A couple of additional tips today.
Firstly, bring a bottle opener with you. It will save you so much anguish either because you will no longer have the torment of trying to look for screw top wine bottles in the supermarket and/or you will avoid the serious risk of injury that comes from trying to open a bottle of beer with a spoon.
Secondly, slightly more seriously, don’t try and cram too much into your vacation. This is especially true on a road trip in somewhere like the US because the distances between everything are significant.
We’re starting our day in Page where we’ve booked a tour to Antelope Canyon, one of the top ‘things to do’ in the area and one of the few organized tours that we’re paying for during our trip. In this case, you have no option but to book an organized tour as local (native Indian) regulations means you need to be accompanied by a guide. Unfortunately, as we’re here on Labor Day weekend it means that the tours are quite busy. In general, I also imagine that most of the top tours highlighted on trip advisor are busy as people are now less willing to try something unless it has been tested and recommended by the masses. Such is the power of the internet. However I wonder whether also something of a dichotomy as popular places become busier and more crowded, do they receive less positive reviews?
Anyway, onto the tour itself. We chose Dixie Ellis Lower Antelope Canyon Tour for no other reason than it had a tour at the time we wanted. Once we arrive it’s clear that there are three or four other companies running the same tour from the same start point with seemingly the same content so I wouldn’t spend too much timing worrying about the differences.
The tour starts with a wait at a (thankfully covered) tent where you are eventually herded into groups for a short trek across the desert to a second holding pen where you stand under a makeshift tent waiting to climb down some rather steep ladder-like ……..into the canyon itself. Nobody really tells you why you are waiting or how long the wait might be. Never have I felt more like sheep waiting to be dipped.
Once in the canyon be aware that it is in places quite narrow and there are some awkward climbs as you gradually make your way along, up and out. The canyon is extremely photogenic as the different rocks catch the sunlight at different angles which means that you will want to take a lot of photos (for the record in the space of less than an hour I took around 100). It also means that everyone else will want to take a lot of photos and, given that the aforementioned narrowness progress is often painfully slow. I would imagine that at a reasonable and clear canter the canyon tour is probably 20-25 minutes and not the two-hour end to end trip that we had.
If that sounds a little bit miserable it shouldn’t do because it’s really a very cool experience and well worth the money. However, if I were to do it again I would aim for earlier in the morning and/or avoid a weekend.
Back on the road and heading north
If you are continuing your trek north you should probably take a least a few minutes to stop off and look at Lake Powell to see what all the fuss is about. It’s directly off the highway and, as it’s a national park, if you’ve heeded my earlier tip and bought the annual pass, it’s included.
After a quick lunch stop in Subway (again!) and we’re in the car heading towards Zion National Park for our next two nights after which we’ll be starting the long trek back West. We’re staying at Arrowhead Country Inn & Cabins which is about 20 miles north of the nearest significant town, Kanab. We’ve chosen this place (a) because it sits nicely between two of the national parks, and (b) I prefer to pay a little extra to stay away from some of the lodges and budget hotels that are an ever-present blot on the landscape of our journey around the US.
A special mention for Kanab which, as I mentioned is about 20 miles south of where we are staying. I have a romantic image of small Town America which stems from watching films such as ‘Roxanne’ in the 80’s (if you haven’t seen it, you really should). In the same vein, Kanab seems a little quirky, has a stunning backdrop and feels very well looked after (lots of green well tendered lawns which seem a little incongruous with the desert backdrop). We decide to come back in the evening and have dinner at the Rocking V Cafe, where the effervescent owner adds to the illusion that this is actually a town from a movie. We leave with an impression that maybe we should have stayed here.