Thanksgiving Trip: Chapter 5 — Canyons and Monuments

Phoenix, AZ — The morning started out clear and bright in Moab so I headed south through Canyon Country.  To the west is the canyon series that gives Canyonlands National Park its name,  but you can see the red and blond rock walls all around you as you head out of town.

There are even a few arches right by the side of the road.  But I was headed toward Monument Valley to check out the area for a possible workshop although the Moab area itself could occupy photographers for a week.   I may need to re-think my original plan for a western workshop and either modify it or turn it into two distinct ones but now one centered around Canyon Country.

Anyway… as you work your way south there are photos all around you.  Then it flattens out a bit and seems like nothing else is there.  But as you get closer to Monument Valley you come around a bend and this site awaits you in the distance.

Well that is worth waiting for.   And it gets better as you get into the valley itself.  The road heads straight for some of these great volcanic cores left over from a time of incredible violence on this part of the earth.  All over are these cores and piles of ancient rock that look like frozen lava flows.  Oh yeah, there is fodder for photographers here, and in abundance.

One could spend days here as well.  But Not all that far away is a feature that is very different from these spires reaching toward the sky.  As tall as these are, that other feature is deep below the general surface elevation.  But unlike these great monuments that you can see for miles and miles, this feature jumps at you out of nowhere.  You are driving through Pinyon forests and some normal pines when you look over to the north and realize something very amazing is there behind the trees but there is no place to pull over.

When you finally can find a view point, there right along the side of the road, is this incredible hole in the ground…

This is a geological feature so huge that it can be seen from space!  I took the time to do a 24 frame mosaic at one viewpoint where I could also see the river nearly a mile down.  But the sky was dead blank blue so I conceentrated on the inverted topography of this magnificent canyon system;  the culmination of all of the canyons feeding into it,

When I was putting away the camera gear I suddenly and inexplicably felt I needed to be heading home.  I had planned on staying at the canyon for a dawn shot but long ago and with some help I have learned to “go with my gut” about such things.  Maybe it is to  avoid some problem if I delayed or perhaps to take advantage of something I would have missed.  I may never know but I know enough to simply go with it now.

So I headed south again and got as far as Phoenix.  That means, unless there is some trouble on the road or construction delays or the like, I may be home by tomorrow night.  At least there was time for me to get these selected shots ready and inserted into this post.

I don’t know if some shots will drag me from my mission to get home; it has certainly happened before.  But there is much to think about.  Good trips are like that, like true works of art in themselves, the good ones impact you both viscerally and cerebrally; that is, they impact you emotionally and also engender reflective thinking.  To have some images to work on when I get back is major frosting on that dessert.


About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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2 Responses to Thanksgiving Trip: Chapter 5 — Canyons and Monuments

  1. Matt George says:

    The first shot was spectacular!

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