Often they have cable TV as well.  This one is the cream of the KOA’s – it has a splash pad, bikes & banana bikes to rent, a large playground, they even serve breakfast!  It is indeed a destination KOA not a stop for the night KOA.   They also have cabins and tee-pee tents to rent out.  We are planning to go to the Museum of Northern Arizona – supposed to be very good tomorrow so we may just stay a second night since it is so COOL and leave here for Indian Territory on Monday.
Odd colored formations
Kids riding banana bikes- looks like great fun.
 I have been waiting for 10 years to get back out here to go in the slot canyons – this was one time when something you have waited for finally happens and it is as great as you thought it would be!

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