PHOTO GALLERY INDEX > Up, Up and Away!
Page, AZ 10/30-11/02/08 (Day 748-751)
Up, Up and Away!
Some towns just have it all—like Page, Arizona which was literally created out of thin desert to house and feed workers brought into the area to begin building the Glen Canyon Dam in the ‘50s. Today the sleepy town is home to about 7,000 and a great home base for anyone interested in exploring awesome Lake Powell, created when Glen Canyon (and many other side canyons) filled up with water behind the completed Glen Canyon Dam.
Part of the Glen Canyon Recreational Area, Lake Powell is famous as a house boating destination and rightly so since the lake’s awesome sculptural sandstone cliffs and hundreds of meandering finger-like side canyons are best explored on the lake’s deep (as in many hundreds of feet deep) and crystal clear water from a fully-appointed houseboat that lets you take a hot shower, cook great meals, sleep in comfy beds and even (in some cases) soak in a hot tub and watch a flat panel TV. Yeah, they’re nicer than our old apartment in Manhattan ever was.
Every fall Page makes good use of the air as well as the water with the annual Page/Lake Powell Hot Air Balloon Regatta. In its sixth year, the event attracted nearly 50 balloons plus their pilots and chase crews.
Hot air ballooning is truly a team sport since no balloon would ever get inflated and airborne (let alone back on the ground safe and sound) without a small posse of wranglers and drivers who handle the balloon and literally chase it from a vehicle on the ground once it’s in the air to make sure they’re on the spot wherever and whenever the pilot chooses to land.
Before attending the regatta, we’d never been up in a hot air balloon and we’re surprised to discover how similar it is to scuba diving. Okay, you’re not wet or breathing bottled oxygen (hopefully), but the changing buoyancy and slow pace gives us a very similar relaxed feeling (thanks for taking us up Bill and Chris).
As pilot Cheryl’s t-shirt says: “It’s cheaper than therapy.”
Hot air ballooning—like most specialized, slightly fringe, certainly expensive and possibly dangerous activities—tends to attract fascinating fun-loving people (remember: interesting people do interesting things). Everyone we meet during the three day Page/Lake Powell Hot Air Balloon Regatta (hi Bill, Mike, Chris, Travis, Hank, Deb, Frank, Trina, Lee, Jan, Sarah, Bryan, Cheryl, Sean and Gary) are unique characters with great stories, great generosity and a great desire to have a great time with other great people. We’re told that a few jerks sneak into the ranks every once in a while, but they don’t last long.
With so many fun-loving people gathered in one place, it’s no surprise that once the early morning flights are done, the tailgating begins. And by tailgating we mean full on hot breakfasts of scrambled eggs and ham and unbelievably delicious ginger pancakes cooked fresh on huge grills and served in cut glass dishes (thanks Deb!). Seriously. Did we mention the homemade bloody mary’s, deep fried turkeys, Jell-O shots and kegs of beer?
These folks don’t fool around when it comes to flying (okay, not much) and they’re certainly serious about having a good time. The whole post-flight scene reminds us of the impromptu gatherings and good times we always have when we go to music festivals and that makes us happy.
(See video of Page, Lake Powell & the Glen Canyon Dam from a balloon.)
During this visit to Page we don’t have a houseboat to retire to each night, but we do have our trusty Safari SE tucked snugly into site A3 in the Wahweap RV Park which has perfect lake views (book a site in the low numbers on the A loop for best positioning), which we take full advantage of during sunrise and sunset when everything—rocks, sky, water—turns pink.
Located right at the lake in the midst of the protected recreation area, the RV park is also home to rabbits, road runners and coyotes and, in keeping with its natural surroundings, all the buildings have been designed in colors and shapes that marry well with the sandstone terrain. The main office and store is also equipped with solar panels which help power the place. The RV park is noteworthy for a bunch of more basic reasons as well, including super clean facilities, the cheapest and best RV park laundry room we’ve come across yet ($1 washer s and .50 dryers) and a free shuttle to and from Page. All for $43!
** This isn't a normal photo gallery with a slideshow because this post originally appeared on our Airstream blog. **