The nice German tourists that Kevin and I met at Fantasy Canyon have emailed me to tell me that the famous Tea Pot is no more.
Here is an excerpt from an email I received:
today we read in a german internetforum regard the USA that the "famous" Teapot in the Fantasy Canyon has get irrevocable destroyed. Some German vistors were there on Saturday, Sep. 16th., didn't found the Teapot and posted this message. In the meantime an other German visitor read this and phoned the BLM Office in Vernal on next Tuesday and got the horrible message that the information is true.
and he refers to some links...
You can find the thread in this forum: http://www.usa-stammtisch.de/wbb2/thread.php?threadid=5382 Two pictures of the destroyd Pot can be seen in this thread: http://www.usa-reise.net/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=255243&highlight=pott By the way, in the 2.nd. thread there is a link between the two pictures (found under these words: "aber der Vergleich mit dieser Seite" what means translated: "but in comparison to this page") that goes to www.sally-alexander.com ! So this German poster must have seen your picture and information about Fantasy Canyon.
Blast! Kevin and I were planning another trip to Fantasy Canyon, to take another look at the Tea Pot. I think we will definitely go back.
I wonder how it happened?
We decided over Labor day weekend to head out and do some exploring of Fantasy Canyon, UT. We drove west to Dinosaur, CO and then across the border into Utah. We stayed in a motel in Vernal UT, and made it our base.
Kevin had got some pretty good directions, and we were told that the roads are passable with an ordinary car, except in wet weather, when no one would go anywhere. We travelled through some pretty desolate moonscape.
The roads to Fantasy Canyon are all dirt, but they are well graded thanks to the Gas and Petroleum companies that need to truck tankers in to the gas fields. In full daylight you cannot get lost as the route is well signposted. Night time is another story. On our first trip out there we found the route without too much trouble, and followed the signposts in. We arrived at the Canyon at around noon. The light was incredibly bright and it made everything look flat and bleak. It was hot. We walked around and the light, heat and glare made me giddy.
After an initial explore, and some photos for scouting purposes, we resolved to return at the end of the day when the light would be better.
So we did that. We returned to Fanstasy Canyon at around 4:30pm. Way too early for any serious photography. In fact the best time was the last 45 minutes before sunset. We waited for the light to change and did some further exploring. It was starting to cool down which made it more manageable. I can't imagine what the place must be like in the middle of summer. Unbearable!
Apart from one other couple we were the only people there.
The most famous structure at Fantasy Canyon is the Tea Pot. Michael Fatali has a stunning photo of the Tea Pot with a moon stuck in it.
The first round of semi serious photography we took was at the Tea Pot. The other couple was also positioned there. After a while we started chatting. The couple were from Germany. They had wanted to see the famous Fatali photograph. We soon started chatting and compared different sites and places.
There are an amazing collection of fascinating shapes in the canyon.
The photo below is the famous Tea Pot.
This photo is of Kevin and I. In the background is the famous Tea Pot. I had no idea of the scale of the thing. The Tea Pot is actually quite small, and quite fragile.
It is thanks to Michael and
Brigitte Birgit, the German tourists that I took this photograph, with this composition. (Who needs a moon!)
Everywhere you look there are the most amazing shapes and forms.
The best light and the best photos were at the end of sunset, and at structures not far from the entrance. I couldn't resist this gorgeous moon rising up over the Three Sisters, and I loved the shadows in the foreground.
The Witch at Sunset.
After a glorious and intense couple of hours shooting film (I acted as Kevin's Camera Assistant) we got back to our car exhausted, only to find that we had a flat. Luckily we had plenty of help. While Kevin changed the tire, Michael turned his rental so that we had the benefit of their light. Then they graciously followed back all the way back to Vernal.
Thanks Michael and
Brigitte! Oops! Birgit We owe you one! (So if you are ever in Denver....)
On our annual trip to MA to visit Kevin's parents we always try to do something touristy. This is because I haven't seen anything, and at heart I am always a tourist.
So after a wonderful couple of days of catching up with family, and have take out lobster under the trees we decided to go into Boston to do those touristy things.
Here is our cooked take out lobster:
Lobster cannot be complete without corn.
We drove from Concord to Boston and were amazed at how close everything was.
Our first stop was the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
The closest I've come all year to a tornado is this Japanese screen at the Museum of Fine Arts.
I really loved the detail of this falcon.
Photo below - we loved the flying figure over real people standing in line.
Photo below is of Copley Square. Note the blue cow.
We decided we had to try pho in Chinatown. So we drove to the financial district, parked and walked to Chinatown.
In Chinatown we spotted a Vietnamese Restaurant and immediately went inside to sample their pho (vietnamese soup dish). Here Kevin poses with his Pho Ga. (Vietnamese Soup with Chicken.)
After a lot of sampling we still maintain that the best pho is our favorite Pho Duy restaurant in Broomfield, CO.
After stuffing ourselves we decided to catch the subway to Fenway so that I could have my photo taken outside Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox. I was not impressed with the Boston subway. There is no polite way of saying this, but what a dump!
Here I am posed outside Fenway park. Around me Red Sox fans excitedly prepared for the game. The Red Sox did end up losing (again.) Ah! It is hard to be a Red Sox fan.
I am busy looking through my photographs of this year to put together my "Best of 2005" album. This year I didn't take nearly as many photos as I have done in years past. For some reason I just wanted to look, rather than to take photographs.
One of our experiences that stand out for me as a highlight was Antelope Canyon in Paige, Arizona. Kevin and I stopped there on our return trip from Las Vegas. We had tried a few times in the past to visit but we found it closed. This is a wonderful site and well worth the effort.
We left on Turkey Day around about noon. Our destination? The desert. We drove west on I-70 to Utah, and found our campsite off the I-70 at the overlook to Eagle Canyon. In the immediate area there are a number of overlooks that allow access to the San Rafael Swell desert wilderness. We woke up to a desert sunrise. Kevin took pictures while I slept in. We ate breakfast and then explored the Eagle Canyon overlook, walking along the top of a mesa that narrowed to a point. The cliff face dropped to the valley below. We had great views of this arid land: steep canyons, buttes and mesas. The only sign of wildlife seemed to be the large midnight black ravens.
After our explore we headed east and then took Highway 191 south to Moab. We ended up at the Islands in the Sky district of Canyon lands. Kevin wanted to take a photograph of the false kiva, a site only found there. Ask for directions at the Visitors Center. This site is a class 2 site which means that there are no signposts to this site. Directions are only supplied to people who ask for this site by name at the Visitors Center.
We drove immediately to the site, and started our hike. If you intend to attempt this please wear proper hiking shoes. The path is faint, so make sure you take note of your surroundings. It is not recommended to hike this trail at night, or in low light. The talus is very slippery and the trail meanders close to cliffs and precipices. I enjoyed the hike through this interesting terrain. I was a little hesitant to proceed further over the talus slope just under the site. Instead I sent Kevin on, and I found a nice rock to sit on and listen to the silence.
The false kiva site is located in a bowl surrounded by enormous sandstone cliffs. The acoustics are quite amazing. I could hear the crunch of Kevin’s footsteps, and the sound that the raven made when it beat its wings overhead. I looked out over to the west – Mesas and towers floated like islands in the sky.
We rushed back to our car so that Kevin could get his gear and then I left him there. He wanted to take a photograph from the site looking out at a sunset and a (hopefully) dramatic sky.
I picked Kevin up at a prearranged spot. He found it extremely difficult to navigate the return route. I am convinced he only managed to make it back safely with a combination of blind luck and a squadron of guardian angels. Miraculous.
That night we camped at the Willow Flat campground, and set our alarm clock for before sunrise.
We drove south to the Grand View Overlook to catch the sunrise and the light streaming in over canyon lands. I took a short video of Kevin photographing the changing light before my camera’s batteries died in the cold.
Once the sun had climbed and the light was no longer interesting we headed for Moab. Kevin wanted to check out Tom Till’s gallery there. Tom Till takes the most beautiful scenic photographs. I think he is one of the superior landscape/ scenic photographers around. I bought one of his coffee table books as a Christmas present once. I have regretted the generosity; I would have prefered to keep the gift for myself.
After a great browse in the gallery, I bought a 2006 Tom Till Calendar, and then we regretfully packed up and headed east for home. We had been keeping an eye on the weather; a snow storm had been predicted to move through Utah and Colorado. We especially did not want to be caught in the desert with bad weather. The weather contrived to work against us. At Grand Junction a highway sign flashed that Vail pass was closed due to severe weather. We immediately headed south to Montrose and then to Gunnison. We hoped by travelling south that we would avoid the bad weather altogether. Between Montrose and Gunnison we experienced exceptionally icy driving conditions, and foolhardy drivers ended up overturned or worse. We literally crawled into Gunnison; tired but relieved to be in one piece. It amazes me how stupid people are and how they insist on driving fast in treacherous conditions. All I can say is "Get out of my gene pool people!"
We decided we needed a motel room. We found a really cheap and comfortable room at Days Inn just as you enter Gunnison. As always we asked the locals for the best hamburger place in town. We were immediately directed to Mario’s, an Italian eatery specializing in everything.
The burgers were good, the french fries superb.
The next morning we left Gunnison in clear skies. We then decided to swing by the Sand Dunes to check that out. Unfortunately the sun chose not the break through the clouds. The light was just not special enough to spend too long there. We checked out the new visitors center which was not there the last time we passed through about 2 years ago.
We arrived home on sunday night at a reasonable hour feeling understandably quite pleased with our adventures.
Las Vegas is a fascinating, exhausting city. Kevin and I returned Sunday night after driving from LV to Denver. My conference there was week long- an intensive week in an intense city. It is no wonder I am tired.
The Strip at night.
I arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday morning in time to do Lunch with the Cooksister. I was not impressed with the Las Vegas airport. I thought it was a dump. I am prejudiced as Denver's airport is new and I think quite beautiful (as airports go.) I also experienced a culture shock as I fought my way through the sheep to get to my shuttle ride. In among the sheep were rows of slot machines. Culture shock. I found a cheap shuttle ride to the Flamingo Hotel for $5 cash. No problem. The shuttle ride also gave me a chance to catch my first views of the strip in daylight.
I really did not want to be impressed by this city. But I was.
I met up with Jeanne and Nick and had a wonderful afternoon catching up on about a decade of news, and eating at the Planet Hollywood in Caesar's Palace. I have blogged below about Jeanne and Nick's Las Vegas Ceremony. I had a surreal afternoon thinking that Kevin had arrived and was looking for me, when in fact he had not. This is a city where anything can happen. After the ceremony (see below) we ate at the Flamingo's buffet and waddled around the city and gawked at the musical fountains outside the Bellagio.
I eventually found Kevin who was happily playing in the casino (winning) and then we all ended up in Jeanne and Nick's hotel room for the night.
The next morning Jeanne, Nick and Bronwyn exited Las Vegas to continue their roadtrip to the Grand Canyon. Kevin and I put our baggage in Lizzie and decided to wander around. Our mission? To find free stuff to do in Las Vegas.
The Bellagio fountains are free and well worth the watch. Be careful during the day. They do take the fountains through their paces to clear the pipes (we think) and if you happen to be in the wrong place with the wind in a certain direction you will get wet. This happened to us.
We then spent about an hour trying to get dry before diving back into the air conditioned caves.
Everything in Las Vegas costs something. That is why it is so satisfying to actually find something that is good value for money. Most tourist books tout the buffets. But I found standing around in lines with people annoying. Dollar per tonnage of food - the buffets succeed in that respect, but if you are looking for a different atmosphere there are a few other places where you can try... But be warned: paying for peace and quiet along with your meal comes with a hefty price tag. Instead try Maggiano's, an Italian (chain) restaurant just opposite the Wynn hotel. Kevin and I had 2 very pleasant evening meals including drinks for $30 per meal. Not bad, and one night we had live entertainment. The portions are enormous - so you definitely feel that you are getting value for money plus the interior decor is pleasant enough so that you can pretend you are in a really fancy restaurant. After two visits I recommend Maggiano's in Las Vegas for excellent value, when compared with everything else.
If you are able to get off strip and like Indian food, try the Indian Palace lunch buffet (approx $8.50). The selection was reasonable and not too spicy.
No one can charge for the spectator value of people watching. In Las Vegas there is no shortage of that. Window Shopping is another activity that the Las Vegas Wolves haven't figured out how to charge. We spent a very pleasant quarter of an hour chatting to man who worked in the fabulous Mikimoto shop in the Venetian. He was kind enough to explain how large cultured pearls are dying out due to the polluted seas. I recommend a tour of the Bellagio, The Venetian and The Paris.
For cheap snacks watch out for pastry shops in the Paris.
Bellagio musical fountains at night.
If you happen to be out and about during the morning walk to the Caesar's Palace gardens, and pools. Beautiful! For great window shopping go to the Forum Shops (opposite Harrah's). You have to browse the Peter Max Art Gallery in the Forum. The decor is magnificant and the ride up and down the circular escalators is great fun. You must check out the Chihuly display (hat tip: look up) at the Bellagio check in area.
Kevin took this beautiful photograph of the Chihuly display which covered the ceiling. The glass pieces looked organic as though they were growing. Go here for more about the Bellagio installation, and here about Dale Chihuly.
Caesar's Palace also has some free entertainment - singing statues. I think the Bellagio fountains are the best free shows. Try the Volcano at the Mirage, and the Pirate display at Treasure Island. There is quite a crush of people at the TI display, so get there early. Also watch out for pick pockets.
My most favorite hotel is the Wynn. This hotel is elegant, classy and understated, which in Las Vegas is a diffcult thing to accomplish. The class of clientele is far superior to the cap n sneaker brigade found in other hotels. These people are serious about spending money on comfort. I thought that the Wynn was better than the Bellagio. Be careful about walking there if you are located central strip. There are some spots that I would not like to walk alone. Once inside you can just wander around and soak in the luxury. There is also a free light show at the Parasols Up bar. The casino is quite unobtrusive. The Ferrari dealership allows visitors. This is for free, and requires a little time waiting in line before being told you could go in. What beautiful cars in such a beautiful environment.
Here is a write up about Steve Wynn.
Kevin and I wanted to take in a show or two without spending a fortune. We found a half price, same day ticket booth (they are up and down the strip) where you can buy very reasonably priced tickets for some long running shows. We went to see Legends at the Imperial Palace. This was an enjoyable entertainment of singers impersonating famous singers. Elvis was by far the best impersonator. Our tickets also included a free drink. We also managed to get tickets to see Splash, a long running variety show at the Riveira.
The maximum amount of time anyone can survive is 3 nights. No more. By the end of the conference I was screaming to get out.
We drove back to Denver up through Utah. The highlight for me of the entire trip was an enjoyable couple of hours photographing the wonderful changing light inside Antelope Canyon (Lower).
Since the tragic drownings of tourists in the canyon in 1997 the Navajo have constructed steel ladders to make the canyon more accessible. Escape rope ladders are around, Kevin assures me, although I did not see any evidence of them.
You will need a good 4 hours in the slot canyon to explore and take photographs. The light changes constantly, and it is easy to become lost in the rhythms and swirls of each rocky contour. The guide books recommend the lower Antelope canyon. Tours to the Upper Antelope canyon are available. On our next trip to Page, Arizona we wll definitely spend more time there.
We finally have managed to reach civilization where we can get free wifi from our hotel room, without being charged a fortune. That place is Page, Arizona. Las Vegas, weirdly enough does not believe in free wifi. In fact nothing in Las Vegas is free. If they could think of ways to charge you for the air you breathe they would.
I flew in to Las Vegas Airport on Saturday and met up with the Cooksister and entourage. This was my first time to LV. What a place. The scale of it all is quite breathtaking. I have never seen such enormous hotels, and such excess.
6pm the wedding chapel limo arrived to collect us. The ceremony was scheduled for 7pm. Jeanne wore a lovely turqoise dress with beading. She chose a stylish bouquet to match. There were 2 wedding parties before us. What entertainment! I couldn't get excited about this kind of wedding. So quick. Then it was our turn. We had a photo shoot time, and then the renewal ceremony began.
I took pictures during the ceremony. I was oddly moved by it. This was a Las Vegas ceremony. A place of Elvis impersonators, and quickie unions. Ugh. But the words suddenly became meaningful. Both Jeanne and Nick spoke beautifully. And that made all the difference.
I am off to Las Vegas to meet up with the Cooksister!
I will report back on Las Vegas soon.
I am extremely behind in blogging. Due to that ... Katrina.
It is possible to visit Cape Cod, and Provincetown, visit the tourist landmarks, eat tasty food, and dip in the ocean in a single day. What it requires is the willingness to do a bit of driving and luck. By luck I mean with the traffic. The idea is not to be caught up in it.
Kevin and I decided rashly and impulsively that we would try a day trip to Cape Cod from our base in Concord on our recent trip to MA to visit Kevin's family. The locals thought we were crazy.
We tried to wake up and leave at the crack of dawn. But there is something about being at sea level that just makes me want to sleep and sleep. So we left at 10:30 am and drove from Concord to Cape Cod. We left behind rain clouds and decided to see how far we could go before the traffic jams would turn us back. We were very lucky. All the traffic was going in the other direction.
Our plan for Cape Cod? Drive as far as Provincetown. Perhaps grab a meal in Provincetown, and do some people watching and then slowly retrace our steps visiting some sites along the way. We obviously didn't get to see everything. The theme of our day trip turned out to be lighthouses.
In Provincetown we found day parking, left our car and explored. We ate fish 'n chips at Mojo's and had pastries at the Portuguese Bakery. All beaches in the National Park Service area were free because we had our NPS yearly pass. The beaches which are town managed require a fee.
I grew up in South Africa which has truly magnificant beaches which were free. I have a bit of a problem paying to visit a beach.
We visited Racy Point Beach and the Old Harbor Life Saving Museum. The lighthouses we visited were Highland light ( a lighthouse surrounded by a golf course) and Nauset Light House. At Nauset I had an interesting chat (Kevin calls it an interview) with A Friend of the Lighthouses.
Lighthouse preservation is a serious business. The problem is sea and land: the land is slowly being taken away by the sea. THis means that Lighthouses are constantly being moved away from the crumbling shores. High seas and storms aid in the loss of land to the sea. My Friend advised that they were seeing an increase in the rate of land loss to the sea. I couldn't help but wonder whether global warming (and the resulting increase in severity of storms) had something to do with this?
The Nauset Lighthouse is decommissioned but does play an important role in navigation. When the Lighthouse is not working they have to notify the coast guard, as it does still appear on maps. We stayed and watched the lighthouse as the light faded.
The Old Harbor Life Saving Museum is well worth the visit. The building's architecture is visually satisfying. It rests surrounded by waving green grass. This Station was used to rescue those unfortunates whose ships had become wrecked by treacherous storms. This would mean that the rescue occurred during some pretty harsh weather. A breech buoy was used in the harshest of weath. A rope with a breech buoy was shot out like a catapult. The idea was that the rescued would climb in it, and the men at the station would pull them in. This was slow going as only one person at at time could be rescued.