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You may remember that last summer we spent a week with Tom and Carol Vind at their summer home on Woman Lake in Minnesota. It was at that time that we first discussed houseboating on Lake Powell. Tom thought it would be neat if four couples could go that way we could play duplicate bridge in the evenings. And so the plans began. April 4-10 were the dates we picked; it worked well for two of the couples who would be leaving their winter places in Arizona and heading back to Minnesota.  Tom and Carol knew the other couples; we only knew Tom and Carol but figured we get along with most folks. It was wonderful. Because we were traveling all winter Carol, Evy and Diane did most of the meal planning; I just helped with the desserts (and they said I over did it). 
Lake Powell is the result of the Glen Canyon Dam which was built in Page, Arizona, in the 1960's to control the Colorado River. Most of the lake is in Utah, but we drove to Page the night before our time to board our houseboat. 
 
These maps show some of the area we covered. The river goes much further north than what is shown here.
The map on the left shows the dam in Page and the Wahweap marina where we boarded our houseboat and started up river.

Ron wrote a diary of the trip so I will use that for the rest of the story. 

Day 1.   After a night at the Super Eight motel the four couples all met at the boat dock on Lake Powell about 8 oíclock in the morning. We were very impressed with the 59 foot house boat. It certainly is a luxury craft with all the amenities. 

We didnít get on the lake until 12:30 because it took over an hour to get the paper work done and then another hour to get a technical walk-through on the boat. While the guys did that the gals did the grocery shopping for our week long trip. There will be no stores on Lake Powell. 

There are dozens of electrical systems which are all run off a generator. We had to learn how best to anchor the boat on shore at night and all about the channels we would be traveling through. It also took us a couple of hours to load the boat. We all packed lots of different kinds of clothes in case of cold weather on the lake (which didn't happen) and we had more than enough food and supplies for eight people for a week. 

Can you imagine a 59 foot boatĖitís like a yacht with a top deck which is half covered? The lower part of the boat has a family or common area with a very modern kitchen.. The kitchen has a microwave, regular oven and a large refrigerator. The lounge area has a large setting area, TV, stereo and and the captain's area where the steering console and all the boat controls and electrical panels are. 

There are four staterooms (small) with double beds and two bathrooms (one with a shower). Two of the guys in our 4 couple group have boat experience and I am glad of that because you can imagine how complicated this thing is. The upper deck has a wonderful lounge area and also has steering controls if you want to operate the boat from the top deck. That is where we had our happy hour and there is even a wet bar up there with a small refrigerator and freezer.

Tom at the helm with George assisting--Plenty of room for dancing--wet bar

Ron and Carol (I can't rest I am busy being the photographer)---stairs to the top

The day was just beautiful and we have really lucked out on the weather because it was sunny and in the high seventies. We docked about 5 oíclock for the evening and then took a small boat ride up the canyons in Tomís speed boat that we tow behind the houseboat. After a supper of beef stew, salad and desserts we played 12 boards of duplicate bridge, but by 10 oíclock we could hardly stay awake.
Day 2.  Itís Wednesday and another beautiful day. Late yesterday we noticed that the hot water heater wouldnít work and so first thing in the morning we radioed the harbor where the rental agency is and they sent out a repair boat and he arrived about 9 oíclock. By 10:30 we were underway with lots of hot water. The delay didnít matter because we had only planned to go about 25 miles that day to the area where the Rainbow Bridge is (we move about six miles per hour). We put ashore in a hidden cove in mid afternoon and took Tomís speedboat up a beautiful canyon to see the arch. Tomís boat holds eight comfortably so itís great for exploring the canyons. Besides that it uses a lot less gas. The houseboat is powered by two 110 horsepower motors and they use a lot of fuel. There are several fueling points along the way and we are able to split the cost four ways. The trip has been beyond our best expectations. 

Bill, Diane, Barb, Carol, Tom (kind of hidden-sorry), Ron, George and Evy.
The four couples are very compatible and we are having loads of fun with everyone in a fun mood. When we docked at Rainbow Bridge there was a tour boat there with about 60 people on it and we were glad that we are on our own time schedule and out here for a week. We were able to take a walk up to the arch and took some group pictures. 
Rainbow Bridge is the world's largest natural bridge.From the base to the top of the arch, it is 290 feet---nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty---and spans 275 feet across the river; the top of the arch is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide.
Navajo mountain in the background (snow covered) was often visable as we went from place to place. Anytime we saw that mountain, we could usually get a cell signal because that's where the towers were.
What wonderful vacation. Late every afternoon we have happy hour up on the top deck and since the boat has a stereo speakers up there too we have 50's music (Glen Miller) playing. Itís been so nice that we donít even have to wear sweaters. Also this afternoon, Tom our bridge master, reviews with us our bridge hands from the night before and itís a great learning  experience. So far this trip I have been learning a lot of the finer points and some bridge conventions. Right now, Carol (Tomís wife and my bridge partner for the trip) are in second place after two nights of bridge. Supper this evening was hamburgers cooked on the gas grill located on the bow (front) of the boat. About nine oíclock everyone is so sleepy from all the fresh air, sun and water that we are usually all in bed by ten. 

Bedrooms are small but.....

Ron is little he fits---Forget it Tom---your room is the big one.

Back deck---dining room/part of kitchen---it takes three captians to go?

Day 3.   I slept in until seven this morning and everybody was kidding me about that because we were already underway heading up towards Escalante canyon. Tom, who is an early riser, thought that we could get an early start and while we were moving could have breakfast. It worked fine and again we have beautiful weather. We have about four who take turns steering the boat so itís an easy thing to be traveling and eating. We can space our showers because no one is on a schedule and Barb happened to be in the shower when our boat encountered some rough water due to a wind that picked up in one spot of the canyon. That must have been an experience, but she didnít seem to mind and got a kick out of it. Iím typing this in our stateroom and the boat is rocking a little right now. We now understand why they have such big motors on these boats. Itís because of strong wind currents and storms that can kick up at any time. We are glad that we have four couples because we all assist in navigating through these many canyons using our binoculars and watching for numbered buoys. We have maps and you have to be careful not to get up into a dead end channel. This is a terrific learning experience in a fun situation. 

Lunch is casual---eat wherever you want.

Ron & George---Captain Evy and Tom, Carol, Bill and Diane
Escalante canyon (where we are heading) is known for itís beauty and many different arches. We already knew that Utah has a lot of beautiful red rock and we can see a lot of similarity with the landscape that we saw at Arches National Park. We finally realized that we had to get back into the main channel area in order to find a suitable place for beach this large houseboat. There are four anchors that are all attached by long ropes to the rear. The pointed anchors are then anchored at 45 and 60 degree angles up on shore bring the houseboat snug to the shore with a little bit of the bow on a slope to help stabilize the boat. The rear has to be in deep water so the motors and generator can operate freely. It takes three on shore to anchor and the fourth has to operate the engines. Itís quite a process. We finally found a nice little bay with the proper slope out of the wind and itís so beautiful that we will be here for two days and use the speed boat to explore the canyons. 


Ron and George with one of the four anchors.
Day 4. Today is the day that we will explore the canyons and we will take our cell phone with us in order to pick up any messages. We canít get cell phone reception in the cove where we are now. 

This morningís trip was so spectacular that pictures or our description will not do it justice. One canyon that we went into was the Cathedral Canyon and the walls were so beautiful and the reflections in the water just overwhelmed all of us. We are actually starting back tomorrow because we have a good two day trip getting back to the main marina. 



The trip has been much more than we ever thought it would be and I think that today was the best for sight seeing. I canít begin to describe the canyons---many of them 20 stories high and very colorful with desert varnish and colors created by water from snow melts. The chemicals in the
water leaves shades of blue, green, brown and black. We were able to maneuver the small boat into a water cave and could imagine that Indians might have occupied this cave at one time. We did see some remnants of Indian cliff dwellings further into the trip. These were all deep canyons
before the government flooded the whole area and built a dam to harness electrical energy. There was a lot of controversy at the time by   environmentalists, but we think that the beauty has been enhanced and has opened a wonderful recreational area. 

It is important to keep a look out for the buoys.
So we are back once again for happy hour and shortly after a supper of brats on the grill, the bridge games will begin. Once again the weather has been beautiful for this off season trip so we have lucked out by avoiding the crowds, cheaper boat rate and great weather---not too hot or too cold. In fact we have not used our cold weather clothing that we all packed.

Day 5.  So now we are working our way back because it will take two days to get back to the main marina and we want to be there sometime Monday morning. The boat has to be checked in before two oíclock and we have to have it gassed up and completely unloaded.  Since we have eaten a lot of the food, hopefully it will be less to take up.


Tom's little boat (our water toad)----George at the helm with Tom looking on.

Our plan today is to beach the boat twice. Our first stop will be a temporary one part way back so we can explore some canyons with the little boat. After our first docking we went up some beautiful canyons that had high colorful walls and narrow passages. At one time we could reach out from the boat and touch each side of canyon walls. We took two canyon  excursions and the first was the most spectacular. We were able to get back into a water cave and also saw some remnants of Indian dwellings which must have been cliff dwellings before the canyons were flooded by the hydroelectric project.  Tomís boat has a depth finder that shows the depth as we progress through the canyons and that helps a lotĖespecially when we were going through the water cave.

Since we have been spending so much time in the little boat, we all have gotten a lot of sun and before I realized it my legs were sunburned. The sun, water and fresh air zapped us all, but we still got in 15 boards of duplicate bridge tonight. Right now Carol Vind and I are the leading partners for the trip with only one more night to go.

Day 6.   Today will be an easy day because we donít have that far to go. In fact we are getting a late start after a very leisurely breakfast. There are several branch water ways that we are going to explore with the small boat, but we have all agreed that this would be a good day to not plan much and just relax before our final docking tomorrow. The trip has exceeded our expectations with outstanding weather and a very compatible group. We were able to get a small phone signal this morning and Barb checked both of our message services and there were no messages. No news is good news.

Just to be on the safe side we are going to stop at the satellite marina (called Dangling Rope) just around the corner to fill with gas. We think that we could make it into the main marina, but donít want to take a chance. Gas on Lake Powell is $2.45 a gallon and these boats take a lot of it. Having the small boat for exploration has helped cut down our gas consumption because one time we didnít move the large house boat and stayed tied up in one place for two days.  We do run the generator about 16 hours a day and that takes 2 gallons an hour.
 



Carol and Tom go for the only swim of the trip and they said it was cold.

Day 7.   The final day was uneventful except that we had a wonderful docking place last night. It was on a sandy beach and several including Barb did a little walking. Since we all had quite a ways to travel on Monday, we decided to get an early start back to the marina and got underway about 6:30 and ate breakfast while we moving. We used the time also to get all our belongings together so that the check-in process would go quickly. Barb and I were on our way back to Mesa by 11:00 oíclock. Itís a six hour drive back to Mesa and we are not used to traveling that in a car. We are spoiled with traveling in the motorhome. The trip back went smooth and we are grateful for the week of wonderful weather we had for the whole trip.


 I found this hiding up on the hill at our last stop.
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