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Posts Tagged ‘spring break 09’

Shortest spring break roadtrip blogpost EVER.

That’s what this is.

  • DAY 6 (Saturday, March 28) — cont’d.

On our way from Montrose, Colo., to Alamosa, we naturally crossed the Continental Divide, via Monarch Pass. It was a fun trip up to the natural backbone of North America, with a 6 percent uphill grade and a fantastic vista.

The view while going up toward Monarch Pass.

The view while going up toward Monarch Pass.

Then we reached the top — the pass itself! — and stopped for a few minutes to take photos.

Welcome to the Continental Divide, at 11,312 feet above sea level!

Welcome to the Continental Divide, at 11,312 feet above sea level!

There wasn’t too much else to see. So we did our best to shake the snow off our boots and then drove down and away from the Continental Divide.

That was kinda cool.

  • COMING NEXT: The Great Sand Dunes — the biggest playground in North America

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The trip really wound down after we visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison. By that, I don’t mean it became any less exciting or beautiful — but rather, I at least began to realize that the spring break and our adventures in the American West were coming to an end.

Sad times.

  • DAY 6 (Saturday, March 28)

During our 217-mile drive from Montrose, Colo., to Alamosa, I definitely reviewed all the photos on my memory card and thought a lot about the fun we’d been having. I also took a lot of photos out of the car window as we whizzed past.

One of our first glimpses of the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Obviously, this portion was frozen over, as was the case with much of the western portion of the lake.

One of our first glimpses of the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Obviously, this portion was frozen over, as was the case with much of the western portion of the lake.

The Blue Mesa Reservoir is Colorado’s largest body of water. It’s located within the Curecanti National Recreation Area, and apparently is home to the nation’s largest Kokanee salmon fishery.

It’s pretty massive. We drove past it and over it for quite a long ways.

Grr powerlines.

Grr powerlines.

(more…)

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Here, we finally say goodbye to Utah. Thank you, beautiful Utah, for taking up four entire blog posts and hundreds of photos.

Now, we enter Colorado!

  • DAY 5 (Friday, March 27) — cont’d.

So, have you ever heard of Black Canyon of the Gunnison? None of us had. My older brother Matt and two of his friends hit up 20 national parks in 33 days last summer, and Black Canyon was one of them. When, back in October, I asked him what he recommended, he wrote the following on my Facebook Wall:

I spent 33 days in the American Southwest. Here are things you don’t want to miss:

I know you hate lugging it around, and I know you think it spoils the moment so often, but do yourself a favor and don’t leave your camera at home.

Big Bend National Park (specifically the Santa Elena Canyon). Great Sand Dunes National Park. Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Monument Valley. Goblin Valley. Arches. Bryce. Zion (the Angel’s Landing hike). Death Valley. The Grand Canyon (go to the South Rim and do the Skywalk). Yosemite (hike Half Dome). Also, Las Vegas.

In February, when Esten, Jeff and I were going over possible routes and places we wanted to visit, I mentioned Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It wasn’t until I showed them photos that Matt had taken that we became excited about it. Even then, though, I wasn’t expecting too much from the canyon.

I’ve never so enjoyed being wrong about something.

After we fixed up the hotel situation in Montrose and dropped off our things in our room, we headed out to the park. We were pleasantly surprised to see a sign posted in the entrance guardhouse that announced no admission fees during the winter.

The view from Gunnison Point on the south rim.

The view from Gunnison Point on the south rim.

(more…)

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So it’s been a while since I last posted. This past weekend, I went to St. Louis for a Taylor Swift concert (yes — I am a very big fan), and yesterday I was pretty busy in Jefferson City bureau.

But this is a pretty quick post anyway.

  • DAY 5 (Friday, March 27)

Our campsite along the Colorado River was beautiful, but the canyon through which the river winds is virtually a wind tunnel. Thursday night was our one night of extreme camping. On more than one occasion, the wind blew the side of the tent so hard down that the tent wall was squashing me from my head to my waist. Plus, it was pretty cold.

So in the morning, we packed up in a hurry — mostly to keep ourselves warm! Then we drove further down along the river to take sunrise photos of the river bluffs.

Then we re-entered Arches National Park for a quick morning of taking photos. We weren’t in any particular hurry: our final destination for the day was Montrose, Colo., which is the closest city/town to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and a mere 171 miles away from Arches.

Nevertheless, we decided to hit up some of the closer formations instead of those further within the park.

For example, the Windows formation.

I am pretty sure this is one side of one of the Windows.

I am pretty sure this is one side of the North Window.

The North Window, from the other side.

The North Window, from the other side.

Both the Windows (south on the left, north on the right) in their formation.

Both the Windows (south on the left, north on the right) in their formation.

Nearby is also the Turret Arch, but we didn’t go there. As Esten said, once you see one arch, you kinda see them all.

I did want to go to the Turret Arch. But I was also pretty cold. It was at least 35 degrees and windy.

In retrospect, my focus point shouldve been on the arch and not on the pathway. That said, I did set my focus point intentionally on the pathway. Oh well.

In retrospect, my focus point should've been on the arch and not on the pathway. That said, I did set my focus point intentionally on the pathway. Oh well.

Then we hopped into the car and drove off and out of Utah. We hit up Pablo’s Pizza in Grand Junction, Colo., for lunch. But other than that, a fairly unremarkable trip. Which was fine by me, after photographing out the window every five minutes during Day 4’s drive across Utah.

  • COMING NEXT: Ever heard of Black Canyon of the Gunnison? Me either

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So — Day 4 was a really long day, as you might have guessed. But this is the final blog post to contain photos from Day 4, which (at least, photographically) ended on a high note.

  • DAY 4 (Thursday, March 26) — cont’d.

After making it out of the 108-mile stretch of I-70 with no service stations, we turned off of I-70 onto US-191 toward Arches National Park and Moab, Utah. The sky was dreary, and the snowfall from the previous night’s blizzard was still dusted on the landscape.

On US-191, going toward Arches National Park.

On US-191, going toward Arches National Park.

We arrived at the park, where all the campsites were already full. So we set up camp along the Colorado River, at the Negro Bill Camping Area right outside the park. Then we headed back into the park, since the sky was finally clearing up and we were ready to take some sunset photos at the Delicate Arch.

In the last third of the hike to the Delicate Arch.

In the last third of the hike to the Delicate Arch.

The hike there was pretty tough. The first third of it is fairly easy, but then you get to a large, exposed rock surface where the trail is marked by small rock cairns. It’s also a bit steep. The last third of the hike is a series of ups and downs on more rock surface before you arrive at the Delicate Arch.

But, as over-photographed as it is, the Delicate Arch is completely worth the hike. Especially at sunset.

(more…)

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By my reckoning, I have seven or eight more spring break roadtrip photo blog posts coming up after this one. They’ll all be staggered a bit, though, over the next six or seven days.

Get excited!

This post is a bit longer than some of the others. And this is only the middle part of Day 4. I’ve already posted some photos from the morning of Day 4, but there are still evening photos yet to be posted.

Get more excited!

  • DAY 4 (Thursday, March 26) — cont’d.

As you can probably figure from the subject of this blog post, Utah is simply stunning. The terrain changes are frequent, at least as far as we saw along our drive on I-70 from Panguitch (where we began our day) toward Arches National Park (our final destination for the day).

After we ate lunch in Richfield, we continued east. Between Salina and Green River is an 108-mile stretch of I-70 with no service stations whatsoever. Which means that you better fill up your gas tank at whichever endpoint you start at and that you can expect absolutely gorgeous scenery on either side of the interstate.

We went from snowy mountains…

…to vaguely snowy mesa-like things…

…to desert-like canyonlands.

Again. Utah is incredible.

(more…)

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Finally, finally, finally! It’s been a few weeks, but I’m finally done editing spring break roadtrip photos. I’ve pared everything down and have 122 photos to share with everyone.

For the most part, I’ll be posting/sharing them on a day-by-day basis, because dumping all 122 photos at once seems a little like overkill. Not every single one of those will be posted on this blog, but you can find each of them at my Flickr — specifically, within this photo set.

And now let’s start the journey.

  • DAY 1 (Monday, March 23) —

At 5 a.m., Jeff and I arrived at the Tulsa Greyhound station, where Esten picked us up. We immediately began the journey from there.

Our first photo-taking venture was in Texola, Okla., where Esten had been before and knew of an interesting building we could photograph. An interesting building? Apparently it’s mentioned in a bunch of books about Route 66. It’s about two blocks from the highway.

We then sailed through Oklahoma and soon arrived in the Texas panhandle, which is home to…

THE BIG TEXAN. Which is home to the free 72-oz. steak. Which is free only if you eat it — as well as salad, rolls and a loaded baked potato — within an hour.

Everyone in Texas — and hell, a lot of non-Texans — know what The Big Texan is. I myself am Texan, born and raised. But I’d never stepped foot inside The Big Texan, much less eaten there. And now I’ve done both, and now I truly am a Texan.

We spent that night in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Palo Duro Canyon is the second biggest canyon in the U.S., or so I’m told. But by the completion of this roadtrip, I was unconvinced of that bold claim. We saw some pretty big — and, dare I say, more magnificent — canyons later on in the week.

This is an HDR image, created from three bracketed images. Not entirely well done, but necessary because of the extreme shadows at sunset.

But Palo Duro was fine for our first day of touring the great American West, as well as our first night of camping.

Oh gosh. Our first night of camping. It was so windy. And canyon bottomlands can get quite chilly, as we found.

But the night sky was beautiful, at least for as long as we could bear the cold to watch and photograph it.

  • COMING NEXT: A city in the sky in beautiful New Mexico

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Every minute of my spare time this week has gone toward editing spring break roadtrip photos, of which there are many. I’m not done yet, alas, but here’s a snapshot of the variety of photos you’ll see on my blog and in my Flickr if you check back later!

snapshots

And those are just a few of the 107 digital photos I’ve edited (but not all 107 will be posted on-line!). I just got my film developed, so it’ll be a while before I have it scanned and edited. Currently, I’m working on the HDR images. Not sure how many of those I’ll have in the end.

Here are my thoughts about HDR (high dynamic range): Sometimes it can be done very well. I’d like to say that most of the time, it can be done very well. But some photographers (no names, no examples — that’s mean) really go overboard and create HDR images that just scream, “I AM HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE.”

Ideally, HDR images are created using five or more exposures that are bracketed, or taken at different exposures (typically via changing the shutter speed). But because we didn’t carry a tripod around with us everywhere on the trip, we took three bracketed exposures for our HDR purposes. So I’d find something I want to shoot, make sure my drive was set on hyper (to increase the speed at which the exposures were taken and decrease the probability of camera movement between the exposures), set my bracketing stops and fire off three exposures.

So even if I wanted to, I can’t create an HDR image that screams, “I AM HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE,” simply because I only took three exposures. But I don’t want to anyway. My approach is to create an image that looks like a normal exposure but with greater detail in the shadows and highlights. Why not just use Photoshop’s Shadow/Highlight tool on a correctly exposed image? Because, in many of the places we photographed, the sky was too bright and the shadows cast by/on the rocks and foliage were too dark to retain any detail in those areas.

In conclusion — I have a lot of work cut out for me still, what with scanning/editing my film and editing HDR. I want to wait until it’s all done before I start posting photos on-line, just for the sake of keeping everything in chronological order. So hopefully I’ll be ready to do that within the next week. But no guarantees.

In the meantime, you can check out the snapshots I provided above and be amazed by the variety of places we visited and passed. (More than a few of those photos were taken out of the car window as we sailed past at 65 or 70 miles per hour.) I’m still astonished that we were able to complete such an incredible itinerary in seven days. Although really, it was six, because on the seventh day, we drove back home through Colorado and Kansas. Terrible drive.

Anyway. Check back later for photos!

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I am back in Central Time, meaning it is 1:38 a.m. in Columbia, Mo. My bed is still unmade, my bags are still packed and I have to be ready for a Jefferson City shift in about nine hours, but I can’t sleep because:

  • I’m thinking about just how much I have to get done this week,
  • I’m reflecting on how incredible this past week was,
  • I feel like going to sleep means completely closing the door on this past week and forcing myself to resume life as a student and reporter,
  • and I need to correct a few things from the previous blog post.

The biggest thing I need to correct is the mileage. I originally said we put about 3,000 miles on Esten’s CR-V this trip. His spring break odometer actually reads 4,040 miles. Granted, some of that is from his camping trip the weekend immediately prior our roadtrip, but certainly at least 3,700 miles of that are from our adventuring out West.

Another minor correction: yet another attraction we didn’t get to check out was the Petrified Forest. And I probably spent more than $200, but I really don’t feel like adding up numbers from my on-line checking account.

Also, here are some more numbers, just for fun:

  • I took 1,175 digital photos this trip.
  • Of those, 371 are for HDR (high dynamic range) purposes. Hurrah for bracketing and, consequently, necessitating a lot of editing!
  • Of the remaining 804 photos, 169 have survived the preliminary edit. Meaning, those 169 will be examined more closely, and those that survive the second edit will be toned/etc. From there, those that survive the third edit will appear on-line at some point.
  • I shot three rolls of Fuji Superia 100 and nine exposures of a roll of Fuji 400. I can’t decide if I should try to use up the remaining 27 exposures on the 400 or if I should just get all four rolls developed so I can see how my film turned out.

So, um, yeah. I have a lot of editing to do. Especially in the HDR department, which should prove interesting since I’ve never edited HDR before.

Again — hopefully I’ll have some photos ready by this weekend. In the meantime, I just need to plow through all the schoolwork, reporting and cleaning I have to get done before I can start playing with photos.

Finally (and also in the meantime), I already miss the West. I already touched on this in the previous post, but damn. Driving through eastern Colorado, Kansas and half of Missouri en route to Columbia made me realize just how spectacular the West is.

I mean, I’ve been West before. I’ve spent three full summers and part of four other summers in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northeastern New Mexico (i.e., Philmont Scout Ranch). But everything I saw on this trip (exception: today’s drive) was something I’d never seen before. If only we had more than a week — and the funds — to truly explore the great American West.

Someday. Someday I’ll return.

But for now, as Davy Knowles sings in one of his songs, I’ve gotta roll away.

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ALAMOSA, Colo. — My feet are just now thawing out after adventuring in the Great Sand Dunes more than seven hours ago.

We concluded today (Day 6, Saturday the 28th) at the Dunes. Well, actually we just returned from Pizza Hut, which is apparently the only restaurant that offers anything vaguely resembling Italian cuisine in Alamosa. But anyway.

At the Dunes (where we didn’t have to pay an entrance fee, as was the case with Black Canyon of the Gunnison), we took the road all the way to the primitive, four-wheel drive section which ended at the Sand Pit. From there, we crossed the creek, which is how my feet — shoed only in Chacos and socks, once again — came to be so wet and cold. I’m pretty sure that water was just above freezing.

And then we adventured around the dunes until a little after sunset. And now our socks and shoes/sandals are still damp and sandy and gross-smelling. But no regrets.

L-R: Jeff, me and Esten at the Great Sand Dunes! We look ridiculous.

L-R: Jeff, me and Esten at the Great Sand Dunes! We look ridiculous. Photo by Jeff.

IN REFLECTION — So tonight is our last night on this epic spring break roadtrip, and tomorrow we make the very long drive back to Columbia, Mo. We guesstimate the drive to be about 14 hours, and none of us is looking forward to that or to schoolwork.

But this trip was nothing short of amazing. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • Approximately 3,000 miles from start to finish.
  • Seven days and six nights on the road.
  • About $200 spent by each of us, give or take $100. (Big range, I know.)
  • Two pairs of jeans for me. They were both pretty ragged already anyway.
  • Two nights of camping, although originally we were supposed to have three.
  • Four national parks and one state park visited in six days.
  • Fourteen cameras among the three of us.
  • Six flash units/strobes among the three of us.
  • Who knows how many batteries, memory cards and rolls of film among the three of us.

If anything, this trip has both pacified and exacerbated my desire to explore and take photos and travel. Having spent the greater part of the past three years either in Columbia or New Mexico (and the past 20ish years in Houston, Texas), I’ve developed a case of cabin fever… which is only part of why I was so excited about this roadtrip and am so excited about spending this summer in Washington, D.C., as an intern for washingtonpost.com.

At the conclusion of this roadtrip, I’m happy that we were able to complete our itinerary as planned, with the exception of Kodachrome Basin and camping out in Black Canyon. But: I didn’t think it could happen, but I’ve fallen even more in love with the West than I thought possible. My thirst for photo adventuring has only been further whetted, and now I know I have to return to the West sometime, to explore it more thoroughly. I have no idea when I’ll have both the time and funds for such an extended photo adventure, but I know it has to happen.

I have a lot of work cut out for me next week. Tomorrow evening, we’ll be back at school where classes,¬† exams, work and other such real-world responsibilities face us. My room is still messy from my scrambled efforts to pack for the trip. Thanks to the embargo on all economic/political/etc. news that Jeff placed on me, I have a lot of catching up to do before I resume reporting in Jefferson City on Monday. (But no regrets!)

So who knows when I’ll have the time and energy to edit all the photos I’ve taken? But I’ll try to start posting photo entries by this weekend. In the meantime, I’m so glad we could have a week-long photo adventure in the great American West. Peace, y’all, and next time I post to this blog, I’ll be back in Missouri!

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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 Canyons south rim.

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.

Its a shame you cant see how deep the snow is, here. But at most of the viewpoints where we stopped, the snow was 2-4 inches thick.

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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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — In Central Time, it’s currently 1:33 a.m. on Wednesday the 25th. But where I am, it’s 11:33 p.m. on Tuesday the 14th. Apparently Arizona does not acknowledge Daylight Savings.

Depending on where you are, Esten, Jeff and I are either on Day 2 or 3 of our epic spring break roadtrip out West. I’m sitting in a Days Inn in Flagstaff along Route 66, and this is the first time we’ve had Internet since we began our journey. Because of time constraints and limits on my laptop’s hard drive space, I don’t have any photos ready to post here.

On Day 1 (Monday the 23rd), Jeff and I arrived at the Tulsa Greyhound station at 5 a.m. Esten picked us up shortly thereafter. We breakfasted at Waffle House and stopped for a few photo opportunities in Texola, Okla.

Then we arrived in Amarillo, Texas, and lunched at The Big Texan — yes, that home of the free 72 oz. steak! But it’s free only if you a) eat it within an hour and b) completely consume a fully loaded baked potato, salad and rolls along with it. None of us attempted the challenge, but as a native Texan, I finally feel complete after dining at that landmark restaurant.

We camped out in Palo Duro Canyon that night, where we completed two hikes. I got pretty scraped up on the first hike; Jeff has photos. The damage is worse than anything I’ve ever had at Philmont: terrible scrapes on both calves, my upper right thigh and my upper right arm, as well as a pretty deep splinter on my left index finger. That’s what I get for messing with Texas.

On Day 2 (Tuesday the 24th), we set out at 8:30 a.m. and reached the New Mexico border in no time. We breaked for lunch at this little Mexican restaurant called Padilla’s, in Albuquerque. Jeff’s dad found the place for us, via Google, and upon hearing that it’s cash-only and next to a laundromat, we knew it had to be good. And it was. Unfortunately, my chicken enchilada was swimming in green chili sauce. Fortunately, the sopaipillas were amazing and soothed my tongue.

We spent two hours or so at Sky City on the Acoma reservation, which is west of Albuquerque. Then we tried to make it to the Petrified Forest before it closed/sunset, but didn’t quite make it. So we trudged on West on I-40; stopped to take photos at a corner in Winslow, Ariz.; and are now lodging at Days Inn.

Tomorrow, we go to the Grand Canyon. I’ve never been to any of these places, so I’m super excited.

And I think it’s time for me to brush and get offline!

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WESTWARD HO!

hitchhike800

This spring break will be one of friends, adventures, photography and the West.

Tonight, Jeff and I will board the Greyhound to meet Esten in Tulsa. From there, we’ll begin our epic roadtrip. You can check out our general route below:

route

The green markers are where we'll be staying overnight. The routes between the markers will certainly deviate from what's shown in this map, especially between points E and F.

So, what’s the point of this roadtrip?

TO TAKE PHOTOS.

Actually, this roadtrip was the brainchild of my friend Chelsea and me. I’ll put it this way: we were not happy with things in the East (that is, east of the Mississippi), and one night, I said, “Screw the East. Let’s just roadtrip West over spring break.”

That was in mid-October. Since then, we recruited Jeff to join us, Chelsea dropped out and Esten hopped in on the plan. Jeff, Esten and I happen to be pretty avid photographers — hell, we study photojournalism — so what was once a trip to escape the clutches of the Midwest and East has now become a prolonged photographic adventure. Each of us is armed with at least one DSLR and one film camera. (Knowing Esten, he probably has four or five film cameras in tow.)

We’re pretty damned excited. Here’s why I, for one, am pretty damned excited:

  • I love roadtrips.
  • I love photography.
  • I love photo adventures.
  • I love the West. It’s so damn romantic. Mountains, deserts, long roads, big starry skies — it’s majestic and real, and empty and full at the same time.
  • I’ve spent the past five summers in the West, either as a participant or employee at Philmont Scout Ranch. Now, for the first time since 2001, I’m going East in the summertime, as I’ll be interning at washingtonpost.com. Call me sentimental, but I view this trip as my farewell to the West before my big adventure East.

Of course, you can expect to see photos. We should have Internet access twice on this trip, so I don’t plan on having any photos uploaded until we return to Columbia next Sunday. That also means that this blog will be a little empty for a while, as well as my Twitter. But there will definitely be plenty photos up in the coming weeks, depending on how quickly I can get the film developed and edit everything.

That said, I’m signing off this blog for a little while. Maybe I’ll have some brief updates when we do have the Internet those two times, but who knows? We’re on this trip to explore what regions of the West we can fit in a week, and having fun and taking photos are our prerogative.

P.S. Regarding the big photo above… no, I was not actually hitchhiking on the Taos gorge bridge. And no, the photo (taken by my good friend Stephen Bush last summer) will not represent actual activities to be attempted during this roadtrip. For serious. And the text comes from a song that only Philmont aficionados would know; it’s called “I Don’t Mind.”

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