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Published: April 11th 2015
Roadtrip SW USA: Hitting the Jackpot...Photography Tour of Antelope Canyon.
I like to say it how it is.
You can do tours...join the gaggle of geese that whoosh in and out of there...or pay a bit more for a Photography Tour...and get your moneys worth...good and proper.
If you win a lottery and say "No thanks" (see last blog)...you gotta make up for it with something truly spectacular.
As you will see from this blog and those that follow...we made up for it in spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs and more spades...and we didn't visit any of the casinos that dot this fabulous country trying to take your dough!
Do we have good reason for feeling lucky? Sure do!
I'm gonna tell you a little something about this so you can understand what I'm talking about.
Or I can let Tony do the talking.
The drive from Kanab was through a white carpeted wonderland of red cliffs, white cliffs, more and more...a breathtaking expanse that rarely sees snow. The lady has been in the servo for 8 years and never seen it around here...usually desert, she says.
We stayed in Page, Arizona...a town perched like an eyrie over the plains...with views from our room over the snow laden hinterland...the road from whence we had come cutting a slice in the void. Sometimes it's nice to have a spectacular view...and if it's available I sometimes insist on it...the sunset bouncing off the icy wastes in yellow, pink and red.
Some comfort food for dinner with a guy in a big cowboy hat with a well worn guitar singing with us for our supper...swilling Grand Canyon beer.
Then I started planning what we'd do next.
I thought we could simply turn up at Antelope Canyon...probably pay an entry fee and have free reign.
Lucky I asked at the hotel desk as it was anything but that.
Tours need be pre-booked...particular start times...guided groups...booking Upper Antelope Canyon for 10.30 a.m...Lower Antelope Canyon closed.
The meeting point for Upper Antelope Canyon is across the road from the Navajo Power Station.
A sign said "No tripods or monopods."
Three guys nearby had big cameras and tripods.
"Oh they're on a Photography Tour" she said.
"Isn't that what we're on?"
paid $100 for two. That's for a one and a half hour guided tour. A Photography Tour is $165 for two. It goes for two and a half hours and you can't go if you don't have a tripod."
So I asked if a monopod was OK and could Denise and I pay the extra and join the group? Me with a monopod but Denise only with a handheld 16-50mm camera.
"Oh I don't think so. The group is restricted to 6 and we already have 6. Maybe you could go and your wife join the larger groups."
"We have come from Australia".
"OK...I'll ask the guide."
The lineup for the usual tours was extensive so we waited nervously as the polar vortex wrapped its icy fingers around us...chatting to the photographers as if we were part of them...and in due course we were.
Eight of us with Lammy our Navajo Guide.
Into a 4WD for several kms through snow covered red earth...parking with the other 4WDs...other groups of 20 or more.
And lucky? Yes we were.
We had priority over everyone else. Kinda made me a tad uncomfortable...but I don't
make the rules.
Lammy knew the best spots...told us where to stand...where to set up tripods.
Let us stay in empty sections for extended periods...returned to areas to do them later as well...positioned us under overhangs...for shadows...exotic named formations...other groups going through in single file while we loitered...other groups held back to give us uninterrupted time in some passages and caverns.
A journey of swirls...striations...twists and turns in the rocks...defying gravity.
A palette of colours...reds, oranges, pinks, greys and blacks...nuances governed by intensity and angle of light.
Hope the photos turn out OK. Reckon my monopod should have paid for itself today.
Gathering together for a group photo...dispersing in various directions.
Three commenting they recognized us from The Wave lottery...heading that way Monday as they scored permits for that day...most having left before that draw as most wanted Saturday or Sunday.
Hoping there would not be too much snow when they get there...me saying I was hoping there would be, if we had said "Yes" and not "No".
Instead of Sunday to The Wave...we are planning that day in Monument Valley.
The sky could not have
been bluer...the snow could not have been whiter...our spirits could not have been brighter.
Looking forward to what lies ahead.
Denise driving the Dodge Durrango...me navigating and changing the music.
Reckon this calls for Tony Joe White...a bit of slide...a bit of polk salad...yeh...some extra lashings of southern swamp blues.
Relax & Enjoy,
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