July 11, 2014

A For Arizona

Page (Arizona)
If you directly come to this post, you may want to catch up on my prelude note here.

Note: This destination was not exactly for my son's vacation time. Of course it's not an ideal vacationing place for especially when you say its their summer vacation. But we had to do something for ourselves too. Nonetheless, it is a great experience to add to your family vacation.

Started from Las Vegas,NV en route Zion National Park, UT we reached Page, AZ at night.The drive time (by google) was only about approx 4hrs, but with all the photo stops and other pit stops and getting stuck in traffic (work zone) under the scorching heat prolonged the journey. 

We started at exact noon from Las Vegas and reached Page at 10:00 pm (all local time). I must mention about the difference in time zone. Utah has Mountain time zone (MDT). For Arizona, well AZ has no clock change all through the year. So, depending on whatever time of the year, they could be in sync with mountain time or pacific time. At this time of the year (Jun-Jul) it was pacific time. BTW, DST clock change is not being observed in Arizona since 1970 and one of the websites I glanced through mentioned that it won't be observed until 2020. Wonder why it's that way - well google here I come!
Why did I care to mention this one hour difference, well when you are travelling late evening-night it does matter especially when you decide to take a stop for dinner and find yourself in a town that is already in sleep mode! An hour does matter.

By the time we entered Page we were completely delusional (Pacific time to Mountain time and then back to Pacific time). We went straight to sleep (already half asleep). 

We woke up early morning (7:00 is early considering you are on vacation!) First stop was Antelope Canyons (Upper and then Lower). As we set out of the hotel it was noon, well not exactly but the position of the sun and the sun rays and the heat from the ground sure confuse me. Yes, it was HOT.

I soon was getting familiarized with the new term "Navajo (Pronounced as Navaho) land". These canyons are owned by people of Navajo community. The Navajo's fondly call 7 wonders of Navajo land and the Antelope canyons are one of them. They privately run the tours and maintain their land. And you will have to tour the Antelope Canyons with them. No leisure walks!

We booked for our 8:45 am tour hoping it wouldn't be that hot (but it was already in the desert). We booked our tour online but when we reached the spot we were asked to pay an additional fee for parking which wasn't mentioned anywhere and that took us by surprise considering the fact that there was actually no concrete parking or pathway or anything. It was just open, sandy and barren!. 

From the entrance its about 10-12 min Jumpy, wobbly (hold on to your camera tight ), dusty (make sure you cover your belongings including your face and eyes) ride through the sand dunes to the mouth of the canyon

The tour fee includes the ride.We had about 10 to 12 vehicles that seated about 14 to 15 people in each cart for the 8:45 am (1st tour) tour. We were loaded in the last one  and that turned out quiet in our favor. And our vehicle was under loaded and that is a blessing too because fewer the people in your tour more relaxed it can be. The rest of the vehicles were all filled with tourist from China! 

The beauty treatment that these canyons get are by the crafty hands of wind, sand, rain and of course time has given the personified this mighty wonderland. It's definitely one of a kind.
For some reason I thought the canyon will be lot more hotter but our tourist guide cleared our misconception that it's going to a lot more cooler inside the canyon. In fact in olden days her grandma (who actually owns this land) came down to the canyons in order to cool down. It is a very spiritual place for them too. As you go inside the canyon it gets narrower and darker

See the shades and the bleak sunlit portion.

Tips: Listen to the canyon guides, they have been visiting these canyons day in and day out. They also give photography tips and they even help you do with the camera settings (for novice). They have seen it all. Hear what the guide say and show. If you are like me W.R.T photography then you would like to take the tips from the guide but use your very own learning curve by self experience with different settings. I used up my whole 16GB card just in the canyon and sadly I could only salvage a handful. What I expected to be a perfect shot from within the LCD screen of the camera was all shaken and distorted after I downloaded. So, photography is tough without a tripod as you go deeper in the canyon. Unfortunately, this tour doesn't allow time for tripods. There is a special photographer's tour (costs a lot more) and you are allowed a tripod in there. 

My pictures came out pretty dark as we moved to the interiors which I expected since I had done my due diligence by reading regarding photography within the canyon . I have definitely (and you will have to too) used some sort of tool to brighten the picture. Other than that the pictures are very much an exact view of how your naked eyes would be seeing the place

Also, the inside of the canyon tends to change colors depending on how much sun light gets in. The same spot has different variation in colors from different angles too. Here is a set of shots to prove it.

Took this as soon as we entered the canyon

This was more or less from the same spot but took it before leaving the canyon (say about an hour and a half later, the sun moved so colors changed)

And this one, from a different angle and distance. 

As much beautiful the canyon is, it could also be a dangerous place. The canyons get flash foods almost. There have been recent incidents of tourists losing their lives or injured heavily due to flash floods. So, always ensure to read and look for rains around the area (not just near the canyon but a little away too). Usually the guides do a good job of tracking that and they cancel the tours even if there is a slightest possibility, but it's mother nature and there is a reason its called "flash floods". 

In this picture you can actually see the rain water mark. 

This is how your (see below) picture will turn out if you have your flash on inside the canyon. The tour guides will mention to avoid flash photography within the canyon (it's not prohibited though). The structure that you are seeing is nothing but sand that has solidified over years and they have some glitter quality to it which dominates your picture when the flash go on. It almost feels like your lense is murky.

We ensured to test that theory and this is the result. A picture with flash on.

Look at that variation in color. Amazing what sunlight can do.

Your guide will throw around some sand on the ledge for you and give some moments to capture the beauty of falling sand. You are also allowed to touch the flowing sand while some takes your snap. You have to be quick because everyone is waiting in line and the tour guide will actually rush a bit. I took 20 shots just at this place and could salvage only 2 out of them. Strange, your camera acts tricky right at the moment when you want to hurry!

Here is my moment of pride

Bird nest

On our way back we got to see this beam of sunlight (this happens only at specific time and specific spots based on the position of sun and relative to the canyon's openings on the ceiling. There are better positions and ways to capture this, but sadly since we got to see this on our return, there was literally no stop/wait time. I wasn't even ready with the right settings on my camera but I still want to share this raw beauty. It was much much better in reality.

With some dust particles

Don't forget to look up and catch the contrast in your camera showing the true colors of nature.

We also used our usual digital camera (My husband behind that one). We were able to salvage some from those too. Thanks hubby, you did a terrific job! Here are some pics from the digital cam.

At the entrance

The best color variation captured. Love it.

Well I had a hell of a time in the canyon, completely mesmerized and I wish that each one of you should get your very own experience to rave, rant and brag about.

Our pic that the tour guide took at the other end of the canyon

Here are some more pictures around Page, AZ. All the pics below (including the sky color) too Believe me this is exactly how it actually looked to the naked eye (unless you are color blind). 

These from "Horseshoe Canyon". You will have to take a trail (short one but a killer one under the unmerciful sun rays). It's easy to get a sunstroke so beware.

The tiny white dots that you see are actually motor boats cruising around. judge the height. 

After all this under the sun, we did not have any energy or willingness to go see the "Lower Antelope Canyon". We sure missed it being so close to it, but I got something to look forward to in my next trip.

The very same day we drove back to Vegas (Nevada) once again via Zion Nation Park (Utah).
Click here to read about our next destination San Diego (California)

Linking to Alphabet Thursday @ 
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