Grand Canyon Trip

After my layoff from Thomson on January 9th I traveled to somewhere that I'd never been before - the Grand Canyon. While I was in the area I also stopped off at my father's home in Tubac, Arizona (south of Tuscon) then went to Hoover Dam and Death Valley. I also attemped Bryce canyon as you will see from the diary below.

Tuesday, January 13
The tentative plan is to leave on Janury 26th and head for the Grand Canyon. While I'm in the area I'll also visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Also in the 'area' is the Hoover Dam. I'll try to post updates as I actually head out and depending on the bandwidth available, I'll try and upload some pictures. I should be returning home sometime around Febuary 6th unless of course I get a job before then! Looks like I'll be watching the Colts in the Super Bowl from some sports bar down there. - Rich

Thursday, January 22
I might be delaying my trip by one day and starting on Tuesday. Our 5th wedding anniversary is on Monday the 26th! - Update: we've decided to celebrate on Sunday the 25th so I'll still be leaving on Monday the 26th.

Sunday, January 25
I'm all packed and ready to go in spite of the weather. I think that the roads should be passable so I'm planning on heading out between 5:30-6:00am tomorrow. If not, you'll find out right here. Hopefully my next update should be from somewhere in Missouri or Oklahoma.

Monday, January 26th
I hit the road at about 5:45 this morning and made it as far as Shamrock, Texas - 960 miles. The roads weren't the best in Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and eastern Oklahoma - most of the way. It was cloudy and foggy with a light freezing mist most of the way so I didn't make as good of time as I thought I could. With any luck (if I don't sleep in too late) I might make it to the canyon before sunset tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 27th
I made it! I left the hotel at about 6:30am and arrived at the southern rim of the Grand Canyon at Mather Point at about 5pm local time. There were some clouds that blocked the sun for a while shortly after I got there, but then cleared away for a few more shots. Another very long day and drive but I'm now about a half day ahead of schedule. I've put up a quick processing of the first picture I took and a couple of panoramic stitches. I'm not too sure about the tonal balances since I'm working on my notebook LCD screen but you'll get the idea I hope. Here they are. I'm staying at the Bright Angle lodge on the Canyon rim in one of the cabins. It's just a 2 minute walk to the edge.

Wednesday, January 28th
A very full day. I think that I managed to hit every observation point on the South Rim today (14) and many of the pull-over viewing spots. The weather was cold with lots of wind. I had to wear gloves most of the time while shooting. Something that I wasn't expecting to see was a wedding at Moran Point! I managed to get a couple of people to take my picture for me and I ended up taking lots of pictures of groups with their cameras. The morning sunrise was a little disappointing as there were some clouds in the way. The sunset was nice and the colors really changed as the sun went down. There is still some snow left from last weeks storm, but it disappears about a 1,000' down into the canyon. I did see a mule train delivering staples to the Phantom ranch. They have temporarily suspended using them for people transport but will start again later this year. I've also included a shot of the Bright Angel Lodge and the cabin that I'm staying in. I'll add today's pictures to yesterdays so check there for the new ones. If I don't oversleep I'm going to try and catch another sunrise, then it's south through Sedona on my way to visit my father Nick who lives in southern Arizona. Yesterday's images were run though Photoshop to bring out the colors and improve the images. Today's are straight out of the camera with just a bit of sharpening. Right now I'm just too tired to work much with the images.

I almost forgot something. The Grand Canyon is unbelievably beautiful, large, varied, big, impressive and truely worth the visit. When standing at the south rim and looking across to the north rim you can just barely see the lodge on the other side. Then someone tells you that it's over 5 miles away and the Colorado River at the bottom that you can see is over a mile down. The size of everything gets lost in the repitition of the canyons and formations. It is overwhelming to the point that you get numb to it. I found myself going from point to point looking and trying to decide what picture to take and I realized that they are all wonderful - there is just so much beauty here. I never got below the rim. Someday I'd like to come back when I'm in better shape and hike down into the canyon. That's for the next time!

Thursday, January 29th
Time to relax. I've been rushing everywhere that I've forgotten to slow down and relax! I took my time this morning and got all packed before going out to enjoy the sunset at the lodge. I've taken a series of pictures over 45 minutes of the sunrise. There are quite a few so feel free to skip them if you like. I really liked how the colors changed in the shadows and the sun went deeper into the canyon. There is a Hopi house at another of the lodges that I could have spent hours with as well. Next, it was time to head south to Sedona through Oak Canyon. It was nice but I think that I was still in overload mode from the canyon. Sedona has gotten very commercial, but the drive through Red Rock was nice. The moon was out and it made for some very intersting pictures. I took a series of 21 photos for a 180 degree panoramic of a view in Red Rock. View if you like but be warned - it's a large picture.I'll be at my fathers for the next few days relaxing so I'm not sure if there'll be any updates for a while.

Friday, January 30th
I'll be at my father Nick's (and his lovely wife Birdie) for the next few days. Today we took a trip up to the San Xavier mission today to take a few pictures. The interior has recently been restored and is a beautiful place to visit. My pictures just don't do it justice. The December issue of Arizona Highways has San Xavier on its cover. The cemetery was unlike anything I'd ever seen, very interesting and most of the decorations had been there since last November.

Sunday, February 1st
Back on the road again after a couple of relaxing days with Nick 'n Birdie. North to the Hover Dam with another side stop at San Xavier for some more pictures. (Thanks Nick for the ideas!!) Believe it or not, Hoover Dam is now giving tours and they do allow you to go down to the generating room - and take all the pictures that you want. There was a moment at the security check-in where they wanted to know if I had "professional camera equipment". The went and got a supervisor who clarified it to mean, was I a professional? Once he was satisfied that I was only taking for my use and not sneaking in to get some pictures for sale I was in. (And he liked my gear as well.) After Hoover another bit of driving up to Beatty, Nevada to stay the night before heading to Death Valley tomorrow. I caught most of the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl in the bar of the Hotel/Casino/Resturant/Gas Station.

Monday, February 2nd
Today was Death Valley. I started out at the north end drove checking out the Devil's Golf Course, Zabrinsky point, The Artist's Drive, Badwater - the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere and Dante's view at 5,200'. I've put in a couple of panoramic shots and I'm working on more but they are large. I'm currently in Cedar City, Utah and will Visit Bryce Canyon tomorrow. After Bryce I'm heading to Sioux Falls to visit family.
footnote: Since the temperature in the Valley was 72F, the white stuff in the pictures is salt - not snow.

I ran into a couple of pro photographers who were taking stock photos of this place with a Toyo View camera.
Panoramic of Zabriskie Point (409K):

Tuesday, February 3rd
Today was supposed to be Bryce Canyon... but it snowed aaaalll day. The drive from Cedar City went over a 10,000' mountain pass on a 2 lane road with 6" of snow and more coming. It was an adventure to say the least. When I finally did make it to Bryce Canyon, I was just the 5th visitor they'd had. I did watch the movie and went to Sunset Point where I did see a little of the canyon. Then back out and north to see if Arches was visible. Alas, it wasn't so the day was pretty much a bust. It snowed or drizzled most of the day and in Colorado it started to get worse. My plans of making it to the north side of Denver didn't pan out so I'm in Eagle which is just west of Vail. Tomorrow I'll head north to the Black Hills of South Dakota - one of my favorite spots. I went to college there for a few years and Iove the area. On the way to Sioux Falls to visit my folks and sister I'll swing through the Badlands for (hopefully) some more photo ops. With my luck the snow will follow and you'll get to see more snow pictures.

Wednesday, February 4th
Today was another travel day. I made it as far as the Black Hills in South Dakota and went up to Mount Rushmore for a few shots. It snowed most of the way again so I didn't see much of Colorado and Wyoming. I was one of just a handful of visitors at Rushmore and guess what - it started to snow again. Tomorrow I'm off to Sioux Falls for a few days and then home to Indy. This will be the last of the pictures that I upload unless I run into something really outstanding.

Thursday, February 5th
Ok... I lied. More pictures! Another day of $*#^%SNOW as I was driving. On the way to the Badlands I saw a lot of signs for Wall Drug. If you've never driven through South Dakota, then you're missing one of the great adventures in driving - Wall Drug Signs. I've put up a few for you to see. As you get closer to Wall there will be several signs per mile. There are Badlands pictures even with the fog and snow. I stopped at the visitors center and I was the only visitor of the day - so far. After the Badlands the roads were not the best and there was this strange set of horns next to the highway. I'm told it's from a tourist trap called Buffalo Gap.

Saturday, February 7th
Home! Arrived at about 10pm. Totals: 5,554 miles using 220 gallons of gas covering 15 states in 13 days. The states in order (without repeats): IN, IL, MO, OK, TX, NM, AZ, NV, CA, UT, CO, WY, SD, MN, WI. No new pictures. The weather was more of the same with some sunshine in Minnesota and Wisconson. Time to drop off the film to be developed.



last updated 5/3/04 8:24 AM