Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blown Away!

The girls and I went to Canyon de Chelly this past weekend. Lindsay had off from school Friday and Monday so we decided to spend Friday and Saturday nights there and head back Sunday.

We arrived and the weather was very nice, although a bit windy. When we started driving to all the vista points the wind really kicked up. I would estimate there were hurricane force gusts. Lindsay was able to have the wind keep her upright.

We went down to one vista point and I had to hold on to Lindsay for fear of falling into the abyss.

It was so windy that I decided not to take the large format cameras out of the car. There was too much wind, and even worse, sand and small pebbles racing through the air. They were flying so fast they actually hurt when they hit your skin. I can only imagine what they would do to my lenses. So Lindsay and I decided to do like the natives had done for hundreds of years and seek shelter in the rocks.

I even found time for a quick nap.

Even though I didn't get to use my big cameras we did have a fun trip and I was able to get off a few digital photographs when we weren't getting pelted.

On Saturday, which was the worst for weather, we decided to go back to the hotel, shake the dirt off and then get some lunch. At the hotel the power went out. As this is a fairly remote area, we thought it might just be the hotel and we'd venture into town (Chinle, AZ) and get some lunch. Well, town seemed to be OK... lights were on in businesses. We went to A&W Root Beer (there's not a big selection in Chinle) and have a quick bite. After we ordered and paid for our food, the power went out in the entire town. Lucky for us (we were the last to get any food) they were able to finish cooking our order even without power using residual heat.

We then went back to the hotel and decided to rest until the power came back on. Well, it didn't. Around 3:00 PM local time we had to make a choice... stay at the hotel with the possibility of no electricity, lights or heat for the night (it gets cold in Chinle at between 5,500 and 7,000 ft elevation) OR start home a day early and hope the quarter tank in the car was enough to find us a gas station with power. The weather was deteriorating quickly. We decided to make our way home. Driving through town was like a scene from the Dust-bowl days of the Depression. It was almost surreal. The wild horses, which roam town freely, were pointing away from the wind to protect their eyes from the stinging sand. Visibility was poor at best.

I "hyper-miled" to get the most out of my quarter tank, never going past 55 mph and coasting on some of the long downhills. We drove and drove and drove, passing gas station after gas station with "Closed due to Outage" signs in the windows. We finally arrived at Interstate 40 seventy miles later... and a gas station with power. I filled up and we were on our way. But it was now approaching dinner time and we were still 4 hours away from home. We decided to see if we could get in (dressed like hikers) at the Turquoise Room at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, AZ (yes, that Winslow, where you can stand on the corner). They said they could take us at 5:45 and we made it with a minute to spare. After a fine meal, probably the best in this desolate area of Arizona, we started home in the dark and arrived there at 10:00 PM.

What a trip! I can't wait to go back when the weather is nice and bring the big cameras out! Thanks to my wife, Michele for the photos of Lindsay and me!