Day Two – X Marks the Spot

Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

But, before we can go to bed, we both have to manage to navigate the odd time zone changes appearing on our iPhones. Even though we are still in Arizona, our iPhones are picking up either a Utah or Navajo Nation cell tower which is Mountain Time and one hour later than Arizona time. We have to be at the tour company at 6:45 so I am tiredly doing the math to adjust the time zone in relation to the alarm time and Carl is doing the same. HOWEVER, some time during the night my iphone discovers an Arizona cell tower and miraculously adjusts the time zone back to AZ even though I set my alarm for UT time! Holy Hallelujah! Fortunately, Carl’s iPhone didn’t pick up the same cell signal and was still on AZ time zone with a UT alarm. It was ultimately irrelevant because we both woke up at 5:15 a.m. when the sun came up.

Canyon X Slot Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

We were particularly excited for our guided tour because the Canyon X location is only available for tours by the company that was guiding us and very exclusive. Antelope Canyon on the other hand is quite well known and popular. It was obvious once we arrive that this wasn’t one of those big multi—Jeep tour companies that load up 10 people in an extended vehicle. There were three of us. Me, Carl and Todd. Todd is from San Diego and wisely chose to go on an independent photo trip to National Parks while his wife took the kids to visit her relatives in Chicago.

I introduced myself to the owner Charlie and then to our guide Janet as it didn’t appear that they were going to make the first move to get to know me (even though WE were the ones paying a fairly hefty price for our 5 hour tour). Their pitch was that “Guides are knowledgeable local area residents licensed by the Navajo Tribe”. We are seasoned travelers and always read various travel sites (I think it’s about time to start our own) and saw very good reviews about Overland Canyon Tours. But, none of them mentioned our tour guide as the one that provided the knowledgeable guidance and personal experience.

Canyon X Slot Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

I was the lone woman along for the ride (hike) with two photographers who quickly fall into their own world of photography and anticipation of sites to see. I, however, am the one left to be “entertained” by our guide Janet and her trainee, Ryan. Within about 15 minutes of being with her (remember people, this is a 5 HOUR TOUR) it became evident that I have been saddled with a hyena. You know the type. The horrific, uncomfortable, incessant habit of nervous laughter after EVERY THING THEY SAY. “Oh, this is where we turn off to go to Canyon X, huh, huh, huh, hee, hee, hee, ha ha ha”. “This is a good spot for a picture, huh, huh, huh, hee, hee, hee, ha, ha, ha”. It was ceaseless. But of course, Carl and Todd are off in Photography nirvana while I am stuck in HELL with the hyena and new guy who knows nothing and yet is insistent to try and tell me everything. I just kept hiking and wandering and trying my very best to block out the babble.
Canyon X was the first spot and it was completely private with no-one else in the Canyon, that was special. The slot canyons truly were magnificent. I have never seen anything like it and it was clear that Carl was going to get some great pictures here. We had no idea how special the solitude of this canyon was going to be given what was awaiting us in Antelope Canyon.
For three hours, I hiked and Carl and Todd took pictures in Canyon X all the while listening to the hyena and the new guy. Of course, as is always the case, Carl quickly loses track of time (as does Todd) so we are soon behind schedule and hustling to get to the next Canyon as there are very strict restrictions from the Navajo Nation about entrance and time in the Canyon – ALLEGEDLY.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

The new guy, Ryan, gets to drive us from Canyon X to Antelope Canyon and it is a complete nightmare. He is driving like a mad man and only spends about 15% of the time actually looking at the road and the remainder of the time looking in the back seat telling us some other UNVALIDATED fact or looking at Janet in the front seat. For example: “These are the highest cliffs, at 10,000 feet in the world at this elevation”. “That’s true, right Janet?” “Huh, huh, huh, hee, hee, hee, ha, ha, ha, yea I think so….” Oh Lord.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

Then Ryan drives like a maniac through deep rutted roads to get to Antelope Canyon. Literally bouncing our heads off the top of the suburban. Carl and Todd are oblivious to my discomfort (more so with our guides than the bouncing, frightful ride). They are in what I like to refer to as photo-Zen. This is when the pure beauty of the landscape they are fortunate enough to not only being a part of but to capture in high resolution digagraphy has them complete giddy and compliant. Nothing could possible disturb them in this trans-like state. Bless their hearts.

We get to Antelope Canyon and it is noticeably different. Loads of vehicles everywhere. We were not prepared for what awaited us. After another horrific drive over about 2 miles of deep, dense sand with our maniacal driver, we arrive at Antelope Canyon. There are at least 18 extended sized tour jeeps there. Oh no. It is a cattle drive of people into and out of the slot canyon. One way in, one way out. It isn’t until you get inside that you realize just how bad it is. We have one hour and 10 minutes inside the canyon which seems like plenty of time until you get inside and see how many people are in there.

People walking in-and-out of my 30 second exposure in Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

One interesting thing about the digital revolution is that EVERYONE now has a camera and wants to capture EVERY image of EVERYTHING they see. Unfortunately, they do not have the experience with photographic etiquette and therefore, chaos reigns. Imagine about 300 people strewn throughout the slot canyon, all, simultaneously taking video and digital pictures with NO regard as to who they barge in front of, or into, to get their five thousandth picture on their vacation.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

There are, to be sure, some amazing sites inside this slot canyon and I am truly astounded that Carl was able to capture so much of the beauty given the circumstances. With my unfortunate propensity for claustrophobia, after about an hour, I needed to get out. I think it was the group of about 10 prepubescent boys (smelly boys, not their fault, it’s the age) that pushed me over the edge. It was time to go.

It was a long day and we most certainly saw some amazing formations. We headed back to the hotel to load up the Rover and hit the road to Zion.
More later our travel partners…

Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

Antelope Canyon, Arizona - Photo © Carl Amoth

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4 Comments

  1. Rob Stamper
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:44 am | Permalink | Reply

    Those are incredible pictures. Glad you are having a fun road trip!

  2. Posted June 29, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink | Reply

    Well Bev, at least you’re well-accustomed to being the lone woman. Bummer you were saddled with such “dud” guides.

    Nice work with the photo-zen, Carl. You have some real framers there.

    As always, many hearts to you guys,

    T&J

  3. Pamela
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The first one made me think of Salvadore Dali’s Ascension.
    And another of his, with Jesus looking down from the heavens, because of the dust/sun rays.

  4. Tuk
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Bev,

    Truly spectacular! Gorgeous pictures and your writing is splendid. It’s been fun reading your posts. I am so incredibly happy for you. Remember those endless hours of what-will-life-bring-us-next conversations in your cube, car, etc.? What would have thought?!?

    Much love and joy to you always,
    Tuk

    P.S. Have you and Carl contacted the Travel Channel yet? I would totally watch this show. : )

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