Rocks and Light: Natural Art

After last week’s Phoenix excursion and the second hummingbird baby flying off into the big world, we took a drive up to the Lower Antelope Canyon to see the stone sculptures. They are on Navajo land outside Page, Arizona, right near Lake Powell.

This area is actually out in the middle of “nowhere,” from the point of view of someone with celiac, an auto-immune disease. In this case, you know I am talking about the gardener.

No offense to anything else about the town, but you don’t want to get stuck in Page if you have celiac. While we were there I found an old blog post someone had written about just that issue. There is supposed to be an Italian restaurant that serves actual gluten-free food, but it seems pretty apocryphal to me. It was closed for the season when that blogger visited (three years ago), and it was closed on the day we tried to go (Monday). Using my gluten-free app, we drove from place to place–and each restaurant was closed. And to tell you the truth: they didn’t look like the sort of places that would be genuinely gluten free. So we went to the only grocery store we could find. Since we had no microwave, I figured I would find some tuna salad for the gardener. Even the tuna salad had wheat flour in it!!! I bought some tough-as-leather chicken pieces and a tub of potato salad that I thought was just awful (tasting as it did of sweet pickle relish), but the gardener was satisfied. We tried two restaurants at the Lake Powell Resort and Marina while we were there. Both times he was glutened, probably by cross-contamination.

To see the stone sculptures you have to take a “hiking tour” through a Navajo company. I was worrying that my foot would develop a sudden, intense pain, as it occasionally does, and that I would hold up the group or at least the gardener. I needn’t have worried about too much walking. It’s not much walking. Instead, if I had known what it was I probably wouldn’t have gone. You go down into the canyon via stairs, ladders, and walking very narrow, very rocky trails. I am afraid of heights and am claustrophobic, but those problems were nothing compared with walking on narrow rocky surfaces.

My reconstructed foot is very fragile. I need a flat enough surface to put my foot down in order to put my weight on it. Otherwise, the rebuilt navicular bone could crack. My tone would be different in this post if that, in fact, had happened. But the only reason it didn’t is because the gardener, with his bad shoulder, had to hoist me through these narrow tunnels so that my weight would be on him instead of my foot. I was super careful how I placed my foot each time. Now that I have come through on the other side completely whole, I can say that I am so glad I did it. I wish everyone could see these beautiful natural artistic canvases of rock and light.

Because this is what you experience:

And this:

And this:

This one gives you the perspective of how far down we were.

That afternoon we were exhausted and went on a cruise of Lake Powell.

The way to do Lake Powell is to rent a big houseboat with a large family and/or friend group. Get one with a slide and grill! And explore all the northern canyons. When the kids were in high school, we rented a boat just like that in Lake Mead (closer to Las Vegas and near the Hoover Dam) and took their friends with us. It was such a fun family experience. Though these lakes are sort of “sister lakes,” they are quite different. Many people prefer Lake Powell, but it is more solitary and Lake Mead has more of a sporting lake feel to it.

No, zero writing went on this past week. Lots of Perry hugs, though, when we got home. In fact, all the cats were so happy to see us walk in the door!



Filed under #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, gluten free, gluten free restaurant, gluten free travel, Inspiration, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

82 responses to “Rocks and Light: Natural Art

  1. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from writing!

  2. sounds as though you both took a bit more risk but got a huge reward in this images. …the search for food for mind and body, risking life and limb (sort of)

  3. Amazing Georgia O’Keeffe images!

  4. Wow! What an experience! Looks like it was worth all of the inconveniences. Your photos are breathtaking, Luanne. What brand/type of camera do you have?

  5. So sorry you had trouble finding gluten-free food. Perhaps you need to pack emergency rations just in case. 🙂

    • We carry food with us everywhere. We brought the toaster (can’t use one that has had gluten in it), gf bread, gf bagels, gf pita bread, hardcooked eggs, tamari sauce, gf salad dressing, gf cookies (2 types), gf crackers, and cheese. So breakfast is ok, as are snacks. And mainly lunch, although it gets boring especially for a 190 pound man who works out two hours a day. But you can’t really bring more than that because fridges are so often tiny little things. As it is, the food starts to get kind of funky from the travel in the heat and then carrying it around during the day as well, even with a cooler (which we also always bring with us). The eggs have turned out to be a big benefit because we can bring those on plane trips and until they are shelled they are sort of ok just out. And they are protein. Crackers are important, but they have to be in a plastic tub or they get crushed during travel.

  6. Wow! Stunning images, Luanne. Thanks for sharing!

    • I know, right?!!!! It was beautiful and peaceful down there. If I hadn’t been so concentrated on my foot I could have enjoyed it more because it really didn’t activate my claustrophobia. Maybe because we were in a group?

  7. I don’t think I’d want to be in the bottom of that space between the rocks. I liked looking at the photos of it well enough. No need to go claustrophobic.
    It is good to get out and do some touring though, and see something new.

  8. Wow! That’s quite an experience! I’m glad you both survived in a difficult situation. But the natural beauty seems to have been worth the trouble. What gorgeous pictures! (I’ve seen similar structures in Timna, Israel, and they were similarly hard to reach.) Also Lake Powell is so placidly beautiful.

  9. Absolutely stunning Luanne, I’m glad you got to experience it.

  10. Those are beautiful photos! I imagine the risks you both took to view the canyons just heightened the experience … although I can’t imagine not being in awe of such beauty. The first time I saw the Grand Canyon I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it … and I was standing in a parking lot 😉

  11. Stunning photos–the rock and the lake. I don’t think I’d like walking on those narrow ledges either, even without foot issues. Sorry about the food problems, but all in all, it looks like a worthwhile break. 🙂

  12. Those pictures are breathtaking. Glad you were able to see the sites despite your foot. It must be so frustrating trying to find food your husband can eat though. I feel for you.

  13. I think you are both incredibly strong not to have just called quits on the whole experience for any of the numerous reasons you mentioned in passing – but oh, wasn’t it worth it! What stunning natural formations to be down among! And that lake looks pretty satisfactory too! You have both just been elevated to hero status by me 🙂

  14. Extraordinary formations and the light is ethereal. You do have some crazy adventures, you and the gardener. Glad you both survived!

  15. What a fantastic place- Your pictures made me want to go there.
    Thanks for sharing your recent adventures!

    • You better get your back completely healed before you attempt the climb. They really don’t warn people at all that it takes some physical stamina and that you can’t have various problems. And even the emotional ones: the guide waited until half the group was down the first set of stairs before he asked if anybody was afraid of heights!

  16. How marvellous that you did it – and produced such images

  17. What a fascinating post – ordeals and art – food is such a problem in out of way places if you have any sort of palate, much less a food allergy!
    And then your foot! My foot is still numb and shrieks at me with nerve pain from my shattered leg two years ago so I can guess what a problem your delicate foot must have been. – how brave of you to tackle a walk like that… and what an extraordinary reward… the light, the colour – the miracle of it all…

    • I’m not sure I was brave because by the time I realized it was a problem it was almost too late to turn back. At least not without great embarrassment at causing annoyance to other people. Being embartassed can make me appear brave, except for the time with the plane . . . well, that’s another story for another time. “The miracle of it all” is a beautiful way to phrase it, Valerie. Seeing the sunlight play on those rocks can’t be an accident.
      I could feel your pain with what you wrote about your leg. It sounds horrific. I’ve never had an actual broken bone before, but I can imagine because before my foot surgery my foot was awash in a symphony of pain and when they botched the biopsy of the bone the pain was beyond. The nurse was crying while I clutched her admidst all that sweat. Bone pain can be devastating. It must be nerves connected to the bones?

  18. Undeniably gorgeous, Luanne. We took a trip last year to visit Antelope Canyon – walking in the depth of that canyon is a moving musing on light and darkness.

  19. Val

    I can’t imagine doing that with a bad foot, so well done for the achievement, it was obviously worth it.

    I should imagine that trying to find something gluten-free, there, is like trying to something potato-free here in the UK.

    • Hah, I love that. I am such a potato freak. I have always loved them, especially potato pancakes, knishes, etc. As a teen I sliced and fried them after school.

  20. Okay, the pictures are surreal in their beauty. Magnificent, truly awesome. I’m not sure they’re worth risking a foot over, but WOW! Congratulations on making it through!
    I’m sorry about the food issues. :/

    • Hah, thanks, Joey. No, not risking a foot, but so glad it worked out. I WAS planning to do something really crazy before we went there and do an indoor sky dive. But after that, I realized that I could come down wrong on my foot, and how would that be worth it for two minutes of challenging my fear of heights?

  21. Hi Luanne! Oh, what amazing photos. I really enjoyed hearing more about your foot challenges, maybe because I have a foot condition, much milder than yours, but I could relate to the concern and care you have to take for the foot.

    And, I chuckled at your description of the “backwardness” of Page food offerings. I guess hipster-ville has not hit there yet. My grandparents lived in Page and my sister and I spent a few summers there while my mom was working on her dissertation here in Seattle. My grandfather had started a service station business back in the construction days (you had to put in for a lottery to provide services to the town back then), and he used to be known for helping out folks that broke down out in the desert with a tow, as well as a boat rental business (’60s and 70s). Back when the lake was higher. I spent a summer in Page busing tables at a coffee house connected to a motel there on the main street in Page across from the Safeway (used to be Babbitts). All us cousins spent a summer at the Empire Coffee House when our grandparents got us a job there since they knew the owners and most of the business people in town. Hah!

    I can see where it’s still pretty isolated from your post, although since I was there they have added a branch of the community college on the far side of town. The big “joke” among us kids was they had 13 churches in the town, all along one road on one side of the town, and we supposed that was due to the town being built of construction workers and labor rather than from a single pioneering community. I was there last for my grandmother’s funeral in the 2000s; my grandfather had died back in the ’80s after being ill with what was determined was probably radiation poisoning following bomb tests in Nevada. – At least, that’s what the family was told… 🙂

    Thanks for a great post! I, too, have been off writing for most of last week when I came down with a nasty cold virus that kept me in bed with cough and sore throat for several days. I feel better knowing you’ve been out of writing as well. Thank you!

    • Theresa, thank you so much for writing about Page here as a “continuation” of my post. What a colorful history, but oh so sad for your grandmother and others if that is true! I hadn’t realized that Page was so far away from a city, per se. Flagstaff is, I guess the closest, and not a very large city in itself, except for the university being there. Is that Safeway really the only supermarket? I am glad to hear about the community college though so that there is something enriching for the population, besides what I assume would be its small town values. I still wonder about the Italian restaurant there, wondering if it really is ever open and serves people and if it really is gluten free or just for people with intolerances and not true celiacs. Why do I wonder? Because it’s called BONKERS. Who wouldn’t love a restaurant with that name?
      I hope you’re all better now!!!!!!!!

      • Hi Luanne! Finally over my virus-illness, yay! Still a bit of a cough, no surprise there. It’s so interesting in this “day and age” to think of a town being so cut-off still from larger influences. They definitely need some hipsters there to get the gluten-free stuff going. Maybe it’s mostly old-fogey retirees? :). Or folks w the Bureau of Reclamation? Haha

        • So glad you’re not sick any more and hope the cough goes away soon! I couldn’t really tell from the people who were at Safeway, and I didn’t really get out and walk around in Page. Not really anybody on the streets. Maybe kind of a “mixed bag”?

          • Yes, I’d think it might be a Mecca of sorts for artistic types, with that gorgeous view out northward over the desert and the rocks and the river gorge. And, not too far from Flag, NAU, and having its own community college. But, who knows? If it’s hard to find work then people go elsewhere. So glad you shared your adventure with me, and I am delighted we have Arizona in our common background!

  22. Wow, Luanne! What fabulous photographs! You had such difficulties to contend with in visiting these wonderful natural stone sculptures so congratulations for not giving up!

  23. You had a glorious trip in spite of the food and foot issues. I’m so glad. Stunning photos. I can barely imagine what it must have felt like to be there.

  24. Hey, Luanne! We just tried your idea of a “half-bath” for our hygiene-challenged Mittens this afternoon. Worked GREAT! Husband held the back end, Son held the front end, in the kitchen sink with the sprayer to gently rinse her and some very mild soap. She meowed through the whole thing but we managed to get her cleaned up quite well, not 100%, but a very distinct improvement. Especially in the odor dept. Thanks for inspiring us! Happy we can take care of her when she cannot!

  25. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences – those amazing rock formations are inspirational… I could gaze at your wonderful pics all night…

  26. Pingback: #Sunday Post – 17th June, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #BrainfluffSundayPost | Brainfluff

  27. As I was reading this, I was thinking, man, I’m not sure that was worth it. Then I got to the photos, and took it all back. Absolutely stunning. And I’m glad to learn they make a gluten app, even though this time it didn’t much work for y’all. You are a certainly pro at this.

    • I know! I feel as if it was all worth it, but of course that is because my foot is ok. That place though! Truly magnificent.
      Re the gluten-free search: I am such a pro, but that doesn’t seem to help!

  28. Stunning photos! I’m glad you are so careful with your foot, Luanne, but it’s nice you got to see such beauty. I did not know there was an app for those with gluten sensitivities! That is wonderful! My friends and cousins with Celiac often order a baked potato with fried eggs on top.

I'd love to hear your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.