Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Boat and A Lake: Jumping in the Deep End Part 2

We just returned from our summer vacation - spending almost a week (6 days / 5 nights) exploring Lake Powell (Arizona & Utah) on a houseboat. While we have visited this part of the country before (and we love it!), it was our first experience on the lake and our first time in a houseboat. Each day this week I'll show you pictures from our trip - grouped into themes.

Today's theme: In Transit

Lake Powell is actually a man-made lake (or reservoir), created by building the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River and flooding a vast area of desert cliffs and canyons. This makes it quite an unusual "lake" - surrounded by red cliffs and with over 1,500 miles of shoreline. That's more shoreline than in the entire state of California!

We chose to explore the first 50 miles of the lake.

Surrounding the boat on every side were red sandstone cliffs. Often it looked like the way ahead of you was completely blocked, and it wasn't until you came right up to the edge that you saw that there were 2 cliffs that didn't touch and there was a passage through on one side or the other...

Navigating from the geography shown on the map turned out to be pretty difficult - in the boat you never had a bird's eye view (like on the map) and the "landmarks" had somewhat unhelpful names like "castle rock" - NOT pictured below, although this looks as much like a castle to me as everything else out there!

Of course, there were numbered buoys in the lake and on the map. It drove my husband crazy because the location of the buoys in the lake only roughly corresponded to the location of the buoys on the map.

Another challenge was assessing distances to things. At least, it was difficult until I figured out this simple heuristic: when you look at an object and wonder how far away it is, it turns out you couldn't go wrong if you estimated that the answer was "far."

Here's a view (below) behind our houseboat, showing our wake. That brings up the topic of speed. How fast does a houseboat move? I think it can best be illustrated in the following vignette:

The collision was imminent! They watched in horror as events unfolded over the next 10 minutes as if in slow motion...

Yup, it was that fast... ;)

During our entire 6 day trip, we only touched civilization once - when we stopped at the Dangling Rope Marina (see below) to refuel. My husband was at the helm and he slid our houseboat into the slip as smoothly as silk - as if he had been doing it all his life.

Then he realized that (just like in a rental car!) the gas tanks were on the opposite side of the boat. So, he pulled out, circled around and came in again for the other side...

This time, he crashed bumped into the dock. He was a bit embarrassed, until the attendant told the story of a guy the previous week who had driven his houseboat right up onto the dock, punching a hole in the front of his boat and coming dangerously close to crashing into the gasline pump itself!

The most beautiful times were early morning and evening, when the sun, hanging low along the horizon, would light up the cliffs a beautiful, vibrant red...

(There was no boating allowed on the lake at night, so these times were often more peaceful too.)

Our pictures don't do it justice - it was like the rocks were glowing from within.

To answer Gwen's question - No, thank goodness, neither of us experienced any seasickness!

Tomorrow's theme will be our kayaking excursions. :)


gwensews said...

Those buoys used to be manually set by the Coast Guard, using maps. Now they are placed using satellites. If you're not familiar with an area of water, you do not want to be out on it at night. Nothing looks familiar on the water at night and you can get turned around and lost in a hurry. Thank goodness for GPS!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures!