The Grand Grand Canyon

Needing to travel light, I took only my Chrome Book, my Nikon V3, the Olympus OM-1n, and the Olympus XA4.  I used up 3 out of 10 rolls of film, and probably blew one of those.  I thought I had used a 4th roll, and maybe I did, but cannot seem to find it.  I used a Chrome-OS based editor called Polarr, but found the Chrome Book a bit too small to do much editing.  I backed up all my images onto an external HD, a 1.5 TB “My Passport.”

The first stop on our trip was Flagstaff, Arizona, for two nights.  We stayed at the England House B&B to use as our jumping-off points for the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  Our hosts, Richard and Laurel, were full of great information, and sent us out to the Grand Canyon to a very specific spot from which we could peer into the depths of the Grand Canyon.  We made a few stops as we drove into the Grand Canyon National Park.

The first stop was the Desert View Watchtower designed by Mary Colter, who was quite an amazing woman.  If you have a chance to visit the Desert View Tower, take the time to do so.  Not only is the Tower a piece of fascinating architectural design and execution, the views are worthwhile.  Take the time to walk around it, find the little corners, and stop for a moment to appreciate the grandeur of the view and the vision of Ms. Colter.

From the Desert View Watchtower, we drove deeper into the park, following the specific directions from Richard and Laurel.  It is a pullout leading to a fire road, and about a 20 minute walk through a pine wood.  The air is aromatic, redolent with the spices of high desert plants – resinous and sweet.

Flowers and grasses grow between the pine trees, and old, dead trees have become architectural designs created by nature, with the details of their structure revealed in their craggy lines and intimate remains.

Finally, at the end of the road, a picnic area opens up at the very edge of the Grand Canyon, which drops below you a mile.  No fences protect you.  No one tells you not to jump.  You find a place to stop, and look, to hold on to.  Birds such as ravens and raptors fly above you, only to drop down into the Canyon.  The Colorado river, a deep muddy red, flows at the very bottom.  As the sun shifts and clouds move, the colors of the Canyon change.  It’s a mesmerizing, enchanting, and magical place – far too big and grand to be seen in one day.

I used the Nikon V3 with the 1 Nikon  10-100mm lens for most – if not all – of these images, with post in Lightroom and On1.

A Stop Along the Way

We are actually in the Jackson Lake Lodge in the Teton National Park.  Today will be the first day out – we had a long drive from Laramie.  Without a laptop, much less good internet connections in the Wild West, it’s been difficult to edit pictures or make an entry to a blog here or there.

I’ve been using Polarr editing software with my Chrome Book, and I have rather mixed feelings about it but that is just because I am not sure how things look in the final edit.  Still, it is an easy-to-use editor, and given that, I am not going to complain.  I just need to master it, and when home, compare the images I see on the screen of the Chrome Book to my 27″ monitors at home.

We have really been enjoying the trip!  We started out in California, and the first stop was in Flagstaff, Arizona.  I really like Flag – as we are known to call it – and we stayed at a wonderful B&B.  Knowledgeable hosts are one of the draws of a good B&B, along with great breakfasts.  We had both.  We were in Flagstaff for two full days, taking in Shoshone Point in the Grand Canyon, and a drive through Oak Creek Canyon to see Sedona.  The Grand Canyon is truly grand, and unfathomable, so to speak, until you are on the edge, looking down and across from the rim.  Sedona is a tourist town surrounded by incredible red rocks, buttes, mesas and cliffs.  To get there, one drives through a lovely canyon, and it is worthwhile to stop at Oak Canyon to wander through it.

Oak Creek Canyon is a deep, narrow canyon, complete with creek, old buildings, and a former apple orchard put in by some of the original families who settled there.  It was my favorite part of the day out to Sedona, other than fantastic food at a restaurant – Mariposa – which has 360 degree views of the rocks surrounding Sedona.  The canyon is surrounded by red cliffs and traversed by a winding road.  The drive is one to take slowly, stopping, hiking, gawking.  It’s a wonderful corner of the world to see.

 

Regroup, Refresh, Review – and the First Stop

Mojave Sky

Back home after nearly a month on the road. We travelled 6500 miles, drove through ten states, visited friends and family, drank beer and smoked cigars, ate wonderful meals, viewed three national parks on a very limited basis. Countryside ranged from desert to high mountains, with rain, hail, and sandstorms to accompany the sun and pleasures of the summer. Even better, we go along! One of Josh’s friends said, “It must be love if you can spend weeks in a car with your wife.” We had a great time – and time not to just travel, but time to get reacquainted with each other.

In the Mojave

The first leg of the trip was to Flagstaff, Arizona. We spent one night here on the way out, and another two nights on the way back, in a different section of town. It was about a 7-hour drive from home, which is just north of Los Angeles. The first part was a few hours simply getting out of the sprawl of L.A., but once out, we moved into the sprawling Mojave desert as we travelled east.  The Mojave is an amazing area – very large, very diverse, ranging from flat and barren, odd mountainous formations, to a sparse lushness with oddities such as the Joshua Tree, which, interestingly, is related to the lily!

Of course, geology changes as one travels, and moving into Arizona, the land certainly did change, especially as we began the ascent into the city of Flagstaff.  The first night of the trip was spent in downtown, in an old hotel called the Hotel Monte Vista.  We were up on the fourth floor, but on a Saturday night, we could hear the noise from the street below, and the chiming of a local church bell, tolling the hours in the wee hours of the morning (which was off by about 35 minutes, I think).  The noise was not distracting, though, and the hotel is centrally located, so walking everywhere was fun.  We visited 3 breweries that evening, and found out that trains travel through the middle of downtown with alarming frequency.  The view from our window – we stayed in the Walter Brennan Room – was pretty cool.  And, better, the windows opened!

A Sign of Our Times

The initial impressions of Flagstaff were very favorable.  For a small town, it is rather cosmopolitan, and this is, in part, because of the fact Northern Arizona State University is there.  There were also some shocks – Arizona’s gun laws and politics are vastly different than what I am used to in California.  For instance, signs in restaurant windows telling customers to leave their guns at home, was a significant reminder of the differences.

Certainly food for thought . . . so, for now, I will leave you with Josh pondering a menu on the patio of Beaver Street Brewery.

At Beaver Street Brewery