Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cornwall, PEI

6-30: Toured Charlottetown today, did lunch at the Gahan House, PEI’s only brewpub: superb fish chowder and microbrews. Lots of Victorian homes, very European feel to downtown area.  This is the birthplace of Canada.  In 1864, 23 representatives of Britain's North American colonies met here and agreed to create the country.  

The 4 pix below were taken in Charlottetown. 

Beaconsfield Victorian Mansion built in 1877.

Government House, home to PEI lieutenant governors since 1835.

Victoria Park.

Neo-gothic St Dunstan's Basilica, built in 1913.  It's right behind the Gahan House where we had lunch.

6-29: Had to go with the old standby KOA, once again the only game in town without reservations made well in advance.  Arrived here at 5 PM, later than we like but then we didn’t leave Caraquet until 10:30.  Got a triple whammy going on PEI: first weekend of ‘the season’; Canada Day is July 1; Bill and Kate are due here in a few days.  That’s Prince William and Princess Katherine if you’re being formal.  Royalty doesn’t float our boat so we’ll not stick around to hobnob with them.  For sure, they will be sad they missed us but thousands of adoring pseudo-subjects will bolster their spirits, so no worries.  Don’t know their itinerary but doubt they’re staying in our campground.
Where are all the US tourists?  Thought there’d be scads of ‘em up here, have only seen one US licensed rig in the last few campgrounds, a small RV from New Mexico in Rimouski.  The ‘season’ here is July-August so we’re a tad early.  The US tourists are probably all massing just south of the border, like salmon at the mouth of the Columbia River.  Upon hearing the report of the starter’s pistol bright and early on July 1st, they’ll all crank up their engines and head north, reminiscent of the Oklahoma land rush.  In that scenario, we’re Sooners.


Caraquet, New Brunswick

Our campground in Caraquet.

This sleek rig from Europe pulled into the campground after us.

6-28: Another good weather day with good scenery along our route.  Saw lots of ‘Moose/Caution’ signs but no moose.  Today we hit the northernmost point of our trip; for the remainder of our journey we’ll be headed southward.  We’re in an unremarkable but pleasant enough campground bordering the bay (Baie des Chaleurs).  New Brunswick, although scenic, doesn’t have the panache of Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Nova Scotia.  We expect to spend a few days in each of the latter, but only one night here.
Caraquet is on the Acadian Peninsula, a French-speaking area.  The Acadian culture is big in the Maritimes, has been since 1605.  These are folks of French origin who survived the ever-changing British/French territorial dominance.  The Brits shipped many to other places at one point, fearing the Acadians would be loyal to France if war erupted.  One of those places was Louisiana.  I’ve never been to LA but know that the Acadians are alive and well there, and have more or less evolved into Creoles with the help of Spanish and Caribbean cross pollination.  There’s a large Acadian period-village here but we’re giving it a miss.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Campground De L’Anse, Rimouski, Quebec

Turns out the name Rimouski is derived from a Micmac (aka Mi’kmaq, Maliseet) Indian word.  Given my prior post addressing pronunciation of ‘ac/mack/nack’ words, Micmac is probably pronounced mic-maw.  There are 2 possible definitions of the Rimouski name, the most popular being ‘land of the moose’.  The other is ‘retreat of the dogs.’ 
The moose one is clear enough; the dog one throws me.  Was there a canine conflict in which one side retreated to avoid being eaten, bitten to pieces, pissed on - whatever dog soldiers do to their defeated enemies?  Or, was it a retreat like businessmen occasionally indulge in, going to some remote lodge or hotel to study or to address a specific subject, while getting know each other better?  The latter seems an unlikely component of Micmac (or canine) culture.  If I come across a Micmac or a talkative dog, I’ll ask for clarification.  I’m guessing there was a wolf pack that hung out here.

The sub I toured.

Lighthouse and maritime museum near the sub.

At last: a sunny day, no rain at all!  Been a while.  Trish went for a bike ride; I washed 2000 miles of filth off the RV and toured the Canadian submarine Onondaga.  It was in operation 1967-2000 so it’s not an antique but not a boomer (atomic missile sub) either.  Always wanted to tour a sub’s interior and wasn’t disappointed.  It’s mind boggling stuff, what with the cramped quarters and a zillion valves, controls, meters, switches, pipes, wires, etc.  Captain’s ‘stateroom’ was 2/3 the size of my MBR closet in LHC; crew spaces/bunks were 18” x 18” x 6’.  That thing made the EDGE feel like the presidential suite at the Waldorf Astoria.
I think I could have handled sub service but don’t regret not going that way.  Privacy and alone time are important to me.  And then there’s the foul odor generated by 60 men living in a tin can for several months.  Having read numerous submarine novels, it’s my understanding that the smell builds gradually and seems normal - to the long-term occupants.  Someone coming in from the outside though, gets it full force, like running smack dab into a dirty green miasma of pure stink.  OMG!  Who died?  Where do I barf?

 Mr Bite 'Em in the Butt likes to snooze with a fuzzy toy in his mouth.  Nine times out of ten his jaw is clamped down on the critter's crotch.  Gotta give him credit: he knows how to gain control of the situation.  Remind me not to get on his bad side.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Camping La Liberte, Saint-Liboire, Quebec

At first blush the French Canadians are an active, social, outdoorsy bunch.  We pulled into this campground in a downpour, saw dozens of folks sitting outside under their RV awnings.  When the rain eased off, they were immediately out and about, grilling, walking, playing bocci ball and box quoits, riding bikes, and so on.  This is a large (345 unit) campground with the usual high number of seasonals.  It has every amenity and activity you can imagine - and some you can’t - with the exception of wifi.  It’s more a destination resort than a campground - what Trish and I define as a campground anyway.
There’s a PA system throughout the park.  Announcements in French are heard sporadically in the evening, the last one at 10 PM.  Yippee.  No idea what they’re saying and couldn’t care less.  There were fireworks last night; also a band playing in a large building some distance away.
In Ontario campgrounds, lots of folks fly the Canadian flag.  Not so here, nary a maple leaf to be seen.  There are a few provincial flags, blue with a centered white cross and 4 fleur de lis.  Darn few non-Quebec folks here; we may be the only ones.  When I was researching campgrounds and such, I noted that the websites refer to the nation of Quebec, not the province.
Yesterday was a long day of rainy driving that included a long skinny parking lot (through Montreal) masquerading as freeway.  Eastern Canada cities badly need mass transport.  Who’d a thunk 20 miles of stop and go traffic at 4 PM on a Saturday?  Tedium.  Just.  Pure.  Tedium.
Today our destination is Rimouski, Quebec.  Rimouski: Small Russian mice?  Polish composer of classical music?  Ukrainian sausage?  Mustard and mayo with your rimouski meal, maam?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cedar Valley Campground, Orono, Ontario

We were going to stop near Toronto for a couple nights, do one of the 2-3 hour city tours on a sightseeing bus.  A guy I chatted with at the last campground, near Woodstock, said he used to drive truck and that Toronto had the worst traffic of any major city he'd driven through.  He advised driving through the city in the middle of the night.  No can do; we sleep at night.  We both hate driving after dark anyway.
The guy wasn't wrong though, 8 lanes of traffic going each way bumper to bumper, a 30-mile parking lot.  And it was raining, which didn't help a bit.  Been raining forever seems like, getting sick of it.  Anyway, given the traffic and the rain and the fact that the nearest campground was several miles out of town, we decided to skip the city tour and keep on truckin'.  We have a freebie Ontario campground guide in which Trish found a remote spot back in the woods, fine for one night, has good wifi.
Most of the private campgrounds in Ontario are 85% seasonals.  People have 'park models' or RVs parked permanently, with covered decks snugged up to them.  It's like having a summer cabin at a reasonable cost in a community of similar-minded folks.  It has it's pluses but I think I'd go apeshit in that environment: no travel, limited privacy, not enough to do.
Today we head into Quebec Province, get a chance to try our French: Trish knows 6 words; I know 3.  That should do it.  I'm pretty good at charades so am not concerned.  Oui!  Magnifique!  Voila!  That's my 3.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Guest Blogger - Ranger - Niagra

Mom and I had another outing – just the two of us.  (We had previously taken an outing to Mackinac Island in MI.)  This time we viewed the Lake at Niagra and Niagra Falls!  Alpha Dog (Mike) had planned to take part, but he had trouble sleeping the night before, and was feeling pretty punk.  Mom and I took off and let the big dog sleep.  Alpha Dog had seen it all before.  Mom and I hadn’t.  Our day worked out great.  Mom got to set a pace that suited her fancy – dawdling, with lots of spontaneous stops.  I’m a pretty good sport about letting her set the itinerary, as long as there are a few parks and squirrels included in the day.  Here’s a recap of our day:

This is embarrassing.  Mom said the kids at school would love this picture, and actually it was kind of cool, sitting in the motor boat. 

A teenager coming to the convenience store gave me lots of attention and said, “Oh man, he is a REALLY NEAT dog.”  I decided it was OK to sit in a fake motor boat.

This setting is more appropriate for a classy canine such as I.  I’m taking a little rest and watching people at Niagra on the Lake.

People in Ontario know how to do flowers.  Well it rains and it’s humid, so they get a lot of the work done for them.  Even so, they are awfully good with color, and they are very cool about dogs.  I get to go almost everywhere people get to go – except not in the cheese store.

Even I, a dog with a limited color spectrum, thought the purple and pink were exceptional.

The scents were spectacular.  Mom thought the color and balance of this garden were noteworthy.

I’m not sure why, but we lingered at this shop for quite a while – something about, “Everything is so lovely.”  I also heard Mom say, “The name couldn’t be more perfect.”

In some instances, the flower colors echoed the colors on the buildings.  I heard this said in an exclamatory tone, so it must be important.

There’s a place on the Niagra River called Whirlpool Rapids.  There’s a cable car for humans.  See them all packing into the car.

The car goes across the river, over the rapids.  The humans dangle from the cables.  Dogs aren’t allowed on the cable car.  That rule is moot.  No dog would pay money to dangle from cables over rapids. 

This is a lovely garden, right in front of the Niagra Police Department.  Mom and I parked near here to view the falls.

I was pretty impressed.  This is looking at the American side of the falls.  That’s upstate New York in the background.

This is me, being impressed.

This is the Canadian side of the falls; the horseshoe. It’s an even more impressive display of water than the American side, except the constant mist sort of blocks the view. Apparently, on exceptionally sunny, dry days the mist evaporates. I wonder how many times per year there are sunny, dry day.

Mom and I had a terrific day. I don’t have a picture of the very best part, when I got soooooo close to a squirrel on the Niagra Parkway walking path. Trust me, it was terrific!  I was tired when we got back to camp. Alpha Dog was rested.

The Mail Seekers. Season Two, Episode One.

Long term readers will recall last season’s saga regarding the mail that arrived in Fairbanks 10 days late and was then forwarded to the wrong town by the USPS.  Season Two finds our heroes, Trish, Mike and Ranger the Wonder Dog, aka The Mail Seekers, in Lincoln, Canada, not far from Niagara Falls.  Episode One is entitled: 


The story unfolds..........
It’s 3:30 AM.  Mike awakes and lies in bed thinking about yesterday’s drive and today’s plan to visit the Falls.  Suddenly, like a lightning bolt, it hits him: we didn’t pick up our mail before crossing into Canada at Port Huron, MI.  Nuts!  The forwarded mail packet is resting peacefully in the Port Huron post office after an arduous round trip journey from Lake Havasu City, AZ (LHC) to Coon Rapids, MN, immediately followed by a one way trip from LHC to Port Huron.  The Mail Seekers stopped in Port Huron for lunch, gas, groceries, and WIFI access, totally forgot about the mail.  DUMB!

The plot sickens...........
Readers are no doubt wondering about that AZ/MN round trip: what was that about?  Well, it’s like this: Mike, although he knew better, had the mail forwarded to a PO that doesn’t accept general delivery mail.  When he called the PO to enquire about the mail packet, he was informed that it would be returned to sender.   DUMBER!!

And sickens further..........
But, why did Mike have it sent to a PO in the Twin Cities when he’s got all kinds of relatives there?  He could have had it sent to one of them and there would have been no problem.  DUMBEST!!!

And ends with......... 
The Seekers dutifully driving all the way back to Port Huron to get the mail, wasting a full day and $50 worth of gas.

Check back for the next episode of The Mail Seekers, to be published at a time and place as yet unknown.  These questions will surely be in the minds of our readership in the interim:

            1.  Will Mike need an operation to have his head removed from that dark abysmal place where, obviously, it is firmly stuck?

            2.  Will The Seeker Team be forced to replace Mike as Lead Seeker?

            3.  How many more round trips will the mail be subjected to?

            4.  Where will the next screwup take place: Maine, New York, Delaware, Massachusetts?

And now a word from our sponsor, CRS Inc...............

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Man in Motion. Part Two.

Another less than brilliant application of motion sensors was observed in the L Powell campground restrooms.  The ceiling lights and fans there are motion sensor activated and have a timer set at 15 seconds.  One enters the facility, the light and fan comes on and stays on while motion is detected.  The light goes off 15 seconds after motion ceases.
That’s fine if you’re doing stand up business.  The sensor can ‘see’ you and the light stays on.  If your business is of a sit down nature, however, you’ll be sitting in the dark cuz the sensor is unable to see through the stall wall.  I’ve been cogitating on this dilemma and several ideas have surfaced:

            Alternative A: 1.  24 hours prior to the event, eat 2 large bowls of raisin bran.  Remember, you have 15 seconds from the time you close the stall door.  You gotta be loaded, primed and ready for bombs away the instant your butt hits the seat.  You’ll want to practice this technique a few times, using a stop watch, before you go for the gold.

                                    2.  The right clothing is extremely important in beating the clock.  Forget the underwear completely; no way you’re gonna beat the clock if briefs or panties are involved.  Make sure your jeans or shorts have zippers or velcro closures; buttons don’t hack it in this race.  Wear running shoes.

            Alternative B:  Take a broom or other long-handled thingy into the restroom with you.  Ensure the broom is long enough to reach above the stall wall and achieve direct line of sight with the sensor.  Use one hand to constantly wave the broom, the other to do whatever needs doing.

            Alternative C:  Ask a friend to go to the restroom with you.  Women do this all the time, anyway.  Guys?  Well ..... it’s one way to find out who your real friends are.  If you have enough guts, you could ask your main squeeze to help out.  Good luck with that.  Once inside, instruct friend to walk around in circles, in view of the sensor, while you do your thing.

            Alternative D:  Got a dog that likes to chase balls?  Dogs are usually banned from restrooms unless you can convince the restroom police that it’s a service dog.  If not, you’ll have to sneak it in.  Anyway, take the dog and a tennis ball, station the dog outside the stall, enter stall, toss the ball over the stall wall and holler ‘fetch’.  Make sure your dog is well rested, don’t want Fido crapping out before you do. 

            Alternative E:  Buy a helium-filled balloon with a long string, and take it into the stall with you.  Tie the string around your ear.  Nod your head every few seconds.    

            Alternative F:  Cross your legs, grit your teeth and wait until daylight.  A word of caution: don’t use this method in conjunction with Alternative A:1, above.

Man in Motion. Part One.

We left Mackinaw City and took the road less traveled, driving along the shore of L Huron instead of the interstate.  We stayed in the Bay City, MI Recreation Area campground one night - pleasant but unremarkable.  However, there was one thing there that I will remark on: motion sensor flush toilets.
Does the concept have merit?  Maybe.  But, I’m hard pressed to come up with any.  I haven’t a clue about the cost of buying, installing, maintaining and replacing these devices, but I suspect it’s higher than traditional flushing methods.  Whoever made the decision to install them must have thought that they’d be more economical in the long term than a manual type.  Was that decision based on projected savings of water usage, perhaps?
If so, they screwed the pooch.  They place the sensors about shoulder height on a person sitting on the throne.  When the person moves a little, the toilet flushes.  Doesn’t make any difference whether you’re scratching your back, examining your shoe, reaching for TP, wiping, whatever: the freakin’ toilet flushes.  Has any reader been able to do a good ‘ol #2 and exit the stall that contains this ingenious device with only one flush?  I think it’s doable, would take a good deal of practice and constant focus.  I don’t recall ever having gotten by with less than three flushes - try as I might to minimize the flush count.
They need to go back to the drawing board cuz these fine modern devices suck.  They’re wasting tons of water, and, I suspect, the buyers/owners are paying a premium price for the very devices that are robbing them blind. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mill Creek Park, MI

Mill Creek is a historical park 3 miles south of Mackinaw City.  It, too, is accurately reconstructed to historical specs and well done.  I watched 2 demonstrations of period lumber making, one using only hand tools, the other using water wheels to power a saw mill.  The saw mill operated there for many years and, later, a grist mill operated on the same site, perhaps using some of the same equipment.

Doing it the old fashioned way.  Hey Paul, where'd you park Babe? 

Exterior of saw mill with flume on right.  The flume feeds water into a vertical shaft with a gate at the bottom.  When the gate is opened, water pours out and turns a small water wheel, which drives the saw up and down via gears and axles.

Interior of saw mill showing the big blade doing it's work.

The big cog wheel, when engaged, pushes the log along greased skids.  At bottom of picture, you can see the axle and cogs that drive the big cog wheel, powered by a separate horizontal water wheel below.

Another view of log and saw blade.  The design and construction is quite clever and exacting.  And, it was first built 200 years ago with primitive tools.  Amazing!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Colonial Michilimackinac, MI

This fort dates from 1715, sometimes occupied by French, other times by Brits.  It was a center of activity and commerce during the fur trading years.  It was totally destroyed when the Brits moved to Mackinac Island, taking some materials with them and burning the rest.  There's been an active archaeological dig here since 1959.  The fort has been reconstructed to conform to the original in every way possible and I have to say: they've done a fine job of it.

The first 4 pix are of the fort's interior, taken counter clockwise in panoramic sequence.  The last picture is a close up of the dig and a couple of Brit soldier reenactors dong a musket demo.

City Campground, Mackinaw City, MI

Wednesday's drive took us from Green Bay (the bay, not the town) on the west side of L Michigan, around the upper end of the Lake, and across the Mackinack Bridge to Mackinaw City.  We'll be staying here 3-4 nights, playing golf and touring assorted historical parks, including Mackinack Island, Colonial Michilimackinac and, of course, Nick Nack Pattiwack.

This park has electrical and water hookups but no other significant amenities - which suits us just fine, especially for $15/night.  You can feed the fish or the sheep for $1: there are 3 fish ponds, a dozen sheep and a llama named Peggy.  I'd rather feed Peggy than the fish or the sheep but that option is not offered.  Maybe Purina doesn't make llamachow?  Missing the boat there, burgeoning market.

Everything's on the honor system here: camp fees, firewood, fish food, sheep food.  Help yourself.  Put your money in the can.  You will note in the above picture that the office and observation deck are quite impressive, no expense spared.
As you may know, llamas are great lookouts.  When we approach the sheep pasture fence with Ranger, Peggy immediately comes to the fence, leans against it, stares fixedly at Ranger and continues to do so until we are some distance away.  The sheep follow the llama around like so many shadows.
Michilimackinac is an indian word meaning island of the great turtle, aka island of the giant fairies.  The distinction between the two was, no doubt, related to the quality and quantity of the stuff they were smoking on any given day.  We're extremely excited about seeing great turtles and giant fairies when we visit the island, there being a dearth of these fine, exotic creatures thus far on our trip.
Many things here have names that start and/or end with mack, nack or ac; a few even have an extra mack/nack/ac in the body of the word for good measure.  Here's the clincher: when found at the end of a word, mack/nack/ac is pronounced 'gnaw' as in mackinaw.  Go figure.  The Aflac goose would love it here.

Relaxing after a fine meal of fresh whitefish cooked over the campfire.

Ranger doing his pre-wash duty on the fish-cooking rack.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

River Park Campground, Menominee, MI

'Twas a dark and stormy night, followed by a slightly less dark and stormy day.  That refers to our last night in MN and our drive across WI yesterday.  The wet weather will continue for another day before it improves.  It's okay for driving but dampens one's spirits and clothing when setting up/breaking down camp.

Another delightful campground here, right on the Menominee River which separates WI from MI.  It's a city park, nicely laid out and maintained, with first class restrooms and non-emasculating showers.

Across the river on the WI side is Marinette Marine Corp.  They're building the 2nd of two LCS 1 navy ships.  Heres a link with better photos of the first one they built, called Freedom:   Navy ships have changed a lot since my time in the military.  Looking at the one being built across the river, there's no way to tell what it's gonna be/do when it grows up.  We asked last night's waitress at the restaurant and she got the answer for us.  The ship's exterior is reminiscent of the death star from Star Wars, the B1 stealth bomber (the ship is in fact, stealthy) and the civil war iron clad ship, the Merrimack.
I'm always intrigued by ocean ports, or in this case, great lakes ports, and all the various types of boats and ships.  Guess that comes from growing up in MN, an inlander with no ocean anywhere close. 
I still recall my first sight of an ocean at Seaside, OR in 1965 when a couple Forest Service friends and I drove to the coast from Clarkston, WA.  Dave, one of the two, is still a close friend.  He and his wife Verna appeared in several blog posts last summer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blog Comments

Several blog readers have expressed frustration about not being able to make comments.  I, too, have been frustrated when trying to respond to comments - a major pain in the arse.  Finally, I've done something about that problem, changed the settings so that anyone can comment easily.  I'd have done it long ago but didn't realize I could change the setting.
Now anyone can comment without all the BS.  Here's the procedure:
1. Click on 0 Comments below the post.
2. Click the down arrow at 'Select profile'
3. Select 'Anonymous'
4. Write your comment and include your first name so I know who wrote it.
5. Click 'Post Comment'

That should do it.  Looking forward to reading all your snide remarks, witticisms, etc.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bunker Hills County Park, Coon Rapids, MN

Ah!!!  This is more like it!  The KOA campground was a lucky find for us, not many choices at 5:30 PM on Friday night in summer near a large metro area.  But it was a typical KOA with RVs packed in like sardines, noisy, no privacy.  Our neighbor’s slide out was 3’ away from our slide out, and they kept their damned radio on until 11 PM.  We spent 2 nights there before moving to Bunker Hills, where we stayed last summer.
Here, our campsite is separated from adjoining sites by 200’ or more, with plenty of trees in between.  We’ll spend 3 nights here before heading east across Wisconsin and Michigan to our next major site, Niagara Falls.  Trish has never been; I’ve seen it a couple times.
There’re lots of paved bike paths in the park and adjoining communities.  Trish is gone on a bike ride to check them out.  Later today we hope to pick up our first batch of forwarded mail, do some shopping and have lunch with my sister, Marge, who lives in Roseville, a suburb of St Paul.  Weather permitting, we’ll have a campfire tonight and grill salmon over the fire.
Our family reunion body count was 47, the largest ever I think.  I come from a large family, have long since lost count of how many offspring in subsequent generations.  We are quite a diverse group but a great sense of humor is one thing we all have in common. Our reunions are a riot.  It would be nice to see them more often but my wanderlust and independent nature - not to mention my aversion to cool, humid climates (and bugs!) - demands I live some distance away.

Barn Quilts, Morgan County, CO

A few posts back I promised pix of barn quilts.  Here they are.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

KOA Campground, Maple Grove, MN

June 11. Yesterday’s drive started with 2 hours of detours, dead ends, back roads and aimless wandering.  Flooding and construction were the culprits.  We arrived in the Twin Cities much later than we’d hoped, missed having dinner with the siblings, and found the campground we’d selected to be full up.  Bummer of a day; weather sucked, too: overcast, chilly, sporadic drizzle/rain.
Some interesting things we passed along the way:

1.  Buffalo Bill’s Ranch; North Platte, NE

2.  John Wayne’s birthplace; Winterset, IA; who’d a thunk the Duke was from IA?  Should have beenWyoming.

3.  Pottawattamie County, IA; great name, huh?

4.  Uncle Mike’s in Beebeetown, IA; don’t know what it was, just a name on a building for a business that once existed - but anything in Beebeetown’s gotta be good don’t you think?

5.  The Spam Museum, Austin, MN; it saddened us that we didn’t have time to stop in for a lard sandwich.  Want fries with that?

6.  The Bridges of Madison County, Madison County, IA; remember the schlock-gag me book and movie? Clint, to what depths hath thee fallen!  What happened to my squinty eyed hero of the spaghetti westerns?

A Dream Come True - Guest Blogger, Trish

I’ve been visiting the Four Corners area regularly since 1992. I fell in love with red rock country the first time I looked up a tall rock face; the rich terra cotta and Navajo reds, striped with desert varnish; the enormous rock forms, some statuesque, some rounded and twisted. I’ve studied federal park brochures, websites and coffee table books adding places to my travel list. The slot canyons of Lake Powell have been high on my list for many years. While I question whether there ought to be a Lake Powell, (almost certainly there should not be) I’ve gazed at photographs of kayaks gliding deep into slot canyons, the red vertical walls towering high above the surface of the water, the width of the canyon narrowing with each stroke, and dreamed of the day I’d have the experience first-hand.

As Mike planned our Lake Powell houseboat trip, I shared my hope of exploring a slot canyon. He studied charts, figured distances and noted likely times and places for me to have the opportunity. The helpful young man who checked the houseboat out to us suggested two especially good camping bays. Mike noticed the one named Secret Canyon had a narrow finger continuing off one side, so we set it as our tentative camping site for the second night. We found that narrow finger, and it did not disappoint.

We’ve come off the main channel, through a wide open bay at the buoy advised by the rental agent. This must be it. We should find a small bay with a great slot canyon for kayaking

The pilot at the helm watches the GPS closely.

Wow, this is getting better than I imagined.  We’re still in the houseboat, and already the walls of the canyon are growing taller and getting closer.  Once we anchor, it will be a great paddle.

Gorgeous!  Stunning!

Wow, this isn’t a coffee table book.  I’m here, on the upper deck of a houseboat, no less.

Those walls are getting pretty close.  Does everyone remember we’re not in the kayaks yet?  We’re in a 53’ houseboat.  Just a little farther and we’ll be at the bay.

Consensus of the crew:  This isn’t a passage that leads to a bay, off of which is a slot canyon for kayaking.  This is the slot canyon!  Good thing we have those kayak paddles.  We’ll be using them to guide the aft end of the boat as we back out of the tight spot.

Back in open water.  While some members of the crew were nervous, I know too little about boating to worry.  From my perspective, the adventure was GREAT – lived up to my dreams!