What the view was like out the front of the RV
First stop - Navajo Bridge. (We were told this was a good place to look for perched Condors, but we didn't spot any.)
As we got closer, Philip pointed out the "small" canyon off to our right to the kids as it periodically came into view. When we actually got to where the bridge crossed the river, it wasn't small at all, it was huge and DEEP!!
This bridge was the first land crossing of the Colorado River in Marble Canyon when it was completed in 1929. Before this, people would have to travel 800 miles (1287 kms) around the canyon to reach the other side of the river! The original bridge is now a pedestrian bridge and the second bridge was completed in 1995.
What a bridge!
(This made me a little nervous with the kids, even though there are high barriers)
As we were getting ready to leave, we spotted some river rafters
See them in this photo, just before the bend? We didn't wait for them =)
Next up was Horseshoe Bend... one of the most anticipated spots for me, photographically. =)
We pulled off into a very Full, busy, dusty parking lot, and set out on a hot, sandy path with a Ton of other people. From the beginning of the trail, it didn't look like we were headed Anywhere! I think many of us were doubtful that it was going to be worth it.
Where are all these people going!?
Look at them all!
It was easily the single busiest point on our trip. I didn't like that one bit. I was not at all sure I was going to be able to get any good shots without a bunch of people in them.
But... Philip had read somewhere that the best way to get good photos was to crawl up to the edge on your belly to peer over the edge and take your photos that way. It was a little scary, but worked beautifully!
Look at that!!
Some shots of just Philip and I (because, though we let each of the kids crawl to the edge and look over, we didn't trust any of them to sit this close to the edge).
This one's for you, Mom! ;)
This gem is a little off the road, so I'm glad someone discovered it so the rest of us could enjoy it, too!
Last stop of the day - Glen Canyon Dam! Philip and I had been to the Hoover Dam before (he, multiple times, but had never had the chance to do the tour). We didn't have time to hit Hoover Dam on this trip and Glen Canyon Dam is still 710 feet tall, only 16 feet shorter than Hoover. Another cool thing about this dam is that the tours are not only way cheaper, but you can take young children on the tour - at Hoover, not all of our kids could have gone on a tour anyway.
When we arrived, Philip got us tickets for a tour starting in 45 minutes, so the kids got their Junior Ranger books and worked on them while we waited.
Two of our little rangers =)
Philip (like Mark, I suspect) was really excited about the tour and was grateful to have us along. He'd always wanted to do the Hoover Dam tour but it is really expensive and the timing just never worked out. I admit that the tour was much more interesting than I had expected! =)
We started the tour by taking an elevator down 11 stories from the visitor's center to the top of the dam. The funniest part of the whole thing was that, when we reached that particular floor, instead of the elevator voice saying "12th floor" (or whatever), she said, "Dam". Everyone on the elevator laughed. In the hallway that lead outside, we saw a dead scorpion!
When we walked out onto the top of the dam, it was SO windy that we had to secure all of our belongings so as to not lose them! We could actually feel the wind pushing us along as we walked!
Caaaarefully looking over the top
(I wasn't ever super nervous about our kids falling into a canyon or off a cliff on this trip, but I had a little anxiety about the dam!)
The story of how the dam was built was the most interesting part to me. This link tells the story in a way that even I find interesting! =)
The dam's main purpose is irrigation, not hydroelectric power generation. 25% of the nation's food is grown on land irrigated by Colorado River water!
Lake Powell is the lake that was created in Glen Canyon behind the dam
On the other side of the dam, we took another elevator down about 50 stories to the bottom of the dam. It was quite chilly - stays at a steady 50 degrees, year round.
The green area we had seen from the top was beautiful Grass!
(This area covers the intake pipes for each of the generators. They covered them in dirt to prevent their vibrations from affecting other structures, and then planted grass on top of it.) It gave the whole area a fresh, earthy feel, as opposed to all the concrete around it.
Inside, we got to look in at the guts of it all, the power plant. This was probably the most interesting part to Philip and the least interesting part to me. :P
There are 8 huge turbines (they usually run 5-7 at a time). At this point, numbers 1 and 3 were being worked on.
After completing the tour, the kids got their badges and we looked around a bit more.
I love this picture of Caleb and Moriah looking out over the dam (the visitor's center actually hangs over the edge a bit)
Outside, Philip pointed out this slab with real dinosaur footprints on it!
(from a nearby side canyon)
Lake Powell is Massive and is a popular house boating destination (maybe a future family vacation?)
After leaving the dam, we parked at Walmart while I ran in for a few things and Philip took the kids over to Sonic for drinks.
We spent several more hours on the road that day and saw some really cool cliffs along the way. Philip and I enjoyed pointing out different things that looked like cities or castles or buildings.
Great Fodder for the imagination
As it was getting dark, we finally reached Monument Valley... the inspiration for the first Cars movie setting and where a lot of Westerns (specifically John Wayne movies) were filmed!
We arrived at our RV park after dark, so getting backed into our site was a little stressful, but Philip did a great job as always. We had a late dinner and hit the hay.