"O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker"
After seeing the Grand Canyon, it is hard to believe that our trip might take us to a more wondrous part of God's creation. But, there is a small area in the northern city of Page, Arizona, that I think might be one of the most beautiful on earth.
Just the drive on Highway 89 was enough to take our breath away. The terrain in northern Arizona becomes mostly sandstone and the color striping on the bluffs is gorgeous. We got caught in traffic a couple of times along the road and really we didn't even care. There was so much to look at! We also saw a lot of four-wheeling trails over the smaller hills and Allen decided that someday he might just have to bring his Willy's Jeep down there and try them out.
In order to enter Page from the south, you drive up quite a large hill and then descend into the city. I was taking my turn in the front of the truck with Terry during this part of the drive and at the top of the hill we kept catching glimpses of the the beautiful blue lake at the bottom. Everybody in the back seat didn't see or believe us. Allen thought we were seeing mirages. But, finally the whole lake came into view
I have grown up around Beaver Lake and it is beautiful, but this lake with its sandstone bluffs was something unlike anything I had seen before.
Our campsite in Page was one of the few that was not a KOA, but it was very nice and the sandstone bluffs and hills were not 50 feet from where we slept. After quickly helping to set up the camper, Allen and I went exploring.
The ground was covered with a fine dusting of loose sand, but the rock was hard under our feet. I picked up a small piece of rock and broke it into dust with hardly any effort, thinking somewhat uneasily that the ground we were walking on was made of the same thing. It is amazing how something can be so strong yet so fragile at the same time.
The weathered lines in the rock were beautifully symmetric and different pieces met one another at odd angles creating a masterpiece of geometric abstraction.
We climbed around on the hill discovering a small cave and some hand holds chiseled into a bluff, all the while thinking that someone from the campground would soon probably come yell at us to get down. We had crossed a small fence in our climb and knew we were most likely trespassing. But, no one did. We kept the campsite in our view, not wanting to be lost in the barren landscape, but climbed and explored for half an hour in peace.
When we returned to camp, Terry, Laura, and Jenae were hungry and had found a local restaurant they wanted to try. In my opinion, this was the BEST place we ate on the whole trip.
Allen and I both had green chile burgers which were spicy, but not too hot. We also had some amazing onion rings...but really, the best thing on the menu was their sweet potato fries! Jenae got them and generously shared. They were just about good enough to hop on a plane and fly in just for a snack.
After eating, our real Page, AZ adventure began:
Allen and Laura had separately read online about a place called "Antelope Canyon" and decided that our trip must include a visit. The number of people who can visit each year is limited and the tickets were rather pricey. But, I believe it is the most beautiful natural piece of creation that I have ever seen.
In order to get there you have to go with a tour group. Our group met by the Pizza Hut in Page and they loaded us into the back of a monster truck. There were two bench seats back to back in the bed of the truck and two seat belts per bench. Little did we know that our tour of such natural beauty would include a dare-devil monster truck ride. We strapped ourselves in and held on for dear life as the driver sped through town. Every time he turned a corner, the truck tipped dangerously. We were on the side tipping toward the road on most of the turns going into the canyon and Jenae described it best by saying that Laura had to remind her to breathe during the ride. ;)
After the ten minute drive on the highway, we turned off onto the Navajo owned sand trail the leads to the canyon. Here we really found out why the monster truck was essential. The truck rocked and pitched over the deeply rutted trail and I imagined dying from sand suffocation in the event that we went ahead and actually flipped completely on our side....
Allen loved every second of the ride even when the wind stole his hat.
We had to get a picture of ourselves after that much excitement
Jerking ourselves back to the calm of nature took a second, but the canyon quickly stole all of our attention.
It is very difficult to capture the beauty that is in Antelope Canyon. Allen refused to even try.
Its just a small crevice cut by wind and water into the rock.
But the sun illuminates the color on the silken walls...
And the bed of sand underfoot mutes all sound...
And you can imagine that God himself takes delight in this exquisite beauty...
The walk was only a quarter mile through the whole canyon, but exploring it could take weeks. Like the grand canyon, the color on the walls relies on light from the sun and as the day progresses, the scene is disappears and a whole new canyon forms...
The juxtaposition of this dazzling peaceful beauty to the four-wheeling monster truck ride through the desert that brought us and took us back, was funny. But that was the way back and back we had to go. At least this time if we were going to land smack down with our faces planted in the sand or the asphalt, we had seen one of the beauties of the world. ;)
That night after enjoying a Mexican restaurant for dinner, we walked across the damn that makes Powell lake. It tames the mighty Colorado river and looking on the river side we could see where rafters start down the rapids. All along our route we had been learning about Lewis and Clarke's adventures in exploring the West and the river below reminded us of the bravery of those two.
Of all the adventures and beautiful places on our trip, Page, Arizona is where I would most like to return. I think we could spend a week exploring the terrain and still be astounded. It is one of the most beautiful on earth.
"Nature is the art of God"