The post-half-marathon itinerary was a leisurely 74-mile drive to Page, AZ. We left Kanab to continue East on Hwy 89, and now we were skirting the southern edge of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. The giant “steps” that make up this area were now much easier to see.
In Big Water, UT, we stopped at another GSENM visitor center, this one dedicated to paleontology. Here we learned that this section of Utah was actually a coastal area when the dinosaurs were around. “This area was a beach?”, I said to Olivia, “Maybe that’s why I am so drawn to it!”
The area around Big Water, specifically, had been on the bottom of the ocean, and we could see that across the highway, where grey tropic shale lay at the bottom of the rocks. Shale is only found on the ocean floor. Many dinosaur bones had been excavated there, including new species that were previously unknown. The guy working the visitor center, a paleontologist himself, had uncovered one.
He opened up a National Geographic map that showed how the continents had moved over time. The Indian peninsula, for example, was a separate piece that was closer to the South Pole and when it drifted North, it slammed into what was then Eurasia and formed the Himalayas. The impact of that force is still present, pushing the Himalayas up by 9 cm each year. He also said that the Appalachian mountains, the oldest in the world, were once one mountain range as the mountains in Sweden. If you have a map handy, take a look, and you’ll see how the Eastern US could have fit like a puzzle piece with Northern Europe. It was all very interesting, and it explained why similar dinosaur bones were found on what are now different continents. He also reminded us that the world was much warmer when dinosaurs were around; there were no ice caps. Olivia and I looked at each other and wondered why we hadn’t learned any of this in school. 🙂
We got back on the road and crossed into Arizona; since Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time, we gained an hour back and we are now on the same time as LA, even though we are in the Mountain time zone. Confusing, right?
Just a few miles down the road, we saw a sign for Wahweep overlook so we turned there. At the overlook, we were treated to amazing views of Lake Powell and North towards to the GSENM. The views were really pretty much all around us… this area is just so vast. Lake Powell’s blue waters were striking against the orange and white rocks. Lake Powell is the largest man-made lake in the US. The Glen Canyon Dam, which we could see from the overlook, created this lake when it was built in 1963. The town of Page, which is right next to it, was established as part of the construction of the dam.
At Glen Canyon visitor center, which was just a few miles down the road from the overlook, we got to see the dam up close and learned more about water and the Colorado River. Lake Powell is now a major recreational area, with boating, kayaking and stand up paddle-boarding popular options to explore the Colorado and the canyons around it.
We got back on the road and crossed a brdige over the Colorado river, then headed south towards the trailhead to Horseshoe bend, the famous horseshoe-shaped rock shaped by the Colorado river. The trail was easy (less than a mile), which meant Horseshoe Bend was easily accessible. There were lost of people there but the area was large, so were able to get great shots of the horseshoe. What a great way to end the day!
Our dinner reminded us how good food in the Southwest is. We ended up at a small Mexican restaurant, where I had some of the best al pastor tacos I’ve ever had. After so many wonderful sights today and finally a great sunny day, the painful half marathon in the morning didn’t seem quite so bad.