October 10th, 2017. We’re on our homeward leg of our fall color trip. Our objective is to head for home. Crossing Nevada. For many people Nevada is a wasteland of desert, although I find the desert fascinating. Joann is driving and I’m watching countryside pass by. Suddenly I see a 30 foot tall alien flash by. I’m torn between making miles and stopping. Do I ask Joann to stop or keep my mouth shut and keep going. Sometimes my photographic ventures can try Joann’s patience. Keep driving for the sake of marital harmony, or stop and for my own sake. If I stopped for every thing that caught my eye we’d never make it home. So much along the route I find fascination; abandoned buildings, rusty farm equipment, abandoned gas stations; what I call rural decay. And then I wonder having just visited the Walker Evens exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), is this an influence of having been exposed to Evan’s work, over the years, or is there something universally fascinating about abandoned buildings, dilapidated store fronts and rusty tractors? Not that this qualifies as “urban decay, but it catches my attention. I ask Joann to stop, turn around and go back. An advertisement on the door says “Alien Tequila. An Abduction in Every Bottle.” Strange things happen in the desert. We’re not far from Groom Lake, a top secret air base, often referred to as “Area 51.” This facility is clearly an opportunity to merchandise on the fascination of Area 51. An interesting stop in the middle of the Nevada desert.
I’m not sure what inspired me to take this photo. Usually I prefer creating beautiful images for clients, or I look to celebrate the beauty of the natural world. But here was this scene that was demanding to be photographed. I had to stop and ask myself why I should photograph this. Is my fascination with an un-told story that demands to be captured? A public park used as the scene for car maintenance? Who was it? Was it one person or several? It was clearly somebody with a different value system than my own; a different ethic when it comes to how we view the natural world. I saw this scene as a challenge to create a visually compelling statement about the elements in the composition. And then I wonder if it’s the influence of photographers such as Walker Evans and his fascination with the mundane details of life that influences me? Is there something universally interesting here, or is it just my warped mind? And I took a bit of care in composing the image. I excluded a couple of used hypodermic syringes which would have told a whole different story or perhaps that’s part of the story also.
Our last stop on our fall color trip, on October 12, before heading home was Lundy Canyon, where we found a brilliant display of aspen with fall color on the slopes above Lundy Lake. Lundy Canyon is usually a good place to see fall color; above the lake the aspen were loosing their leaves, but at the elevation of the lake, and lower there was plenty of color.
Our final leg home took us through Yosemite National Park on Highway 120 where we noted that the dogwood and oaks were showing color near the western park entrance.
Overall we logged 2322 miles over 15 days, exploring the Eastern Sierra from Sonora Pass to Big Pine, then on through Nevada to Southern Utah where we made quick visits to Bryce and Zion National Parks and Cedar Breaks National Monument. The highlight of our trip though was the two nights we spent camped on the edge of a canyon in Kaibab National Forest. Quiet, remote with a grand view of the sunrise over the canyons below.
One of the frustrations of the trip was our lack of internet access. My intention was to share stories and photos every few days, and it seems between the lure of all the attractions and a dirth of WiFi connections, given our proclivity to travel off the beaten track, prevented me from realizing that goal. For the future, we both agreed that less driving, more time on foot, and more down time is in order. Stay tuned, as I work through the 2500 photos I collected I’ll be posting more.
Day six of our fall color trip. We set up “camp” in a dispersed camping area near Hill Top Campground a few miles off of I95 in Nevada. Not quite as scenic as the established camp, but we stopped here due to a road closure. Enroute to Cedar Breaks today. We left the San Francisco Bay Area (home) on 9/27, heading up Highway 108 towards Sonora Pass. Not much color on 108, nor Virginia Lakes. Found a few patches of color at the Green River Campground. Spectacular color at Sage Hen Crest and the South Fork of Bishop Creek. Photos will follow when I have WiFi to upload from my laptop. WiFi seems scarce with our preferred method of travel; out Four Wheel Camper. More to follow on that account also. Stay tuned.