Jul 10

Monument Valley to Jackson

Decided midway through the Grand Canyon stay that I really wanted to see more of the AZ/UT desert, especially Monument Valley and the Moab/Arches area, so I figured what the hell, why not make a stop back home in Jackson for a few days too before heading back to California.  Both Monument Valley and Arches were super crowded with summer tourists, so I only camped one night in Monument Valley and made the big drive through Moab to Jackson the next day.  Tons to see and even more that I just blazed past – I’m definitely planning on spending more time around these parts in the future.  Here are a few photos from along the way:

Jul 10

This Desert Life

I’m kinda struggling to find the right words to describe my past week and a half here at the Grand Canyon, so I’ll probably leave this pretty short and just add some photos.  The Grand Canyon is incredible, which I’ve already written a little about in a previous post, so I don’t really need to go down that road again. The more time I spend in this part of the country, the more I’m loving the desert landscape.  The most that any of us see of the desert is at 80 mph from an air-conditioned car, windows up on the highway, missing everything.

But actually exploring desert America is a wild experience.  It was 115ËšF in Needles, CA, so hot that one sweats profusely just sitting still, though not nearly as hot as it could (and does) get. So far I’ve passed two surreal aircraft graveyards and several cryptic US government signs adorning barbed wire fences, warning dire consequences for trespassing.  In Marana, AZ, I found an abandoned LGM-25C Titan II missile silo, a relic of the cold war and 1960s nuclear arms race.  In Yucca, AZ, the highway frontage road, once Route 66, is now home to abandoned buildings from a once-thriving 1950s community, doomed by the construction of I-40 in the 1970s.  The Arizona monsoon, active most of the summer, has made for incredible afternoon thunderstorms and evening sunsets.  The desert is deeply mysterious, unrelenting, unforgiving, fickle, and stunningly beautiful.  Just like bacon.  What isn’t there to love?

A few photos from the past week or so:

I’d also like to recommend a book about the desert – one of those books, in the spirit of Catch-22, that I’m very proud of, even though I contributed nothing to its creation, nor do I even own it.  It’s Desert America: Territory of Paradox, and it’s great.  Who wants to buy me a copy?

Jul 10

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

The series has been out for a while now, but I’m off to the Grand Canyon this week for more Canon Photography in the Parks Workshops, so it seemed fitting to post this The National Parks: America’s Best Idea preview from YouTube.  In usual Ken Burns style, the complete series is an epic, multi-episode work chronicling the genesis of the parks right from their Abraham Lincoln origins (what didn’t that guy do?), filled with mesmerizing cinematography and tons of personalities, historic photographs, and modern takes on why the parks will always be so important.  This vid is still 26 minutes long, hardly a quick preview, but full of incredible quotes from people involved with the project.  Shelton Johnson’s opening story about delivering the mail in the raw, wild landscape of Yellowstone is particularly stunning and will probably always give me the shivers…

Jul 10

Teton Gravity Research – Light the Wick

It’s official, summer is over.  Sorry amigos, but TGR just dropped the trailer for their upcoming movie Light the Wick.  September premiere in Teton Village?  Anyone…anyone?  Bueller?

Jul 10

Brain Farm – Jackson Hole Aerial Tram

Here’s a great video that I first saw last summer from the best production company out there right now, Brain Farm Digital Cinema.  Have I mentioned how much I like Brain Farm?  Oh wait, yes, about 10,000 times.  Watch out, they’re taking over.

Brain Farm Digital Cinema – Jackson Hole Tram from Brain Farm on Vimeo.

Jul 10

Level 1: Eye Trip

Here’s a tasty new trailer for Level 1‘s fall 2010 release, Eye Trip. Highlights a-plenty with lots of super creative urban, butters off everything imaginable, a rad Excitebike jump, and some massive features at Sun Valley.  Does this mean the countdown to winter is on?  I think so.

There’s a better version on Vimeo but embedding is disabled.  Click over there for full screen HD goodness.

Jul 10

First Trip to Yosemite

I just got back from nearly a week in Yosemite National Park – four days working for Canon’s Photography in the Parks Workshops, and two days of running around on my own. Yosemite has been a focal point for environmental conservation and protection for almost 150 years, and it’s easy to see why. Yosemite is, in a word, spectacular.

John Muir, the famous 19th century environmental advocate and founder of the Sierra Club, said of Yosemite “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” Ansel Adams, seeing Yosemite for the first time at 14, wrote “the splendor of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious… One wonder after another descended upon us… There was light everywhere… A new era began for me.” Indeed, Adams would go on to marry into a Yosemite family and business (the gallery is still in operation today) and make some of his most famous photographs while living in the Yosemite Valley for some 30 years.

So just a bit about the Canon program – if you’re in the Grand Canyon, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, or Acadia at any point this summer, be sure to check it out.  They let you try out Canon camera bodies and lenses and give a bit of instruction, all for free, and run a photo contest for images taken in the National Parks.  It was my first foray into teaching people about photography and how to use their cameras better, and I got to use some funny lenses that I probably wouldn’t otherwise own (17mm tilt-shift and 100mm macro).  The link above has a whole lot more info.

Anyway, enough of that, here are a few photos:

I also made the hike to Half Dome one morning, and it ranks up there with a few trails – Angel’s Landing in Zion, South Kaibab in the Grand Canyon, and a handful of hikes in the Tetons and Yellowstone – as an all-time epic.  It’s 7-8 miles and nearly 5,000 vertical feet from the Happy Isles trailhead to the summit.  The trail passes two massive raging waterfalls (317 ft Vernal Fall and 594 ft Nevada Fall) on the steep, wet Mist Trail, traverses up and around the back side near Little Yosemite Valley, and then makes a final, precipitously exposed ascent up Half Dome with the help of cables installed by the NPS.  All of these are from my Canon G9 point and shoot, and I rarely convert images to black and white, but I think these turned out quite nice:

I also made the hike to the top of Yosemite Falls, which is the largest waterfall in the US at 2,425 feet, but I’ll save writing about that for another time. Thanks Yosemite, I’ll be back soon.