Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Road Trip Day 2: The Wonders of Northern Arizona

We woke up so early on Tuesday morning that I'm sure no matter when you are reading this, I'm still tired.  We woke up around 5:15 am Mountain Time, which means it felt like 4:15 am to me.  Not fun. But, as you'll see, well worth it.  My plans for our Tuesday made for a jam-packed day.

We started out by picking Maggie up from Doggey Dude Ranch, where she had a blast. (she went swimming multiple times, including 15 minutes before I picked her up).  From there, we had to boogie to make it to Page, Arizona before our 9:30am tour of Antelope Slot Canyon.  Antelope is located on Navajo land and for the safety of the tourists and for the preservation of the canyon, the only way to experience the canyon is by tour.  Thankfully, Arizona was an hour earlier than Zion because Arizona stays on Mountain Standard Time year round; they don't do daylight saving time.  We made it to Page with plenty of time to drop of a very nervous labrador at the vet for the 2 hours during which we'd be touring the slot canyon.

Antelope is located on Navajo land and for the safety of the tourists and for the preservation of the canyon, the only way to experience the canyon is by tour.  I booked this tour at least a month ago.
We met our tour guides at an office in a strip mall and they drove us the 20 minutes out to the entrance of the slot.  Our transportation:
Yes, we sat on those benches in the back
Now, I've been in slot canyons before.  But, this was incredible.  It was deeper, darker, longer, and more narrow than the others I've walked through.  The one downside of visiting such an awesome place, it gets crowded:
However, they do a pretty good job of spacing out the tour groups and enabling you to take pictures without other people in the background.  It also helps that the canyon is so curvy.  The group in front just needs to disappear around the curve that is 4 feet in front of you.
Speaking of photos, these tours are also awesome because the tour guide literally tells you where to point your cameras to best capture the colors and contours of the canyon.  There's no way that we would have captured a single one of these images without our fantastic (and patient) tour guide.
This one is hard to see, but he's kind of standing on his back legs and growling at the sky.
"Arizona Sunrise"
This image is created by the sun shining into the canyon and lighting up the orange/red walls of the canyon.
The first thing I saw was the heart.  However, there is also an antelope face on the left, and that's all I can see now.
The tour winds through the slot canyon and out the back.  Where we milled around a bit and snapped a few pics.
After doing some flawless posing (lol), it was time to wind our way back through the canyon to the entrance, where our ride was waiting for us.
Did I mention this is a popular place?  Look at all those tour trucks!!
Once we got back to town, we picked up my adorable stressed-out labrador, and headed in the direction of Horseshoe Bend, a 270 degree bend in the Colorado River.  The trailhead is located just a couple minutes outside of Page, and involved a really easy 1.5 mile roundtrip hike out to a really beautiful overlook that, shockingly, does not have any guardrails!
The best part is that this is on BLM land, so Maggie was allowed on the hike!  It was good for her to get out and stretch her legs before the next leg of our journey.
Ultimately, our Day 2 would end at the Far View Lodge at Mesa Verde National Park, but there was one stop along the way that I couldn't pass up:
Yep, Four Corners.  Now, as a word of caution, I wouldn't recommend going crazy and driving any more than about 10 minutes out of your way for this one.  But, the turn into the driveway for the monument was literally right on the route from Page to Mesa Verde.  Therefore, I couldn't pass up the chance to stand in four states at once.
From there, we had a bit to go before we arrived at Mesa Verde National Park, known for its numerous 13th century pueblo cliff dwellings.  We arrived around 7pm, so there were no cliff dwelling tours on Tuesday night (plus, it was raining).  We did, however, check into our accommodations for the night, which were located within the boundaries of the park and situated high up on the mesa (pics were taken on Wednesday morning when the sun was shining).
These places were fantastic - the rooms were great and the food at the lodge was better than I could have possibly imagined!!  I highly highly recommend staying here.

There were four cabin-type rooms in each row.  
And, each room had an adorable little porch on the back.
And, it gets better!!  They even allow dogs (no weight limit as far as I can tell), for a mere $10 fee!!
My extremely stressed out labrador has been downgraded to a very stressed out labrador and conditions are continuously improving.  Poor Maggie....she doesn't deal well with change.

I cannot wait to share Day 3 with you, but for now, it is off to bed.  Tomorrow is yet another early morning!  I'm so glad I don't start work in DC for a couple of weeks.  I'll need the time to catch up on sleep!!

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