Valley of The Gods

October 5 – October 9, 2011

We pulled off to the side of the road where we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere yet in the center of it all and decided it was the perfect place to stay for the night. The scenery was incredibly wondrous and definitely the most memorable place I have ever awoken to. Utah is impressive! Different than what I’m used to seeing, it displays imposing mountains and flat-layered plateaus brightly coloured red, orange, peach and beige sandstone, sculptured from an ongoing process of wind and water. With over two billion years of accumulated rock, climate and erosion have exposed an extraordinary diversity of geologic structures with little vegetation. It was no surprise that the area was named Valley of The Gods. We awoke, packed up camp early and spent a long moment staring into the calm distance that surrounded us before stopping by Monument Valley for a few pictures. 
All I could think of on our way to Lake Powell was the grumbling of my empty belly. Even though there was nothing in sight to eat except for some shrubs, I was tempted to cook one up and sprinkle it with salt. Once we arrived to Lake Powell we had planned on taking the Ferry across but we missed the chance and the next Ferry crossing wasn’t until the following morning. Starving, there were no restaurants, just a convenient store. It was shortly after 5pm and luckily we walked through the door just before it was locked for the night. It was a tiny room with only a few brands of chocolate bars, a couple of cans of beans and few bags of potato chips. We bought what seemed like half of the store and sat at a picnic table as I attempted to cook the beans on our camping stove. 

I love to cook but since being on this trip I have had the opportunity to do so only sometimes while couch surfing.  Otherwise, we are eating a $5 foot long from subway because it’s affordable and somewhat healthy. Dinner was made! Cool Ranch Doritos, Pork and Beans with a Snickers bar for dessert and Ginger ale to drink. It was gross but I appreciated something other than Subway.  Once we were done eating we began to unpack and prepared to set up the tent. Since there was nowhere to really hide, we had no choice but to be exposed. A man walked over to us and then explained that we would be fined if the park ranger caught us, he told us that he was in charge of a nearby campsite and invited us to stay there for free.  We obviously agreed and were thankful to sleep in a great location that overlooked the lake. 
Lake Powell is a very pretty, large lake but the short ferry ride across it made it seem much smaller. As soon as we were on the other side, we began our day with a delicious breakfast omelette, I was very pleased to eat something wholesome. We traveled on a gravel road named The Bird Trail for some time until we reached a paved road. I remember being surrounded by smooth stoned mountains but as we slightly rode higher in altitude, the sky suddenly opened up and both sides of the narrow road dropped down significantly shocking us with an intense change of scenery. It was simply beautiful. As we continued, we expressed to each other how wonderful it would be to have a nice cup of coffee but knew that we wouldn’t be approaching a busy area for a while. Or not. Out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere was a Kiva Koffee house overlooking the entire area. Sweet! We stopped to enjoy the scenery and our yummy cup of ridiculously priced coffee. 
After a nice short rest we continued riding and just as I thought to myself that Utah couldn’t possibly be any prettier, we arrived at Bryce Canyon. I was speechless as my jaw hit the ground. The scenery was incredible, oddly, the only thing my mind could think of that related to what I was looking at was Orange Creamsicles. We took a long hike through the slot canyons and then rode through the park to visit other areas but it became extremely cold and there was snow, clearly a sign that we should make our way south towards Arizona. 
I had contacted a family in Colorado City at the Utah/Arizona state line and they welcomed us into their home. As we approached the city, Rocky suggested that we take a shortcut through some back roads and mentioned that we were running low on gas. We eventually found ourselves on a dirt path encompassed by beautiful pink sand dunes. It was slippery and unstable to ride on and I began to fear that we would crash and/or run out of gas. Of course, Rocky was much more confident than I. 
Finally arriving, Colorado City seemed unfinished. There were only a few paved roads and houses were partially built. We found Lori’s house and once we met she explained that her husband and daughter were currently away but we were introduced to most of her eight sweet children named Kimmy, Jasper, Jamie, Alma, Rosa, Vera, Charles and Carol. Immediately upon getting there we were offered a bite to eat and a hot shower. While I was washing up, Rocky hung out with Carol while Lori left to drive one of her other daughters to a party. I walked in to Rocky and Carol’s conversation as Carol was describing life in Colorado City. We listened ignorantly, about the history of polygamy and were surprised to discover that Warren Jeff’s compound was located in their neighbourhood.
For those who don’t know of Warren Jeff’s, it is rumoured that he had 70 wives and he 31 daughters. He belonged to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and held the official title in the FLDS Church as the “President and Prophet, Seer and Revelator”. Not only does he believe that a devoted church member is to have at least three wives in order to get into heaven, and the more wives a man has, the closer he is to heaven but he was the sole individual in the church who possessed the authority to perform its marriages and was responsible for assigning wives to husbands. Jeff’s also held the authority to discipline wayward male believers by reassigning their wives, children and homes to another man. Personally, if I had many children to care for, I would definitely consider one or maybe even a few wives, but to have to ask for permission from anyone other than my husband, is redonkulous. 
The next morning, we were spoiled with a delicious breakfast before going to Zion national park. For many reasons, I wish I had spent more time with Lori and her family. It would have been interesting to know how she manages being such a positive, spiritual mother, living in the midst of a complicated community. With such a large family, it was nice to spend time in a home that was filled with a lot of heart and bright personalities.  
Zion National Park was a lot of fun. We were able to ride through parts of it on the motorcycle, that took us through tunnels inside of a mountain but there was also a shuttle bus that took us to some walking trails where we were able to hike through one of nature’s finest sceneries. After a long day of site seeing, we got back on the road and witnessed a perfect sunset as we approached Page, Arizona. Hungry, we pulled up to a McDonald’s because it bribes us with free Internet. A guy named Rex noticed us with the bike and had begun a conversation with Rocky. He mentioned that he was picking up his girlfriend Kayla, she worked there at McDonald’s.  Rex later described himself to us as “hillbilly”, I disagree, Rex looked BADASS. He resembled a typical biker with his shaved head, goatee, crocked nose and many tattoos. But then again what does a biker look like? Me? After exchanging many words, he invited us to pitch our tent at the trailer park where they lived, we gratefully accepted. A while later, we met them there and, after preparing for our night stay, we were invited into their trailer for some laughs. 

Somewhere along our travels, we were thoughtfully handed a nice bag of herbs, so I asked if it was OK to share. Seconds later, we smoke filled the trailer with a lovely scent. Many people would probably shy away from the looks of Rex and his extremely obedient Pit Bull. And, they probably would have run when he grabbed for his gun that was resting beside me. But I was only afraid for a second because I was high. I quickly came to my senses and knew that he just wanted to put it in a safe place. Rex, his dog and his sweet girlfriend, Kayla, were really kind, friendly and interesting. We had a great night getting to know and laughing with them. After a short sleep, we packed up and said our goodbyes.
Our plan was to spend the day at Antelope Canyon. We had seen pictures of it on the Internet and were excited to visit. Antelope canyon is on native land belonging to The Navajo Nation. It was formed by erosion primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to rainwater, especially during monsoon season. Although, rain does not even have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through, as rain falling dozens of miles away ‘upstream’ of the canyons can funnel into them with little prior notice. Over time the passageways are eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic “flowing” shapes in the rock. It was definitely worth visiting but I was a little annoyed when we first arrived. We rode down a driveway that led us to a hut where we were asked for $6 admission each before entering. We were given tickets and once parked, we walked towards the crowd of people on the other side of the field. We were than told that we were not allowed to go without a tour guide and that would cost us an additional $25 each (if we changed our mind, the $6 admission we each paid would NOT be reimbursed). It was worth seeing, yes, but very deceiving to not be forewarned that we would be paying over $60 between the both of us. I thought it was ridiculously priced, especially after paying approximately $100 for us both to enter into all of the national parks in the US for the entire year. 
After a couple of hours and many pictures, we left Antelope Canyon and tried to make it to our next destination before the sun set. We were planning to visit a high school friend who had moved to Flagstaff, Arizona a few years back. It had been a beautiful warm day but by the time we reached Flagstaff, the sun quickly hid behind the large, gorgeous mountains and left our bones chilled with the night’s air and high altitude. Ok, chilled isn’t the proper word, I was frozen and my teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. I hate not being prepared for climate change, had it been a bit cooler during the day in Page, Arizona, I would have worn the liners in my Rev-it gear because they work great to keep me warm. However, I was wearing my rev-it gloves and if I haven’t mentioned before, they suck! Rev-it  H20 claim to be waterproof no matter what the weather, they lie. They are constantly cold and wet (soaking wet) from either sweat or weather and they take days to dry. I love Rev-it gear but paying almost $200 for them is a rip off. Just saying.

Waking up in the Valley of The Gods

Monument Valley

Paula at Monument Valley

On the way to Lake Powell

Camping out near Lake Powell

The canyon near Capitol Reef National Park

Bryce Canyon in Southwestern Utah

Walking out of Bryce Canyon

Walking out of Bryce Canyon

Carol - our couch-surfing friend in Colorado City, Arizona


Lori & Paula

Zion National Park


   Kayla, Rex (and his dog) and Paula in Page, Arizona – Paula and I met Rex at a McDonald’s in Page, Arizona. Rex was waiting for his girlfriend, Kayla, to get off work when he struck up a conversation with us. He later invited us to camp out at the trailer park where they were staying.

Antelope Canyon

Near Glen Canyon Dam

Horseshoe Bend - near Page, Arizona

About Rocky