Two days after Christmas, Mrs. Whazoo was having a bridal shower for our youngest daughter at the Whazoo residence. What more did I need as a reason to hightail it out for a couple of days? I called Mark Larson, a good friend of mine, and asked if he had a couple of days to spare.
You see Mark is in the process of giving the Whaz some lessons in photography. Yes'sir, right now Mark has a double page layout in the 2015 Arizona Highways calendar and has had photos printed by them quite a few times over the years. He was also involved with the Arizona Highways photo tours. It's a case of the Whaz being "Grasshopper" once again. Not to mention Mark likes 4wheeling in a serious way. Ok then, we had a date.
The Page Arizona area has some real good photo opportunities and that's where we went. I had some specific areas I wanted to go and hoped we could get there with the campers.
Right away I noticed the War of the Worlds invasion had begun as we drove through the legs of an older type of alien lumbering across the landscape. (well? It WAS wood.)
We must have been in a closed area. Or else the bank teller had noticed the kind of vehicle I had as I drove away, very fast. Yes, that was the Sheriff.
I smoked the tires to get away....
and when the Sheriff got stuck he gave chase on foot.
Luckily we both made a get-away and took a break in the sandy wash.
Ok ok, we were stuck a little. It was a simple matter of dropping air pressure to 25 pounds to be on our way. The guy chasing? Just another 4wheeler watching a couple of guys in campers running the dunes too. It's not something you see every day I guess.
Driving to a spot on the map we had to pass by more marching aliens. At first I thought Mark was a goner, but it seemed they couldn't keep a good Dodge down. Or could they, or couldn't they, or could they?...
Though his camper did smoke for awhile after.
What a sharp rig. If I wanted a hard side that would be it. The truck and camper seem to be a perfect match and made me feel like the old dog on that trip.
The next 3 pictures are Mark's, they have a 3D kind of look. How does he do that?
Overlooking Lake Powell with the Navajo Generating Station giving giant smoke signals in the distance.
The next three are Mark's as well.
This looked like the ufo crash landing site that precipitated the War of the Worlds. I looked around for Orson Wells but didn't see him.
While Mark took pictures that made me jealous to see them, I took a picture of Yoda, facing left, leaving his crashed ufo up on the hill.
And Snaggletooth, with a potbelly like the rest of us. It's hell gettin old ain't it? Exit stage left.
Not to mention ol Snoop Dog with a beanie. You DO see them don't you?
So if we were looking at hoodoos, are those their shadoos? It had to be asked.
It was time to bogey, and leave too.
We weren't doing serious 4wheeling, but Mark was happy with the way his rig handled the stuff that did come our way. I was also impressed that the camper and truck looked to ride so well.
Communicating with hand-held radios, I was surprised to get a call on the phone from Mark. He was excited that he had five bars...and didn't know why.
In the land of canyons, yet driving on wide open flat ground. Isn't that how it always is?
Then boom, you're on a cliff taking pictures of a canyon below. Or should I say Mark is, this being his picture.
"Look over there Whazoo!" Mark said pointedly.
"Where?" asked Whazoo.
"There, it's the worlds' most interesting tiny Santa. He doesn't drink much, and he doesn't drink often. But when he does he drinks Corona." It had to be said.
After having a Corona with Santa we had a good time around the fire. Except we couldn't sit by the fire, Santa had gas.
The generating station at dusk looked like the re-fueling depot for alien space crafts.
Mark's sunrise shot gave beautiful illustration to the Paria River below.
Mark had to leave that morning. We had made it a full and fun two nighter and he had to split, following the bread crumbs left by his GPS. I cruised on down that tight windy rim road in the sand.
I was forced by the road to once again run around the legs of aliens. Lucky I had the extended GMC War of the Worlds Protection Plan.
While driving off of the plateau I found some exposed smooth-rock to play on. Boy, I could stand to lose a large part of that shadow.
With no one to take "action" shots, I had to rely on the GMC parking break.
Mark had mentioned a place about twenty-five miles off the highway and above Lake Powell. He said a well-known photographer had 4wheeled out to this place after it snowed and took some fabulous pictures. I started the drive, thinking that my original two nighter was going to be extended.
I myself hit that shutter button too many times to count and can no longer tell a good picture from a bad. While Mark went for few but great pictures I subscribe to the quantity theorem, if some is good, more is better.
I extended an invitation to a whole trailer forum. Looks like they all showed up.
The first stop above the lake was exciting. I was now running on LP, Lake Powell.
And with it came evening colors...
After camping with a real photographer I realize that I can no longer sleep in while out in the camper, or I would have missed this sunrise shot.
Besides all the other aliens we had seen, now the spider cloud from Mars was after the camper.
Gunsight Butte, and yes it is.
I always felt that the waters of the lake added beauty to the area, yet the beauty was already there.
Yes, we can see it thank you. Temps were in the thirties, soon to drop.
I bent over to pick something up from the dirt. Was it a sign? Would we be having a short spring this year? I'll have to check the Farmers Whazmanac.
I had moved to another spot for a longer view of the water. I was waiting for weather.
When waiting you sometimes get bored, and take a double selfie. I'm typically not a very selfie person.
My new wide angle lens shows how spacious our Outfitter really is, and bright with the windows open. We still can't believe, after all these years, that we're in the six and a half foot bed of a truck, with the amenities of a motorhome. Ain't campers the best?
Evening came around like clockwork, and with it more photos.
It had been like this the during the afternoon...
and this the next morning. My wait was over, it was snow good.
There was no wind, no sound at all except the snowflakes falling. You know the sound, it's the atmosphere sighing relief to be dumping all that weight.
What follows are too many pictures of the same spot, I was caught up with photo fever. Like buck fever, I shot everything in sight.
I was happy to show off the weather, and cold with daytime temps in the twenties. Absolutely frigid to a Phoenician.
That evening I did something foolish, I checked my propane gauge. I almost did a KMart commercial and shipped my pants right there. That gauge showed empty. It had been full to start and I hadn't used it much so what the heck. I took the tank out to see but I'm no judge on propane levels, the tanks are heavy themselves. There was a little left but it didn't seem like much. My brain kept thinking about that empty gauge reading. Oy, there went my euphoria, it would hit the teens that night. I turned off the heat, preferring to have propane for coffee in the morning, and cranked up the generator. That's right, I had an eighteen hundred watt hairdryer!
How To Heat Your Camper With A Hairdryer, by Whazoo. Well look, you know it can't be done right? However there are certain areas that can be heated nicely. No, I did not stick that hair dryer down my pants I don't care what you say. But I did heat the sleeping bag nicely before jumping in.
That morning I broke camp to drive out for propane. I didn't want to leave since it was supposed to snow for a couple of days and I wanted to be there when the weather broke.
Yet driving out in white-out conditions wasn't fun either. Areas of rocks to crawl through would be a problem and I couldn't see much of anything.
I came to a flat area where the horizon didn't exist.
Losing the road completely I got out and walked, for two hours, looking for the trail. I fell twice, not being able to see the contour of the land. In fact I almost fell into a six or seven foot ravine without seeing it until the last second. I could have driven into it as well. My eyes were hurting from the whiteness and I was wishing for a short winter instead of a short spring.
I wasn't alone though. After I fell some little aliens wearing caps of snow came running up with arms wide open to wish me a Happy New Year, it was 2015.
I finally got back in the truck to warm up and cover my eyes for a little bit. Of course your brain is trying to make sense of things and it came to me, sunglasses, polaroid sunglasses.
Right there in the console, to console me, and they did. I won't say that it was like night and day but I could, very faintly, see a flat unbroken area with ripples of snow on either side, the road.
After making it to the main dirt road the clouds lifted a little, my spirits with them.
In Page I fueled up with propane, diesel and gas for the generator. Back I went to my snowy outpost, passing a group of three 4wheel drive vehicles driving out as I drove in. Or vice versa. They had followed my tracks out to the point and were heading back to Page, compressing the snow into ice as they drove. I knew that could be a small problem in coming back, having to drive over rocks you wouldn't think about normally were now a slippery obstacle.
There was one spot I almost didn't make it past. Even with the front locker in use the truck would go sideways when hitting an off-camber ledge of rocks. Argh, this couldn't be happening after all I went through to get propane. To get stopped maybe a mile short of where I wanted to be. A little road building helped, a little more finesse instead of pedal. It would be after all, a Happy New Years Day.
With snow on the ground it accented the drop off of a canyon.
It was a good night after all. Both heaters going, all the lights and the stereo on. A few pictures were taken.
The moon even came out for a few minutes to celebrate with me.
This was the best shot I could take under that clouded moon. Trying to get the focus right for a night shot you can't really see is problematic when it's warm out, more so when your fingers are freezing.
I had hoped for a sunny morning, what I got was more than spectacular, it was heaven. Up at six am and out in the cold and dark I waited. Taking a picture then walking back to the camper, up the steps and turn around to look before going in. Man, different light, different clouds! Run back to the camera for another shot. Repeat over and over until finally at 9:30 am you take time to have that bowl of cereal you wanted back at 7am. Surely it was a photographer that invented brunch, unable to leave their camera until the golden hour had passed. I found myself wishing to have my friend Mark around for photo tips but he was off skiing by now. I did the best I could but was again disappointed.
The clouds gave way to a bit of blue sky, but I guess you can see that.
Zooming in on the geodesical patterns below, it was artwork on a grand scale and reminded me of the Horshack Test I used to take for my psychiatrist...all the time. Wasn't he on Welcome Back Kotter?
The road out was a bit easier to follow this time, thankfully. I had spent four nights on the same piece of ground just for some pictures. And I'd do it all again even without a camera, it was an adventure. Mark and I had a good time, and I saw snow falling on Lake Powell. I don't get to do all that every day.
I was on the road home and had to slam on the brakes, I couldn't believe what I saw. Dogbots from the Canis Major constellation were marching on Glen Canyon Dam around the corner. Luckily with the War of the Worlds Protection Plan, glass replacement is free.
It was definitely time to go home where I would have my own war of the words with my wife, having been gone six nights instead of two or three. Maybe my stories of near death will impress her, but I doubt it. She'll probably say something like "Boys will be boys", and that will be that. And yes, I know.
Thanks for reading...
Grand Baby updates: Everything is good, the future bright. It's so hard to believe they will be 1 year old this weekend. It is also hard to believe they are identical twins. Because of Zoey's health issues to begin life they look so totally different. Zoey had open heart surgery to fix a hole in her heart. Also her main arteries of the heart were switched, called transposition of the greater vessels, and had to be surgically corrected. Her lungs kept collapsing so her diaphragm was sewed up or down I forget which. She started to get necro-something or other in the intestines which was a scare, and she has had several blood clots. Not to mention a speech pathologist to teach her to swallow after losing that reflex because of feeding tubes for so long. We are and always will be grateful to Phoenix Children's Hospital. There are so many different stories out there, all of them break your heart. Zoey is on the left, beautiful little Parker on the right.
Happy New Year everyone.