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by | 2018 | The Lills, Travel

After a close call in the Arizona desert, the two of us, our dog and cat were stuck in a tow yard for three days and nights over Memorial Day weekend. Once our VW bus was able to drive again, we headed to Page, Arizona for more essential repairs, our 8 year wedding anniversary and some much needed relaxation.

We had visited the area before winter and got a chance to see the incredible sandstones and Horseshoe Bend, but we learned very little about the area. This time, we visited Lake Powell, Wahweap Beach and Lone Rock, where we camped out and regained strength over our 8 year wedding anniversary. We played in the water, made campfires and took in the beauty…without knowing the sad truth about the lake.

Lake Powell is the second largest man-made reservoir in the U.S. that runs between Arizona and Utah. Although all of the tourist pamphlets we received said that the water just rose, we were told by natives and locals that it was man who flooded Glen Canyon, by building the Glen Canyon Dam, which created the lake. As a result, the enormous body of water covered over 2,000 Ancestral Puebloan sites and ruins, erasing so much history from the area. It also covered other beautiful canyons, buttes, gorges, springs and more. The construction of the dam supposedly occurred before the National Environmental Policy Act was created and before other laws (that would have required public input) were put in place.

Glenn Canyon Dam | Arizona Utah | The Lills Travel

We only learned after our trip to Lake Powell, that the water is covering around 26,000 tons of radioactive waste…yikes. By the looks of Lake Powell, no one would ever know any of this and somehow, millions of people visit, boat and swim in the lake each year.

We read that during the 1940’s and 50’s, mining along the banks of the Colorado River (Lake Powell’s source) resulted in contamination of the water. Uranium, sulfuric acid, tributyl phosphate, radium, other heavy metals and toxic compounds are hidden beneath the silt to this day. It seems as though concern is low, but we’d love to know if anyone, outside of government or business, is currently calculating the radioactivity of the water.

As drought continues in the area and as the water levels fall, the radioactive material could become a humungous problem for people all over the Southwest. Unfortunately, draining or dredging the water would only stir up the radioactive sediment, so we wonder what is to come of this area and the people who rely on it as a water and energy source. As of 2015, it is said that the dam held only about 42% of its capacity.

Lake Powell Water Levels
*Animation of two NASA images taken in 1991 and 2015 (around half-full). The image covers approximately 25 miles from side to side.

Other pollutants in this area include a massive power plant, which pours out waste over the highly trafficked Antelope Canyon. The energy it produces doesn’t even benefit Page, Arizona. The energy is sent to larger cities further west. Mining of coal and radioactive materials is still in high demand too.

While we were at a local mechanic shop, getting our bus fixed, we met a father and son, who were both deaf, but could read our lips and communicate with us incredibly well. The father told us that his son works at a radium mine in Utah, just down the way. He said, when war kicks up, so do the mines. Not to mention, radium is a key component in powering batteries for electronic devices, like cell phones and computers. So it’s not just about the wrong-doings of businesses and people from the past, but also the current excavation of this Earth for extremely harmful heavy metals and chemicals.

We also met a young native man at the hotel we stayed at, who told us that it wasn’t magnesium that is in the chemtrails that fly through the Southwest skies, but it is manganese and lead, which shouldn’t be inhaled. He said that manganese is far more dense than magnesium and that the beautiful sandstones and canyons trap these heavy metals between the walls, hence the beautiful purple tones that are seen in the A-shaped canyons, as opposed to the V-shaped canyons that show almost no purple. Little do the millions of tourists (including ourselves) know this, as they pay for their tickets and waltz right into the canyons to “ooh” and “ahh”.

Although we felt the incredible energy that the area provides and had a wonderful time visiting these parts of Arizona and Utah, it is quite disapointing to find out that man is responsible for such un-environmentally sound practices to this day. We hope more people become aware of the hidden truths and come together to stop the foul play and develop more mindful and eco-friendly solutions to save this area, the Earth and the life that inhabits it. See what happens next on our cross-country adventure here!

Welcome To Utah Sign | VW Bus | The Lills Travel


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