Upper Antelope Canyon

I had seen photographs so wanted to go, but not without apprehension. Tours of Antelope Canyon are led by guides from the Navajo Nation, on whose land the slot canyon is located near Page, AZ. I’m not one for tight spaces, nor do I much like deep dark caves, so we opted for the tour of Upper Antelope Canyon, which requires walking into vs. descending into the canyon (the Lower Antelope Canyon tour). A four-wheel drive vehicle delivered us along a dry riverbed to the mouth of the canyon, from where we were led into the stone maze in small groups. There are some tight spaces, too many people, and places where two persons passing must do so back to back. But the guides do a masterful job of moving crowds along, and are in touch with weather trackers to ensure a flash flood doesn’t come as a very unwanted surprise.

You can’t blame people for “stop dead in their tracks” stupefaction. I was one of them.  From the gathering location outside the entrance slot, it is impossible to imagine what’s ahead. In the second shot, look for the woman entering the canyon at the bottom of the photo to get a clue as to scale. The third photo, still outside the canyon, begins to introduce what’s coming. Then the real fun begins. Shots are taken leaning back and looking up into shafts of changing light; flood debris can occasionally be seen caught in crevices far above one’s head. Beautiful now…

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The West I Grew Up With

Moab-Powell_8_160513Growing up on the East Coast, the West I knew was brought to me by movies and television, which imprinted tall tales with wild scenery. The”deja vu” sensation surfaced the moment we entered the Navajo Nation Tribal Park, which crosses the Utah/Arizona state border. The area known as Monument Valley has been a favorite location for iconic westerns since director John Ford filmed “Stagecoach”there in 1939, and has continued to offer stunning backdrops for filmmakers and tourists alike. Are the monuments and earth colors purple? red? brown? orange? grey? green? Yes. We stopped often just to make sure we were seeing what we thought we were seeing.