Today started at midnight when we welcomed in 2014. The kids refused to miss it, so we came up with a plan. We went to bed at normal time and set the alarm for 11:55pm. After a quick countdown and Happy New Year hugs, we all went back to sleep! It was a win-win compromise – the kids were happy but they still had the energy and bounce to enjoy another busy day.
We were back on the road today, leaving behind beautiful Monument Valley. This morning we were up early enough to get the best of the sunset from our room. Our drive today was only a couple of hours so we arrived in Page late morning. It was nice to stretch the sore horse-riding muscles on a short walk down to a viewpoint of the Glen Canyon dam. This dam is also built on the Colorado River, upstream of Hoover Dam. It’s only 16 feet shorter than Hoover, but far less famous and not as impressive.
We had a break from picnic lunches today, dining at Denny’s. You can’t spend a month in the States without having the Denny’s experience at least once. The service was pretty slow, but the food was actually pretty good and fuelled us up for the afternoon’s adventures.
First stop was Antelope Canyon. This is the most famous and easily accessible slot canyon in this part of the world. A slot canyon is very deep but very narrow, formed by water rushing through the rock. Upper Antelope Canyon is well known for classic photos with a shaft of sunshine reaching down to the canyon floor. However, in winter the sun is too low in the sky for this to happen. We decided to tour Lower Antelope Canyon instead as it is much longer and narrower than the Upper canyon – and involves far more ladders.
The guided tour turned out to be guided to the canyon entrance, and then you did your own thing. The entrance was barely visible from the ground – you climbed down a steep metal ladder and suddenly you were in this red rock wonderland. For the next hour we were free to wander through the canyon and climb down a series of metal ladders at our own pace. The canyon was up to 30 metres deep and sometimes so narrow you could barely squeeze through. The rocks were all twisted – this canyon is also called “The Corkscrew”. It is hard to explain the beauty of this place (I am having trouble finding the words to explain a lot of these places we visit!), but the photos can tell the story.
Our next stop was Horseshoe Bend a 270 degree entrenched meander in the Colorado River. We had to hike a couple of miles through sand to get to the view point. This was another jaw-dropping natural wonder, with nail-biting drop offs. The drop offs were so sheer, that it was almost impossible to see all the river unless you hung right over the edge (which we didn’t do…) Andy came up with a cunning plan to get a great photo – put the camera on self timer and dangle it over the edge using the tripod! We got pretty warm on the hike back up to the car. It is much warmer here, today we hit 44 degrees (around 7 degrees in Celsius). With not a breath of wind and sunshine, it felt much warmer though.
The last stop of the day was a man-made wonder that the kids have been dying to visit – Walmart! They had great fun exploring the super sized store and came away with some more stuff to fit in their bags. Dinner tonight was a bit of a challenge as hardly anything was open in Page. It was a choice of an over-priced steak house or “Sonic Drive-In”. The drive-in won, more for novelty value than food quality. The food was delivered to our car by a guy on roller skates, then we sat in the car munching on some typical American fast food. I wouldn’t want to eat it too often, but it was a classic American experience. After tea we burned off some of the fatty calories swimming in the pool and soaked the sore muscles in the hot tub.