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Colorado River

2018-09-25 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 38 – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

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Another busy day on the caravan…

We began with a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam…

Glen Canyon Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River, near the town of Page.  The 710-foot high dam was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) from 1956 to 1966 and forms Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S. with a capacity of 27 million acre feet.  The dam is named for Glen Canyon, a series of deep sandstone gorges now flooded by the reservoir; Lake Powell is named for John Wesley Powell, who in 1869 led the first expedition to traverse the Colorado’s Grand Canyon by boat.  You will remember that we saw the Powell Museum in Green River, UT.

Because the dam site was in a remote, rugged area of the Colorado Plateau – more than 30 miles from the closest paved road, U.S. Route 89 – a new road had to be constructed, branching off from US 89 north of Flagstaff, Arizona, and running through the dam site to its terminus at Kanab, Utah.  Because of the isolated location, acquiring the land at the dam and reservoir sites was not particularly difficult, but there were a few disputes with ranchers and miners in the area (many of the Navajo Nation).  Much of the land acquired for the dam was through an exchange with the Navajo, in which the tribe ceded Manson Mesa south of the dam site for a similar-sized chunk of land near Aneth, Utah, which the Navajo had long coveted.  (Tomorrow we will meet descendants of the Navajo man named Manson.  Stay tuned…)

One of the first acts of construction was a suspension footbridge made of chicken wire and metal grates. At the time it was the only way to cross Glen Canyon.  Vehicles had to make a 225-mile journey in order to get from one side of the canyon to the other.  A road link was urgently needed in order to safely accommodate workers and heavy construction equipment.   A steel arch bridge was built; construction began in late 1956, reaching completion on August 11, 1957.  When finished, the steel arch Glen Canyon Bridge was itself a marvel of engineering: at 1,271 feet long and rising 700 feet above the river, it was the highest bridge of its kind in the United States and one of the highest in the world.  The bridge soon became a major tourist attraction.  The March 1959 issue of LIFE reported that “motorists [were] driving miles out of their way just to be thrilled by its dizzying height.”

During the construction of the Glen Canyon Bridge, the USBR also began planning a company town to house the workers.  This resulted in the town of Page, Arizona, named for former Reclamation Commissioner John C. Page.  By 1959, Page had a host of temporary buildings, electricity, and a small school serving workers’ children.  As the city grew, it gathered additional features, including numerous stores, a hospital, and even a jeweler. 

Prior to and during construction, three separate grants were issued by the National Park Service to document and recover artifacts of historical cultures along the river. These went to University of Utah historian C. Gregory Crampton and anthropologist Jesse Jennings, and to the Museum of Northern Arizona.  Crampton subsequently wrote several books and articles on his findings.

We walked atop the dam, viewing the bridge above and the river below…

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The visitors center perches atop the canyon rim above the dam…

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Lake Powell behind the dam…

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As the giant pipes carry water from the lake to the power plant at the bottom of the dam, the water forms such a turbulent force that the pipes vibrate and shake and would destroy anything rigid that seeks to contain them… Therefore, they covered the pipes with gravel, sand, and finally grass that would give pride to any golf course…

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From the bottom of the dam we looked up to see the visitors center…

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This is the water that seeps through the concrete that makes up the dam – about 1,600 gallons per minute…

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The power plant – 8 giant turbine generators providing electricity for the surrounding states…

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We can see Lake Powell stretching over 186 miles up-stream…

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Interesting facts:  See the tunnel entrance in the canyon walls beyond the power plant?

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The tunnel is two miles long and it extends from the power plant at the river to the rim of the canyon above.  It took two years to build, and it was necessary to get equipment to the dam foundations and to the power plant…

Stay tuned for more information… This afternoon we will travel through this tunnel…

It was an interesting tour, as all dam tours are…

We returned to the Villa in time to turn around and head out for our raft trip on the Colorado River.  We will be starting just below the dam and we will be going down the river about 16 miles to Lee Ferry.  This is a quiet stretch of the river.  Rapids in rivers such as the Colorado are rated from 1-10, with 10 being the biggest.  The “rapids” on this portion of the river are about .3!

We met at the Raft Tour office in Page.  After the Homeland Security check we boarded a bus (salvaged from LA Unified School District in 1959) to ride to the river.  Why a Homeland Security check?  We get to ride in our bus down the two mile long tunnel and park at the foot of the dam.  We were admonished not to take pictures in the tunnel, of the tunnel, or anywhere around the tunnel.  Nor were pictures allowed of the wharf at the foot of the dam.  The bus parked with its door directly adjacent to the ramp down to the dock.  We even had to wear hard hats!  Apparently people on the bridge overhead like to throw things off the bridge!  Who knew?  So we left the bus and boarded the rafts…

We were allowed to take pictures of the river and the bridge overhead…

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We boarded the rafts and away we went…

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The first thing we noticed were these holes in the canyon walls… They are “windows” into the tunnel.  (about 15 feet diameter…) We could follow them along the two miles, as they rose up to the canyon rim… They used these holes for ventilation, and to push the debris out, where it fell to the river below…

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All along the river we had fabulous views of the canyon walls.  They extend up above the river to a height of about 500 feet at the dam to over 1,000 feet at Lee Ferry.  In contrast, the rim of the Grand Canyon is about one mile, over 5,000 feet, above the river… We took literally hundreds of pictures.  I’ll only show a few…

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The “rapids”…

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Camping is allowed along the river, at about 10-12 sites.  Obviously, you must boat or kayak in, and pitch a tent… Restrooms are provided…

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Rocks…

img_8601img_8605We stopped at one point to stretch our legs and hike up a short distance to see some petroglyphs…

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We re-boarded the rafts and continued on our way…

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Our pilot, guide, and expert on all things Navajo…

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There is a fault that runs across the river – these rocks are virtually identical, on opposite sides of the river…

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We arrived at the end of the trip… Our school bus was waiting to take us back to the offices in Page…  The end of our trip, Lee Ferry, is a departure point for 4-7 day white-water rafting trips through the Grand Canyon and beyond… It sounded like fun!

We returned to the Villa quite exhausted.  However, we did have enough energy to spend a few happy hours chatting with another Airstream couple from North Carolina.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-24 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 37 – Driving to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

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We had an uneventful drive from Grand Canyon, back to Jacob Lake, and on towards Lake Powell, just outside Page, AZ.

As we left the grand canyon National Park we had a few more glances of the canyon…

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As we neared the exit to the park we saw some wild turkeys…

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More Aspen showing their fall colors…

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We were soon down in the valley, traveling towards Vermilion Cliffs National Monument…

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We drove along the Vermilion Cliffs for quite a while.  We came by a sign that said, “Cliff Dwellers”, but all we saw was a motel – The Cliff Dweller Motel.  About one mile further we stopped at a curious sight:

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There was no information on just what we were seeing here, but it was interesting, authentic or not…

Moving on…

We stopped to take pictures at Navajo Bridge – The Colorado River, again…

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Then we passed through Page, AZ, and we drove over the Glen Canyon Bridge.  We will be back here tomorrow to tour the dam…

We caught a few glimpses of Lake Powell as we arrived at the RV Park…

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We checked into the campground and we parked with the other Airstreamers…

This evening we enjoyed a BBQ dinner with the rest of the gang at the campground picnic area…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-23 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 36 – North Rim of the Grand Canyon – First sighting of the Colorado River…

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Slightly less vigorous day today… We drove, along with another caravaner, to another plateau, surrounded by more cross canyons.  This is in the eastern portion of the park.

We saw a meadow with a watering hole used by the wildlife in the area.  And a 19th century log cabin used by early settlers to store grain and salt for their cattle…

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We stopped at many overlook areas viewing east across and down into the canyon.

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We walked down a canyon to a spring, with water seeping out of the sandstone walls…

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The big payoff was Angel’s Window, an arch in the sandstone… (note the people standing atop the arch… )

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The valley below was quite green…

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We also walked atop the arch…

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And we went out onto Cape Royal to see the main portion of the Grand Canyon… And we could finally look down into the canyon and see the Colorado River far below – the river is about one mile below the rim of the canyon…

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That’s it – about five miles away and about one mile down…

The other views from Cape Royal were also spectacular!  Way better than Uncle Jim’s Trail yesterday…

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We returned to the lodge and enjoyed lunch in the dining room…

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We walked back to the campground via the Bridle Trail.  We enjoyed happy hours and had a quiet evening in The Villa…

We had our Drivers Meeting to discuss our drive to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, home of the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-09-22 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 35 – North Rim of the Grand Canyon – 12 mile hike…

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We woke up early this morning – it was still dark.  We quickly got dressed and we were out the door before sunrise.

We walked the Transept Trail to the lodge.  Transept is the name of a cross canyon that leads to the main Grand Canyon.  The trail winds along the rim of the canyon.  We were generally walking south, looking west, watching the sun light up the east facing canyon walls across the way…

img_8190img_8194img_8196img_8197img_5559img_8202img_5566After 1 1/2 miles along the trail we arrived at the Lodge…

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After arriving at the lodge, (1.5 miles) we again walked out to the end of Bright Angel Point… (+.5 miles = 2.0 miles)  Not to many teenagers risking life and limb this morning…

We bought coffee at the lodge, then sat on the terrace and watched as the sun continued to rise and paint the canyon walls…

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Finally we went to the dining room and had a late breakfast of Pancakes and Eggs Benedict…

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We then needed to do some more walking.  We walked back towards the campground along the Bridle Trail…

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Then we continued to the trail-head for Uncle Jim’s Trail. (+3.0 miles = 5.0 miles)…

We walked the entire loop of Uncle Jim’s Trail.  (+5.0 miles = 10.0 miles)  Pro-Tip:  Don’t bother – views were less than overwhelming, and the trail contained many trip hazards – roots, rocks, pine cones, and mule poop…

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We walked so far I thought I spotted the ocean on the horizon…

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No, it was only more of this hole in the ground surrounded by rocks… And a hazy view at that…

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More trails, with more obstacles…

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After returning to the trail-head we walked back to the Villa.  (+2.0 miles = 12.0 miles).  Other Airstreamers were having happy hours, sitting around campfires, and going out to dinner.  We took off our shoes, drank a few bottles of water, and went to bed before dark…

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And a tiring time was had by us…

2018-09-20 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 33 – The Arizona Strip

2018-09-10 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 23 – Travel Day to Torrey, Utah and Capitol Reef National Park

Another travel day… We took our time packing up and hitching up, and left the RV park about 10:00 am.  We drove past Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and soon we were heading west on Interstate 70.   We were quickly reminded that we are not in California anymore…

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As we drove we were accompanied by several other caravaners…

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We pulled off into the little town of Green River.  Not surprisingly, the Green River passes through here…

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The Green River originates in the high plains of Wyoming, and feeds into the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park, near Moab, Utah…  We stopped here to see the Powell Museum…

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The museum commemorates the journey and explorations of John Wesley Powell, who, in 1869, took several men and boats down the Green River and into the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon… We watched a video of the journey and saw many exhibits of the trip.  Very interesting!

We continued our journey west, then south.  This part of Utah is not covered in rocks…

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But, course, soon we did find more rocks…

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The road south went straight south… For miles and miles and miles…

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We soon came to Capitol Reef National Park, one of the country’s newest National Parks… We saw many of the same type of rock formations that we had seen before…

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One difference is that we were much closer to them…

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We did not stop – there will be time for that tomorrow.  Soon we arrived at the RV park in Torrey, Utah…

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We enjoyed dinner at the Cafe Diablo, dining outside amongst the trees, with another caravan couple from New Jersey…

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We were soon treated to a brilliant sunset…

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And an enjoyable Time was had by all…

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