No Better Way to Bring in the New Year

I think I’ve mentioned before on my blog that I’ve fallen in love with Arizona. The desert is such a mysteriously beautiful place. As I recently tweeted, I visited Page, Arizona, for my New Year’s celebration. Regrettably, my numerous tweets on this trip did not go out as, unlike Verizon, AT&T had no 3G coverage at all in Page, and their Edge network rarely worked for me anywhere.

I went to see and photograph Antelope Canyon.

The small Page airport was wonderful–like stepping back in time. They have one car rental company: Avis, which was closed on January 1st; so, a car couldn’t be rented. But when we landed (all 6 of the people on the Great Lakes Airlines plane from Phoenix) a man was at the Avis counter. He said that, even though it was his day off, he came in to do some paperwork, and decided to come in when the flight arrived in case anyone needed to rent a car.
Wow! Now that’s customer service.

The Page city council should do something nice for this guy. As a result of his extra effort, Page took in more revenue. Instead of being stranded at the hotel until the tour guide arrived the next day, having a rental car, I was able to get out, see the sights, and spend some money. This guy is Page’s unofficial ambassador. He also recommended some great places to see!

Be sure to view the larger versions of the photos below. Simply click a photo to see the larger picture which has better color depth. From any large version, you can view all of the photos in this post by simply pressing the “n” key for “Next.”

Photo

I shot several pictures at Horseshoe Bend (above and first two below). This place was magnificent! The air was completely still, so I timidly, slowly, haultingly inched up to the edge of the 1,500 foot precipice for several shots. (I also kept the tripod in front of me as if it would somehow magically keep me from plummeting to my death.) There’s nothing to stop you, nothing to prevent you from falling over, nothing to catch you if you did. You would drop 1,500 feet straight down to the Colorado river bed below.

Photo
Photo

The view near the edge is astounding and terrifying at the same time–breath-taking in more ways than one. Just thinking about it makes my knees weak and my skin crawl again. Frankly, it was scary as hell! I’m including a shot or two of some young guys who just walked right up to the very edge as if falling to your death were an impossibility. They were crazy insane!

Carol BigThumb-572×381’s son and a friend of his were our tour guides through the Lower and the Upper Antelope Canyon as well as Owl and Rattlesnake Canyons. Carol was delightful, and I recommend her tour guides.

I just thought we would walk straight into this large canyon (sort of like Petra, Jordan), and, at the upper canyon, you do. But the lower canyon begins as a small crack in the ground. Her son hopped into the crack, barely wide enough for your feet. I didn’t realize that he expected me to follow until it suddenly started going deeper into the ground.

There were a few places near the entrance where I had to squeeze through with my camera backpack on my back. One of the guides, a thin college student who runs 4.30 miles, then wore the backpack for me for the remainder of the day. They were incredibly helpful.

All of the canyons were different and astounding. The lower canyon had numerous steps and ended with a large number of stairs going back up out of the canyon. At that point you realize how deep into the ground you are. I’m not overly bothered by heights, but I couldn’t look down. I just grabbed the rails and went: up, up, up… Dear god, would we ever get to the top?! My leg muscles are still killing me from the stairs, hiking up and down, and the constant squatting down to peer through the camera viewfinder!

Eleven young people (twenty-somethings), were killed in the canyon a few years back. They were told to leave the canyon as flash floods were on the way. Seeing no clouds in the sky, they went back in. (Only one body was ever recovered.)

Astoundingly, the violent rushing water completely fills these deep canyons all the way up to the top. The flash floods are what carve the smooth, gorgeous walls of the canyon from the rock.

The photos are exceedingly long exposures (many well over 60 seconds) because of the interesting and ever changing lighting conditions in the canyon. I shot for HDR (3 to 5 exposures per shot), so you can expect to see an incredible HDR gallery as soon as I have the time. For now, enjoy just these few single exposure shots.

Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo
Photo

Our Navaho guides spoke of the canyons as sacred. I can understand why. These were etherial, mystical, enchanting places that were cathedrals to nature, energy, harmony, and the quiet balanced spirit.
I will be back.