Utah

Cason/Tateoka Wedding - Utah Reception

IMG_0469 Three days before they were married in Louisiana, Charlotte and Ryan had an open house/reception for all their friends and family in Utah.  They held the event in an old dairy barn that the city of Draper has restored and turned into a community event center.

IMG_0523Cason Wedding - Utah

Charlotte and Ryan decorated the barn with a simple, natural theme.  Charlotte made small stone bowls with succulents that were used for centerpieces, and Ryan hung a few strands of lights and flag banners from the trusses.  They did not cover the walls or take down the existing decor (small plaques and old photographs detailing the barn's history hung on the walls).  They wanted to make sure that their decorations would not interfere with the organic ambiance of the barn.

IMG_0525

It turned out that their simple decorations were the perfect compliment to the barn's unique character.  Though it was a large building, the reception felt bright and warm, which only increased as the old barn slowly filled with  guest and family.

IMG_0486IMG_0537IMG_0541IMG_0535IMG_0558IMG_0551

Utah Is Great

It's true.  Utah is great.  This may not be a very popular opinion, especially among people who are not from Utah or have certain ideas about the state's character, namely that it's a bleak desert wasteland with foul weather and full of hyper-religious extremists.  I am not from Utah, though I did live there for six years and admit that certain aspects of the state got on my nerves (like the horrible drivers, the insane traffic, and the endless urban sprawl on the Wasatch Front), but nowhere is without its drawbacks and all that becomes a moot point considering the state's diverse natural beauty.  I've photographed landscapes in many different places throughout Utah and still feel like I haven't even scratched the surface.  So getting to go back this past week for a family reunion at Bryce Canyon got me excited to see some more great scenery.

This first shot came on highway 20 between Beaver and Panguitch on our way to Bryce. Driving into this high valley (I think it's called the Lower Bear Valley), a summer thunderstorm was breaking and the sun came through the clouds and lit up the green underbrush of the fertile steppe.  But, pulling off the road to get this shot, some local bro in a little green Saturn sped past me at 75mph, middle finger held high out the window, yelling at me for apparently not getting my car off the highway fast enough.  Still, even despite that, I think Utah is great.

Since we only had a few days, we spent the majority of our time at Bryce Canyon.  One of the downsides of Bryce is that its beauty is so easily accessible , which means in the summer the park is overrun.  At times, getting a decent view of the canyon required pushing my way through the unwashed masses, dodging sour-faced Frenchmen and other grumpy Europeans.  I was getting a little annoyed until I reminded myself that I too was a tourist come to gawk.  Whether from California or Germany or Japan I suppose we're all tourists, except for maybe the bro in the green Saturn; I'd say he's pretty much a yokel.  But, on the whole the landscape was spectacular enough that I didn't mind braving the overwhelming crowds to get a glimpse.

The next morning however, we woke up at 6am to get into the park before the crowds and we experienced a quieter side of Bryce.  The sun was just coming up, spraying dramatic light on the Bryce Amphitheater.  As we hiked from the canyon rim down into the darkness of the lower washes, we passed maybe three people on the whole trail.

Down in the depths beneath the red rock, I caught the early morning sun illuminating the hoodoos above us.  It was quiet in the canyon, only the occasional raven cruising silently overhead and a couple of lizards darting in and out of sight between the rocks.  Much better company than the crowd from the day before.

I realize that I may have a mild case of agoraphobia, but I can't help it if I prefer solitude.  After leaving Bryce we made our way back to California through my favorite part of Utah: the West Desert.  Away from the jammed interstate and gaudy billboards advertising for ModBod, the backroads of Utah are the best.  This highway, west of Milford, UT near the Utah-Nevada state line, was especially desolate, which was great until one of the cars in our caravan broke down one hundred miles from the nearest tow truck.  Luckily we got some cell phone service, eventually had the car towed, and made it back on the road the next day.  But during the two hour wait for the truck to come, I took a walk away from the highway into the sagebrush hills.  I ate a few Pinyon Pine Nuts picked from the nearby trees, found an ancient Bireley's Soda bottle, and got very hot walking around in the dry heat.  I probably walked just a half mile, but the desert sun was overpowering and I was glad that back in my car I had plenty of water.  I love the big sky and austere landscape of Utah's West Desert, but only if I'm well prepared to weather it.  Though it is beautiful, it's still an unforgiving landscape.

Sprinklers At The State Line

We recently moved out of Utah permanently and decided to make the drive to California by way of the sparsely traveled Highway 50.  As mentioned in the previous post, we stopped off at the old roost of Bob Stinson before continuing on out of Utah into the vast expanse of the Nevada desert.

1/500 sec./f11/iso160

Crossing the state line into Nevada we encountered something I had never seen before: freezing sprinklers.

1/400 sec./f11/iso160

Conditions were just cold enough to freeze the water as it fell to the ground but not cold enough to freeze the pipes.

1/1600 sec./f4.0/iso160

1/4000 sec./f4.0/iso160

1/200 sec./f11/iso160

1/1600 sec./f5.6/iso160

1/2000 sec./f4.0/iso160

I'm pretty sure we were trespassing since we jumped a couple of fences to get out to the sprinklers, but no one was around to yell at us so I don't feel that bad.

Hermit's Cave

In 1920, Bob Stinson left civilization behind and took up residence in a cave deep in  Marjum Canyon just West of Delta Utah.   That cave would become his residence for the next 25 years until, when in his 70's, Bob finally moved back into Delta where he lived out the rest of his life. On my way to California from Utah I stopped off at Bob's old residence to have a look.   Calling it a cave is a little unfair, as it felt much more like an actual one room stone cabin inside.

Bob built a thick wall out of stone that he gathered from the canyon to enclose the cave and turn it into a comfortable home.

The floor was poured concrete and perfectly level.

Windows were more than just openings in the rock.  He had also included small rock shelves most likely used for candles (judging by the soot left on the wall).

The stove, while it appears primitive, was I'm sure more than enough to keep the small one room shelter warm in the cold winters.  In his later years Bob drove a snowplow through the canyon and kept it clear of debris as back then it was the main east-west highway between California and Utah.  Now it's little more than a dirt back road.

A few additional shots of the cave and the view from the front door.

Sometimes I get a little envious of Bob Stinson and the life he lead out in the desert.  Being so far removed in such a desolate, austere environment really appeals to me for some reason.  Maybe its the solitude and the quiet, or just my own love of the desert and a desire to live close to the land.

Bridal Veil Falls

I was a little hesitant to go to Bridal Veil Falls because its one of the most overly photographed, frequently visited, and well-known attractions around Utah County.  I was afraid I'd walk away with the same old generic photos that I see on Google Earth.  And while I did take a few of those photos, I also found some other more interesting things around the falls that I thought were pretty cool.

The obligatory photo of the falls.  I tried to use the ND filter but had to stop down too much to get a long enough exposure and the photo got just a little blurry. 10sec/F22/iso100 64x Neutral Density Filter.

A bit of Provo Canyon's Geology, also semi-obligatory  1/50 sec/f11/iso100

1/50 sec/f11/iso100

What I thought was most interesting was this little cabin that I came across that had been gutted by fire.  It was once a two room cabin with a loft, kitchen and full bathroom, having a large stone fireplace right in the middle.  It had electricity and running water.  There were a couple of discarded water heater tanks, on which someone had graffitied "We were here, we are still here!"   1/40 sec/f5.6/iso500

1/20 sec/f5.6/iso500

Light-switches which must have melted in the heat of the fire.   1/40 sec/f5.6/iso4000

1/40 sec/f5.6/iso4000

The destroyed kitchen.  1/25 sec/f5.6/iso1600

Having some fun with the ND Filter.  15 sec/f14/iso100 64x Neutral Density Filter

15 sec/f10/iso100 64x Neutral Density Filter