Monday, May 27, 2024

Second honeymoon, Day 6

We spent the night at our (very expensive) hotel room in Page, Arizona. According to Wikipedia, the town was founded in 1957 as a housing community for workers and their families during the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. Now, it seems, it was little more than a place to stay for visitors of the dam. I don't think I've ever seen a denser concentration of hotels for a town of less than 7300 people.

That said, it was a tidy and clean community. Everything was neat and spruce. The hotel was great, the food was wonderful, and the scenery was stunning.

Before checking out, we wanted to walk across the bridge and see the dam up close. It was early, perhaps 7 am, when we left the hotel to see what we might see.

Before we got near the dam, however, we saw a sign for an overlook and spontaneously investigated. No one was around at that hour and we had it to ourselves.

We found ourselves on a crude path/stairway which followed the contours of rock to the overlook, and were greeted with this dire warning sign.

And oh my, the view was spectacular. This is looking downstream:

And this is looking upstream.

At this distance, the scale (710 feet high!) of the dam is hard to grasp, so here's a clue. See the bridge?

Here's a closer view.

That's a massive tour bus cross toward the middle-right (the long white vehicle with a black streak). That helps put some perspective on the size of both the dam and the bridge.

In fact, the bridge is as much an engineering marvel as the dam.

Whatever your views on the Glen Canyon Dam – and environmentalists lament, with justification, the natural beauty and habitats that were submerged by the lake – it's easy to see why this specific spot was chosen to construct the dam. Those steep gorge sides are remarkable.

We made our way back to the car and progressed to the bridge, which has a pedestrian walkway on it.

Closer up, the sheer scale of the dam is astounding – basically the height of a 70-story building.

Periodically there were covered cages over ladders down the cliff to platforms.

Using these ladders would require an excellent head for heights, that's for sure.

Access holes in the dam face.

Unbelievable engineering.

The downstream view.

On the rim, we saw the overlook where Don and I were half an hour before. Notice something in the top center of the photo?

Yes, it's a tour bus (possibly the same one I photographed earlier in the bridge). Evidently Don and I got the the overlook just at the right time.

For obvious reasons, access to the cliffs from the bridge is fenced off.

Satisfied with our glimpse of the bridge, we returned to the hotel to pack up.

While checking out, I noticed a huge poster on the wall featuring the famous Horseshoe Bend. "Is that nearby?" I inquired.

"Yes," the clerk replied. "Just five minutes up the road." Instantly we knew this would be our next stop.

Before leaving town, however, we stopped at a grocery store and stocked the ice chest with food. After our experience in Nevada with no dinner, we knew it was wiser to have something to eat on hand.

As promised, Horseshoe Bend was five minutes up the road. And oh my, it was packed.

It was about a half-mile walk to the cliff edge.

Can you see the crowds strung out along the rim?

There were signs everywhere requesting visitors to stay on the path. But of course there are those who think signs don't apply to them.

If the crowds were this thick a few weeks ago, imagine what they're like now.

Without question, Horseshoe Bend is stunning.

A single boat and multiple kayakers sedately traversed the water.

There was even a porta potty thoughtfully located in the talus beach at the base of the mesa.

A view to the side. Notice the people on the rocks at the upper right corner of the photo.

There were no signs warning about straying off the path – there certainly was no vegetation to crush – and people took advantage of the opportunity to climb higher.

Afterward, we headed southeast on Hwy. 98, then east on Hwy. 160. We were headed for Monument Valley.

Monument Valley was the one thing I wanted to see on the bucket list for this trip. Ironically we had traversed it 34 years ago during our first honeymoon after a dismal experience in Tuba City (which I won't go into), but it was in the dead of night and literally we had no idea we were even in Monument Valley. We chose our route this time specifically to avoid Tuba City.

Monument Valley itself was stunning, absolutely breathtaking. Every rock formation is incredible.

I took dozens of photos.

At one point, we pulled off to the side of the road.

We noticed the red sand was so fine, it was almost like dust.

About a mile beyond this stop, we noticed a beefy pickup truck towing a trailer, also stopped on the side of the road (no doubt to take a photo). Unfortunately the driver pulled off too far, and had sunk into the dust to his axles with both vehicles. Poor guy. It would take hours to get a tow truck there.

The scenery was the classic "Wild West" everywhere we looked.

At Kayenta, we took a roundabout and turned north on Hwy, 163.

We stopped briefly at a visitor's center. Across the way was a Hogan B&B, which we thought was kind of a neat concept.

A couple miles beyond the intersection, we stopped at Goulding's Trading Post and Lodge. Despite the tour bus that lumbered in close on our heels, this was a stop well worth it for the museum alone.

It was situated in a dramatic box canyon.

The museum was split between the history of the remarkable Gouldings, and the film industry that used Monument Valley as a setting for endless Westerns. The museum was located in the Gouldings' former home.

One display was fascinating. It was a perfect scale model of the entire Monument Valley, made in incredible detail, pinpointing where various films were shot. There were also endless loops of these films being played on a television in the room.

I didn't care so much about the filming locations as I did the scale model. When you see how broad the whole Monument Valley is, it puts things into amazing perspective.

A nearby structure was designated as "John Wayne's Cabin." In fact, while he was filmed coming and going from this building during various movies, the building itself was used as a root cellar by the Gouldings. Any interior shots of the cabin were filmed elsewhere.

Here's my handsome husband.

We poked around a bit. I don't know why I found it amusing, but the sign for the bathrooms were printed in multiple languages. It shows just how popular this stop is.

A picnic area with a to-die-for view.

We continued on our way north on Hwy. 163, admiring as we went.

The road passed through a rocky canyon.

We came out the other side and took a long road away from Monument Valley, satisfied we had seen its wonders.

But it had one more surprise for us.

Approaching what our paper road map (dating to 2003) called Monument Pass, we started seeing frantic warnings signs about people in the road and lots of traffic at something called "Forrest Gump Point." I've never seen the movie "Forrest Gump" so I had no idea what the signs meant; but sure enough, there were lots and lots of cars and people all over the road. What was going on?

We pulled over, got out of the car, looked behind us ... and gasped. Here was the classic view of Monument Valley, the image that appears on a thousand and one postcards. No wonder people were stopping!

Comically there was a young woman posing for a photo in the middle of the road. She looked like she was juuuuust about to lift her shirt and expose herself for her boyfriend when she happened to notice Don nearby, and yanked her shirt back down. Ah, young love.

We continued on Hwy. 163 and passed the tiny town of Mexican Hat. "What an unusual name," I remarked, as we crossed a small river and skirted the edge of the town, built along the foot of a bluff. "I wonder how it came by it?"

This was largely a rhetorical question ... until we skirted the bluff and saw this rock formation. "The Mexican hat!" I exclaimed.

Seriously,  this was one of the coolest rock formations I've ever seen. Apparently the top rock is 60 feet in diameter.

More beautiful scenery.

We passed through the small town of Bluff which, as the name implies, was built among bluffs.

Though we didn't stop, the town looked snug and charming. Its population hovers around 250.

Our destination for the night was Blanding, population about 3300. We pulled into literally the first  motel we came to, a motor court by the name of Prospector Motor Lodge.

It was unquestionably one of the nicest rooms we'd stayed in so far on our trip. Spacious, wood-paneled, old-fashioned, and clean as a whistle, it was exactly the kind of mom-and-pop establishment we wanted to patronize.

We walked to a restaurant about half a mile away for dinner, then retired to our room for the night, tired and satisfied.


  1. A little insight into the horseshoe bend porta potty. They are associated with a series of campsites you can use floating down the Colorado. Did a trip with my brother and friend from the bottoms of the Dam to Lees ferry. We got a ride on a tour boat with our kayaks and camping gear strapped to them to the base of the dam. We took a few days camping and floating with the current back to Lees Ferry. It was a great trip, saw all the tourist standing on the rim floating through Horseshoe Bend. Saw ancient Native American pictures in the bottom of the Canyon and explored slot canyons along the way. As we where traveling upriver it was raining heavily and all the runoff was streaming over the cliffs creating dozens of waterfalls from cliff top to the river bottom. Funny story, when unloading and launching the kayaks full of gear off the tourist boat that gave us a ride upriver, when it was my brother friends turn to launch he flipped his kayak full of gear instantly. Me and my brother get it righted and he climbs back on only to flip instantly again. After that he could not climb back on. Fortunately for us the first campsite of the trip was just downstream and he swam with the kayak to shore. You would think the water in a river in the desert would be warm but not coming from the bottom of the dam. He was very cold coming out of that river but we got a fire going dried him off and got some dry clothes (thank god for dry bags) and setup camp for the night. Turns out talking to him that night his first time kayaking was that day launching mid river off another boat with a full camping load out. Needless to say we did a few lessons before we loaded up the to leave the next day and no more issues the rest of the trip.

  2. I’m enjoying taking this trip with you. One thing I’d love to see - a photo of YOU! :)

  3. Thanks to Don for being a good sport by allowing his picture to be taken. Handsome indeed, and he fit right in!

    Your seemingly casual itinerary, allowing you to spend the night where your whim took you, instead of planning every mile and overnight stay ahead of time was admirable. That is my preferred mode of traveling but my husband likes to know ahead of time where his bed will be each night, locked in with a reservation.

    Your choice to stay in mom-and-pop motels was a slap in the face for me. I’m ashamed to say I would have probably passed them by thinking that they would be dirty, bug infested flop houses. I don’t know if you researched them ahead of time but I love that you were so pleasantly surprised by your motel choices (except the ugly carpet place). Next road trip I will indeed seek out the smaller, individually owned lodgings. Thank you.