Sunday, June 11, 2023

Lake to Lake

I was the first passenger on the dock for the 1 pm tour of Lake Powell with emphasis on Antelope Canyon which had just opened to big boat traffic. Truth be told I was at the parking lot an hour earlier than suggested. That’s because I wanted to meet the captain and secure my rightful place in the front of the vessel or wherever was best for photographing Lake Powell and where I hoped I could show the desperately low water levels that prevailed in April. This was a big ask since the reservoir had gained a foot a day since its April 23 nadir. In layman’s terms the lake was fifty feet higher than when I should have been there. That’s on me. I shoulda coulda for a month and a half and my story about the drought’s effect on Lake Powell, the Colorado River and Lake Mead downstream was in danger of being washed out after the snow season of a generation. I may have extracted enough images to tell the story, but I made it far too hard. Once I’ve processed all the memory cards I’ll no for sure.

Captain Lans Smith in command

In the meantime, I had fifteen uninterrupted with Captain Lans Smith. That’s how he spells Lance. And, as I have reported countless times, you can know a person pretty well in quarter of an hour. To wit, Lans was born in St. George, Utah, didn’t know what he wanted to do and found himself knocking around Lake Powell some thirty years ago. He and his wife manned Bullfrog Marina before they had kids. You can't get to Bullfrog by land from Arizona. The only way is by boat or from the middle of nowhere, Utah. After some years exploring the lake as hobby earned his Coast Guard Captain’s license and has been leading trips on the lake for 16 years. He plans to do it till he retires. To say he loves it and is masterful doing so doesn’t do him justice. He was engaging, funny, relaxed, skilled and had a breathtaking body of knowledge of the history and the geology of the magical place. When we stopped for a swim, Lans hit the water fully clothed. He said that when it's 110 degrees he dives in at least three times every trip. That dude has fun.

He told me that, "My wife got the education. She's a pharmacist. I'm lucky if I make a quarter of what she makes. So, she's the breadwinner." He and his wife have three children, 29, 25 and 21.

When he delivered his wrap-up, he told the five of us, a family of four from Pennsylvania and me, that Lake Powell Experience had just received its 100th 5 Star review on Trip Advisor. I bet it’s 105 by now.

The bigger story about Lake Powell and Lake Mead will follow shortly. Thirty percent of capacity is better than 26%, I grant you. But It’s still lousy and we still need to conserve. I’m talking to you, California. Those almonds and pomegranates suck water like a sump pump.

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Your environmental portrait of Captain Lans certainly demonstrates his joy and free spirit that washed up on Lake Powell. Your photographs of the lake - more or less water, Antelope Canyon or not - your cache will be spectacular. I look forward to reading more about your latest sojourn to a different kind of desert.