Can you believe that this is only part 2 of 3, and we already had done so much during part 1?!?!
It only gets better from here.
Day 4: Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend
We woke up on Day 4 not sure if we would be able to hike the South Kaibab Trail. We were only going to do about 1.5 miles, but the snow on the ground made us uncertain. We talked to some park rangers the night before, and they actually advised against hiking the trail at all without snow gear.
We decided we’d at least go back out to the park and take a look at some of the vantage points. But first, breakfast!
The Grand Canyon has a shuttle service which transports guests around the rim. We hopped on one that serviced the South Rim just so we could see what the trail looked like.
Lo and behold — it was clear enough to hike!! There was some snow on the ground, but no ice! I felt really fortunate that we took the time to check. That’s not to say that you should ever disregard the park rangers, but I’m willing to bet they err on the side of caution when it comes to winter weather hiking!
We trekked all the way down to “Ooh-Aah” point, so named for its beautiful vista of the Grand Canyon. This landmark was only about half a mile less than our intended turnaround point, and I still felt pretty accomplished.
Going down to “Ooh-Aah” was a breeze. Getting back up, on the other hand…
Which brings me to the lesson for the day:
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” – Georgia O’Keefe
In all honesty, I was a little hesitant about our South Kaibab trek after hearing the park rangers advise us against it. But I don’t think I could have dealt with the regret we would’ve felt after traveling all the way out to Arizona and not even attempting the hike. I’m forever changed by experiencing its beauty first-hand, and I think that the perceived risk involved actually made the experience more awe-inspiring.
I often find myself fretting over “perceived risks” related to different aspects of my life: careers, relationships, finances, fitness, whatever. I’ve dismissed goals and desires for fear of failing or screwing up some other aspect of my life. I hope that the next time I’m faced with a challenge, I remember this time when we kind of ignored the overly-cautious angel on our shoulders to do what we came to do!
Sentiment over. Here’s some food.
After our Grand Canyon hike, we drove on through to Page, AZ. We stopped at a little gift shop along the way for a quick snack.
Our next stop was the Navajo Bridge. It is known that the endangered California Condor hang out here, but they’re still kind of elusive. We were lucky enough to spot THREE just chillin under the bridge!
Another must-do before arriving in Page…the dinosaur tracks of Tuba City!
There were a couple of guides hanging out under some shelters when we pulled up. A woman greeted us and took us around the grounds, pointing out the different tracks. Some of the information seemed a little outlandish, but there are actual verified tracks out there.
Sometimes the thought occurs to me that every place we’ve ever stepped, a dinosaur has probably stepped there, too. WTF.
Our final attraction before making it to Page was Horseshoe Bend. We got there right before sunset. This is kind of a landmark where the Colorado River makes a 270-degree turn through the canyon. It’s incredibly beautiful and my photograph doesn’t do it justice.
Page was a pretty quiet town. There weren’t a lot of restaurant options. We went to an Italian place called Strombolli’s. All I had eaten that day was the McDonald’s breakfast and that tiny Lunchable, so I was pretty ravenous.
I was so hungry. I ate the entire calzone.
Then I figured I might as well put that surplus to use, so I went to the fitness center in our hotel that night.
Went to bed…
Day 5: Antelope Canyon, off to Moab!
…And woke up HUNGRY! Post workout continental breakfast:
Antelope Canyon was probably one of the most fascinating hikes of our trip. Formed by a magical combination of erosion and flooding, this descent 120 feet into the ground is a favorite among photographers. The light pours into the canyon and bounces off the bits of sandstone. Professionals are able to capture some stunning images, but the canyon is so photogenic that even amateurs like me could get some impressive shots.
We booked a guide through Ken’s Tours. Guests are required to have a guide for the lower canyon, and after our experience, there’s no way I would’ve attempted to go without one! He helped us set up our cameras and phones to get amazing pictures.
I think this is a good spot for the lesson of the day:
“I’m not afraid to go up to people and pick their brains and ask for advice. To me, that’s how you get better. That’s how I’ve gotten better at everything I’ve ever done. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.” – Dave Bautista
**Confesssion: I didn’t really know who Dave Bautista was before finding this quote. I literally Googled “quotes about asking for help” and I liked this one. Does that make me basic?
Anyway — I like this for the lesson of the day because we really took full advantage of our guide. Had we not asked him for help with our pictures, I know that like 90% of mine would have turned out blurry or dully or whatever. This guy knows what he’s doing. Why not let him teach us?
I’ve found that people generally LIKE being asked for help. It’s the ultimate confidence boost when someone trusts you enough to come to you for advice or assistance. It’s a win-win. The helpee gets what he needs, and the helper gets the affirmation that he knows wtf he’s doing. And let’s not forget the feel-good vibes that come from doing a nice thing for another person.
Also, as the helpee, why waste your time fumbling through some task (or worse — avoiding it altogether) just because you were too shy to ask for help? Never let your aptitude for learning dwindle away. Seek guidance from experts and better yourself.
Spent about two hours at Antelope Canyon, and we were hungry, but we had to make our way to Moab before dark.
No time to sit down for lunch:
Another quick stop: Newspaper Rock
It was cold and dark when we got to Moab. Thankfully, the hotel had the perfect treat to warm us up:
We were starving, so we asked the front desk attendant where we should eat. She recommended Moab Brewery.
EVERYTHING looked appetizing, but there was a tilapia salad on the menu that came with jalapeno cornbread and like, I had to have it.
My sweet tooth was raging at the sight of the brewery’s gelato display at the front of the restaurant. It was too cold for gelato, though. Fortunately, while a few members of our group went to the movies to see In the Heart of the Sea, Meredith and I took a short walk to a restaurant called Zax for dessert. We split this monster:
I did another band workout after dessert. I really wanted to be sure that my surplus was being used for muscle gainnnnz.
Day 6: Dead Horse Point, Arches National Park, and so much food.
Started my day with my workout, and then devoured this breakfast:
Our first stop was Dead Horse Point. Not really a hike, just a great vantage point of the Canyonlands. The park rangers here were really nice, and gossiped with us about the guy who got trapped there and had to cut his arm off.
We went back into Moab during the middle of the day to eat lunch. After hearing about the dessert Meredith and I shared at Zax, the rest of the group wanted to try it out!
They had a pizza/soup/salad buffet option which sounded perfect to me. The pizza is baked fresh RIGHT there. Not like Cici’s.
Our first hike in Arches was an easy 1 mi stroll down “Park Avenue,” so named for its slight resemblance to the skyscraper-lined street in NYC. The sandstone formations here are REALLY tall. Some of them are old arches that have broken off.
Then we hiked up the Windows trail.
And finally, just before sunset, the flagship of Arches National Park: Delicate Arch.
The Delicate Arch hike was pretty tough. There were some icy patches, but it was so worth it once we got there.
Lesson for Day 6 (thanks again, Google):
“We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature.” – Edmund Burke
The crazy thing about the arches is that they started out as sandstone “fins” that were pushed up by salt deposits under the earth. Over time, the arches were formed by weather erosion. Eventually, they will be eroded away forever.
There is nothing we can do to stop this, really. They took MILLIONS of years to form, but they are constantly facing the reality of their inexorable transformations. We can just accept the beauty of the formations for what they are today and what they may become in the future.
It’s easy to apply this to our own, short human lives. I think it’s important to kind of take a step back and appreciate the person you are and the things you have at the moment because none of us are immune to the laws of nature. Things are going to change eventually
We had accomplished quite a bit this day. Needless to say, we were hungry after all of those arches. There was an Italian place right outside of our hotel called Pasta Jay’s, so we decided to go there.
I was craving a salad again, so I ordered their veggie salad with chicken. It came with garlic bread, but I asked for cheese bread because cheese.
Obviously, I needed more cheese for dessert…CHEESECAAAAKE
Another epic meal meant another workout before bed. My pump was pretty ridiculous from all of that food.
One installment left. Definitely will get it out before 2016!