Boating Trip to Lake Powell

My friend and I decided to tow his boat from Tucson to Lake Powell a few weekends ago for a multi-day adventure. The trip was that, but instead of describing why, I will summarize what happened:

  1. Traffic accident.
  2. Departure delayed by hours for repairs.
  3. Seeing mountainside on fire north of Phoenix.
  4. Choking on smoke on the way up to Flagstaff.
  5. Sleeping in bed of truck just south of Flagstaff.
  6. Waking up in the cold.
  7. Hearing that two armed men had robbed the mini-mart within sight of where we camped.
  8. Driving through the vast Navajo Nation and is varied colors and landforms.
  9. Reaching Page and Glen Canyon Dam.
  10. Launching boat and finding recently repaired impeller has failed.
  11. Learning nobody in Page (and nowhere else) has the old impeller key.
  12. Talking our way out of a speeding ticket inside the National Park.
  13. Machining a key then relaunching to find engine runs about 40%.
  14. Boating to the other ramp 17 miles away then having the engine die for good.
  15. Using the 3hp backup motor that dies as well.
  16. Finding that I have no cell service at the ramp.
  17. Getting lift back to other ramp by park rangers.
  18. Returning to pull the boat but ending up riding out a storm at the dock during which time panicked people assault the dock to get their own boats out.
  19. My tent nearly blowing away in another storm.
  20. Waking up to find friend's boat had drifted away.
  21. While I scale nearby ridge, boat has electrical fire.
  22. Can't burn almost any of the gas we bought despite the 3hp have returned to life.
  23. Meeting 20-mile bumper-to-bumper traffic jam north of Phoenix.
  24. Taking crazy route through Prescott.
  25. Arriving at 10pm to unload boat.
  26. Finding trailer third wheel is trashed due to earlier accident, so we have to rip it apart to remove it.
  27. Returning home at midnight.
  28. Waking at 5 to go to work.

Panoramic View of Lake Powell, entering from Glen Canyon Dam

Lake Powell, across from Antelope Canyon Ramp, last night’s campsite

Cruising Lake Powell with a 3hp motor and Toša looking at waterfowl

Memorial Day Weekend on Saguaro Lake

My friend and I towed his boat up to Saguaro Lake this Thursday. We quickly found that the work he had had done was inadequate: Every time we turned off the engine or ran at near-idle speed for more than a few minutes, one cylinder would quit firing. Thankfully we had multiple spares, so we could rotate through them and generally maintain performance.

But the throttle linkage seemed wonky as well, with irregular fluctuations, one of which tossed me backward from the bow. My rear still hurts from that fall.

Our first night was spent camping on a floating dock without cleats about midway to the dam at the opposite end of the lake. Early Friday morning I woke to feel four steps on my chest followed by a flop flop of wings right by my ear. Some largish bird had used me as a runway. Shortly thereafter we pulled over to the secured dock to check out the campground, which was very nice: at least twenty sites, ample shade trees, and a toilet. But someone else had set up their boat in preparation for a horde of revelers that would arrive throughout the day.

After cruising up and down the lake and refueling, we met my father and step-mother for Fish Friday at the marina's restaurant. Not bad at all! But when we returned to the campground dock, there was barely an opening. We managed to squeeze in, which brought some people convinced our boat was going to bump into theirs. We apparently defused the tension, but probably the revelers' drinking helped them forget all about us. They cranked music until midnight, but the Mr. Microphone sessions thankfully ended around 10. Few had expected the night temps to drop into the 50s, so there was a late-night exodus back to the marina and onward to homes and hotels.

Saturday was a repeat at the campsite, with even more boats tied three abreast. This time, however, people were prepared for the cold. During the day, a Phoenix friend came and we drove him up to the dam. On the way back, we stopped at a party beach where we met, unexpectedly, another Tucson acquaintance. Drinks in buggies had driven overland to the beach, and one poor guy managed to roll his on the beach. People got together to right it, only to find his head gashed badly. Thankfully another boater and hockey enthusiast had superglue on hand, which was used in lieu of stitches. On our way back to the marina, we saw the State Patrol boat stop at least one boat for unknown transgressions.

Sunday morning we decided to call it quits, but we had learned it will be worth going up for the campground on non-holiday weekends.

Trip to San Carlos, Sonora State, Mexico

My current internship began May 23rd, but It began with PTO (Personal Time Off) for my expected period, so I took some to have a five-day Memorial Day weekend in San Carlos, Mexico. My friend and I had planned it months before I came to Tucson. We loaded his truck and 16.5-foot boat with everything we could and set off for the border at 5:30 am. Around 8, we exchanged money on the US side then crossed over.

The drive was on much better roads than I had expected, but there were very few shoulders along the way. We passed a road crew assaulting a section with a pick axe, picked up a hitchhiker and let him sit in the truck bed, saw a fatal traffic accident with the dead body covered with a blanket, and were accosted by squeegee boys in Hermasillo. Some towns looked quite decent, while others were bleak. I heard how the Federal police patrol the highway during the day and conceal their faces to avoid being identified and killed; at night, the gangs control the road.

Arrival in San Carlos was uneventful until we started to make a wrong turn. The police car behind us honked but my friend the driver kept going anyway, whereupon the police pulled us over. They said we were going downtown, but 200 pesos solved that problem. My friend did make a mistake, so it was not a simple shakedown. We then launched the boat in the marina without incident.

Over the next couple of days, we made five dives and cruised up and down the coastline. While he spent every night sleeping on his boat, I slept on the back of a larger boat owned by one of his friends. In the course of my dives, I saw a sea lion swim about us, watching; many small beige rays and one large manta ray that had not tried to cover itself in sand; countless spires of kelp around 8'–10' tall; a lamprey eel in its recess and another large leopard-like eel; many starfish and various sea fans and other things. Perhaps the most amazing encounter was with two breaching orcas that later followed our boat, one approaching so class to the small boat's rear ladder that it seemed as if it wanted to come aboard; it rolled onto its side so we could see it eyeballing us, after which it slipped beneath the waves and disappeared.

It was a very good time, and I look forward to returning once more.