Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Bryce Canyon & Page AZ - Day 3

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Can you guess how many churches are in Page, AZ? There are 23 churches for a population of 7,600 people. Our hotel is off of ‘church row’. I counted ten churches one next to the other: Catholic, Seventh day Adventist, Baptist, LDS, Lutheran, Assembly of God… I can’t even think of that many mainstream Christian religions. I wonder how busy traffic gets on Sunday mornings 😊

This morning we awoke and went down to the lobby for breakfast. At 9am we met the Davis’ at the parking lot for Horse Shoe Bend Overlook. It is a .6 mile walk to the viewing area. The weather was still a little chilly. It was 28F when we began our hike, but the exertion of the walk kept us warm.
The site is dangerous. There is no fence or barrier keeping people from falling off its edge. There are many boulders that seem solid when you step on them only to realize they could give up at any time due to fracture lines that can only be seen as we walked along the rim and view the boulders from a different angle. The crazy thing is what people will do for a picture. It’s incredible how close to the edge tourists will get.

It was beautiful to see, yet still a very tense experience. We took some photos and happily left the overlook.
We stopped at the Glen Canyon Dam visitor center to reserve our tickets for the afternoon tour. It is a federal facility so there were armed security guards on site. The visitor center is run by the National Park Service so the kids were able to earn their Jr Ranger badges. It was one of the easiest badges they have earned.
We then traveled to Canyon X Outfitters for our tour of Antelope Canyon. I polled our family to see what their favorite part of the trip was. They unanimously agreed the experience was by far the best part of our trip.

We pulled up to a dirt parking lot where we left our cars and were shuttled through a dirt road to the top of the canyon. We hiked down a steep dirt road to the slot canyon opening. The area is on Navajo tribal land and can only be accessed through a guided tour. Our tour guide, Sergio is the grandson of the Navajo tribesman who acquired and defended the land from being mined for minerals in the early 1900’s.  I am glad he chose to preserve it for us to enjoy. It was truly an awe-inspiring site. I can see how some people describe it as a religious experience.

The narrow canyon has been eroded by water, sand and wind over thousands of years. Leaving 60 feet high walls that protrude and recede in unpredictable ways allowing the visitor occasional views of the contrasting blue sky and beams of light to penetrate to the ground.

Sergio stomped on the ground to demonstrate the sound was hollow.  There is a lot of underground water and oil in this region.

On the way back we got to ride a side by side ATV up the steep hill. It was a first for most of our family.
Once we got back to our car we rushed through lunch to make it to our scheduled Glenn Canyon dam tour. After passing through a metal detector, we took an elevator down to the top of the dam. Todd got a kick out of the swearing elevator announcing “damn!” once we reached our floor.  The dam was completed in 1966. The flooring, wall tiles and color have never been updated making our experience a trip back in time.

The dam equipment has been updated for better efficiency and some of the original pieces are on display for tourists to understand how it operates. In essence, water from Lake Powell gets channeled down through pipes to the Colorado River. The drop in height creates pressure that pushes a turbine to spin. The spinning, in turn, moves a copper wheel across a magnetic casing creating electricity.

The dam powers the four corners area and Navajo nation. There are eight generators powering the region. They only produce power to meet daily demand. When we visited, one was being repaired and four others were running. In the hot summer months, all eight are running consistently.

Another power source is a coal mine a few miles away. We learned the mine will be closing next year laying off 800 people. In a population of 7,600, that is a large unemployment rate. Unfortunately, the cost to produce coal is not as profitable as natural gas or other sources of energy, so the owners are pulling the plug on the factory.

I was surprised not to see many solar panels in use. The region’s sunny weather year-round would make it a prime location for solar.

The kids ended the afternoon swimming at the Davis’ hotel indoor pool. I stayed in our room with Andrew who sorely needed a nap. We met up with everyone for pizza at Stromboli, a popular restaurant in town.