Week 4

The fourth week of our journey began in a decent hotel in Phoenix Arizona, where we were cordially invited to by our longtime German friend, Alex.

I have always enjoyed staying in hotels and especially now, after living in a car.

2. It is only June but the temperatures are reaching a high of 109.4 degrees fahrenheit. The restaurants, department stores and hotels save their clients in everyday possible cooling them off with a mist.

3. Being worn out from the constant cold we encountered in California, the heat actually felt very nice on our bodies. Most importantly is not to forget to drink water. The desert climate has a rule: if you are thirsty, it means that you are too late already; your body is already suffering from dehydration; you need to drink before you feel the thirst.

4. We liked Phoenix; it is a stylish, modern, widespread and convenient brown Southern city.

5. The old and new architectures blend naturally with one another.

6. The best thing that Phoenix has are back streets and service driveways.

7. “Caesar” Pshenka, a former Ukrainian attorney, would have envied these golden curbs.

8. There is something about walking around dumpsters while admiring the artwork that could have decorated a decent art museum.

9. Phoenix has so much graffiti in the alleys that when we came out onto the main street again, for a second I thought that I was a witness to a birth of yet another masterpiece. It turned out that the man was just chiseling away the plaster.

10. Southern Arizona is the Sonora dessert where if it were to rain, it would happen very rarely. The bees touchingly come to get water from a drinking fountain; carefully and without much racket keep to themselves, drink to their fill and buzz away to continue their bee duties.

11. The city of Sedona has very astounding and breathtaking scenery. We are used to observe something grandiose as in national parks or the boundaries of a reservation, but when you briefly stop at a gas station to wash the bugs off that are plastered on your windshield, and out of the corner of your eye you can’t help but notice a red gigantic miracle rising up, that is when you realize you are in for a treat.

12. Naturally, Sedona has a lot of tourist, which is only for the better. An American, as well as foreign tourist, is often times a person who is usually well-mannered, well-behaved, admires beauty and respects nature. In Hawaii, it is more common to see it cleaner and more pleasant in tourist places than where there are mostly locals. The water closets on the beach of Waikiki are tidier than those on the west side of the island. Same here; Sedona certainly benefits from tourists more than not.

13. I encourage everyone to visit Sedona (Michael thank you for the recommendation).

14. As in any other state, Arizona has its own Indian reservations. By the way, in the U.S the indians are not called ‘indians’ in spite of the fact that the reservations are called ‘indian reservations.’ The people are more commonly referred to as Native Americans. The Native Americans like to make different jewelry and souvenirs and in return, the tourists are happy to spend their money on them.

15. While traveling, we naturally pay attention to the transportation of other travelers as well. We will have another blog entry about this, but for now we just have one photo to share that characterizes the preferences of Americans; SUVs and crossovers.

16. The wildlife in the national parks and reservations is basically tame, especially the ‘munchers’ who come and take their share from people’s hands and if you don’t let go of the nut, then they will brace and pull it towards themselves as if it was their own.

17. Arizona was much enjoyed for its diversity. From the hot and dry desert, we arrived amidst green mountains with cool gorges, active rivers and the pines that smelled of resin. Spent the night here and headed further north.

18. As we drove further, we came to the prairies and even though the road passed through a plateau, we did not notice this at all and looking through the windows of our vehicle, we saw what any citizen of the states that are dominated by plains sees.

19. …and then the steppe ends abruptly with the abyss.

20. As usual, the pictures don’t do it justice in the extent, distance or the depth of this place but if you were to walk out of the three-story house, walk down the path and reach the very end of the photograph, it will only be 1/6 of the depth of the Grand Canyon.

21. The Canyon is magnificent in its size, its ancientness and stillness. Also what is unusual is that you don’t have to climb or drive anywhere to see a view. All you have to do is walk out of your car and it is as though you are already at the top of the two kilometer high mountain.

22. It would be good to return to the Grand Canyon. We simply glanced at it but it would be neat to live in it; walk the trails along the edge, set up a tent in the gorge and float the redish-brown waters of the Colorado River.

23. Further south, near the city of Page, we drove through more plains on a road once compacted of clay in between cliffs.

24. And we come to yet another hole. Its size charms even at a distance (to the right of the photograph you can see people).

25. This is ‘the horseshoe’. The depth is 300 meters. It is possible to just sit here and not even think about anything in particular. The impressions and feelings consume the brain and you need time for experience to digest.

26. Not far from the city of Page on the Colorado River, there is an electric station. This means that this river is closed off by a dam and up the current it spills into a large lake, and on this lake there is a city park where you can rent any floating device; anything from a motorcycle to a floating house.

27. We rent a powerful and steady vessel built for ten people.

28. The wind plays on the “river-lake” picking up the waves. We need to be careful especially from bigger vessels coming towards us so as not to fly up only to dive under the two meter high wave.

29. To be precise, we are actually floating in a canyon which was once very deep but after the dam was built, the canyon filled with water. The shore is the walls of the canyon itself. We begin to oooo and ahhhh in amazements but the kids don’t care about the beauty; they want more speed.

30. The traffic is heavy on the river which is why it needs its own police. The sheriff “pulled” someone over.

31. This is that precise medium-sized floating house. They are rented for about a week at a time ($2,500) by a bigger group. It is loaded with food, drinks, full tank of gas and its ready to go. Good thing there is somewhere to float to; 300 kilometers one way. This is not counting the numerous narrow and wide branches or pockets from the main drag where one can find secluded fishing spots and beaches for relaxing on the banks of the river. Along the river you can find stations where you can replenish your gas levels or leave the waste behind as well as restaurants, camping areas, and much more. It is the perfect place for a summer vacation.

32. We float into one of the pockets. The walls grow even more tall especially since the water level has dropped which you can see by the white lines on the walls.

33. It is a unique and the only one of its kind sort of place. The height of the shore impresses greatly, and that is with the boat sitting a good distance form the wall.

34. The river park also has a taxi since without these little golf carts it would be a struggle to haul all of your things to the boat.

35. The transportation in Page hints towards off-road outback activities.

36. There is another not so large but popular canyon we would like to visit. It is located on the Indian reservation where the entrance can only be accompanied by a guide and only on an all wheel drive.

37. We go. And as always, in the company of tourists from Asia; there are multitudes of them everywhere.

38. Dazed by the loudness and speed of the wind, this little girl “yells” an author’s songs with all her might.

39. The guide explains to us: the origination of the canyon (the water with the sand make up a windy road in the heterogeneous soil), how it is dangerous in the event that if there was rainfall far away in the mountains, the water would flow in the place where we stand making it be possible to drown, how this happened in 1997 taking the lives of eleven people, and why it is not allowed to climb the walls (common, it’s just indecent ;).

40. The top of the Upper Antelope Canyon (named because of the large amount of antelopes once roaming the area; the Russian Wikipedia is lying)) is not really noteworthy. If you don’t know what is beneath, then you can simply step over it and go on.

41. The entrance to it is also not that luring.

42. Inside it is gloomy. Not the best time for photographs since we came around 3:30pm and it would have been better at 11:00 in which case we would of had to reserve a spot two or three months prior. The guy, knowing every turn, is still able to find some spots for us where we can make at least some sort of a decent shot.

43. We do. Doesn’t seem too shabby.

44. It is humid and quiet except for an occasional slight sifting of the sand falling off the walls. Dark shadows envelope the corners, brown walls consume the eyes and above – magic.

45. Alla can not believe her eyes.

46. We end our acquaintance with Arizona on this beautiful note and drive over the Colorado River.

47. We glance back one more time at the state that has impressed us.

48. We continue on North.

49. And enter the glorious state of Utah.

50. Since Tanya is still our guest, we end up staying in a hotel once again. At the entrance, we admire the motorcycles of real travelers.

51. We are awoken from our sleep by an unusual sound to the usually comfortable and quiet hotels that exist for that specific reason – to rest in. The beds are shaking, the glasses are ringing, the pictures are rattling on the walls. It turns out that there is construction going on and the road is being paved with asphalt with the help of the vibratory roller. Another form of an alarm I suppose.

52. I peeked into the next room. I have not seen such a thing before – booking people into an unfinished hotel.

53. Utah has many interesting and good things especially in the southern part of the state. Unfortunately we do not have time to stay so we decide to leave this part for the future. We’ll be back but for now, we are on our way to Salt Lake City, the capital of Mormons.

54. Who the Mormons are and what their problem is I won’t talk about at this time. One thing I want to mention that I didn’t know is that the entrance to their main temple is categorically forbidden. And above the doors and windows hanged the satanists sign – the pentagram.

55. Everything else is just like in any other religious sect. Complete lies, fault, hypocrisy, boredom, hurt, hope, stupidity, despair, and in the center of it all is the fate of people. People who, by the looks of it, live by their own religious beliefs but stubbornly try to avoid or break them in every way possible.

56. And this specifically is very difficult to observe. As they say; it seems not to herald anything. Not a single person suspects that the list mentioned above of “happinesses” so to speak, approaches them with the inescapable path of a locomotive.

57. From the side, normal, happy and modish people.

58. An inscription: I am Alpha and Omega. Tanya says, “hmm, 1 am Alpha and Omega. What kind of Alpha and Omega goes on at 1 am? Is this some sort of advertisement?” 🙂

59. Religion in all its beauty. Behind the two meter walls, behind the thick glass and the curtains from a soviet social and cultural center, something goes on in there. The point is not really in the fact that it is hard for me or any other observer to get in there, but about the people in there who have practically no chance of getting out.

60. And one more illustration of religion. Probably the most precise. Bank Sion and the Mormon Temple. A bank and a temple. If you may not know this already but religion is always and foremost a business.

61. Salt Lake City is a fairly large city but the downtown is considerably small. For the most part, it is one street at the south going on for eternity.

62. And to the north it is cut short at the hills.

63. It is still pleasant to stroll around Salt Lake City, also because the Olympic Games were held here in 2002.

64. The old buildings are typical but still very neat.

65. In the conservative state of Utah the alcohol laws are very strict. Wine is bought only in liquor stores, the beer is not strong, and before one enters a bar their name is registered into the system so that it will be easy to investigate where he/she drank yesterday and where they are able to be found at the present time.

66. In a cafe we found a mockery of the electronic fireplaces.

67. The Capitol of Utah. It looks right: on a hilltop, near the center of the biggest city in the state. For those who might not know this yet: the majority of the capitol buildings of the state are not situated in big cities such as Seattle or Chicago but in some small provincial towns such as Olympia and Springfield.

68. America is good in the sense that it is not sleek and without much effort you can find the good qualities and the bad alike making it appreciated the good ones even more especially knowing that there are much more of them. For instance, a typical characteristic of a big city: three blocks down from a clean and well taken care center one can find a ghetto with crooked fencing and the walls of the buildings crumbling down.

69. The utahns decided not to walk far for minerals, so they demolished a hill right at the city limits near the city center. Here you can also find some kind of ugly pipes of some sort of processing plant. And the depot in itself is just a pile of rubbish. At some point this will be illegal – to create this hideousness next to a place where people work, relax, and live.

70. Utah also has its own Antelope only it’s not a canyon but an island in the middle of the Salt Lake. Unfortunately, the lake is drying up and it is not known how irreversible the consequences will be.

71. The bisons are doing OK here so far.

72. But the fish and birds are struggling.

73. The streets of Salt Lake City are numbered from the blocks where the main temple stands. This is where I saw the street with the largest number and this is still not the farthest one.

74. Here for the first time I saw a drive-in restaurant and could’t find reason for such an invention.

75. Leaving the state we saw a tiny speck of some sort on the cliff.

76. We had to fly in a bit closer.

77. Alla receives the drone into her arms as it returns from its mission.

The fourth week of our first part of the expedition is over. Ahead we have the state of Idaho and after that a break in Washington and Montana.

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