May 27, 2009

Desert Southwest Shoot Over Memorial Day Weekend

I spent the last 5 days on the road...my first stop after driving through the night...and most of the next day...Monument Valley. Last fall I spend a week in the Desert Southwest but the furthest south I got was Mule Canyon and so this was a return trip to pick up where I left off.

This photo of "The Mittens" is a tourist shot, for sure, but no matter I wanted my own take on it. This was shot late in the afternoon on the day I arrived. About two hours later, close to sunset, the sky turned scary dark and a giant wind storm kicked up. I was standing there one second, everthing was fine and the next moment sand began pelting me and it was like being...no joke...sand blasted. It HURT!! I ran for the RV, trying to protect my camera gear from the fine dust that was pelting me relentlessly. I get in and Tucker, my Beagle, looks at me as if to say "You wimp. Now can you feed me?"

Finally, safe from the wind and sand I realized my chances of another shot were over. Not more than two minutes later it started to rain, and I mean RAIN. it POURED...and as I drove away the red sand that had collected on the windshield combined with the rain and I had giant clumps of mud being flung off by the wipers. It was NUTS! I retrieted to the campground in a nearby canyon that provided a bit of shelter for the night.

After getting chased away by a giant dust/rain storm in Monument Valley we decided to spend the next day hiking into a very remote spot named Falled Roof Ruin, about an hour north of the valley. I don't know why but I am captivated by these old Anasazi Indian Ruins, built into the side of alcoves carved out by river flow through Mule Canyon over thousands of years.

This particular ruin got it's name from the obvious "Fallen Roof", where the layers of rock gave way to gravity, and collapsed. The exposed surface is amazing...the patterns and colors in this high desert red rock is quite a stunning sight and there are parts of the roof that look as if they could give way at any moment.

Hiking into this Canyon is quite a journey. In typical fashion, I got a little lost...the cairns are far and few between and I was unable to find GPS coords for this location so I ended up going about two miles our of my way before I figured it out. The light was shifting and I was cursing "Damn it, the light is getting too bright, damn it, where the hell is this place?!?" Real mature of me...HAHA

All in all, now that I've been there, it's really pretty easy..I guess I'm just not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to directions. I even had the beagle (Tucker) with me but he was more intersted in chasing rodents and birds than helping me find the right path.

Beyond the great time I had photographing this location, the next best part was knowning that my wife, for the first time in her life, pee'd in the outdoors. It's a long story...I'll sum it up best I can...we have a motorhome but I have this strange thing about not using the toilet. Something about driving around with human waste sloshing about and then the task of dumping it out through a hose just doesnt sit well with me. So I told her "NO using the toilet...if you have to pee, pee outside!" So she was ok with that, oddly she agreed with my thoughts on this matter. Now, the issue is, she wants to camp where there is a bathroom yet the best places to park and RV for the night dont involve plumbed toilets. So finally, during this hike she broke down and did her duty, outside!

Her comment was "It's hard not to pee on your shoes...it's not fair, you have outdoor plumbing..."

I'm still laughing!