Lake Powell



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.

img_0474One 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.




The Apostles…..

Aussie signage leaves little to the imagination. The walkways to these remarkable cliffs are safe enough but I guess there has been the odd idiot who has tried to get a closer look. Just in case I was thinking of it these reminders are posted everywhere.

I am happy to get my vatage point from a safe spot.

Sixty and still rockin’

I was honoured and so happy to be able to recently celebrate the landmark of my sixtieth birthday –  ‘the new forty’ – with a bunch of good friends and family who had made the long journey to Cornwall for a weekend of food, drink and rock and roll.

Sixty and still Rockin'

Since taking early retirement and moving to Cornwall for some peace and quiet after a lifetime of teaching in an inner-city Comprehensive my life has taken a fresh, liberating and often very busy course.

I have been fortunate to find a good friend as a neighbour who is teaching me to sail and use power boats so that Marilyn ( my wife) and I can explore the miles of creeks and coast of this beautiful county. I now have a share in three little boats that are moored on the pretty Pecuil River near St. Mawes.

I have found a golf course at Porthpean that must have the most picturesque final nine holes to be found anywhere in the world. It is probably the marvel at this view that prevents me from improving as a golfer. It is often very hard to concentrate on that important iron shot approach.

We have had so many visitors during the four years of living here and it has been a bonus to be able to spend real quality time with family and friends. We calculated that in our first year here we had visitors for 172 days of the year! That is an awful lot of red wine and Tribute to be consumed. It is no wonder my weight ballooned by nearly two stone. I have developed a pretty mean touring itinerary that a good friend who was visiting from Nova Scotia named as ” Timmie’s tremendous tours”. There is the ‘Creeks tour’, the ‘Moor tour’, ‘North Coast and dunes and cliff’, ‘ The wild West’ , ‘The Roseland‘, ‘ The best crab sandwich and Cornish ale tour’, and ‘The boat tour – Creek and Sea’ to name but a few. And as I get to explore more of the county ,the list will expand. We have discovered the joys of the Coastal Path and I have an ambition to have walked it all in sections before too long. Marilyn and I regularly discover different little nooks and crannies to walk or a little deserted beach on which to share a picnic.

I am now trying to use these walks as a way of losing some of that excess weight gained since retirement. The walks are helping as is  a weekly workout at ‘chub club’ – a circuit training adventure for the ‘kilo challenged gentlemen of the Parish’. I have lost just over one of the stone I put on and have to bite the bullet and tackle the next one. It was some motivation when I came home one day to a shopping bag on the breakfast bar. It had a large label with ‘Lift Me’ written on it. Marilyn had filled it with a stone weight of assorted tinned foods and it was actually somewhat heavy. She reminded me that I used to carry that around permanently and I did feel liberated from the load.

As well as all this I have been lucky enough to rediscover ‘rock and roll’. Many years ago I dabbled in the life of the rock musician and , as a one hit wonder, have played bass in various combos for most of my working life. Moving down here I thought that it would be the end of all that. After all I was too busy hosting friends, learning to use boats and improving my golf and the quality of ‘Timmie’s Tours’. And so it was with some delight when I got a phone call from an old mucker with whom I used to play in the old days. He had moved to Polperro and was looking to form a band with some local friends for a few gigs including the Polperro festival – would I be interested?

The rest is history as they say. We have been playing a year and this weekend we play our two final gigs of the year in Newquay and Polperro. The boys kindly played at my sixty bash and helped make it a night I will never forget. With an average age of over 60 and more stents between us than you could shake a scalpel at we also have a multi-drug habit to contend with. Unlike the drugs we might have taken in our formative years these are designed to control various ailments so that we are able to carry on rocking in the free world. Anyone interested can catch a few live numbers on You Tube. The band is ‘Southern Jelly’ and the gig was the Looe music festival. People seem to like us and re-book us and the boys CAN play. It is a mixture of blues and rock with a distinct country feel. The diary is already filling for next year so I can look forward to rocking well into my sixtieth year.

I shall however be hanging up the bass for ten weeks at the end of this month as Marilyn and I take off for a trip around the world. And this will be the reason for starting this blog. I hope that my family and any friends who are interested will duck in and out to follow our progress.

Sixty is definitely the ‘new forty’. Exciting times.