Giant Photo Adventure


Over the summer, I started going on photo adventures with my friends. Self explanatory, but we’d go different, interesting places and just take as many photos as we could. So, for Spring Break, I decided a photo adventure would be the best way to spend it. The only friend who really shares my passion for photography (that goes to CU) is Annie, so we set out for Arizona on Sunday, March 25th at 12:24 P.M. (Honestly, the only thing that we planned was our extensive 30-hours-long playlist full of songs we love. We had our destination in mind, but we only just printed out the directions 5 minutes before we left. So, we left seemingly unprepared, only prepared to go with the flow. This is the best way to go, and I feel as if it’s the nature of photo adventures.)

Me, Annie, and Gerrard the Giraffe.

We started driving towards Breckenridge, only to realize we went the wrong way. Using her phone (yay, technology!), we got new directions and took the scenic route to the corner of Colorado. We stayed in a town called Cortez (definitely sounds like a town with a Secret treasure) which is about an hour west of Durango. The next day, we headed out towards the Grand Canyon, stopping at the Four Corners. I don’t know what I was expecting of the Four Corners, but it really isn’t all that much. If you’ve ever seen two perpendicular lines, then you don’t need to go to the Four Corners. It’s kind of exciting to be able to walk in four states in seconds, but you get over it after awhile. The two lines are surrounded by several stands run by Native Americans trying to sell you jewelry (“Hey, sorry for slaughtering your whole race, but you can…uh…sell jewelry at the Four Corners!”).

Now, this should be the 8th wonder of the world. Best two lines on Earth, hands down.

After seeing the two most famous lines in the U.S., we drove a couple hours to the Grand Canyon. I don’t know if it’s just my four-year-old imagination, but I always pictured the Grand Canyon as being a big, straight, dirt crack in the ground that our can just drive up to. And as soon as you get there, you just hop on a mule and ride on down the cliff to the river at the bottom. Turns out, Mother Nature has a greater imagination than me. The Grand Canyon is in the middle of a forest and is sometimes even covered in snow (I’m not completely stupid. I do know it snows in Arizona. I lived there for 11 years. But, I did think the Grand Canyon was dirt, so I am only partly stupid.).

Trees? At the Grand Canyon? And what is this road?

Anyway, we got it, and the Grand Canyon truly is grand. It is absolutely gigantic (you can see it from space, after all) and mind-boggling. I’m pretty sure my jaw was dropped the whole time I was there. We stayed all the way until the sunset, which was spectacular. The best part (besides the amazing silhouettes created by all the different levels of canyon) was all the photographers with the nicest cameras and lenses and tripods milling around the canyon, snapping picture after picture with flash. I wanted to try to explain to them that their flash can’t make the sun brighter, but I decided to just laugh to myself instead. For whatever reason, I think it’s one of the funniest things when people use flash during the day, so seeing so many use it on the sun was just the greatest. Anyway, the sun left, and with it, the light and (more importantly) the warmth. We sped on towards Utah, wanting to end up at Arches National Park in Moab. We crossed the border sometime in the pitch-blackness of night and ended up staying in gorgeous Blanding, Utah. The name says it all. Bland. We pushed on towards Moab, stopping at Wilson Arch.

Wilson’s Arch. It’s his. But he’ll share.

(Wilson Arch is an arch that is not part of the actual national park. I have no idea who Wilson is, but he let’s everyone walk up, around, and through his gorgeous arch free of charge.) We eventually got to Moab, which is the most outdoorsy town I’ve ever been in. I thought Boulder was outdoorsville, but Moab takes the cake. If you don’t have a mountain bike (or three plus a kayak) attached to your car, you’re in the minority. After a couple wrong turns (my fault), we got to Arches National Park. Gorgeous. According to its website, you can “visit Arches and discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets.” (The website also says “Pinyon pines do not produce pine nuts every year. These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. This irregular schedule prevents animals from adapting to an abundance of pine nuts and guarantees that at least some nuts will become new pine trees instead of a quick meal.” Don’t know why you’d ever want to know that, but it’s at the bottom of the site. Keep that in mind in case you ever plant a Pinyon pine, okay?)

These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. (Photo: http://www.naturesongs.com)

Arches National Park is massive and completely open. Nothing is fenced, roped, chained, or walled (did I get all of them?) off. Because of this, and the variety of stones, I liked it more than the Grand Canyon. Sadly, I didn’t stay for the sunset. But, we had one more destination on our road trip: Cisco, Utah — a ghost town.

Scenic Cisco, Utah. Just look at all those ghosts!

For some reason (my four-year-old imagination most likely), I imagined the ghost town to be an old western town straight out of a movie, with old gun-slingers sitting on rocking chairs, telling you stories of their heroic past. But, ghost towns are actually what their name suggests — an empty town, most probably filled with ghosts. And Cisco was most definitely filled with ghosts. It was an interesting, yet surprisingly scary, experience. Everything was abandoned. Random, old machinery was scattered all over the countryside. Cars were abandoned, windshields smashed. Buildings were crumbling, broken glass and collapsed walls. The town was frozen. Life was put on hold. The residents just left the town (and all their belongings) behind. When we had enough mingling with the ghosts, we headed towards Colorado. Except, we had less than 1/8th of a tank of gas left. But, we were only a couple miles from I70. I, not being from a town in the middle of nowhere, thought for sure that there would be a gas station at the entrance to the highway. But, there wasn’t. Not at the next exit, either. Or the next. There wasn’t a gas station for 52 miles (in Colorado). We sped towards Colorado, hoping that we wouldn’t run out of gas in the most gorgeous part of Utah and Colorado. We ended up driving about 30 miles with the gas light on. I didn’t even know the fuel gauge could go that low.

This is what a heart attack looks like.

After stopping to talk to a police officer, we rolled into a gas station in Loma, Colorado, overcome with joy. After the Great Gas Fiasco of 2012, we drove through scenic Grand Junction and spent the night in Glenwood Springs (which, by the way, does not have a Beaujo’s, despite what Google says). We arrived at home in Boulder, Colorado the next day.

I took over 1000 pictures on the trip. Here’s a few:

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