As I rolled into the parking lot for Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River just outside of Page, AZ, the odometer on my car hit 100,000 miles. Much more of a memorable spot than I imagine most reach that milestone.
As I hiked down to the bend I really regretted not starting a side photo essay at Monument Valley of tourists that came from all over the globe that were more worried about their "selfie sticks" than their surroundings. I could stand up on my soapbox and talk about camera etiquette, not walking in front of someone while they are shooting, or even just flat out just standing in front of someone else that's taking a photo so you can take one of yourself... but when you're on the edge of a sandstone cliff with an 1,100 ft. drop it becomes a matter of safety. I couldn't quite help but thinking Darwin was really onto something as people looking at themselves kept slowly backing up closer and closer to their demise. As recently as 2010, a tourist from Greece actually fell to his death.
It was the middle of the day and I knew I wasn't going to get any photos that would really be great, but I wanted a few photos for myself that I could look back on. Carefully working between the previously described groups of people I crawled out on my stomach close enough to the edge to grab a few frames.
After grabbing some frames there and running a few errands, I decided to try my luck at Lower Antelope Canyon. I didn't have any reservations and didn't know what time any tours went out, but thought it was worth a chance going anyway since I was there. After paying the entrance fee I drove down to the two different tour operators there: Ken's Tours and Dixie Ellis' Tours.
First I tried Ken's. I walked in and waited at the empty desk for about ten minutes before a woman came out and stared blankly at me. With a smile, I told her that I seriously doubted there was anything available, that I didn't have a reservation and asked if there was any room on a photo tour or regular tour that afternoon. She continued her stare like I was the biggest idiot ever and simply told me, "No." I asked if she had a recommendation of another place to try and she refused to give me any more information.
I left and drove over to Dixie Ellis' Tours and approached with the same info... doubtful there was room, just thought I'd give it a shot, yada yada yada... They asked if I had a pro DSLR and tripod, after a yes form me, they informed me they had a tour leaving in 5 minutes if I could hurry. They were more than happy to help and it turned out that our group was comprised only of our delightful guide, myself and a married couple from California.
The canyon is smaller, narrower and much more of a study in abstract shapes and form than Upper Antelope Canyon is. Our guide was terrific about pointing out different features and working with other guides to stop groups for a few minutes at a time so we could get clean photos without people in them. Below are a few shots from that afternoon.
After leaving the canyon I left to setup camp and clean gear for my photo tour of Upper Antelope Canyon the next day.