Antelope Canyon: where the deer and the antelope do not play

Once Troy mangled his ankle in the Subway in Zion, all thoughts of hiking such trails as “Fat Man’s Misery” were out of the question, so we got in the car and drove to Page, Arizona. (Note: I love that there is a canyon called ‘Fat Man’s Misery’). Page is the gateway town next to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam and it’s famous for being next to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam. This area is desert. The kind of desert with rocks and scrub and not a lot else. This is why we gave it to the Indians. No one at the time could think of a single reason to keep it for white people. As usual, we were short-sighted.

On the surface of things, this is what the area looks like:

You're probably thinking your ancestors made a good deal to give this to the Navajo

Take a few steps in and this small crack in the earth opens up and your job is to fit through this crack and drop down underground:

The entrance to Lower Antelope Canyon: I'll bet you're regretting that extra cupcake about now.

Welcome to Lower Antelope Canyon. To the best of my knowledge, there are zero antelope here which is kind of disappointing. I saw one cow down the road, but One Cow Canyon does not have a good advertising vibe to it. Maybe the Navajo are on to something because this place had a  boat load of people waiting to get in on the 24 person-limit tours at $26 per person. Tours leave every 30 minutes, so suck it, white man, the Navajo  are cashing in.

Getting into Lower Antelope Canyon requires that you navigate a series of metal ladders on a near vertical descent without handrails. This is the kind of place that makes lawyers wince.

Troy, sitting part way up one of the ladders.

Once you get to the bottom, you squeeze through a series of curved walls 24 inches apart. Ahead of you is a fantastic display of color, light and shapes sculpted by water:

Lower Antelope Canyon in all its glory.

It is overwhelming and you can’t help but be struck by this canyon as there is literally no place else on earth like this.

It really does look like this.

These slot canyons look like this because of violent flash floods – rocks and debris and the sheer force of water carve the canyon walls into amazing shapes. In August of 1997, 11 people died in this canyon in a flash flood. You are 35 to 50 feet below ground and there is nowhere to go if the water shows up. It pays to pay attention to the forecast, not just there but upstream as well.

How cool is this?

Your tour guide will point out features you may miss and they always know where to take the best pictures from (thank you Victor).  Don’t forget to tip your guide because the legions of European travelers generally don’t know they should. This is not a place for anyone with balance issues, orthopedic issues or an inability to stuff yourself into a narrow crack in the earth. For those who want to see the beauty but without the 2.2 degree of difficulty in getting in, Upper Antelope Canyon is across the road and you can walk in as it is perfectly level and flat.

Upper Antelope Canyon can be walked through by anyone, except Earl who was this old guy who staggered around in front of us two years ago. But I digress.

This is a bucket list place.

Beating your kids in national parks

As always, B2BNL is always on top of the National Park deaths.  If I don’t post it fast enough, one of you is always thoughtful and sends me an email asking why I haven’t posted the latest dead guy.

Today, we have a new twist for bad things in national parks. Apparently, some sick  jerk took his young grandkids to Grand Canyon and then force-marched them without water for 20 miles and beat them when they dropped in 108 degree heat. In court, he said it was for their own good because they were “overweight”. Here’s a newsflash: how about some simple exercise and maybe no Twinkies?  I’m just sayin’ that rather than a brutal 20 mile march up Bright Angel trail, maybe taking the grandkids out for a nice game of touch football and then no fast food might be a better idea.

I don’t have kids (unless you count the dogs and Troy), and I do confess that there have been plenty of times when I wanted to kill someone else’s child in a public place, but the Grand Canyon is not the place to take out of shape fat kids with no water on a hot day hike.  Out of shape people without water die in this park. One out of shape guy without water dropped dead on Bright Angel trail earlier this week.  This is not for sissies:

I stole this picture from Wikipedia because I have no business being on this trail taking pictures in my current condition.

If you want to toughen up someone and get them in shape, get a crosstrainer, put them on it and yell at them.  Don’t take them to a national park and torture them.

The Grim Reaper Report: National Park deaths

I have noticed an uptick in people who find this blog with searches for people who die in various national parks or as dinner for a shark or grizzly bear. Y’all are clearly a morbid, bloodthirsty bunch. This morning, these searches found this blog:

Searching for dead people

As a public service, for those of you with morbid curiosity wasting time looking for information on people who have died in National Parks and how, here’s where you need to go:

Yellowstone deaths

This bear in Yellowstone did not eat us as we stayed a long way away. If you surprise a bear with cubs, you can expect to be dispatched to the hereafter. Note the grainy picture which denotes long distance away from danger.

 

Yosemite deaths

3 people just died here. We didn't, but we stayed behind the rails.

Zion National Park deaths

This is why people die on Angel's Landing. It's 1200 feet off to one side and 900 on the other. I'm not insane enough to climb this, but Troy was. He's alive.

Grand Canyon deaths

Death Valley National Park deaths

Mount Ranier National Park deaths

Great Smoky Mountain National Park deaths/statistics

People die in Great Smoky Mountain National Park every year. Mostly because they are stupid. Waterfalls are dangerous.

 

Acadia National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Channel Islands National Park

Biscayne National Park

The water at Biscayne National Park is crystal clear. You can drown here or be eaten by a shark. According to Troy, who has to my knowledge, never set a toe in the ocean.

Big Bend National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

I did not drown, fall off a waterfall or get eaten by a mountain lion in Rocky Mountain National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Troy hiked all 19+ miles of this trail in Grand Teton without dying

Badlands National Park (click on the compendium for details by year)

The Badlands are named that way for a reason. Troy survived it. Because he's not an idiot and took water and knew where he was. Also because I was not there for him to argue with about which way to go.

Canyonlands National Park

Just past the arch is a drop of over 1500 feet. Don't go to the edge and pose.

Haleakala National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Sequoia National Park

Kings Canyon National Park

Denali National Park

Sadly, there’s no statistics kept on who had it coming. Darwinism may be at work in many of the deaths.

For those of you even more determined to track down who met their fate in the form of being dinner for a wild animal, here you go:

Mountain lion attacks

Black bear attacks

These baby bears are adorable. Mom is pissed off. We stayed a respectful distance away.

Grizzly bear attacks

Polar bear attacks

Shark attacks

Killer bee attacks

Snake bite deaths

You’re welcome.

Let’s Make Fred Phelps Invisible

I was going to write a follow-up today about the last of the Florida kayaking adventure, replete with hilarious details about Japanese people canoeing in chiffon dresses and Kayaking with Eurotrash. However, unless you’ve been a castaway on an island without cable, you know what happened in Tuscon this past weekend. The events are horrifying enough and don’t need elaboration here. What has caught my attention is the news that the infamous Fred Phelps is planning to picket Christina Green’s funeral to protest the “idolatrous blasphemers”. This is a WTF moment in our shared history as Americans. Seriously, who protests the funeral of a nine-year old shot to death by a madman to promote an anti-gay agenda?

I grew up in Kansas near where Fred Phelps got his start. Fred was just a local menace then and he liked to hang out on Gage Boulevard with his small band of ragtag followers (mainly his own kids) to protest homosexual activity in the park. I have to say I was surprised that he picked this location because I never thought of the park as a hotbed of homosexual activity. Topeka is not a glory hole in every public bathroom kind of place.  Everyone pretty much ignored Fred and he stuck to his tiny little corner. As was inevitable, one day Fred finally got national press. Game on for Fred. Since then, Fred is everywhere. I blame the press.

Fred picketed the wedding of a friend of mine in college who got married at the University of Kansas chapel. We asked him to not ruin her day and he said we should be grateful he was there to remind her of her place. Nice. Fred should be grateful she didn’t take a swing at him with a tire iron because Kristi packed a punch and no jury in the land would have convicted her of the crime. (Seriously, in the early 1990s, a nice middle-aged woman lost her mind one day and tried to run over him and his protesters on Gage Boulevard. The trial was removed to my hometown and she was acquitted).

Fred is a parasite that feeds on press ink. The only way to stop the monster is to ignore the monster. To borrow a line of reasoning from Douglas Adams, if you can’t see him, he can’t see you and he will implode under the weight of his own obscurity. Knowing as I do that the press can’t help itself and will report on Fred until he finally drops dead, the only thing we can do to stop Fred is to refuse to read, speak or think about Fred. That’s why I’m announcing my campaign to ignore Fred. No counter-protests, no lawsuits, just a complete and total lack of acknowledgment of his very existence. Without us, Fred can’t exist. Please join me in a pledge not to speak about, read about or acknowledge that Fred exists. If we stop reading it or watching it or talking about it, the press will stop covering it and Fred will wither away into insignificant dust. Please politely and rationally refuse to engage in dialogue about him or God forbid you should find yourself near him, with him. The sooner we all stop giving him a forum to spread his twisted message, the sooner he’ll go away. If you need help making your mind go blank, the next time someone says “Fred Phelps”, instead of seeing a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth freak in your mind, think of Elvis. Elvis is easy to conjure, he was kind, and were he still alive, I like to think the King would throw down some serious kung-fu moves on Fred and send him on to his everlasting reward. I look forward to the day when Fred is a distant bad dream.  I’ve created a petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/lets-make-fred-phelps-invisible—the-pledge-to-ignore-fred/ You can sign it, pass it on to your friends and then forget you ever signed it and passed it on. Join me, please.

Do it for Elvis.

UPDATE: He who shall not be named through his mouthpiece has announced he will not picket the girl’s funeral in exchange for a radio interview with a Canadian radio station and a TV interview with a local televsion station in Tucson. While I appreciate their efforts, that’s blackmail and they have just caved in. Now Phelps will picket at the site of the attack and at the Judge’s funeral.   Game on Fred. We can’t see you.

l have always wanted my own aircraft carrier

A lawyer I know (and don’t like) regaled a captive crowd with tales of his new RV at a miserable continuing education event I recently endured. Presumably, he intends to drive very slowly in the left lane, annoying everyone behind him because he’s like that. He also still wears his high school class ring. But I digress.

The lure of the RV, if there is one other than knowing you can drive it unashamedly in national parks while wearing darks socks with sandals and a wifebeater, is that it is a truly portable home. You can drive to a location full of old people (like say Arizona or Florida) and park and stay as long as you like. If you end up parked next to a jerk,  there is something really awesome about being able to walk over to your annoying neighbor,then  knocking on his door and saying to his face  “I wish you and your entire extended family pain and suffering on Christmas” and then driving off permanently into the sunset. If I could lift my house and bail out now, the old bag and her dim-witted slob of a grandson next door would get an earful immediately.  

It occurs to me, though,  that the RV is not a solution to my undersirable neighbor problem. I have for years longed for 25 acres complete with a house with a double-gallery porch, an allee of live oaks, a rocking chair, a mint julep and a shotgun to keep the undesirables (basically everyone) away. What I really need is an aircraft carrier.  Park it offshore and hole up. No one is going to fuck with an aircraft carrier. Of course, aircraft carriers are in short supply. Troy says you can buy anything on line, so I googled ‘aircraft carrier for sale’. Voila:

Your own private floating island with an airstrip - and guns. Sweet.

Troy points out it has no engines because he is a killjoy. I guess we’ll just let it float and see where it takes us, but ‘Invincible’ might be an unfortunate name for a very large boat without engines. Maybe we could rename it. Like the ‘HMS Giant Fucking Catfish or something’. While fun, naming this the ‘Minnow’ seems a bit diminuitive, and also gets that song stuck in my head. Then I read the fine print. “Cannot be used for warlike purposes”.  Excuse me? Isn’t the point to owning an aircraft carrier to use it for potentially warlike purposes? If I had this, I would totally sneak up on Gulf Shores, Alabama, and stage pirate raids to kidnap people and hold them hostage until the the State of Alabama publicly apologizes for being Alabama. And also, for Cam Newton.

Antelope Canyon

I was again dragged from sleep by my husband this morning, this time for an excursion to Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is in Arizona near Glen Canyon Dam and is on Navajo land. I was expecting to see a canyon filled with antelope, but I was told the antelope left the canyon in the 50s. The canyon is now filled with tourists, apparently mainly German, but they have not renamed it German Tourist Canyon. We arrived at the tour site as directed. It is worth noting that Arizona remains the only state that gives the proverbial finger to the rest of the United States and refuses to adopt daylight savings time. I guess they think they have enough sun and don’t need more of it. The tour site is run by Navajo who conveniently own the land on which the slot canyon is sited. If the federal government had foreseen what a cash cow this place was to become, they would have shipped the Navajo farther west.  Lucky for the Navajo that our ancestors were lazy.

Getting to the site was an adventure. They line you up and have you crawl in to the back of a 4 wheel drive truck with big tires, 2 long bench seats that comfortably seat 5 and then shove 6 on each side and make you share a seat belt. The back of the truck is covered with a fancy tarp. Our driver and tour guide, Angie, wasted no time hauling out of the parking lot and getting on the road.  Angie could give pointers to the guys that do that crazy off road race in the deserts of North Africa.  The only thing that would have made me feel less secure on the road would have been if Angie had heaved an empty  bottle of Mad Dog out the window as we careened through the desert or yelled “Hey watch this”.

Once we got there, we got our $64 worth. Angie made sure we got there before anyone else so we could get pictures without anyone being in our way. This ultimately turned out to be futile due to the presence of Earl, but it was a nice gesture. The canyon rises up in front of you at the end of what appears to be a wide dry riverbed. The pictures taken by famous photographers do not do this place justice. It is exceptionally cool and I highly recommend it.  I do recommend however wearing Teva’s or some other sandal and not water shoes as your shoes will fill with fine red sand which will then trail behind you in a Hansel and Gretel way for the rest of the day. The canyon is famous for the light beams that shine down from cracks in the ground that open on to the slot canyon below. In some places, the canyon is the width of a good sized dining room and in others, just three feet wide. I was relieved to see that the canyon was wide enough so my chest did not get stuck in a narrow passage. Because Troy and I have the luck of the Cherokee and not the Irish, our tour was cursed by passing rain clouds and the presence of Earl. Earl is a white elderly man who wandered through the canyon in the middle of everyone’s picture carrying a video camera at least 15 years old and absolutely oblivious to the throngs of people who wanted to get pictures of the canyon without Earl. This is Earl:

Earl, stylin' in the desert with his Super 8

Earl is blurry because these photos take long exposures and Earl is a perpetual motion machine of an old man.

Once the tour concluded and we returned to the starting point, we attempted to tour Glen Canyon Dam, but they refused to allow us in with a camera bag. I find it odd that security will not allow white middle aged people to tour with a camera bag (or purse) in tow, but just ½ mile away on a cliff is a platform created to provide an unobstructed view (and open shot) of the dam for any terrorist with a rocket launcher. I’m just sayin’. So we drove up to Wahweap overlook and looked at the marble canyons and the water and the dam from the backside.

After six days in the desert, I am beginning to feel canyon fatigue. What was new and novel is now starting to seem old hat. I feel much like I did in the museums of Europe: “Another Madonna col Bambino” by Michelangelo. Yawn.

Antelope Canyon, sans Earl