West Coast Road Trip – Days 10-12 – Antelope Canyon, Mesa Verde & Black Canyon of the Gunnison NPs

3/21/14 through 3/24/14 : Antelope Canyon, Mesa Verde National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Taylor coming down the stairs to lower Antelope Canyon
Taylor coming down the stairs to lower Antelope Canyon

After leaving the Grand Canyon, Eric was really excited because we finished the hike early enough to make a stop at Antelope Canyon, a dream location for any photographer.  It took several hours to make the drive and it looked like we only had time to make it to Lower Antelope Canyon.  The canyon is split into two parts, Upper & Lower. The upper section is the more photographed section, but the lower supposedly has the advantage of being able to walk around and photograph at your leisure.  Unfortunately the stop started out on a negative note as they refused to sell Eric a photographer’s permit because they were closing in about 90 minutes (Eric was willing to pay for the 2 hour permit despite that.)  This meant he wasn’t able to bring a tripod into the canyon, and we had to stay with a group. We decided we had driven all the way there, so we’d make the best of it.

Eric & Taylor in Antelope Canyon
Eric & Taylor in Antelope Canyon

The slot canyon is amazing and we really enjoyed exploring it. There were some more frustrating aspects, though.  It’s on Navajo land – best we can tell all the operators are locals and they hire only people from the reservation.  This is great but they seem to have a minimum number of people they need to employ and the result is a lot of employees standing around.  Our ‘guide’ seemed to think his job was to grab your camera and take a mediocre photo, or tell you to be careful – we were expecting a little bit of history or geology info.  We continued to take photos until it was too dark to keep going, climbed up and out of the slot canyon, and finished our drive into Cortez, CO.

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West Coast Road Trip – Days 5 & 6

3/16/14

Los Angeles, CA to Joshua Tree National Park, CA.   173 miles, 3 hours.

Today we met with one of Taylor’s other cousins, Jeff, and his family, Miriam and Julian, for breakfast. It was so fun to reconnect with them since the last time we saw them they were about to get married in Mexico. We heard stories about their recent travels, how they met (how did we not know this?), and about Miriam’s trips to Joshua Tree, our next stop.

Sand Road in Joshua Tree
Sand Road in Joshua Tree

We got to Joshua tree around noon and went straight to our campsite. It was another amazing campsite – beautiful rocks, a fire pit (which we definitely went out of our way to buy wood for), and incredible surroundings. After setting up, we ventured farther into the park. Joshua Tree doesn’t offer a ton of hiking opportunities but there are a lot of great short walks around amazing rock formations. After driving part way around the main loop we took a detour on a sand road to a short hike. Continue reading “West Coast Road Trip – Days 5 & 6”