ALAMOSA, Colo. — We hotel’ed it up last night (when I began writing this post), which was not according to our original plan. But it’s fine by me, because it means I could dump the contents of my full 4GB memory card into my laptop, as well as Tweet and blog.
The past however many days (I’ve lost track) have been amazing. Everything’s been blending together — only yesterday, I wasn’t sure if we’d had lunch at the Little Wonder Cafe in Richfield, Utah, yesterday or the day before. Thank goodness I’ve been writing small updates in my actual journal every day.
On Day 3 (Wednesday the 25th), we headed north to the Grand Canyon after breakfasting at the Downtown Diner in Flagstaff, Ariz. (Aside note: Flagstaff — or what we saw of it — was fantastic.) I am pretty much in love with the woodsy area north of Flagstaff, especially where the aspen trees grow. Those are my favorite trees.
The Grand Canyon was beyond anything I’ve seen. As cliche as this is, I have to say it: no photos can do it justice. I can’t count how many photos and other depictions of the Grand Canyon I’ve seen in my lifetime, but when I saw that big hole in the ground for myself, I was simply stunned.
Jeff, Esten and me on the Bright Angel trail at the Grand Canyon's south rim.
We took the Bright Angel trail down the canyon for about an hour, at which point time constraints forced us to head back up. After sailing through a Navajo reservation where the dust and sky and rocks were so very red, we dined at a Fiesta Mexicana in Page, Ariz. We ended the night in Panguitch, Utah, just as a snowstorm was coming in.
Day 4 (Thursday the 26th) was an epic day of driving, and marked our first eastward mileage of our trip. We awoke to find about an inch or two of snow on the ground, and headed out almost immediately. After we lunched at the Little Wonder Cafe in Richfield, Utah, we continued east and saw just how ridiculous Utah’s terrain is along I-70.
The snow-dusted Rockies turned into orange desert, and then we spotted Devils Canyon bordering the southern side of I-70 — so of course we had to stop and take photos. Then we passed through the San Rafael Swell, and then more orange desert… which was, like the Rockies, also dusted with snow from the previous night.
We ended the day at Arches National Park. Actually, we ended it in a campsite just outside of Arches, along the Colorado River where it was 20 degrees and fiercely windy. But before we had our one night of extreme camping, we spent a few hours in the park, where we hiked up to the Delicate Arch and photographed that arch just in time for sunset.
Normally I wouldn’t go into detail about dinner, but I have to say this:
- We ate at Burger King.
- Esten tweeted about burger shots.
- We followed the NCAA tournament MU-Memphis game (Sweet Sixteen!) via Jeff’s phone via ESPN. Go Tigers!
Finally, yesterday. We began Day 5 (Friday the 27th) along the Colorado River, where we woke up barely alive from the cold and windy night. We photographed the sunrise along the river’s rocky bluffs and then headed back into Arches to take photos of the Windows Section.
After a lunch break at Pablo’s Pizza in downtown Grand Junction, Colo., we pretty much shot straight to Montrose, Colo., where we encountered some confusion (and hilarity) with the Days Inn situation there. We then headed out to Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
A note about this national park — none of us had ever heard of it before. My older brother Matt had been there last summer, when he and two friends roadtripped the West and hit up 20 national parks in 33 days. (His trip was part of the inspiration for ours, at least when I first seriously started thinking about spending spring break on a westward roadtrip.)
A sign posted on the entrance building announcing no entrance fees during winter was a very pleasant surprise. So was the rest of the drive, during which we simply drove through the park, stopped at the various viewpoints and did our thang. The canyon is gorgeous and its walls are sheer and steep (the canyon’s average slope is a drop of 43 feet per mile). Perhaps best of all, a) we were there in time for sunset light and b) the snow from two nights ago highlighted the canyon walls’ ridges. These combined for a great photography experience.
Here’s where I discuss why this blog is titled as such. I must admit: when it comes to getting photos and adventuring, I’m a little reckless of my personal safety and wellbeing. (This is why my mother worries about me so much!) This reckless side of me especially came out at Black Canyon, as I was walking around in the snow wearing Chacos and socks.
It's a shame you can't see how deep the snow is, here. But at most of the viewpoints where we stopped, the snow was 2-4 inches thick.
I was also sitting on top of the railings at the various viewpoints and climbing on top of the rocks that are there to protect viewers from falling into the gorge/river below. I eventually had to stop because Jeff and Esten were fretting.
What can I say? I take risks. The West does things to me.
After we left Black Canyon, we ate at a surprisingly good Chinese place in Montrose and then went back to our hotel. As I mentioned in my first sentence, this was not according to our original plan, wherein we were to have camped at Black Canyon. But again — there was snow, the temperature was dropping and we’d already had one (sleepless) night of extreme camping.
Today, Day 6 (Saturday the 28th), we continued east after browsing a Montrose camera store. On the way, we went over Monarch Pass and the Continental Divide at 11,312 feet above sea level.
Now we’re in Alamosa, Colo., and about to hit up the Great Sand Dunes once the MU-UConn game reaches some conclusive point. I should have one more blog post up tonight, and then hopefully photo posts to come later this week!
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