Changing Seasons

© Bonnie

Nature performs again
Bright colored leaves all around
Of time passing by

Photo Collection: USA Plates

A few days into our road-trip, to help pass the time, we started taking note of the different state licence plates that we saw. With 4 months in the U.S., we figured we might as well try and “collect” all 50! We covered a lot of ground and had a pretty good list going after the first week of driving (from Ontario down to Tennessee, then west to Texas). And the list was even longer by the time we got to California (Yosemite was a gold mine for rarely seen plates). But then, while in Bryce Canyon, Utah, a German tourist asked to take a photo of our Ontario plate; she was taking photos of all the different plates she saw! What a great idea. “We should have done that too!” Mig said to me. And so the game changed…

I have to admit that I wasn’t too thrilled to start our collection all over again. We only had 2-3 weeks left on the road and we had recorded some pretty obscure state plates; what were the changes of seeing Hawaii again?! Thankfully, our next destination was Zion NP – another huge tourist destination – and we were able to photograph about 2/3 of the plates that we’d already seen (including Hawaii!), as well as a few we hadn’t seen yet! By the time we had been to Antelope Canyon, Moab, Arches NP and Boulder, CO, we had all but 4-5 states. But they were going to be tricky. Two of them were southern states that we had driven through and seen in our first week! The other 2 were small north-eastern states that we hadn’t seen, let along photograph, in the 4 months we’d been on the road. Could this be done?

Our hopes were high after we drove up behind a Mississippi plate on the highway in the middle of Kansas and, amazingly, we saw Louisiana the next day! No way! But still no sign of West Virginia or Delaware – and we were told West Virginians didn’t travel much… It was our 2nd-last day and all the plates around us on the road were familiar ones (we could identify the state of a given plate in a split second now). Until I spotted a pattern and colours I didn’t recognize from a distance. Sure enough, I drove up beside the car, and woke Mig up with a start as I screamed and pointed “West Virginia, West Virginia!” But that was only #49. It was our last day on the road and the chances of seeing Delaware were pretty darn small. We were leaving Ohio, going through Michigan and in a few hours we’d be crossing the border into Ontario. We had to come to terms with the fact that we’d return home with only 49 states. How disappointing to have come so close!

Well I suppose you guessed by now that we did, nevertheless, manage to sight a Delaware plate in those last few hours. It was a ridiculously exciting moment. We were stuck in traffic leaving Columbus, OH, and the plate had a cover on it which obscured the view a little bit. So we slammed on the brakes to switch lanes so we could trail the car, double, triple check that it was, in fact, Delaware, and then take the final photograph of our collection! I couldn’t believe it. We had seen and photographed all 50 states in a matter of weeks.

I am very pleased that Mig insisted on starting our list over again with photos because now we have a pretty gallery to show you! See below. Of course he immediately started talking about ideas for the next photo project! haha!

Arches National Park

Arches National Park, Utah.

Well, it’s a long overdue post, but we are finally sharing photos from the last destination of our road trip. Last, but certainly not least! After a lovely dinner in Moab we headed out to see the sun set over the stunning desert-scape of Arches National Park. What a beautiful way to end our photo tour of the south-west! We didn’t have time to do a walk, which was sad, but we were able to visit a few different viewpoints and get some nice photos. That said, even what one can see from the car window is amazing! Check out the album below!

Arches was one of the places that Mig really wanted to photograph, so it was exciting for him (and me too) to finally get there. Of course, there’s still much of the park we didn’t see… an excuse to go back, I guess!

After this final tourist stop, we prepared ourselves for some serious car time. A.J. didn’t sleep as much in the car as she did on the way down – she was, after all, 4 months older – but thankfully she was pretty good at entertaining herself while awake, if not with her toys then by staring out the window at the beautiful scenery.

The drive back was punctuated by 3 main events. First, we took a 2-day breather in Boulder, CO, because a good friend of mine let us stay at his place there. It was a much appreciated reprise from driving, hotels and eating out. We also got to hang with our good friend, Yusuf, in St. Louis, MO and checked out the new, rad, SO ILL climbing gym! Finally, our last night on the road was a repeat of our first night on the road – staying and visiting with Geva, Seb and their darling girl. Thanks to all our friends who put us up while on the road!!

We arrived “home” on May 30th – almost 4 months to the day from when we left. My parents were expecting us 2 days later so we were able to surprise them!

Thanks to all our readers (for those of you who actually read the posts as well as looking at the pics ;)). It was an *amazing* trip and it’s been a pleasure to share it with you! The blog will now return to “regular programming,” if you will, of local events and photo projects etc. Stay tuned…

Antelope Canyon

Light beam, Antelope Canyon

We had about 10 days left on the road and Mig and I were starting to get excited about the things we were going to do and people we were going to see when we got home. That said, we tried to remain “in the moment” in order to properly savour the special things we were seeing and doing. Page, Arizona, is a small tourist town and we were lucky to find accommodation without a reservation. Even more lucky that we found a place with a pool! It was ridiculously hot and all we had on the agenda was a tour of the very famous Antelope Canyon and a quick sunset visit of the famous Grand Canyon bend called “Horseshoe Bend”; the rest of the time was for resting up for the long drive home (and I had to finish an article I was working on), so the pool was key.

We both have mixed feelings about our experience of Antelope Canyon. It is, without question, a stunning place and no surprise that photographers come in droves to try and capture its beauty. However, the magic, wonder and solitude portrayed in the images of this famous slot canyon are hard to actually experience when you’re there in person. One can only visit the canyon by guided tour and considering how much it costs one would expect to have a (more or less) intimate tour with a knowledgeable guide, as well as time to take it in and take some photos. But this was definitely not the case for us. We were herded through the relatively short canyon like cattle, alongside 4 or 5 other groups, with a *very* limited amount of time at each “photo opportunity.” Our guide shared some interesting facts and he was nice enough on the surface, but really he seemed bored with his job and annoyed with tourists in general.

We were certainly impressed by the amazingly narrow, water-washed, underground tunnel, as it were, and its fragile, textured, sand walls. And we did our best to tune out the noise and ignore the crowds to appreciate this (supposedly) sacred place, but it wasn’t easy (as it was in other tourist destinations like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Bryce, for example). We are still happy to have gone, though. It’s just interesting that often times we struggle to take photos that do justice to the beauty around us, where as this time I think our photos actually depict a more beautiful moment than what we experienced. Perhaps this is because it’s easier to block out the “noise” in a photo than it is in person, in order to reveal (exaggerate, even invent) something magical, unique and extraordinary.

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Zion and the annular eclipse

Striations in rock formations of Zion

Next on our itinerary was Zion National Park. Our plan was to do a day trip from Panguitch (near Bryce), which was a bit of a drive but made it so we didn’t have to pack up and move out of our great little cabin (see photo). Well, it turns out that Zion is absolutely massive (especially compared to Bryce), and by the time we arrived (at the north entrance) and drove through the park to the south entrance, we learned that we still had an hour on a shuttle bus to get to the walk that would take us to see the first part of The Narrows. It was also 39 degrees celsius! So, we decided to bail on The Narrows! Instead we took advantage of the popular tourist destination to walk around the parking lot in search of license plates that we had yet to see (and take a photo of, seeing as Mig decided to turn our game of collecting all 50 U.S. license plates into a photo project). Thus, the photos we have for you are taken from the drive. The views were still pretty impressive, we thought! To top things off, I noticed a herd of bisons on the side of the road. Naturally, there was a bunch of photographers already there shooting away with their massive lenses. We had fun taking a few shots, and vouched to come back to Zion better equipped and prepared next time.

We also have a photo of a solar eclipse, which happened at the end of our day-trip to Zion. Once again, we found ourselves in the right place at the right time for photo opportunities, because southern Utah was part of a narrow section in North America from where one could see it (see gallery below). There was a lot of hype about this eclipse because it was, in fact, an annular eclipse, which means that at some point the moon was going to be perfectly aligned with the sun, creating a “ring of fire.” Mig got a pretty cool shot of it, in my humble opinion.

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