Solo Travels #1: Part I - Into The Canyons!
It was a rather exhausting mistake as I urged six others to cram inside a car and drive 9 hours through the night to Big Bend and return back to Dallas after spending just half-a-day in the park, obviously failing to sight "The Bend."
In March 2014, I broke new personal grounds by traveling alone for 5 days. It would be my first adventure with just my camera and thoughts! The fall before, a friend and I explored the Grand Canyon and it was there where I became cognizant of the lesser visited scenic wonders in the region that offered unparalleled beauty. In those 5 days, I sketched out a plan to rendezvous with Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon National Park.
Because I was travelling solo, I knew I had to pack carefully. Well...the "carefully" was spent entirely on the photography equipment and the "pack" was an afterthought. 5 days, 4 nights: 3 t-shirts, 2 jackets, 1 pair of pants. What else would I need? Oh yes, chocolates for essential nutrition.
I reached Phoenix airport on a sunny morning and marched toward the rental car station. My ride to negotiate the canyon terrain ahead: A compact Fiat 500. I am still not sure if the car was meant to sway with crosswinds by design. But I must admit, after my initial skepticism, the ride was fun. I can imagine the expressions on passing vehicles on seeing a dashing dude in a white Fiat speed through the curvy roads. The roads of canyon country are fun to drive on!
My hub for the trip was Page, located close to the Utah border. Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon were in the area. Bryce and Monument Valley were further North in Utah. I checked into my room in the afternoon and immediately set out for Horseshoe Bend.
Here's a funny anecdote about Horseshoe Bend. I had seen the pictures before. But, I had mistaken them for those of Big Bend National Park, which (if you know) is totally not in northern Arizona but in southern Texas, bordering Mexico. It was a rather exhausting mistake as I urged six others to cram inside a car and drive 9 hours through the night to Big Bend and return back to Dallas after spending half-a-day in the park, obviously failing to sight "The Bend."
Anyway, determined to erase that memory, I parked and set out on the short trail to Horseshoe Bend. The short distance is deceptive - you need to carry water. The climate can make it dehydrating. Finally, I reached the spot...and so did a whole bunch of other people. Everyone was around the edge, taking daredevil selfies or bracketing exposures. Mindful of the precarious ledges, I peered over...and stood there stupefied.
Wow...now this was what I had seen in Google Images a few years back. Except better. Golden canyon, colorful Colorado river, dramatic sky. I heard some photographers complain about the light not being right. Maybe I was perceiving a different light, but I got busy clicking. It resulted in the photograph below:
A great start to the trip! I slept well that night but I awoke at 4 next morning. I headed back to Horseshoe Bend just before sunrise to witness the full moon set over the left shoulder of the bend. I was the first one to arrive. Standing before the bend in the blue hour in privacy was a unique experience. This was perhaps the first of the exclusive encounters with mother nature I have had. So peaceful. So grand. So intimidating. I hung around for sunrise to see Horseshoe in a different light (literally). The water glistened a sapphire blue as the sun rays painted the rocks orange. Orange and blue; natural color harmony at work!
With my "Bend" desire finally satiated, it was time to attend to another appetite. The last "meal" I had had was a Hershey's Cookies 'n Cream bar. Back to the lodge!