Drop of a hat Grand Canyon road trip

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
I decided to post a trip report after all, even though the trip was brief, because who hasn't wanted to hit the road at the drop of a hat? I had resigned myself to missing the Southwest monsoon season because it just wasn't in the budget. I'd already been to Utah 3 times this year and have a trip to Kauai coming up, so I decided to be financially responsible, which I usually am not. Then a woman in my office that I've known for 14 years got diagnosed with cancer. Not only that, but it has spread to her liver and lungs. She's only 8 days older than me. The next day (Friday) I saw that there was a 70% chance of thunderstorms at the Grand Canyon, but I would only have one day there. F@%$ financial responsibility! I packed my stuff, got the last campsite at the canyon, and hit the road 18 hours later.

I was envisioning dark clouds and dramatic storm light with lightning bolts in the canyon. And I did see conditions like that, but it was on the I-40. I was 2 hours away so I hurried to the canyon. Once there the sky was overcast and it was lightly raining, no lightning anywhere. It took a long time to get there because of a traffic accident so I set up my tent and slept with the sound of rain. I got up to see the sunset, but it was totally overcast. Nothing to do except take moody layered shots. Even the worst photography conditions are still better than being at work:

BW Aperture Really Moody version.jpg


As I drove to get breakfast this elk was posing by the side of the road. He was more used to being photographed than a supermodel. He walked around showing off his impressive rack (like any supermodel would) while photographers followed him around:

Elk-3.jpg



Elk-2.jpg


The day continued to get grayer, and rainier. Not a bolt in sight. I packed up camp and drove to various points on the East Rim, but the canyon only got foggier until it was completely obliterated. It was like the Grand Canyon had been moved to Seattle. I couldn't even tell it was there. Usually I'd go for a hike when I can't shoot, but with visibility this bad there was no way I was going to hike down a trail with drop-offs. I waited for 6 hours or so, until finally the skies started to clear. Sort of. But at least I could shoot. The canyon would clear, then fill with fog in a matter of seconds. I missed some shots because in the time it took to set up a tripod the canyon would fill with fog. I started at Moran Point:

Color Fog at Moran Point.jpg


Juniper and Rock.jpg


Another moody B&W:

BW Juniper and fog.jpg


I was seriously tired by this point, having not slept that well or eaten much, but I decided to swing by Grandview Point to see what was happening there. Glad I did-by now the late afternoon light was starting to really get good. But there was no way I could do justice to any of it. I did my usual strum und drang, feeling like I couldn't shoot worth $h!+. The Grand Canyon does that to me, but I still kept trying:

A grand view.jpg


The Plateau closer.jpg


Canyon View.jpg


Peaks and Clouds w-clarity.jpg


As I was packing up, dead tired and not thinking straight, I met a guy who shoots for Arizona Highways and he showed me a few of his shots. Wow, did I feel like an amateur after seeing what he got! He was perfectly nice, not show-offy at all, but I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. He told me he was sure thunderstorms were building, but all I wanted was to get to my room and sleep. I had a 9 hour drive the next day. As I drove to Williams a massive electrical storm was over the plateau. Lightning was hitting all around me, but I was just too tired to shoot. Next year!

So would I do it again? Probably not for that short a time period. I felt too rushed to really think about what I was shooting. And while the trip really didn't cost that much (gas being unusually cheap for summer helped), I wrapped my bumper around a concrete post at a gas station :facepalm:. Trip cost-about $350. Cost to fix the bumper: $820.

But I'd been jonesing all summer to get to the Southwest and I got it out of my system. This should tide me over until I go back in the fall for 10 days. :cool:

As always, please let me know which photos you think work and which ones don't. All feedback appreciated, I experimented on a few.

Featured image for home page:
slide.jpg
 
Last edited:

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
3,646
at least you got more than I did here in St. George. The promising looking storm for us was more than disappointing.
You got some great shots, love the mood in many of them. Love the fog in them.

Bummer with the bumper :mad:
 

SirDonB

So what's next?
Joined
May 21, 2014
Messages
117
You have some amazing shots, better than just about anything I could take here in upstate NY, then again, I am usually strapped to traveling between work, home, and the park with the kids. I need to be more like you and toss responsibity aside every so often to take more time for me...

Keep doing what you are doing, it seems to work well for you.
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
at least you got more than I did here in St. George. The promising looking storm for us was more than disappointing.
You got some great shots, love the mood in many of them. Love the fog in them.

Bummer with the bumper :mad:

Bummer you aren't getting any storms! Arizona really got some amazing ones, just not while I had a camera ready. The best light I had was on the I-40 going into a storm. Now I'm really wishing I'd stopped to shoot it. Note to self-take pictures WHEREVER possible!
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
You have some amazing shots, better than just about anything I could take here in upstate NY, then again, I am usually strapped to traveling between work, home, and the park with the kids. I need to be more like you and toss responsibity aside every so often to take more time for me...

Keep doing what you are doing, it seems to work well for you.

Thanks! I don't have kids so that definitely helps. As I was throwing my stuff together for the trip it was like the opening scene in "127 Hours", and we all know how THAT ended. Tossing responsibility aside is like gambling-sometimes it pays off well, but not usually. I think my new motto is going to be "seize the day but don't do anything stupid."
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,094
Absolutely beautiful! As a pure hiker (meaning I'm not a photographer) I always find it funny how you guys purposely go out in bad weather lol.
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
Absolutely beautiful! As a pure hiker (meaning I'm not a photographer) I always find it funny how you guys purposely go out in bad weather lol.

Yeah, we're a weird bunch, aren't we? :D But bad weather helps keep the crowds down! :twothumbs:
 
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