Well friendos I went on a big adventure this past week. My love Annie works at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, so my brother and his friend Eric and I piled in my little car and drove off to Utah. I am beginning to realize that deserts have a strange magic to them that I will probably never fully grasp but will always be in awe of. My family used to drive to the Mojave Desert twice a year to see my grandpa. Although I always complained about it, I think a part of me loved seeing the huge expanses of land and such strange life forms I didn't get to see in Northern California. My trip to Joshua Tree in April stirred up these feelings and now I have got desert on my mind. I am lusting for Antelope Canyon in Arizona and White Sands National Monument in New Mexico next. But for now allow me to share the magic of Utah.
Day One: Driving Eleven and One Half Hours
The road from California to Utah is not a short one. I stared at my Google Maps the whole time and I still would have no idea how to get back to Utah. We had to go up to Tahoe and then across Nevada on what seemed like 20 different highways. Maybe I am just really used to getting to LA on one very long freeway so I was surprised there wasn't a special road paved just for me from Placerville to Bryce Canyon. Anyways, I am happy to report that the cows in Utah are much happier than the cows on Interstate 5. And we saw a lot of them. I love cows. So after 11 hours we reached Red Rock Canyon, which you pass through to get to Bryce. We stopped and took some photos and got to Annie's little house in the forest of Bryce Canyon.
Day Two and Three: Zion National Park
While Annie was at work on Thursday (off tracking some endangered owls she tells me are DEFINITELY going to be found in the park soon) Curtis, Eric, and I drove off to Zion. Zion was a very strange thing because it just felt MASSIVE. Like there was absolutely no way that I felt I could capture it with my camera. You just enter the park and you are surrounded by these huge mountains. But it doesn't feel like being in the Sierras like at home because in Zion the rocks are just right there for you to touch but they shoot up 1000 feet over you. So on Thursday we drove around the park and did a few of the smaller hikes. We saw the Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock. Both were incredible. The Upper Emerald Pool had these massive walls enveloping a little pool. There were bird flying around above it and I swear that's where pterodactyls used to fly around in just the same way. Weeping Rock is a small waterfall that forces itself out of an overhanging rock so that you can sit behind it and watch the water sprinkle down in front of an amazing view of the canyon. That view was definitely something that just didn't look real. It was just way too much to stare at and comprehend.
Friday brought us back to Zion, with Annie this time. I didn't bring my camera because we were going to be hiking up the Virgin River in the very popular hike called The Narrows. I wish I had brought my camera because it was definitely my favorite part of Zion, but I fell over and splashed around too much to feel safe with my camera, so no regrets there I suppose. One day I will buy a waterproof point-and-shoot or something. But woweeee, The Narrows. Annie remarked that we had probably been to the wettest and lushest places in Utah and I am so thankful for that. The river cuts through these huge mountain walls so that you are just surrounded by rock and water. It makes you feel so tiny. I have come to realize I love being down low when I hike. I'm not really huge on hiking up big things, I would rather hike along a river or a canyon for miles and miles. Not because I am lazy and don't want to deal with elevation--although hiking thousands of feet up into the sun didn't sound very appealing--but because I love how getting to the lowest points allows you to look up at everything around you. You feel so small and insignificant and it is a wonderful feeling.
Day Four: Bryce Canyon
While Zion was huge and inconceivable, Bryce felt a little more intimate--but probably just as inconceivable. I dunno what it is about Utah looking so unreal, but it sure does. It just doesn't make sense that anything can look this beautiful. Even as we hiked through Bryce Canyon with Annie as our fearless leader, I still couldn't comprehend where I was. The hoodoos are so awesome and so mysterious. Annie took us through the canyon to the popular spot called Wall Street, where the park is at its slot-canyon-iest. It was very cool. And then Annie took us to a seeeeecret place that was definitely my favorite part--back to a river! Did I mention I love rivers? I love the way they cut through rock and make the coolest formations, ugh I love them. So we played around in the river a bit and then found a hoodoo that other people had clearly walked on, so we figured we would too. (Don't tell.) But it made for some awesome photos. After that, we headed back to Annie's for some food and to play darts. And the next day bright and early we were off back to California.
I have put a lot of these images on my website as part of a new series that I would like to continue working on called Just Passing Through. Especially as I get ready for a big trip to Europe and, shortly after that, my move back to Los Angeles, I want to record the places I go. I am working more on my landscape and travel photography. I really enjoyed shooting these pictures. The bulk of my photographic work is portraiture and weird fantasy/fashion shoots. I love working on those sorts of photos, and I am excited to develop my style more in that regard as well. But the thing that I loved about shooting these photos is that what I was taking pictures would have been there without me. I love creating something that wouldn't exist otherwise--that is why I create my portraits. But to take on a project like this is so humbling because I really had no part in the way the actual subject looks. In my photos I hope to capture the awe and excitement I feel when I found these places. It's like I was saying in my bit about the river: I like being places that make me feel small. It's so comforting and humbling to know that all this will still go on and there is this much to see in the world. The title "Just Passing Through" comes from the album art of a movie soundtrack very important to me when I was 14, Across the Universe. That phrase always stuck with me because I think it's very nice to know that I am just passing through wherever I go and all I can take with me are my memories and--if I'm lucky--some nice photos.