Route 66: Day Seven

I’m afraid of heights. But more on that later.

Included with your room at the Globetrotter Motel is a free continental breakfast in a dining room next to the kitchen. Each table has a little marker with your room number on it so everyone has their place to sit. We were greeted by the “Dad owner” this morning as we were checking out of our room. We stood and chatted a bit while gnawing on a tasty toasted bagel with cream cheese. We talked about Route 66, our trip, his motel. My Mustang. Highly recommended. Must see. Besides, the Wigwam Motel is RIGHT NEXT TO THE TRAIN TRACKS. And the trains seemed to run a few times an hour. :)

As we motored away from the Globetrotter, the rather sharp angle of the driveway and my lapse in driving prowess made for two unfortunate scraping sounds, one as the front air dam crunched into the street, the other as we dragged what I believe to have been a chrome tailpipe from my Roush® exhaust. Later inspection would find no damage. We are off to Arizona!

The Mustang is a great car for a road trip, I think. Well, for two people, anyway…but isn’t that all you need? I brought a bunch of camera gear with me on this trip, but if you just took your buddy and a couple duffel bags, you’d be set for sure. The front seats are comfortable for hours on end, although I wish the power adjustments included one for the reclining seat back (shame, Ford!). The back seat is perfect for holding your MSU baseball hat and a camera bag. Power is there when you need it, so when you need to overtake 4 cars going up hill in the passing lane, well, let’s just say you leave them with an earful of Detroit muscle as you roar past them.

Our goal today was to reach Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ. These canyons are rather narrow, and somewhat jagged, but offer great views once you’re down inside. How do you get inside? Glad you asked! You start by walking out with a small group of people led by a Native American tour guide. We walked for a few minutes across some unassuming desert surface until we came upon a crack in the desert floor. Really? I’m going through THAT? The opening seemed no more than 2 feet wide, but started to open up the further you went. As you make your way into the crack, you start to descend immediately. It’s rather weird to watch as your friend disappears in front of your eyes. I was carrying a backpack with my tripod attached. I had the “photographer’s pass” which required you to have a DSLR or medium/large format camera and a tall tripod. The price of admission was the same for Brian, who was sporting a point and shoot camera, but the little pass around my neck gave me the power to stay back as the group went forward and set up my gear to take awesome photographs. But I didn’t do that. I stayed with the group so I could experience the terror with Brian, as we navigated down VERY steep ladders into the heart of the canyon. The small family in front of us was insistent on taking pictures of their kids at every turn. There are 7,540 turns in this canyon. Get my point? Yeah. The guide pointed out some neat features in the rocks that I would try to photograph later, as my photo pass would allow me to come back through as the rest of the group finished the tour and moved on. Because my gear weighed about 30 lbs, and stupid me brought a 70-200 mm lens in a space you can barely crawl through, I gave Brian about 10 lbs. of lenses as we got out of the canyon to help lighten my load and then I crawled back inside in search of “the photo.” With my unfortunate luck, I got caught up in the next tour group, and a few German tourists that were insistent on some serious dawdling. I politely mentioned to them that their group was way ahead of them, and that maybe they’d like to catch up, as I am trying to set up some gear for awesome photography. One man just looked at me blankly and faked a smile. Germans. Did I mention I dropped the cap for my camera body in the fine, red sand of the canyon floor? Yeah. I did that. It landed wrong side down, too. I eventually found myself alone in the canyon, and it was quite peaceful. The temperature was noticeably cooler when you’re about 50 feet under the ground. I took about 8 photos then split. I was too frustrated and I wanted to get back to the car and get going. Plus, my shoes were filled with sand (and later would find out my socks, as well.)

The next stop on our way back to Flagstaff, was Horseshoe Bend. This is a spectator freebie that is a must see. You pull off the road and park, then start your way up the “sand dune” to the top. “Yes! It’s right over this hill!” I said to myself. Getting to the top I say to Brian, “Are you kidding me?” Once at the the top of the hill you would look out at the task in front of you. About 1/2 mile of dirt path going down hill to the Grand Canyon edge. It’s 90-something degrees out, I have a half bottle of very warm water, and my shoes and socks are filled with sand. We press on. Remember when I mentioned I was afraid of heights? Well, that comes into play right about now. See, you’re out in the desert, about to overlook the Grand Canyon.

Horseshoe Bend

They don’t put guard rails on the edge of the canyon, that would take away from the grandeur. No. They let you walk right up to the edge (and over, if you wanted to) and see the beauty of Mother Nature first hand. The weather was looking stormy to our left which made for some interesting clouds. The water was very dark. Horseshoe Bend is a bend (duh) in the river that is 270 degrees. I somewhat remember this feature as I rafted the entire Grand Canyon with my father back in 1993. I looked around me to find tourists walking right up to the edge and looking over. Some were standing on rocks, some were laying down with their cameras right at the edge. Me? I was 20 ft. away admiring the bushes. After a few minutes of baby stepping my way towards (the word “towards” was my 1111th word typed in this post. 1111? 11:11? Anyway…) the edge, I was rewarded with a spectacular view. It took a few minutes before I could get the full bend of the river into my viewfinder. Actually, to look THROUGH the viewfinder would require that I actually be at the edge of the canyon. No can do. I used the “Live View” feature of my camera which uses the LCD on the back to show me what the camera is looking at. I then held the camera forward and up high to glimpse at the screen until the river came into view. Mission accomplished. We spent about 45 minutes gazing in wonder, then started the 3/4 mile trip back to the car. Did I mention I had a bagel for breakfast at the Globetrotter Lodge about oh, 8 hours ago? Yeah. I was famished. Dying, actually. We turned around and went back into Page for some lunch. We stopped at R.D’s Drive-In, “Page’s Original Drive-in Restaurant,” where I had a bacon cheeseburger and fries. And 64 oz. of…wait for it…Dr. Pepper®. I was parched. Dr. Pepper saved the day. And quite possibly my life. And will probably kill me in the long run.

We hopped back into the Mustang and made our way back to Flagstaff and our hotel. Budget Inn, I believe. Breakin’ the road trip rules all over again. Sigh. Before dinner we went to the laundromat right down the street. There’s one hour of my life I’ll never get back. On to dinner at The Galaxy Diner, conveniently located behind our hotel. I had the home-made meatloaf with mashed potatoes, corn cob and seasoned toast/bread. Delish! Since I was totally blown out from wandering through canyons and the desert, I saved the blog entry for the next morning and went to bed.

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Thom BriggsComment