Monday 26th – We have left before the Cowgirl has risen this morning. We are heading back on the main Route 89 to Page on Lake Powell with the intention of maybe taking a short boat ride on the Lake.
The landscape along the route is again different to anything we have seen. Rock formations that look like teeth in a skull, huge clay lumps and rock that looks like pumice line the Route until suddenly we see the waters of Lake Powell in startling contrast to the arid desert we have been travelling through for the last couple of hours.
The Lake is another man made marvel designed to control the Colorado flow into Lake Meade further downstream and also to produce electricity.Its planning and construction through the 50’s and 60’s was controversial. Many thought then that it was unnecessary and there is still a body of opinion that thinks so now.
Finished in 1967 it took seventeen years to fill the Lake behind the dam. Its construction has caused havoc with the natural dispersal of silt lower downstream with consequences on the ecosystem of the lower Colorado. It has not prevented the waters in Lake Mead from falling fifty metres.
It exists however and has produced a massive man made Lake that cuts through several National Parks. It has over a thousand miles of coastline and is hundreds of metres deep in places. As well as serving millions of people with water in the surrounding states it has become a focus for tourism since the 70’s and that is why we are here.
We take a short two and a half hour boat ride that takes us around Antelope Island and into the upper reaches of Antelope Canyon. This Canyon can be accessed by road and foot from the south but it is interesting to get a view of it from a boat.
The first part of the trip takes us up Navajo Canyon. We learn the difference between a Mesa rock formation ( think table – longer than tall and flat topped ) and a Butte ( a tower – tall and thin ).
We get up close to the huge rock walls that the Navajo revered as tapestries that told stories in the strange shapes. We can make out dragons and other shapes as well as faces on the oxide stained sandstone walls. Some of the rocks have been sculpted into animal- like forms and we see a huge stone frog that is about to take a leap into the water.
The ever changing rock sculptures are fascinating. So too are some of our fellow passengers. One lady spends the whole trip taking selfies, pouting and preening herself against the changing background. We estimate she has a couple of hundred of them!
It has been refreshing to get onto the water and to get a different perspective of the landscape and the way of life of the many Americans who have a lifestyle built around this man made sea.
One of the houseboats in the new Marina is valued at over twenty million dollars and they sit there as second homes mostly. A young crowd can be seen on jet skis. Others have taken to canoes to explore quietly the millions of hidden creeks.
And like much of this area there was not even a tarred road or a proper bridge over this river until sixty years ago.
Such is the speed of progress in this country.
On our drive back we notice yet again the complete absence of litter. The roadsides in both town and countryside are utterly free of plastic bags, bottles, cans and all the other detritus that we see every day in the UK. Yet there are not more litter bins, and we haven’t seen anyone sweeping the streets. The only possible conclusions is that despite being avid consumers, Americans just don’t drop their rubbish like we do.
This evening we eat out in Kanab, a small town nearby that was a centre of the film industry in the 1930s when it was known as Little Hollywood; a few films were made here into the 70s, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Photos from the film sets adorn the bars and restaurants including the one where we get to sample ‘Bob’s famous gravy’ which comes ladled on the mashed potato and on Marilyn’s fried chicken and my chicken- fried steak. No, we couldn’t work it out either, but it tasted ok.