9 AM | Refreshed by a night’s sleep and the sheer effort of driving, daytime brought us full speed to the reality of being next to a giant GAP in the Earth.
Oh right. And tourists. And squirrels who were too rotund to know fear.
We poked around south rim, took photos, and were off again.
Did we eat breakfast? No idea.
Next stop: Page, Arizona
11 AM | I usually pride myself at being an excellent navigator, but hubris came honking on southbound route 64. As we took a fuel stop at the kitschy gas station half an hour south of Tusayan, complete with old timey mannequins having the time of their lives, I realized that we could have taken the east exit out of the canyon, cutting our time by an hour.
Route 180 was our next opportunity East, and before long, the GPS plopped us next to an open gate. So despite the “local traffic only” sign, and a clear indication that this was not going to be a paved road, the wild wild west was calling.
When a road becomes a paved, straight path between Point A and Point B, several things occur:
1. More traffic, more people, more buildings, more noise
2. Speed limits are put in place
3. Just try and get some air on that rental car, I dare ya
The land outside the windshield was a beautiful expanse of green grass and black rock. The road passed along property borders, over ditches, cow fields, and more sharp turns than were reasonable for such a wide open area. And with no indication of how close we were to Route 89 which would take us to Page, the car may have done some unintentional off-roading.
With some luck (and skillful driving), we made it to Ken’s Tours at Lower Antelope Canyon with half an hour to spare.
1:30 PM | Slot canyons, like most canyons, are formed by thousands of years of water carving through rock. However, they are usually far deeper than they are wide, which results in a mind-boggling journey of beautiful gradients and naturally sculpted rock.
If you’ve never been in a slot canyon, forget what you know about the Grand Canyon and think narrower, closer, cooler. Pictures taken in a slot canyon are the stuff of inspiring Superbowl commercials and Windows 10 backgrounds.
So we climbed down into this canyon, passing warning signs such as “No Go-Pros” and “Don’t Jump Over the Canyon”.
We emerged from a crack in the ground like ancient spirits, dusty, but inspired–just in time for:
“HEY, YOU DROPPED YOUR SOCK”
“THERE, YOUR SOCK”
“……THAT’S NOT OURS.”
Someone, somewhere out there, are you missing a white tube sock?
2:30 PM| Oh, how about another canyon?
Sometimes all you need for hiking inspiration is the anticipation of a beautiful view like this. Also the constant fear that there are bees chasing you — when in fact they’re just an army of drones also trying to capture the perfect shot.
3:30 PM | At the suggestion of the cashier at Antelope Canyon, we made one more stop before driving out of Page. A very quiet hike to the Hanging Gardens.
Water is an unstoppable force, as evidenced above. But to really see it on a micro scale, the Hanging Gardens is the perfect example.
Over the years, plant roots attached themselves to the tiny cracks in this giant boulder which were made by water seeping its way through. Despite being in a desert, the shade and water made a perfect environment for this microcosm. And without a soul in sight, and the traffic barely audible in the distance, the very small easily became the world.
We scrambled over the rocks back to the car, doused in the red of the sunset and the desert dust.
Last Stop of the Day: Kanab, Utah
7 PM | Since it was February, and technically still winter, even in the American Southwest, we opted not to drive through Grand Staircase and Escalante National Monument due to the risk of impassable roads. It would have to wait until next time.
By the time night had fully set, we drove into Kanab to our hotel for the night, the Canyons Boutique Hotel. While we would have been satisfied with washing the dust out and a restful evening, we were pleasantly surprised by a coupon to the in-hotel restaurant, Sego.
Even more surprised were we to find that Sego was big city fine dining hidden away in this far-flung corner of the world.
Of course we almost ordered one of everything. Almost.
Day 2 Summary:
Mileage: 257 Miles
Brunch: Overpriced Snacks from the Gas Station
- Baked Brie and Toast
- Fried Rice with Egg
- Salmon Belly with Kale and Potatoes
- Chicken Chicharrones with Honey
- Bananas Fosters Bread Pudding
- Ancho Manhattan + Sego Lager + Coke