Friday, May 30, 2014

Lake Powell: (Hidden) National Treasure

The Grand Canyon

Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona
From the Overland Expo at Mormon Lake, we headed to Page, Arizona to meet up with The Ride of My Life Crew for a few days out on Lake Powell.

But first, we met up with my Mom, who, knowing we would be in one place for more than 2 days, flew out to visit us and help celebrate Roel’s birthday. So, we took hot showers and washed off all of our hard earned Overland Expo dust in her swanky hotel room, and then headed off for the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon.

We had seen the northern portion of the Grand Canyon last November from the Toroweap Overlook but given that we were practically “driving by” the West Entrance of the Grand Canyon on the way to Page, we couldn’t not stop for a look.

The ride to the Grand Canyon to Page took us through vast

expanses of “nothingness”. Rolling hills, rock formations jutting up out of the sands here and there. And the occasional Navajo craft and jewelry stands that seemed to pop up out of nowhere, were the only indication we were on reservation land. Of course we had seen the famous photos of Antelope Canyon and expected a feast for our eyes upon entry, but immediately upon stepping between the canyon walls it was the energy of the place and the way it made us feel that was remarkable. 

There is a stillness and a sacredness held tightly between the canyon walls that can be palpably felt. The way the light filters through the crack in the rocks high above your head and illuminates particles of dust kicked up by your fellow man is nothing short of magical. 

We caught up to Brad, Chris, Jarod and Jeff at the Antelope Point Marina and climbed aboard a small lake cruiser that was even more heavily loaded than our bikes are. Brad and Chris had decided to
take Jeff and Jarod on a mini-vacation as a “thanks” for all of their hard work and they kindly invited us along. Both Roel and I were blown away by the beauty of Lake Powell as we slowly cruised around to find a suitable place to camp. I’d always heard about Lake Powell, but nothing really stood out in my memory. Chris, who has spent years navigating the lakes many canyons would be going full steam toward what appeared to be a canyon wall, but at the last moment, another canyon would open up into view and we find ourselves even deeper in the Lake Powell canyon system… It wasn’t a stretch to close my eyes and imagine we were on the set of some apoplectic flick where the Grand Canyon had been flooded and we’re boating through it to find any remaining life.  We set up camp in Friendship Cove and spent the next two days exploring Lake Powell, hiking to Rainbow Bridge, and fishing off of cliff walls that reached a hundred feet above our heads but descended to 400+ feet beneath the surface of the water. It was great to spend time with the guys around the campfire and gaze at 1000s of stars that appeared each night, thanks to zero light pollution.
We had to leave early in the morning so we could all get on the road. There had been discussion about whether or not to fuel the boat up before making the trip back to the marina. The fuel gage wasn’t working and somehow it was determined that we probably had plenty of fuel and we should make a go for it. Well, at 6am, about 400 yards from our campsite the boat sputtered to a stop. That answered our question pretty clearly. Since it was still early, no one would be at either marina to answer our call for help over the radio, but eventually a nearby boat responded. Upon hearing we were out of fuel and adrift, the gentleman, who introduced himself as “Buzzard” in an exaggerated Southern Twang, shouted “Y’alls in PERIL!!!!” We looked around at one another, then at all of the food and beer that remained, shrugged and started to chuckle. Until Brad and I realized there would be no way to make coffee on the boat… We were indeed in PERIL!! Not to worry, Buzzard was on the way to the rescue in his 3 bedroom houseboat, with coffee brewing.

Buzzard, with a bald head and a beard longer than my ponytail, greeted us with a shotgun at his side as his houseboat pulled alongside our imperiled raft, but once handshakes had been exchanged, we were deemed trustworthy and our boat was tied up for a tow, Buzzard’s family was the definition of Southern Charm and Hospitality. Since the massive houseboat couldn’t quite exceed 6mph while towing our boat, the 30-mile journey back to the marina provided ample time to get to know Buzzard and hear all sorts of interesting stories. The previous day, Brad had mentioned that I really should take Roel back to the South of the US and explore the Mississippi. Well, thank you Buzzard: with your stories about Armageddon preparedness, armed standoffs with the police and exacting personal revenge on a cheating spouse, pretty sure we took out two birds with one stone that day. It was like an episode of Duck Dynasty meets Doomsday Preppers. Nonetheless, thank you Buzzard and family, for answering our call.
While our views on life may be very different, our encounter with Buzzard and his family only proved, once again, that at the most basic level, people are genuinely good-hearted and out to help their fellow man, regardless of where they come from, what they believe in and who they are.

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