Life is either a daring adventure or nothing
My deep sleep is rudely interrupted by an alarm clock. It is 5am and we have a 6am start. I could cry!!!! My beautiful room in the Marriott Hotel in Provo has its own little lobby. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to lie in bed for a few hours and enjoy the beautiful surroundings?
It is a four hour drive to Bryce Canyon, and we stop after two hours so that the people with the pre-paid meal plan can have a hot Chinese buffet breakfast. I sit in Burger King with a greasy bacon and egg muffin and lousy coffee. Not that I'm jealous, because I'm sure I wouldn't enjoy Chinese food for breakfast.
I return to the bus and rest my eyes for another hour. The terrain is becoming more arid. The farms seem to have good wheat crops, and I'm sure they will harvest soon. But farms soon disappear and are replaced with red rocks - lots of them. We are passing the area known as the Red Canyon, and the seven kilometres of bright red rocks reminds me of the terrain we drove through in Western Australia last year. The road passes right through a huge rock, into which a tunnel has been hewn. There are many people standing nearby taking photos of vehicles driving through the hole in the rock.
We arrive at the Bryce Canyon National Park. The day is warming and the red pillars of sandstone and other rock are a wonderful contrast to the blue sky. Bryce Canyon is misnamed. It isn't really a canyon, rather a huge hole in the ground filled with tall red hoodoos. Hoodoos are spire-like formations created by frost weathering and river erosion. Because the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon experience approximately 200 frost-thaw cycles each year their sides erode faster than the harder cap on the top. I stand on the rim of the canyon and stare down at the multitude of shapes below. I can see carved faces on many of them, whilst others look like the spires on La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
I am fascinated by the shapes, and whilst half of my bus tour trip down into the amphitheatre below wearing high heel sandals and thongs, I am content to walk along the footpath at the rim and admire the sight below. I hear a rattling noise nearby, not like a rattlesnake, but probably an insect of some kind. I find a little cricket amongst the needles of a Ponderosa pine, his vibrating legs produces a buzzing sound as they bounce off the sharp needles. Below me in the valley of Hoodoos, many fir trees grow. I take a couple of photos, hoping that I get a suitable one for this year's Christmas cards.
A short time before arriving at Antelope Canyon, Sam, our guide, explains that we are unable to take any bags, backpacks, etc into the canyon. We may take water and a camera or phone, but we must hold it with our hands.
Once we register at the office, we are placed in groups of eight with a local guide. We walk for ten minutes over hot, soft sand in single file. It is hard to walk in the sand as it shifts under my feet. Reaching a shade-cloth shelter, we wait our turn to descend the 37 metres into the canyon by climbing down a staircase. It takes a long time for each individual to climb down the stairs and progress is not only hot, but slow. We are assured that we will move through much quicker after we reach the bottom.
Antelope Canyon is not a National Park, but a slot canyon situated on Navajo land near Page, Arizona. The canyon was formed by water erosion due to flash-flooding. Flood waters rush into the canyon, grinding down the soft sandstone as it rushes into the narrow passageways. The soft sand underfoot is the end result of that erosion. But the wave-like multicoloured walls, with light shining from narrow slots at the top make this place not only surreal, but an awe-inspiring sight.
I see a seahorse shape in the sky, twin mountains, a face, and other shapes in the wavy canyon walls. This place provides a wonderful opportunity for me to see first-hand the beauty of nature in this most incredible of places.
TITLE QUOTE: HELEN KELLER
ACCOMMODATION: Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites. 1 Legacy Lane, Tuba City, Arizona