Saturday, June 29, 2013

lake powell - pt. 1

Sunday morning was spent packing coolers and loading up the cars.  After leaving B at the kennel, we headed southeast towards Lake Powell: through Spanish Fork Canyon and along the Book Cliffs, then past Goblin Valley.  Once we got past Hanksville, we were amazed at number of pickup trucks towing gigantic boats through the desert.  Clearly we were headed in the right direction.  When we got to Bullfrog Marina it was hot (mid 90s), dry and clear - a sign of things to come.  We all spent the night in one of the "family unit" accommodations: a spacious, clean trailer with A/C, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a nice view of the marina.

View of the marina from our trailer 

We were down at the marina as instructed at 8 a.m. to pick up our 46' houseboat, lugging our gear down the dock and ready for the hour-plus long safety and instructions presentation.  Gear stowed aboard, it was determined that my brother would pilot the boat; H, my dad and I followed in the powerboat, tying up to the houseboat once we were clear of the marina traffic.  Since it was Monday morning, there weren't too many boats out and about and we started to head north up the lake, everyone's jaws dropping at the scenery.

Lake Powell is a pretty amazing place.  The water is very low right now so you can't get as far up some of the side canyons as in prior years.  But even in high water years, the massive cliff walls tower over you, looming red and white against the very blue skies.  I'd never seen anything like it before.

Motoring north

Our destination for the first night was Good Hope Bay, about 25 miles north of Bullfrog.  We stopped a couple of times along the way to swim, just cutting the houseboat's engines and drifting in the middle of the main channel so everyone could have a chance at the slide that went from the upper deck of the houseboat.  We'd originally thought to do this trip in May so it wouldn't be so hot; even with the heat - and it stayed hot all week, mid 90s to 100 - I'm glad we didn't go any earlier because the water temperature we had was perfect: cool enough to be a bit of a surprise at first but easy to acclimate to.

Cruising past the Tapestry Wall

There were just a couple other boats up at Good Hope Bay when we rolled in there in the afternoon, so we were able to choose a wide open spot for our first attempt at beaching the houseboat.  After a couple of tries to secure the lines (you beach the bow pontoons on shore, then run lines from the stern out to shore at 30 degree angles, either tying onto rocks or burying the anchors), our houseboat was secure.  It was hotter onshore so we either read in the shade or swam, and my dad and I ventured into the scrub below the cliffs in search of some perennial springs.  We never found any springs but we did find a lot of prickly plants - ouch!

Our beach at Good Hope Bay

Dinner was burritos with chicken, rice, black beans and chimichurri; getting into the spirit, we made margaritas too.  As evening fell, my dad and sister-in-law tried their hands at fishing to no avail.  Although the houseboat has two staterooms plus fold-out futons in the living/dining area, most of us opted to sleep up on the upper deck where it was a little cooler.  That night, far from the light of any civilization, the stars were absolutely spectacular.

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