I am back in San Francisco now. These next few posts will bring me up to date as far as finishing the trip goes. Beyond that, I’ve decided to continue to post about what I am up to while home. In the past, I’ve put the blog on hiatus while home, but I think it will be worthwhile to write about what goes on in the interim. It might be interesting to hear about what juried exhibits I’m entering and why. Also what images I choose to enter and how I choose them.
After we left Canyonlands, we had only brief periods of time with an internet connection and this made blogging a bit of a problem. I did manage to get the Canyonlands entry posted, but time and connections were slim after that. The other thing was that I sort of got into a “Going Home” mode where I started thinking about what I wanted to do when I got home, and less about what was left to do while on the road. I don’t really like when this happens. It pulls me out of being in the moment and I have a harder time thinking about photographing. It is so tough to get out of this mind set. We still had more than a week on the road, with several more stops I wanted to make before making the decision to head home, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
What did help however, were the places we still had left to visit. First up after Canyonlands was a visit to Monument Valley, via Mexican Hat and Valley of the Gods. This is another place we have been coming to for years, though we haven’t been here for quite some time. There were big changes this time around. A large hotel has been built at the main overlook. They did take care to place it so it is not terribly obtrusive, but it hurts to see the place more developed. They also eliminated the campground that previously existed near the hotel. The campground had a similar spectacular view. It was bare bones, but offered fairly level sites with covered picnic tables, and water and dump station available. All now gone. In it’s place, they designated a nearby area as a primitive campground. Basically nothing but a rough clearing where you can park and stay. The view is still nice, but not at the level as before.
Monument Valley is not a national park. It is owned and operated by the Navajo nation – It’s full name being Monument Valley Tribal Park. It was – and is – nothing short of one of the most spectacular locations in the U.S. Nothing defines the west, in my view, as well as this place. John Wayne made movies here – you can even visit the cabin he stayed in while filming. You can stand where Ansel stood to photograph the Mittens. But the Navajo’s put their own spin on it’s operation. For a fee, you can still drive the designated road through the park unaccompanied in your car. Much is off limits however. For an additional fee, you can take one of the many open air truck tours or horse caravans that venture deeper into the landscape. You can even (for still another fee) hire a personal guide to take you through to places not available to others. Along the way at numerous turnouts, you can buy the trinkets sold by indian artisans. It was a one such turnout I found the scene that opens this post. The cutout cowboy riding out of the sunset. This could be a defining image for a new project I have talked about in earlier posts. “Myths of the West” is how I am thinking of it. Those images in our mind that are conjured up when we think of what the west is and how this might differ from reality.