Utah and Arizona, 2009

For me this summer was busy with friends getting married and all of the various activities accompanying that. I wanted to get out again on a nice long road trip. My parents were coming out to visit for a few weeks and, after a little convincing, agreed to take a road trip to the souther Utah area. I enjoy showing them some of the beautiful places I've seen and exploring new ones together. This area of the country never disappoints.

My father really enjoyed Zion when we stopped off on our cross country trip, so we made that our first destination. After the lovely drive in along through the Virgin River Gorge, we were able to drive into the valley right at twilight. Being the 100th anniversary of the park founding, there were special rates so we stayed right at the Zion Lodge. It's beautifully situated for seeing the valley by foot or by car, but not the most ideal place to try and watch the last game of the World Series, being that there were no TVs in the rooms! The next day we explored the valley, stopping off at most of the little overlooks. We had a nice walk up at the riverwalk and then decided to do a little bit of exploring. I had never been to the middle of the park up around the Kolob Resevoir area, so a ranger was nice enough to recommend a day hike trail in the area off of one of the access roads, the Connector Trail. The land up back in that area is quite striking. It's up on a plateau straddled by different valleys on both sides, each with quite striking sandstone cliffs of different colors and types. And still, in the distance, you could see various monoliths and other formations beyond. It reminded me of some of the areas I'd visited in Canyonlands years ago and definitely is a place for a nice backcountry backpacking trip someday.

We left the park driving east through the long tunnel and then into some stunning scenery. The sandstone had eroded with almost no vegitation on it, forming various walls and hills of rock. The road was winding up and down and around, almost as if riding the waves of an ocean made of rock, frozen in time. The road exited into the higher elevations of Utah and we made our way through the snow dusted Red Canyon onto Bryce Canyon. The eroded walls of Bryce are beautiful, but I got to share a special moment. The first overlook we drove to was the Inspiration Point overlook where there is a short hill up tohe edge. I walked with my mother, still a little tired after a long drive, and then we got towards the edge and the vista of all of the painted hoodoos unfolded just as broad as the smile and look of astonishment on my mother's face. Sharing that moment of awe is always special and reminds me of the power of these places and what always drives me to return.

We then drove into norther Arizona and passed into an area of the country that was new to me. We drove past the border of the Vermillion Cliffs NM and got a taste of some truly unique formations. An entire chain of hills stretched on both sides of the road with diagonal purple stripes cutting through them on an angle as if someone had pinstriped the entire landscape. Quite dramatic against the desert, and if I ever get a 4x4 an area that I really must get into and explore. I also got to drive across the Glen Canyon Dam. It was the first major dam I'd ever driven across, and the sheer depth of dam was astounding, and it was amazing to see the deep chasm after which finally the Colorado can again run free. Seeing that side of the dam was beautiful and also sad at how much beautiful canyon and river was just buried under the man-made lake on the other side.

My mother and my father had never seen any Native American ruins, so we next stopped off at the Navajo National Monument. While I had been to a number of the preservation sites in the south of Arizona, I had never stopped off at any in the north. There was a short trail leading to an overlook, and the ruins were beautiful. Being tucked away in a spherical grotto with sandstone canyons stretching out on the horizon, they were some of the most picturesque I've seen. Although the paved trail was a bit steep, my adventerous mother came on down to the overlook and was able to look through the binoculars to see the ruins. It was a very nice taste of the Hopi ruins and some incentive for me to perhaps arrange a trip again to to explore the Native American sites in the north.

We then drove on up through Monument Valley and on the roads through Bluff. I'd driven on them before and in my mind always look like the iconic West I remember seeing in Roadrunner cartoons as a kid. This time driving through, however, we stopped off at a lovely little gem, Goosenecks State Park. It is an overlook onto a beautiful canyon carved out by a river making gentle S curves hundreds of feet deep. Quite a dramatic canyon and a wonderful stop off to really appreciate some of the just wide variety of color and variation through that whole area. It's amazing how different and beautiful even driving over one mesa or ridge can be. We stopped off in Natural Bridges National Monument so I could show my parents both the bridges and a bit of the lovely white sandstone canyons in that whole area. It was interesting to go through so many different layers of geology so quickly!

Our final stop was Arches National Park, another of the places that my dad had enjoyed seeing on our cross country excursion. We stopped at jsut about every turnout and little display area with many I'd never seen either. My father and I took a short walk back to the Double Arch, one of his favorite sights there, and my mom finally got to see in person so many of the things in my pictures over the years. We drove home on the 70, one of my favorite roads going past the reefs, Eagle Canyon, and so many areas that still call me to come back to and wander off the paved road. Returning through the Virgin River Gorge and past a group of bighorn sheep (which I couldn't see as I was driving...) it was back down into the desert adn back to the coast. All in all, a very full trip and I returned home, sated.

The Photographs

It was another trip for me to begin to say farewell to Kodachrome, and I'm glad I was able to return to places I hadn't been to in nearly 10 years to shoot them one last time on my favorite film.

I started in Zion in the valley on a roll of Kodachrome KM 25, moving onto PKR 64 in the Connector Trail area. I had only ever shot Bryce on print film, so I used another roll of KM 25 there. It really has such beautiful detail and color and I'm glad I was able to get back to Bryce with it! In Navajo NM I wanted to use some telephoto lenses so I used a roll of PKL 200. The remaining two rolls are PKR 64. Click "Next" in the upper right to begin.