Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Big Ugly Biker

Page/Lake Powell, Arizona-

We make an unplanned stop in the small town of Page, Arizona, near the Utah border and Lake Powell, two hours north of the Grand Canyon.

We meet a big, ugly Harley-Davidson biker with beard, leather clothing and a several nose rings on a scenic overlook for lake Powell. I'm betting there are tattoos under his leathers. He is studying the lake and the colourful canyons and spires rising around it. He walks over to us, carrying a poetry book to examine us and our little motorbike. I step in front of Mrs Phred and bravely greet him. He has moved here from Orange County, California. We tell him that we were planning to go to Bryce Canyon and he tells us that it would be a huge mistake to skip Zion National Park. He described the Zion geology and said that Bryce was also beautiful, sort of like looking down at colourful snow cones. He seems to be a gentle soul. We decide to follow his advice.

 The Powell dam was built in the 1960s to control the ravaging floods of the Colorado River. Powell was the explorer who first navigated the Colorado by boat in 1869. We missed the dam tour but will try again. It takes six attempts to get though the metal detector and into the secure area due to the incredible array of junk in my pockets (batteries, keys, foil wrappers, assorted small screws, jump drives, tools).

I get a haircut and we sign up for a trip to see Antelope Canyon, a most unusual 'slot' canyon in Navajo territory. Due to the loss of eleven tourists in a 'flash flood', a guide is required. All the guide operations are run by Navajo Indians. Listening to them talk, I am reminded of the Navajo 'code-talkers' used in the Pacific campaign in WWII.

There is a Powell museum, municipal tennis courts, and a movie theatre in Page. We've also identified a hike near the dam. Powell was a one-armed Civil war veteran who first explored the Colorado river in a three month trip that displayed incredible bravery and leadership.

The National Recreation Area near the Dam offers great campsites overlooking the lake. You can rent houseboats and explore the vast lake and its canyons. One of the things in the canyon is 'Rainbow Bridge', the world's largest natural stone arch. A lot of the rock formations here are 'Navajo sandstone', an orange rock formed from sand dunes which were cemented together by minerals in the ground water. It's a material that wind and water find easy to carve into spectacular sculptures.

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