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Photography Road Trip
A good friend and I teamed up for a road trip through southern Utah and Colorado, to see and photograph Monument Valley and the Fall colors of Colorado's San Juan Mountains. Five days, lots of miles, and coincidentally, a lot of BBQ brisket and peach cobbler. So much so that we named the trip our Monumental Adventure: The Brisket and Peach Cobbler Tour. So yeah, we had a blast.
Day One - Monument Valley
We got to the park too late to drive the loop around the valley, but we did shoot sunset from the View Hotel. Overnighting in Mexican Hat, UT, we returned the next morning to shoot other scenes around the park area before heading off to shoot the Mexican Hat rock feature and drive the Valley of the Gods loop (Tip: Kayenta, AZ is a better overnight choice for its room/food options).
After finishing the Valley of the Gods loop, we headed for Four Corners, then made an attempt at Shiprock in NW New Mexico. We wanted to shoot sunset there but were turned away by a serious incoming storm that would have stranded us had we pressed on. Discretion was the better part of valor, so we turned north to our overnight in Cortez, CO.
Day Two - Cortez, CO to Silverton, CO
This was my favorite day of the trip. We drove Highway 145 north out of Cortez and headed to Telluride and surrounds. The first part of the drive was through peaceful country with small farms nestled in valleys and featured the discovery of Rico, CO, a town of around three hundred people. Small, quirky, scenic ... in other words ... perfect (Tip: Fireweed Cafe and Mercantile is the place to enjoy a break and great coffee). From there we encountered majestic mountain vistas full of bright colors, not to mention lots of other photo hounds. We had our first brisket and cobbler in Telluride after riding the gondolas to the top and back. We then drove the Sneffels Range route with stops in Ridgeway and Ouray before ending the day in Silverton, yet another picturesque town with history and character.
Day Three - Silverton, CO to Farmington, NM
We saw the last of the Fall colors and got several shots between Silverton and Durango, stopping at several small roadside pull-outs and doing just a bit of walking around. There was one trail that I really wanted to set out on, but it was going to be a two-hour hike and we really didn't want to delay that long. The fresh bear scat was added incentive to keep moving, so we did. Later in the day we had, you guessed it, BBQ brisket and cobbler at Serious Texas BBQ in Durango, and yes, it was very good. After that, the drive to Farmington was uneventful. We overnighted there before turning for home the next day.
Day Four - Farmington, NM to Home in AZ
This was mostly a driving day, although we did stop briefly in Holbrook, AZ to do a bit of gift shopping at the world-famous Jim Gray's Petrified Wood Company, the best rock shop I've ever been in (okay, its a very small sample size).
Day Five - Sedona, AZ
We made a day trip to Sedona via Camp Verde and Cottonwood, where I got my first surprise: Cottonwood has grown and gone upscale since my last visit. It's been a few years and the changes are significant. It's not "Sedona South" yet, but it's looking like it is headed in that direction. One benefit: We stumbled across Colt Grill on old Main Street, where I discovered the best BBQ brisket I've ever had in my life. So good, in fact, that I refused to put any kind of sauce on it. From there it was on to Cathedral Rock for sunset. I wanted to shoot the water scene with the rock's reflection, but it was just a trickle of mud, so I opted for a different composition.
It was a good outing. We had lots of guy-talk as we toured, saw beautiful country, learned a few tips, and got a fair number of good shots. We've decided on round two next year, maybe Canyonlands National Park. I'm looking forward to it.
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