I’ve been to Moab, Utah region many times and have found with each visit that there is always something new to discover. Potash Road, as I found out during our October trip, is a must see and do. Just North of town near the entrance to Arches National Monument, a road crosses and follows the mighty Colorado River. Vertical red rock canyon walls are Mother Nature’s embellishment to a landscape that is an absolute world of art. Slow down and look a little closer and you’ll find that the Native Americans were inspired to follow suit. Rock Art is everywhere and mostly untouched for centuries except here and there where someone felt to compelled to destroy it.
If you continue up the road beyond the pavement, you will find yourself skirting a number of tailings ponds, leftover from the cold war era uranium mines. You’ll want to make sure you have a high clearance vehicle, preferably four wheel drive because this is no place to have car problems. I didn’t even want to stop to take pictures for fear that we might start glowing in the dark. We continued on up the road and eventually ended up driving through a real life Hollywood movie set (read my recent post “The Accidental Paparazzi”) before climbing up to the entrance of Canyonlands National Park.
Mankind leaves an indelible imprint on the land, there is no way around it. Hopefully, we will learn from past mistakes and strive to make our mark on the world one that says we were a caring and respectful people. If we don’t….well, the handwriting is on the wall.
Each Fall I find myself struggling to accept the seasonal loss of light and color. The Northern Hemisphere is tilting toward the dark and cold side and there is nothing I can do about it. This year I held on as hard as I could for as long as I could and I’ve stored up the images that I need to sustain me until Spring. Beginning at the end of September, I went on a fall foliage bender like never before. Before it was all said and done, denial fueled a journey to the relatively low elevations of extreme Western Colorado and Eastern Utah.
Alexander Supertram (the camper) at Sand Flats near Moab, Utah
The high desert around Grand Junction and Moab is always visually stunning. Add the colors of fall to the red rocks and big vistas and you have a beauty that is hard to describe. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
“High Desert Sunrise”
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“As Close As I Dare” – I basically crawled to the edge of the Goose Neck turn of the Colorado River, afraid the bank would cave in.
I’ve been editing photos like a maniac several days now and I’m finally ready to share more. Last week’s photo expedition to the Utah Desert was a success and I’ll be sharing a bunch or images. I’ll keep it short and sweet this morning and simply brag about the fact that we drove Alexander Supertramp right through the middle of a Hollywood set on the remote Shafer Canyon Road, the back road into Canyonlands National Park. We knew something was up when we took note of a campsite along the Colorado River. A long ticky tacky row of luxury tents and heated outdoor sitting areas were the first signs that something big was being filmed nearby. It turned out that HBO is filming a mini series, a remake of the 1970’s movie “Westworld”.
The set of “Westworld”
A lot of movies have been filmed in these canyons over the years and on this day, they were filming at “Thelma and Louse Point”. At a crest in the road, we literally drove less than ten feet from the actors, dressed up in western wear, plates in hand waiting in line to eat lunch. We had no idea at that moment that we might have been rubbing elbows with Ed Harris or Anthony Hopkins. I’ve got to get a dash cam! Anyway, it all caught us so much by surprise that all I managed to capture with the camera was from a distance. I managed a few shots from the drivers seat with my long lens just before the Sheriff escorted us on down the road. So if you end up watching “Westworld” on HBO, look for Alexander Supertramp in the background during a cemetery scene.
Abundance truly is in the eye of the beholder. It isn’t something we can own or possess, it is a mindset of freedom. So I’m standing at the Rim of Schaffer Canyon within Canyonlands National Park and this fully equipped adventure RV pulls up right behind Alexander Supertramp. Big Wheels, three feet of clearance and two motorcycles strapped to the back, this rig was a zombie proof fortress on a Mercedes Chasis. Jealousy reared its ugly head within me. “Where are you from?”, I asked the Man and Woman as they climbed down from the lofty coach. “Germany” he replied with a heavy accent. “Are you going around the world?”, I asked. “Just the America’s, we started with Alaska and are going south to Patagonia” he informed me. We walked over to the viewpoint and looked down at the Shaffer Canyon Switchbacks. “Are you going down there?”, I continued to quiz him. “Not in that” he said, referring to his rig. “Vee vill go on za bikes”. His rig weighed 18000 pounds and he was concerned the the road would not hold.
My envy began to subside. We had driven up the switchbacks the previous day and had never felt so free as I did in the wild Colorado River Basin below. We had driven through an expansive swath of some of the most remote wilderness in the country with everything we needed to make that possible, what more could I want. Sure I admire the German couple and I could see that their abundance was in their freedom, not in their highly cool rig.
We loaded up the camper, affectionately dubbed “Alexander Supertramp”, on Tuesday and headed West toward Grand Junction, Moab and Canyon Lands National Park. I knew the four night expedition would be fun and would offer another opportunity to capture fall colors, but I had no idea that the adventure would unfold so fortuitously. Now that I’m home, I’ve begun the arduous process of catching up on business and life and am editing the images one at a time in chronological order so that I can share them.
Alexander Supertramp at Colorado National Monument
Moonrise from My Sister’s home in Grand Junction
The drive from Denver to Grand Junction was like a walk down memory lane. I have so many great memories of my youth in the Vail Valley and as we continued down I-70, each mile to the west symbolically represented the path of adulthood up until the age of 45, living with my Wife and raising my four teenage Children in Grand Junction. We arrived at the home of my youngest Sister and her family just in time for Dinner. My older Sister and her Husband joined us as well. It was great to visit and take in 360 degree views of the Grand Valley and watch the Full Moon rise over the Grand Mesa.
After Dinner, we drove up the steep and windy road of the Colorado National Monument in the moonlight and selected a campsite in the nearly empty campground. After catching a few quick night shots, I put the camera away and went to sleep with the alarm set for 5:30 am. Weather permitting I hoped to capture the rising sun in the morning.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the challenge of learning how to capture night and twilight images with the latest equipment. Back in the film photography days, I did a lot of low light experimentation, usually in Black and White and always doing all of my own processing. Then for a number of years, I tried and tried to get good results with digital but fell short until the technology caught up with my ambitions. The new full sensor cameras “Rock” but it’s still taken a lot of learning and experimentation to establish a greater level of success. It takes time to fill the bag of tricks and at times I resemble a mad scientist, frantically throwing together a concoction of apertures, shutter speeds, white balance and ISO, hoping to achieve results that have never been achieved before. Learning and having fun are an explosive combination.
” High Desert Dream”