I left Las Vegas today, drove through the desert, and into the Valley of Fire. The next stop was another suggested by a friend on his own road trip. It was a park a couple hours outside Vegas, still within the Nevada Border. It was down a long, flat stretch of road that veered off into a valley and dipped down down below the desert. The landscape slowly turned red. The flat land became craggy rocks and huge, ancient boulders.
I planned to camp at Zion National Park, and had to get there by 5 to reserve a site, so I rushed around like a madman trying to see everything in this first park in four hours. This place is a photographer’s paradise, and the landscape is infested with them. Photographers from all over the world were creeping around like ants with tripods, trying to find the perfect spot.
I arrived at a huge rock, with tiny people walking along the very top of it. I had the urge to immediately climb this rock with great gusto. I screeched into the parking lot and almost ran up the side of the rock, I was so eager to make it to the top. The rock was covered in crags and footholds and was easy to climb, although the drops were precarious. When I got to the top, an incredible calm came over me. I laid down on the rock right next to the edge and looked up at the sky. I wished I could let go of some of the anxiety inside me and slow down and enjoy moments like this more often.
The landscape got more rocky and twisted as I drove further into the park. I rushed through the other points of interest, running through the hikes so I could get photos of every location. This is a problem I have on most vacations, I care more about getting a photo of the moment than experiencing the moment. I went to Paris with an ex-girlfriend for a week and basically had a huge camera stuck to my face the entire trip. I don’t think she was too into that.
This was a real moment for me, a newly found connection and appreciation of nature and am starting to feel the effects of it. I always thought of myself as a city person. I love urban life, urban landscapes, and felt that was part of what defined me. But hey, I suppose our preferences, thoughts and values have the ability to change as time wears on. Maybe moving to the Bay Area can provide a more dual existence for me.
I drove 2.5 hours more to get to Zion National Park. When I arrived at 5pm, there were no camping spots left, so I pulled a U-turn out of the park to go find an expensive hotel for the night. I planned to get up very early the next morning to try to reserve a spot for one night. I really needed to do the camping experience at least once on this trip.
A deer I almost ran into with my bike
The town outside the campgrounds had mountains surrounding it closely on both sides. The sun was setting, I remembered my videographer friend from New York calling this time the “magic hour”, meaning: shooting during early morning or late afternoon when the sun rises or sets. This is the best time to shoot because the sunlight enhances colors in the landscape into beautiful, heavenly scenes that look incredible in film or photography. It’s usually only by chance that I would photograph during “The Magic Hour”. I really didn’t want to wake up at 6am every day to get awesome photographs. This trip is stressful enough.
Tomorrow I hope to have the full experience of sleeping in the landscape, hearing the river run next to me, and looking up at the stars.