Balanced Rock - Colorado National Monument (not the only one on this trip)
Colorado National Monument - The California Move Day 1
Juliet and I recently moved from Colorado to California. In the spirit of adventure we decided to spend 5 days driving across the American West to experience red rock canyons, monoliths, Vegas, and
several national parks. Only Vegas failed to blow us away and in all honesty it never really had a chance. This drive and its story are told in our photos which make my best words on my best days seem
so insignificant. I highly suggest clicking on the images to see full size.
Colorado Canyon from the Car Window
As we descended the peaks of the Rockies in western Colorado we were greeted with scenes from the great Westerns of my youth. Even at 75 mph Juliet was able to capture what it looks like when Mountain slide off the end of the earth.
Vista from Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument is a place rather than a thing. We had no idea what it was and decided to enter the park on a lark. The amazing things to see here should be on everyone's list; however, we seemed to have the entire place to ourselves.
Tunnel - Colorado National Monument
Climbing at a steady and significant pace from the vista point we enjoyed driving through the center of the monumental red rocks.
Fallen Rock Wall - Colorado National Monument
Coming out the other side we see what remains of a once solid wall of rock that encircled this canyon.
Cloud Patterns - Colorado National Monument
At the visitors center we were treated to a series of compelling cloud patterns that always bring us joy.
Clouds in Black and White - Colorado National Monument
Independence Monument - Colorado National Monument
The geological highlight was of course the spectacular Independence Monument. If you would like another view of its enormity check my Facebook photo here
Desert Bighorn Sheep - Colorado National Monument
Imagine our excitement to see these amazing desert bighorn sheep up close and personal. We lived in Colorado over 1 year and sought the company of sheep on numerous occasions, never finding them till our last hour in the state. What a beautiful parting gift.
Our First Utah Sunset
As we crossed the state line on our way to Moab, Utah Juliet captured this stunning final image from our first day.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Moab and Arches National Park
Our Bikes Enjoyed the Ride
Arches National Park - The California Move Day 2
We drove into Moab, Utah under the cover of darkness the night before then ate a typically awful American-Italian meal with poor wine. I refused to set an alarm assuming I would awaken at 6 to begin our photo tour of Arches National Park.
When I finally looked at the clock it was after 7 and I knew we had to scramble for good light and acceptable temperatures. Juliet and I assumed the park would be cool and interesting. It was in fact far beyond our expectations and we know we will return for a much deeper exploration in the coming years.
The Opulent Streets of Park Avenue
One of the first natural masterpieces in the park is the area called Park Avenue. The rock formations look like shadowy buildings along empty streets and if the namesake street looked like this I am pretty sure I would be pleased to live as a beggar along the boulevard.
Monolithic Red Rocks
These kinds of formations are abundant in the park and actually become easy to ignore. I refused to get beauty fatigue as each of these monoliths have worked for millions of years on their performance and all deserve a respectful study.
The compelling arch that draws most people to the park is Delicate Arch. Our tardy awakening forces us to skip the hike to its base (as we had a long drive ahead of us) and so I did the best I could with the zoom. If you click to enlarge you can see the miniature people moving about the arch area.
Juliet representing NOVO coffee in the ANP!
The light on this morning made it tough to get a shot that did not camouflage the arch a bit and I could not get my aperture setting to allow me to get a foreground person in the shot for reference. This arch is actually quite enormous - some 60 feet across and a 60 ton piece crashed to ground there around 15 years ago so people are not allowed to get under the arch now. I have an iPhone shot that will make a later post that I think is more illustrative of its size.
Balanced Rock (I told you there would be more)
The famous balanced rock of Moab is a bit different from the previous day's in Colorado National Monument. This one reminds me of some cartoon educational character from my youth. The shot from the opposite side is better I believe but the light would not grant that luxury on this morning.
Balanced Rock to Scale
This place rocks!
TBA in Ghost Rock Canyon, Utah
Our drive out of Utah provided us with another exceptional surprise as we pulled off the highway to find the badlands of Ghost Rock Canyon. This is where Butch Cassidy supposedly hung out and if so he was much more of a bad ass than the film depicted.
Tree View of Ghost Rock Canyon
As always Juliet sees something in a way I could not and it is just compelling on film. What a way to exit Utah!
stay tuned tomorrow for "No Fear and Plenty of Loathing in Las Vegas"
Las Vegas - The California Move Day 3
The 4th time was not the charm for me and Las Vegas, NV. I basically have no use for the place and I wanted to bring Schmee with me to see if it was me or if she would validate my general disdain for the place.
I have many friends who love Vegas and I am sure they are the same friends who love Cabo, or The Pink Palace, or tents at golf tournaments. There is something wonderful to some people about cavorting about all knowing that self-imposed rules are being broken and that somehow makes it OK.
I tend to live my life with fewer rules and far fewer burdens of duty than many so to me Vegas just seems like a bit of a shithole. So much so that most of my photos are haphazardly shot which I think was a subconscious act of defiance and to illustrate just how depraved the whole place is.
A Classic Skullet and Banded Collar Shirt
Take our would be Tim McGraw here. He broke out his finest 10 thread count banded collar shirt from the depths of his closet, gelled back that ratty tail and polished the empty nest to channel St Francis as he put his last 3 missing child support checks down on the Blackjack table. He figures he ain't leavin here till he makes 6 months of trailer payments and has at least one run-in with a working tranny.
What a Town...or is it?
This is actually the inside of the Venetian hotel where they have an actual canal and gondoliers. One of which I recognized from Venice (no kidding) and he was singing a song that disparaged the people around him. I wanted so much to record him as I loved his voice and his sad message. Basically it was look at all these sad people in this sad place and I am the saddest one of them all. I think that was actually me.
There is also a Paris hotel in Vegas and I wonder how many people come here who have never been to Paris or Venice and blow more money than it would take them to go to the actual places themselves rather than the faux examples on the strip.
Of course, I have many sommelier friends who work or have worked here and it helps them get their careers going and gets them a real head start on their own personal study of cirrhosis.
I have lots of wine and dine friends who come here to laud about the wondrous meals and I think, why not just go to New York, San Francisco, or London? Hell, go to Hong Kong. I went to one very average steak dinner and drank decent wine and it was 4 bills for 2 of us. I wanted to hang myself in the morning but that was a $75 convenience charge and I would have to tip the hangman a 10 spot.
Thank God for breakfast at Bouchon. The room and the food were classy. The service was substandard by Keller expectations but was at least friendly. I wanted to simply stay in my seat till I had to leave the following day.
Something wonderful I Could Afford
I get weepy thinking of this buttery goodness.
The Culinary Star of the City
The other real treasure in Vegas is the spectacular Thai restaurant Lotus of Siam. It is not on the strip nor opulent. However, it is the most interesting Thai cuisine I have ever eaten and the wine list blew my mind. The menu has all the ubiquitous Thai dishes as well as some killer things from Northern Thailand. If I was not already excited about our trip to Thailand in March, after dining here I was ecstatic.
A Proper Riesling
This was one of three great Rieslings we consumed with our meal at LOS. I have been singing the praises of this place ever since we left Vegas and it is most definitely the lasting image I choose to keep in the memory banks of our time in this hot, nasty, lascivious city.
If you are curious, Schmee hated the place..I mean really hated it
stay tuned tomorrow for Death Valley, California
Death Valley - The California Move (Day 4)
We entered California from a small highway in Nevada and at freeway speed Juliet captured this enormous welcome sign bringing us happily to our new state of residence.
Not long after we were in Death Valley and ready to explore (already 85 degrees at 9am)
For some reason as a kid I was a huge weather geek. I loved watching the weather with Harold Taft on Channel 5 News in Dallas. Death Valley was always the hottest place in the country and I hoped one day to see it and understand.
I expected the heat but had no idea how beautiful and captivating the landscape would be. Looking out over the Inferno like Dante and Schmee was my Virgil.
The bright blues, pink, tan, and every shade of brown dance about this rugged land and inspired one to stay so long as they can take the heat.
What is going on with Schmee's hair? I love the sparse clouds above teasing the salt flats below that it might one day rain.
The rolling earth here is caused by "I have no idea since it was too hot to patiently read the sign"
After living for a year over a mile high this was some welcomed pressure and O2
I also really like Sand Dunes. When I was a kid I would thumb through the pictures in my grandmother's bible and there were shots of sand deserts near the Holy Land. They always looked so soft and inviting. This sand dune was 109 degrees by the time we arrived, rattlesnake signs in every corner and Euro douche traipsing about and calling out to one another like henchman scenes from the first Die Hard movie.
tomorrow - Yosemite National Park
Yosemite - The California Move (Day 5)
Our fifth day began with a drive from the Mammoth Lakes ski resort where we relaxed the night before to the compelling Mono Lake in Lee Vining, CA. This mysterious sky was our introduction to a beautiful land.
There was a rescue helicopter making passes in this valley along the Tioga pass road. After a year in Colorado we were very familiar with these roads and we were hoping the copter was only there for training and not to fetch some poor souls who were not as familiar with these types of drives.
After having seen 3 other national parks along our drive I think we began to experience a little NP fatigue. Couple that with our mutual disdain for crowds and traffic, then Yosemite becomes a bit of a pain in the culo. We did manage to grab a few shots and enjoy what we saw of the park yet we jetted through because we knew we would return here one day (not just after labor day)
Likely the most famous of Yosemite's rock formations, Half Dome, viewed from the back at the stunning Olmstead Point.
The mysterious clouds stayed with us on this day as we lit out for our final few hours to the Bar Area and our new home in Palo Alto.
Juliet nabbed this shot as I white knuckle drove through the Bay Area traffic getting closer to home. We were likely at 75 mph when she got this shot and our filthy oily windshield makes the goofy aurora on the bottom right of the shot.
We made it! Our new home and our new neighbors giving us a big thumbs up for our arrival and our bad ass journey through the American West!
Coming soon - Images from a new life