I can’t remember what we had for breakfast today, it was in the restaurant at The View hotel, and it was buffet style but I am not sure what we actually ate. Clearly not very memorable and I do recall there being an average selection of food. We did have $5 off vouchers from the hotel which made the cost quite reasonable though.
After our unmemorable breakfast we checked out and I drove us to Page in Arizona. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so after crossing over the border from Utah we turned our clocks back an hour.
This was quite handy as it gave us more than enough time to comfortably get to Page and check in for our tour of Antelope Canyon. We had time to kill so got croissants and coffee from a bakery and then went and had a look at Glen Canyon dam.
There was tour starting just after we got to the visitors centre but unfortunately it would mean we would have to miss the Antelope Canyon tour which we had already booked and paid for. If we had known about the dam in advance we would have got to Page earlier.
We went back into the main street and to a Safeway supermarket to get groceries. Like the Smiths in Los Alamos, Safeway has a club or members scheme which gives customers a discount off their groceries, accrues points and also offers a saving off petrol.
Naturally, we are not members. However, when J was asked if he was a member and said no, the lady behind him offered to enter her member number in for us! So lovely of her. All our beer, wine, water and snacks came to around $80, bargain! Of course the lovely lady wins as well as she gets her points and discounts. What I found amusing was her full name and member number were printed on our receipt so we could have easily used the number again if we wanted to.
Time to head back to Antelope Slot Canyon Tours (by Chief Tsosie) for our 10:30 tour. I think there are 3 or 4 tour companies that do these tours and they all run from Page at the same time. There are also private tour operators who operate from the side of the road at the turn off to the canyon.
We had booked the photographic tour which would give us a bit more time in the canyon.
We were driven out in an open air truck, with a slight delay when we had to take on board passengers from another vehicle that had broken down.
The amount of cars and trucks at the mouth of the canyon was staggering, but not as staggering as the amount of people inside the canyon.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, therefore it is very narrow in spots. Cramming hundreds of people in there does not make for a pleasant experience. Especially when you have to come out the way you come in so there are people trying to push pass in the opposite direction and everyone wants to get that one great shot, and without somebody in it. Chaos.
Don’t get me wrong, Antelope Canyon is stunning. But is is over commercialised. There doesn’t seem to be any effort to conserve the canyon, it is all about getting as much tourist $$$ as possible. Sad really.
The guides are all yelling at each other and at the tourists because they want people to move on or get out of the way. I was getting quite claustrophobic by the end, and thankfully our guide whisked us back through to the start in super quick time (she had a lunch date back in town).
I did have a secret giggle with another girl on our tour when we both watched a guy carefully line up a shot, and then look really puzzled when the screen on his camera was black. He had his lens cover on!
So, despite its beauty, I wouldn’t recommend Antelope Canyon.
We were shuttled back into Page and on the way spotted Big John’s Texas BBQ. We knew where we were having lunch!
These guys are serious about their BBQ and J thinks he has seen them in one of those BBQ cook off shows.
J had the spicy link dog with cowboy beans and slaw, which he loved.
I had a pulled pork sandwich, which was OK, J’s dog was better.
J hadn’t read the full menu and didn’t realise there were ribs to be had! So a serve of half rack smoked baby back ribs were ordered to go. J was a happy man.
This is one of the BBQs (taken out of the car window as we drove off so please excuse the quality).
We headed west, past more stunning countryside, with our first stop being at Navajo Bridge, which spans Marble Canyon. We saw a rare condor bird hiding under the bridge out of the hot sun.
The scenery around these parts changes pretty quickly, we were in more of a desert landscape, went up a hill and were in pine forest!
Our next stop was at Jacob Lake, which consists of a lodge, service station, and a small bakery (inside the lodge). The bakery is known for its cookies.
The guy serving behind the counter was really friendly, chatting and genuinely interested in everyone. I may have gone a little overboard with the cookie buying…
Ah well, they were damn fine cookies.
From Jacob Lake we went south into North Rim National Park, which as the name suggests sits on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
Our accommodation for the next two nights was the Grand Canyon Lodge (North Rim). This is another very popular holiday destination with the cabins and hotel rooms booking out very quickly when they become available. Due to that we couldn’t get a booking for the style of cabin we wanted for two consecutive nights. Instead, I made two separate bookings, we were in a frontier cabin the first night and a western cabin the second. We mentioned this to the lady who checked us in and they are clearly used to these situations as we were told to leave our bags in the cabin the next morning and the porters would move them, and then check out of one cabin by the required time and then when available check into the new cabin. It turned out to all be very easy.
While we were waiting to check in, the couple behind us said they saw us at breakfast that morning (in Monument Valley)! Everyone does a similar route around here and you do start seeing familiar faces. We saw them around the place the next few days and also at our next destination.
We were in cabin 100.
It was tiny. This photo makes it look bigger than it actually was.
But you know what, it was really cosy and we quite liked it. The double bed is pushed up against the wall so the person that sleeps on that side (in our case this was J) might have a few issues getting in and out but apart from that it was totally fine. Basic but it had the necessities (bed, shower, toilet). And in this part of the world, you really shouldn’t be hanging around your room anyway, you should be out taking in the magnificent scenery.
I will let you know that the frontier cabins do not have hairdryers, or fridges. I can cope without a hairdryer (just) and to cool down our drinks, we got ice from the vending machines (behind the visitors center) and filled the sink with it.
As soon as we had unloaded the car we went around to the west terrace of the lodge to check out the view.
Seats were quickly acquired and we spent quite a bit of time just taking it all in. I also went up to the Saloon and got us drinks. There is a waiter service (which I didn’t know until after I got back) but that is more expensive and the margaritas are smaller.
It was then a short walk along the Bright Angel Point Trail to watch the sunset.
There were a few people around and everyone talks about what hikes they have done or are going to do. This service dog had done a five mile hike with her owner.
Back to the cabin to hang out for a bit and get ready for dinner. The lodge has a good set-up in regards to food options. You can get drinks and snacks at the saloon, and in the mornings it doubles as a cafe selling coffee and pastries. There is also a deli where salads, sandwiches and pizza (amongst other items) can be brought. Pizzas can also be delivered to your cabin. There is also a cookout experience (dinner and show).
And lastly, there is the lodge dining room, where we ate both nights. It is similar in style to the Ahwanhee dining room, and both lodges were designed by the same people.
If you don’t order a starter, bread is served (and it was very good).
I did take photos of our main courses but they are too dark so I won’t be posting those (even darker than the bread shot).
I had the North Rim prime rib (seasoned and slow roasted, served with au jus and house prepared horseradish sauce). J had the Arizona style bison flank (grilled, sliced bison flank with mushroom, prickly pear demi-glace). These both came with vegies and rice. Pretty good food, we were both happy (and full).