Sunday, November 20, 2016

Antelope Canyon & Horshoe Bend 9/22-23/16

Yes finally! Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend. These two sites have been on my "must see" list for years. I've seen so many photos online of the beautiful swirly rock patterns & colors of Antelope Canyon with that magical beam of light coming thru and shining on the ground. I couldn't wait to see it. Before you head out there are some things you should know. First of all you have to be on a guided tour if you go to the Upper Canyon area. I don't believe you need a guide for the lower canyon, but it was recommended. There are ladders & steps on that lower tour, just fyi. No way around the UC guided tour, which means you need reservations from one of the local tour groups. You should really set up your tour far in advance because they fill up fast. There's only one tour group that takes first come first served tourists (can't remember the name of the company, but it was an Indian tribe group). Everyone I called was full for that day, but they each told me to Indian tribe group. Thankfully we got a 10am spot. Yippee! This is where hubby likes to chime in with his "see it's ok to wing it" mentality. Nope, I'm a planner & had I known about the reservations then I wouldn't have had all that last minute struggling & stress. Oh & the best time to view that magical beam of light is between 11-1p (depending on time of year), but be prepared to be overwhelmed with professional photographers who are also there to capture that light. *Side note, they offer a professional photography tour also.* So....part of the tour is a 4x4 wheel drive to the opening of the cave area. You're in the back of the open end truck where it's very sandy, very windy & very bumpy just so you know, but so worth it. We loved it, but it was a bit chilly that day so the kids were all cuddled between us trying to stay warm. We arrived at the start of the tour & I was surprised to see so many trucks there. You see all the touristy places have the same or close to the same time slots so it can get a bit crowded & you're almost guaranteed to have strangers in the background of your photographs. Our tour guide was very informative & took pics for all of us using our personal cameras/phones. He knew which areas had the best lighting & angle for best results. He had a wealth of knowledge & it was nice to hear that National Geographic has been permanently banned from taking pics there because they illegally & without permission drilled holes into the sides of the rock to try & capture the water raging thru the canyon. Yes they got it on film, but they also lost all their equipment & it's never been found & no one has ever seen the footage either. Tsk tsk. When you get a nice guide like that be sure to give them a tip. I know he was appreciative as hubby handing him a tip when we got back.

When you walk thru the canyon it's one way in & out. You walk to the other end take a few pics then you turn around & walk back the way you came to get back to the truck. So yes you are walking past a bunch of people coming in. We did manage to see that beam of light, but man they shooed us past real fast because the professional photographer group was guaranteed 2 minutes to take pics without people walking by I quickly turned & clicked a few shots hoping to get at least one without 200 heads in my way. Not magazine worthy, but at least I got a photo. I really wanted a shot with my babies standing in that beam of light, but oh well.

 There really are no words to describe the beauty of Antelope Canyon. The colors are amazing & the way the light shines in is breath taking. There were a couple rocks that were named after presidents because the shape of it looked like the profile of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. There was also a bear I believe. You could go into that canyon at different times of the day & year & get different looking photos of the same rock formation simply because of the light coming in. You just gotta go see it for yourself, that's all there is to it. Just take it all in. Natures beauty.
Of course it wouldn't be a normal trip without someone having to go pee, ahem Dalton. Unfortunately we were quite a ways out from the bathroom, but thankfully we made it with no accidents. They do have bathrooms at the site to get on the trucks, but they are stinky nasty. We used the port-a-potties & they were nicer than the bathrooms. No bumps or bruises on this tour so I say it was a success! We headed into town after the tour for some bbq. So yummy & close enough to Texas style as you can get. Soon I would have my TX bbq fix & TexMex. Can't wait for that. But for now next up was Horseshoe Bend. It was on the way back to the trailer so we had to stop.

 I read on some reviews that the walk to see Horseshoe Bend was pretty close to the road so I was expecting a fairly quick walk. I could see where all the other people were walking so the walk to the top of this little hill looked easy enough. HA! Once you got to the top of that it was still quite a ways away. Thankfully it was downhill, but coming back....ugh all uphill. Of course it was all worth it. No words to describe it. Every time I look at this photo I see a face in that formation. Do you see it?
It was hard not getting the entire bend in my photo (duh why didn't I use the panoramic feature...geez), but this was the best I could do. It made me so nervous having the kids close to the edge. Even I got a bit freaked out looking over to get a good photo. This is where a selfie stick would have come in handy. There were lots of people there, way more than I would have thought. Later hubby told me some Asian guy was taking a photo of Dalton. Say what? That's just weird & had he told me sooner I would have approached that guy & made him delete the photo. I asked him if he did or said anything & he said he just gave the guy a mean look. Grrrr. Leave my babies alone. I know they're beautiful, but you don't have my permission to photograph my babies. Anyway, back to the bend. Annika pointed out a boat at the very bottom & it looked like a teeny tiny ant. Sure wish we could have taken a boat ride down there & taken pics from the ground up. Maybe next time, if we're in the area again. After our pics & walking around it was time to tackle the hill back up to the parking lot. Ugh! Talk about a leg workout & we didn't take any water because I thought it was a "short walk" from the parking lot. Forget that, take some water people! Emry was too cute & was looking for the little lizard she saw on the way in, but we couldn't find him again. He was sun bathing on a rock by the path. It was a nice trek & as usual hubby was waaaaayyyyyy far ahead of us. Good thing none of us got hurt or else he never would have known. Daddy long legs.

 Another place to check off our list. Woohoo!

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