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A Luxury Houseboat on Lake Powell

August 2, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

A Luxury Houseboat on Lake Powell

Spending a week aboard a posh houseboat off the shores of Lake Powell is an exceptionally distinctive vacation option. My temporary “ownership” of a luxurious floating-condo made me feel like Leonardo DiCaprio stretching out on the Titanic as “king of the world.”

 

The jagged shoreline of the massive 186 mile-long reservoir, adjacent to Utah/Arizona border, exceeds that of  the entire western coast of the continental United States. Imagine sailing on brilliant turquoise water surrounded by shimmering red rocks, layered terracotta cliffs, salmon colored beaches and postcard views from every angle. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area epitomizes the desert southwest– bursting with hundreds of side trails, Indian ruins and awe-inspiring natural wonders.

 

Lake Powell came into existence following years of bitter controversy. In 1956 workers began pouring concrete for the arch dam and didn’t stop the round the clock labors for more than three years. Seven years after groundbreaking, Lake Powell was generating power and opened its gates for recreational activities.  However, it would be seventeen years before the reservoirs water-level reached “full pool.” Today some three million people visit annually for memorable boating, skiing, kayaking and fishing adventures.

 

During the off-season, five-star air-conditioned houseboats can be rented by the night, throughout the summertime a minimum weekly contract is required.  Extended families or multiple couples adopt the immense, up to 75 feet long, boats as extraordinary floating-homes. Each of the four or five generously appointed bedrooms is fitted with double sized, lavish bedding and a flat screen TV positioned at the foot of the bed. Granite and chrome kitchens, worthy of Bobby Flay, sit adjacent to the combination family room/dining room –anchored around a theatre-style entertainment hub.

 

Complimentary transport along with a driving lesson for guests who desire assistance is provided by Forever Resorts, the premier firm offering the opulent aquatic-abodes. Many houseboats set their mooring lines in a romantic cove serving as home base for the duration. Others prefer to pull up anchor and cruise to a new beach or cove every day. Adult vacationers enjoy setting up folding tables and chairs for sunset al fresco dining while kids beg for beach campfires to share marshmallows and stories under starry skies.

Let the self-indulgence continue: lounging in a hotel-sized hot tub, playing bartender on the upper deck or slipping onto the curved sliding board and make a grand entrance into the crisp cool water.

Renting a smaller powerboat offers added mobility and swift exploration of the waterways– think bobbing through the pages of National Geographic. Dawn and dusk outings challenge photographers with dramatic dancing shadows. Surrounding canyons shrink sinuously, the soaring walls caressing the bold adventurer.

 

Poweboating on Lake Powell

My one-night stay aboard a luxury houseboat on this jet-set playground could fill an entire episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Powell’s saffron colored landscapes with their stunning and dramatic formations contrast sharply with my East Coast background, where trees boldly border the shoreline. The simplicity and sereneness of the wind-swept southwest was tranquilizing to my eye. The forces of nature etched into my soul like grooves in the canyon floor.

Rainbow Bridge, Utah

In the afternoon, a rocket-fast speedboat journey to Rainbow Bridge interrupted my tranquility only to give way to an inland excursion ashore and the chance to peer at the vast natural archway– eternity personified. The stone bridge powerfully rises, draws a bold arc across the sky, then descends earthward with grace–a glorious natural wonder worth a once in a lifetime wander.

Next morning, I rose before dawn to watch the glinting sunrays dabble and paint the sandstone temples. While the ritual has repeated over millions of years, for me, this sunrise was profound. I ran back and forth around the top deck not knowing where to look because every direction was equally tantalizing. It would be unimaginable to ever tire of this sunsational way to start a day, truly life on Golden Pond.

Golden Pond

 For rental information

www.antelopepointlakepowell.com

www.ForeverResorts.com


Utah on Dwellable

Riding the Grand Canyon Railroad

May 20, 2011 by · Comments Off on Riding the Grand Canyon Railroad 

Grand Canyon Railroad departs from Williams, AZ

Imagine stepping back in time and arriving at the Grand Canyon the same way travelers did more than 100 years ago- on the iron horse.

I recently experienced this journey starting in the heart of downtown Williams, Arizona, a frontier “Main Street” town along the legendary Route 66.  Williams retains much original architecture and road-side appeal from the era when car travel was king and roadside cafes dotted the rural towns along fabled Route 66.

In Williams, every morning begins with a Wild West shootout. Of course, I expected a lot of cheesy humor from a scripted show, but the costumed actors were surprisingly good and the banter was honestly fun. The audience got into the moment.

Shoot-Out in Williams, AZ

Afterward, the crowd walks to the diesel-powered train as the conductor barks out, “All-aboard!” My first-class ticket provided entree to the “luxury” cars with sofas and tables, an attendant, food, drinks and even a strolling banjo player. What a relaxing and stress-free journey. During the two and half hour ride, I walked from car to car and stood on the rear platform to capture some incredibly exotic “Kodak” moments with my camera.

Before the railroad opened for business in 1901, visitors arrived at the magnificently chiseled Canyon via four-horse-team stagecoach. Tickets cost $20 for that arduous bumpy ride compared to $3.95 for the new-fangled choo-choo. No wonder steam powered trains instantly became the desired choice of public transport. However, as automobiles grew in popularity, rail travel slowly dwindled. In 1968, the tracks went quiet and lay dormant for twenty more years. Then, in 1989, the line was renovated, providing children and adults an opportunity to savor a most romantic mode of travel.

Grand Canyon Depot

Banjo player on the Grand Canyon Railroad

My sojourn ended in front of the massive, yet cozy Grand Canyon Depot, an incredibly  picturesque log-framed station. Back in 1905, the Santa Fe Railway built the El Tovar Hotel across the tracks. The El Tovar reigned as one of the most luxurious hotels of its day featuring hot and cold running water, electric lights, art galleries and plush dining rooms. The original dark timbered structure still beckons and I walked in to take a peek.  Moose, deer and buffalo heads adorn the lobby along with large paintings of the Canyon. Most US Presidents through the 20th Century have stayed there. Sadly, I did not.

My first look at the Grand Canyon truly overwhelmed me- it’s stunning, awesome, terrifying– yet glorious. My heart raced and tears formed in my eyes. Grand is not the right word; there simply are no apt words to capture this national treasure should be high on everyone’s bucket list. It does not disappoint.

Ample and safe parking for autos is available in Williams near the train station. Riding the rail relieves the Grand Canyon of some 50,000 cars annually. In addition, arrival by train bypasses tollbooth backups and eliminates the need to utilize shuttle bus transfers from remote parking to the Grand Canyon Village and South Rim.

View upon arrival at the Canyon- The South Rim

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