|We’re back! The eastbound trip was pretty uneventful, but horribly tiring. Air travel these days is not for the weak. On Wednesday the 5th, we got up and did all of our packing and house preps, then drove almost 5 hours to Las Vegas, I got a haircut, we grabbed dinner then headed to the airport to sit and wait about 2 hours for our overnight 5 hour flight to Orlando. Brutal...that one word best describes the day. Not that anything went wrong, but the cumulative effects of driving, flying, time zone changes and no sleep kicked our aging butts. Needless to say, once we got to The Villages it was nap time before heading out to Longhorn for some cow parts for dinner.
The balance of our time in central FL was spent doing some home repair tasks, some computer work, some phone calls and some visitin’ with friends and family, but nothing blatantly blog-worthy during our 10 day stint.
Our westbound return journey was less tiring than the eastbound, but we did bail out on the idea of driving all the way from LV to Page on Saturday and ended up getting a hotel room in St. George, Utah for the night – for a mere $217 – which, despite the cost, worked out pretty well as we hit Costco in St. George and drove through Zion National Park on the way home and were still back at the fast house by 2:30 Sunday afternoon and ready to get back to our normal existence.
Monday was a catch-up day, with my better half doing some laundry as I supervised and offered frequent moral support...oh, but I did go to Walmart for some supplies so I did contribute something to the day.
Tuesday was our first day getting back into the swing of things. We headed south a few miles on U.S. 89 to take a short hike out to one of the most photographed scenes in the southwest, the Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River along its journey toward the Grand Canyon. The ¾ of a mile hike out from the parking lot was easy in the coolish temps and bright sun as we weaved our way through the tourists – we don’t consider ourselves tourists, even though we are – until we got to the viewpoint.
The initial view is very impressive – not Grand Canyon impressive – but still impressive, just on a much smaller scale. We wandered around the viewing area and then off the path a bit to see if we could get a better, or at least different, view. Michele even hiked up onto the hill to the north for a better view but wasn’t rewarded due to rocks blocking the view toward the bend. We had done all we could at the bend – gawking and picturing are all there is – so we started our hike back to the parking lot.
We did a drive out to Antelope Point northeast of Page to snoop around but there wasn’t much to see so we pointed the jeepster into Page for a pretty good lunch at Fiesta Mexicana and then a stop at Walmart on the way home pretty much brought our day to a close.
Wednesday’s first stop was for another dam tour...this time, of the Glen Canyon Dam. We got tickets for the 10:30 tour and off we went along with 12 others and our guide. The dam was built in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and formed the 186 mile long Lake Powell upstream of the dam in Utah and Arizona. The lake is heavily used during the summer months for recreation purposes and we could not believe the number of boats, mostly houseboats, moored at the nearby marinas and in dry storage. In summer the number of boats on the lake must look like ants on a candy bar.
The tour took us down from the Visitor Center and outside onto the top of the dam, then we took another elevator down over 500’ into the middle of the concrete structure, then out across a walkway and into the room where the 8 turbines generate electricity for many of the western states.
As with all of the huge dams in the western U.S., this one is a marvel of construction. At only about 30’ wide at the top but over 300’ at the base, it is an amazing feat, especially considering that it was built before modern computers, equipment and safety features.
This web page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Canyon_Dam does a good job of explaining the history and construction of the dam, and if you have the time, details the on-going controversy about its continued existence and its impact on the downstream environment, specifically on the Grand Canyon.
From there we headed into Page for some dang tasty Texas BBQ before we pointed the Jeep-a-roo south on U.S. 89 about an hour from Page to the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Unfortunately, we didn’t do as much research as we should have so we missed the fact that there isn’t a dedicated Visitor Center for the cliffs so you are kind of on your own to explore the monument...and road access isn’t the best.
We did get to see some absolutely awesome scenery and we did poke around Lee’s Ferry for a bit, but we only spent about 90 minutes on the eastern side of the monument and it was a bit too far to get to the western side to see anything after our late start...oh, well...we still have over a week here so we might give that a shot later.