Saturday, November 2, 2013

Lake Powell, AZ and UT

Because Brad and I want to make this trip a memorable experience for Brandon, we rent a boat to explore the canyons in Lake Powell, and we rent a jeep to go to White Pocket which is on a very sandy 4x4 road.  The first part of the experience is to camp on Lone Rock Beach along the shores of beautiful Lake Powell.  We were here last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The water is clear and blue; we have campfires on the beach; it's great.

Lake Powell is much lower this year than last, so we head to an area further down the sandy access road where we can camp closer to the water.  Let's remember, our trailer weighs about 14,000 pounds (sorry - I'm not converting that to metric, but it's a lot).  Our truck has amazing pulling power with it's 6.7 litre diesel engine, but we get stuck in deep sand anyway - because our tires are pumped up to 80 psi which is as tight as a drum!  In soft sand, tires are best around 10-15 psi.  Anyway, Brad does about two tries of backing up a bit and taking another run at it, and presto like magic there's a guy with a jeep beside us ready to pull us out.  And he does!  Now we owe him beer!

But wait, the fun doesn't stop there.  When we rent the boat, we get about 40 minutes from the marina when we beach on a sand dune in Navajo Canyon, only to start sinking!  The boat takes on so much water that the bilge pump can barely keep up.  Brad is sure that the plug isn't in, but he can't find the hole.  He takes a ride back with a group on a rented houseboat to call the guy we rented the boat from so he can arrange a rescue.  Only 15 minutes after Brad leaves, our boat rentor comes speeding by in another boat, sees us on the sand dune and rips up to us.  He had realized within 10 minutes after launching us that he forgot to put the plug back in the boat after he last used it and came to rescue us, with images in his head of us drowning in the middle of one of the VERY DEEP canyons.  He was very grateful we are all safe and I'm grateful that I told him which canyons we planned to explore.  He has to tow us back to the marina, where we meet Brad who is full of "cheer" having spent the hour's trip on the houseboat partying with the group of engineers who rented it.  Brandon and I are a little less happy.

We rent the jeep from the same guy who rented us the boat - perhaps a mistake.  But I insightfully ask Scott and Patty - our new bff's with the jeep who pulled us out when our trailer got stuck - to join us.  We are unfamiliar with the roads to White Pocket which come with all kinds of warnings about soft sand and preparing for a several day stay in case you get stuck because rescue won't be coming quickly, and Scott is an expert 4-wheeler.  We are disappointed that our rental jeep is a Jeep Cherokee, but no matter.  After bumping along Houserock Valley Road for a while, Scott stops us and "airs down" our tires to about 15 psi.  After that, the journey is much more smooth, and the deep sandy spots are no problem at all.  We make it there and back quite safely, EXCEPT that when we stop to take a photo on the way back, our jeep keeps stalling when Brad restarts it.  It takes about 20 or 30 tries for it to keep running, after which we book it back to Page, Arizona where we picked it up.  Adios boat and jeep!

But wait, there's more.  After we drop the jeep off and have dinner in town, we get back to our beautiful camping spot on the beach and there's a wind/sand storm blowing!  The sand is drifting around our trailer.  Scott and Patty have already moved their RV off the beach into the parking lot, as well as pulled someone else out of the sand.  Most RVs have moved up the beach where the sand is hard packed.  Scott and Patty are leaving tomorrow mornings, and we don't want to be stuck out on the beach with no help, so we do the same after we air down the tires in the truck, since Scott has a big compressor and can put the 80 psi back in when we're done.  We manage to get our trailer off the soft sand without any surprises, except that the truck and trailer are now full of fine sand which gets through every crack and blows in every time the doors are opened.  Well, who's cleaning that up?  Oh - me!

As for Brandon, he thinks this is all great fun, especially getting stuck in the sand - well, getting unstuck.  He and Brad also use the truck to pull someone else out of the soft sand, which Brandon thinks is awesome.  Boys!

So I think we created the "memorable experience" we were going for here.  Brandon sure won't forget these last few days.

Scott in his jeep towing our truck AND trailer through the soft sand on Lone Rock Beach.

Brandon and Marilyn standing on the edge about 1,100 feet above the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend, just south of Page, Arizona.

Being towed back to the marina through Navajo Canyon on Lake Powell.

Brad and Brandon at White Pocket, a strange rock formation with incredible colours.

All three of us at White Pocket. This is a truly fabulous spot, but it is so windy this day, it's hard to enjoy.

Colourful piles of clay and dirt that have formed in the Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona.

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