The Accidental Photo Adventure


Road Trip Map

A friend and I ventured out on a 17-day photo safari. What unfolded was very different than we planned, and a lot more exciting!

My shooting partner is a consultant-for-hire, and we’d long discussed taking a photo trek after he wrapped up a multi-year project. The plan was to do a road trip and hit a bunch of US National Parks while he drove his car home cross-country. No family, just photographers, so plenty of patience for the speed of the art.

The plan was to start in Arizona, go through Utah (Zion, Red Canyon, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonland, Arches, Monument Valley), up to Wyoming (Grand Tetons, Yellowstone), then Montana (Glacier), the Dakotas (Mt. Rushmore, Badlands), and through Nebraska (farmland) to Omaha where I’d fly home. 17 days, 3000 miles, and 10 national parks. Originally, the plan included Death Valley, but that was nixed due to the logistics and cost of a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to get where we’d want to shoot.

It was all going smoothly until the 5th day of our trip – October 1, 2013. That’s the first day of the US Federal fiscal calendar, and the national parks were all closed because the politicians hadn’t approved the next year’s budget. At the same time, a tropical storm that hadn’t been in the forecast started to make its way from the Pacific across the central US, leading to heavy snowfall and tornadoes along our route.  We found ourselves suddenly improvising our entire itinerary day-by-day.  Here’s the route we ended up taking:

Road Trip Map Actual

We’d planned to stay in motels along the way (rather than camp), but only the first two cities had been booked. Originally, this was because hotels to the North had excellent availability, they wanted as much as 7 days notice for cancellation, and our itinerary was still flexible. This proved more fortunate than we could have predicted.

What follows is a story that’s not so much about photography, but rather the trip from a photographer’s perspective. I’ll be adding the pages below as I process photos, for a little extra personal motivation – if you subscribe, you’ll get notified when they’re posted. I hope you enjoy it!

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Intro | Day 1: Getting Started, Zion | Day 2: Zion
Day 3: Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon | Day 4: Capitol Reef, Canyonlands
Day 5: Dead Horse Point | Day 6: Monument ValleyDay 7: Grand Mesa
Day 8: McClure Pass, Aspen, Garden of the Gods | Day 9: Wolf Creek Pass
Day 10: Durango & Silverton Railroad, Albuquerque Balloon Festival
Day 11: Pre-dawn Balloon Launch, The End | Trip Prep | The Gear
FotoMomenti – My Comrade’s Portfolio

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