Windmills and House on Fire

Tuesday, May 14When our friends Jan and David told us about the new giant windmills that have sprung up along the base of the Abajo Mountains it was only a small shock. Since I’ve started my latest project, Into the Anthropocene, I have been noticing more and more encroachment by alternative power generation onto once open landscapes. Perhaps it’s not so bad when the land they are place on is more wasteland than usable. Why not? It’s not much good for anything else. Thats the current thought process it seems.It feels a little different when they land on such a scenic spot. I asked around town a little about how folks felt about them and most all were fine. In fact, they thought they were kind of cool and elegant. The manager of the RV park where we stayed, when I asked how he felt, said that 3 of them were on his land. OK. So we took off to have a look at them and tour through the Abajo’s to see what we see. Mary found some good public access roads that brought us right to the heart of the windmills. Most of the area is covered with 8’ tall scrub oak, making it difficult to get clear views over the trees, but standing on the tailgate of the RAV helped a bit. With terrific clouds and virga falling in the distance, I made some images I like, but they seem more like majestic ode’s to alternative energy. There is a place for that in my project too though, Foy LakeWe took that 1 mile dirt road detour up higher into the mountains again. Light rain showers followed us everywhere we went, but never more than a few drops reached the ground for any extended period. We followed the road to Foy Lake. More of a pond really, and actually a reservoir. The light varied from flat to brilliant and clouds kept the sky interesting. We walked around the lake, taking in wonderful views of nearby mountains and enjoying the light – when it decided to make an appearance. This place held our interest for a good long time. It was very quiet with only the blackbird song and blowing wind to hear. Eventually another cold rain shower made us retreat to the car. We drove on, but the landscape was less interesting and the clouds thickening over the mountains deadened the light. We have a bit of a drive to get to our hike near Blanding tomorrow, so we called it a day and returned to camp.

House on Fire
Wednesday, May 15
Something we wanted to do again was photograph at a particular Anasazi ruin with an unusual feature. The actual ruin – the grain storage structures – are not the most impressive to be seen, especially in this area near Blanding, but the sandstone layered roof of the alcove can resemble flames if photographed in a certain way. I’ve made photos here before and I don’t anticipate making anything particularly different, but it’s a fun thing to do and this year the canyon is green and verdant, making the hike in very pleasant.From the parking area, the trail drops down into the canyon and follows the canyon wash the rest of the way. One must pay a little attention to where the ruin is located. The alcove is somewhat hidden by trees and boulders and up higher along the canyon wall. It is easy to walk right by. But not so much now. The word is out about this place so you will probably see – most likely hear – people milling about the area. Once we climbed up the short distance to the alcove, we found 4 or 5 other photographers already there. More arrived as we began making our own photos.We timed our arrival to be mid-morning. As sunlight moves over the canyon during this period, light is reflected from the opposite canyon wall bounces onto the alcove’s roof, creating a wonderful glow that can resemble fire. Arriving much later, means direct sun on the scene and create harsh shadows.
We were still a little early for the best light, so I spent time trying to find  different angles that seemed to show promise. We lingered here for a hour or so, then made our way back to camp. We will be returning to Canyonlands tomorrow. Or rather to the other main unit of Canyonlands – Island in the Sky. It will be our final week of the road trip, not including the 5 days of driving to get back to San Francisco.

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