Of Arches, Needles, and Islands..

Here are some more photos so you guys can get your fix. Today I am starting my long winding journey back home and I will write more about this sometime soon. Don't forget to read down into the previous posts, there are a couple good stories down there...

Arches...

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Great Ghosts

you have to remind yourself from time to time that there is a life outside of the internet, cell phones, and fashion..

This afternoon around 4:30 or so I made my way out to a perfect spot on a rock out on the rim of the grand overlook here in the Island In The Sky. The land below this cliffs edge had already begun to transform as the sun sank into the western horizon. Bit by bit each layer of this wonderful place began to be overtaken by shadow and every peak lit itself up as if taking one las nice big stretch before climbing into bed and the canyons all seemed so peaceful at that moment.

Before I knew it the sun was hidden totally behind the farthest reach of the horizon in the distance and the highest points on the highest canyon rims before me were glowing red and then quickly fell to a more pale shade of pink. At this point the landscape began a second transformation and this time there were still layers of light yet to pass their way through the canyons below. Even darker shadows began to take over areas and then looking toward where the sun once was I could see that last gasp of orange light stretching its self across the horizon and finally moved onto wake the eastern world from its slumber.

During this sunset something else was happening as well, the moon was there all along as if waiting for its chance to shine its light on the world below. Looking up to the moon I thought to myself how the moon is nothing but a mirror reflecting the light of the sun as though the sun was teaming up with the moon to give the gift of light at night. At one point there in between the day and the night I found that I had two shadows which is something that I have never seen happen before. One cast off into the distance with its orange glow and the other laying almost directly from overhead with a blueish tint. It was a wonderful feeling there at that moment like I was trapped between night and day.

Also as the sun set, the last of the other visitors left and went along on their way and from what the rangers told me earlier in the day I was the only person staying the night out there in the park and this left me to realize that I had this whole island to myself. The entirety of this wonderful moon lit landscape was mine for the night. Along with this realization came that I was totally alone there sitting in the cold of the night on the edge of the rim of this great canyon. I started to feel lonely and as time went by I came to find that I could not remember a time in my life when I had felt so alone in the world. I imagined each time the cold night breeze brushed against my face that a ghost was there making its presence known to me. I felt the cold stone beneath me and felt that I could connect with the spirit of this place at that moment and knew that it would take care of me. It calmed me to think of this and I felt at ease there looking out into the landscape of the night. What was once brilliant orange was now beautiful shades of grey and blue and as I looked out into the night It hit me that this is why I had come out here to this area. To feel the force of the planet, to feel the presence of the seemingly never ending world and feel humbled by its greatness.

And in that moment I felt so alive it was hard to bare, in that moment of total awareness and in the black cold of a winters night I felt free and ready to move on and discover the rest of my life somehow transformed by the great unknown of this land as it spoke to me and in this moment I felt peace.

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Great Ghosts, pt. 2... later that evening after shooting a handful of photos...

As I was out shooting I heard a sound in the near distance, close yet far and I thought it to be a crow seeing as I had seen them around so often. After a few moments of hearing it It hit me that it was not the sound of a crow at all, it was some sort of mammal but what? I wisked my flashlight around to the direction of the sound and the beam of light caught a flicker of something among the giant rocks of the canyon. I could swear the flicker were eyes. As quickly as they were there I shone my light back to where the flicker was but they were gone. Then moments later the sound came again and again I shone my light over in the direction of the sound and I found that flicker of light again and again I saw eyes and this time it was obvious. Two yellow eyes staring right at me. I decided that I was not welcome there anymore, besides, I was the intruder here, not whomever those eyes belonged to.

So I gathered my camera and my book and stepped back to the trail when once again I heard the sound of whatever animal was out there creeping around in the shadows of the moon, calling out into the void only this time the sound was closer to me and I turned my flashlight back on and once again locked into a staring match with those two yellow eyes. This time I found that they were obviously right there on the path of the trail that I had to take to get out of there and to the right of me was a huge cliff and to the left of me was another cliff of sorts that I could not get around easily. The trail was my only way to get back to my car which rested a half a mile or so away. So I sat there and stared into these eyes for what felt like forever as I ran through my mind what to do next. I decided that I had to keep moving so I figured I needed to try and scare whatever this thing was off so first I flickered my flashlight in its direction and made some sort of odd sound to try and spook it. As I flickered the light its direction the eyes vanished from sight and I had no idea where it disappeared to. I did not hear any movement at all which made me nervous. No rocks or sand shifting, no rustle of plants, nothing. The eyes just vanished as quickly as they appeared and I no longer heard its calling.

Funny thing was while this was happening to me, all the while something repeated in my head that I had heard from a silly little campfire story time type thing led by a ranger the last time I was out in this area. The ranger talked for a while about animals in the area and there was one phrase that stuck in my head repeating as if trying to make my heart race any faster than it already was. That phrase was "...eyes in the front, likes to hunt. Eyes to the side, likes to hide." The yellow eyes that I had stared into were definitely to the front, no question about it.

So heart racing I left my light on and stomped slowly forward down the trail toward where I had encountered the eyes and made myself look as big and menacing as possible stomping and ever so slowly marching forward on the trail. I continued to shine my light around into the shadows and through the brush and trees but thankfully I did not come across those eyes again. As I made it up to the main overlook where the sidewalk began I heard the animal calling yet again but this time in the distance. A couple of photos later I was back in my car heading towards my camp site thankful but oh so very curious what I had come in contact with out there...


Song of the moment, "Great Ghosts" as performed by The Microphones on their live in Japan album. It's the first track on there and one of the most wonderful songs ever written. I promise.

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Island in the Sky

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(strange choice of exposure no?)

How could you not feel humbled to the point where your heart aches and your eyes sting while looking out into this beautiful landscape? You cant help but want to throw your arms out into the air like a birds wings, get a good running start, kick off the ledge of the cliff and soar through the landscape like one of these lucky crows that seem to be everywhere I go.

It's hard to believe that some people come through here, get out of their cars, walk the hundred or so feet to the overlook only to turn back around not 1 minute later to hop back in their car and drive off. I hear them say things like, "oh honey, this is just like a grand canyon type overlook, thats all... hm... ok well lets go, I want to get to arches before the end of the day..." Oddly enough, this happened at around 4pm which was only a bout an hour before sunset and arches was a good 30 minute drive at least... I think Edward Abbey, a well known writer from this area said it right when he said these words about this area in the introduction to his book Desert Solitare...

"Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out to the Canyon country hoping to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke in these pages. In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe..." -Edward Abbey from the introduction to his book Desert Solitare

I can't say that even I have seen this place as he describes it but I like to get as close to that description as I can and I can only hope that I will be back here again to crawl through these rocks and canyons. Smiling, sweating, bleeding, and taking in the whole of the land around me once again. At any rate, walking up to the edge of the rim of the huge outermost shell of these canyons I welcomed myself to this Island in the Sky...
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Canyonlands

My legs are just starting to calm themselves down and stop aching now that I have had a chance to set up camp and eat some dinner. I went on a long 12ish mile hike today which was wonderful and as I mentioned before, this place is simply amazing to hike through. The fact that it was covered in snow in a lot of places was the icing on the cake (kind of almost literally if you think about it...). Although some of the passes between canyons were a little more difficult to traverse while covered in slippery snow or some of the straight ways sticky with thick mud, I still found the hike to be wonderful. My only wish was that I could have set up came and stayed the night out there. I was jealous of another hiker that I came across a few times in the past couple days which turns out was also from NC. He was on a three day stay out in the canyons. For years it seems I have dreamed of coming out here during the winter when the crowds were gone and I always hoped that I would see these beautiful canyons covered in a blanket of snow. I always imagined it to be such a contradictory thing , snow in the desert that is. Now that I am here and living that dream it is nearly exactly as I thought it might be. Although I am here a couple weeks after the snow fall there was still an ample amount of snow covering the more shadowy areas of the canyon. The white mixing in with the red and the browns was just as great as I always daydreamed about.

Tomorrow will be the last morning spent in this area, after this I will be heading north to the northern part of Canyonlands National Park, The Island In The Sky. Which is named all to well. The towering view of the whole of the area is nothing short of stunning and I can't wait to get up there. So with that, I am going to get some sleep and I will talk to you again sometime soon.

(I will post this entry and the one previous in the morning on my way through Moab but I am afraid you will have to wait another day or so for photos because I want to get a move on, my trip is drawing to its last few days which is both exciting and really depressing but I will get to that another day...)
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By the moonlight

There is something really incredible about being so far away from a city at night. I believe I spoke of just how dense the blanket of stars can be at night but now the moon has come out as well and it is like an entire different world out here when the moon is out. Even now, it's only half full yet it lights up the ground and landscape around me. It is easy to walk about with no flashlight and everything has a beautiful subtlety to it that is like being on another world all together. It's just so amazing to see and exist within moonlight like this. As I walk I actually find that I have a shadow cast at my feet at night. With the night, however, also comes the cold air which swallows any warmth the sun managed to muster up during the day almost instantly. By the time morning comes everything, the rocks, the plants, even the sand is covered by a thin blanket of frost. I just cant get over this idea because I have always remembered it being so unbearably hot out here...

I was hoping to be out backpacking while here in Canyonlands which is where I am at the moment but due to the break in and me loosing most of my camping gear I have been prevented from doing so. I had plans to set up the camera while out in the canyons and take some photos of the canyon lit by the moonlight but there is only so much I can do from here in this campground. I did take a couple of nice shots that I will share sometime soon so you can see how beautiful it can be and I hope for the moon to be out and more full while I am up in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands so maybe I will be able to get some nice landscape shots at night. It has been something I have fascinated me for some time, taking photos by the light of the moon that is.

While Im at it I just want to throw in how incredibly happy I am to be here in Canyonlands right now. It is easily my favorite area out here. It is just so remote and beautiful and the trails are all so challenging in the way they weave in and out of the canyons. There is so much to explore that it feels never ending. One day I will get out here with a 4WD vehicle and dig into the deep backcountry of the park but who knows when that will be. But for now I am very satisfied just taking some nice day hikes while I am here. Tomorrow I have a nice long 12ish mile hike planned out which is going to take me right into the heart of this area and I cant wait.

Thats all for now...
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Delicate

Yesterday one one of the most calm days I have had so far. I decided to simplify things and hike only one trail over at Arches National Park and that trail was to the Delicate arch. THE arch of all arches. The naturally forming arch you always seem to see a photo of when someone wants to show what one is. The symbol of the state. RIght, so my goal was to see the arch at sunset because that is the classic time to go visit the thing and so I left around 1:30 in the afternoon to hike down (or up I should say) a short mile and a half trail. Well, I thought it was a three mile trail until I realized that that was the round trip length. So I was there pretty quickly and found myself, for the first time, alone with this great figure. The place was mine for a good half hour or so which was amazing. It is such a powerful figurehead and it had been a while since I had seen it and forgot just how impressive it really was.

After a while I knew that I had a few hours to kill so I found a nice spot in the sun and sat down with the book I am reading. Other hikers came here and there and it was fascinating to me that I cold hear them coming a good half mile away at least and always had fair warning. I suddenly found the name of an album by the band Six Parts Seven called Silence Magnifies Sound unbelievably brilliant. It is so true. existing somewhere as quiet as this area in the winter really does magnify sound and you can hear everything around you so clearly.

It was fun to hear the reactions of people seeing it for the first time and here them chatter on about this and that. Guys would ramble on about random facts to their girlfriends or wives with a smugness that always made me smile. Little arguments would be had discussing how safe it was to walk round the cliffs edge to see the thing. Then there was that same initial reaction that I never tired of... "ooohhh my, it really is an impressive sight to see isn't it dear?"

A few hours pass and a few chapters pass and time was drawing near sunset and this is when I had a small handful of people show up all at once which was kind of nice in a way because it can get pretty lonely sitting around alone and to see this arch at sunset really is unlike anything you could imagine. It just comes to life. I did snap a couple of photos but there are so many hundreds of THOUSANDS of photos exactly like the ones I was taking in existence that I honestly did not take to terribly many. I will post a couple when I upload those images sometime in the next few days.

So after the sun was fully set and most hikers were well on their way it was just me there to walk back in the amazing afterglow of the suns setting. I hiked through the canyons with just that brilliant orange glow cast onto the surface of the earth around me and amazing silhouettes of canyon structures layering out towards the horizon. It was one of the most peaceful hikes I have been on yet as the sun sank deeper and deeper behind the earth. The cool air of the evening crept up and without the sun around the moisture from the land started to creep up into my nostrils filling my lungs with a fresh cool feeling as I hiked on.

So that was a great day I would say. I do have another story to tell about the hellish day I had before this one but I will wait till next time to tell it. Right now It is already 8 AM and I really want to get down to Canyonlands as soon as I can, I woke up late at 7:30 this morning after a bout with the night not letting me fall asleep. So it goes right? Right. I will talk to you guys sometime in the next few days. Until then, stay warm, stay calm, and take a moment the next time you are outside at dusk to close your eyes, take a deep breath, calm yourself, open your eyes and realize how great it is to exist.

Later...
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12 New Desktops

Yes, you read that right, you now have twelve new desktops to choose from in the desktop section. They are from the past week and I hope you enjoy them. Please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite image, id love to know what you readers think. Sorry the descriptions are a little short this time around, I decided to spend less time writing descriptions and more time getting more images online for you guys to enjoy so have at it! By the way I have quite the story to tell from today and I will get that up tomorrow I think...

devils_playgrounds

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Moab

It's funny how things you remember in your memory from your past differ from how things really are or were at the time you remembered them. The way I remember things is very visual, like moments are all frames of a movie and sometimes I remember these little clips and these clips all tie themselves together according to relevance and make up the story of my life in my mind. Sometimes I will remember very specific things and other times there will be a somewhat foggy image lurking somewhere deeper in my mind that can only be found when I stumble across the right collection of memories. Take Moab, UT and the surrounding area for instance. I have very distinct memories of this area yet now that I am here, a little older and on my own I find things feeling a little out of place in my mind. It's like the images of my memory have gotten a little mixed up somehow and things are in a slightly different place than they should be. Then again things do change with time and maybe this is the case with this area. It is not exactly the quaint little community that I once remembered it to be. It has grown to be much more a service town than I remember but this is how it goes within communities like this...

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Photo Update

Here we go again, another round of photos... desktops soon...

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Grand Staircase, Part 2

Wow, what a day today was. I woke up in the morning to the sky just starting to turn blue and it had that thin yellow strip across the horizon letting you know that the sun is on its way which was great news considering it was freezing cold and windy outside. I decided that I didnt want to pass up the opportunity to see the sun rise over the canyons below me from my wonderful camp spot so I braved the bitter cold of the morning air, crawled out of my sleeping bag, and made my way over to the cliffs edge while rubbing my eyes. Man was it cold out! Night always seems to bring cold winds and really chilly temperatures but after a couple layers of clothing and a toasty sleeping bag I manage to sleep pretty well. So anyways, I stood there shivering camera in numb hand waiting and watching the sun begin to rise and as soon as the moment came the landscape started to light up with vivid colors and even the most boring little detail seemed like the most beautiful thing ever.

A few minutes later I was in my car heading back down the road and over to another dirt road for the beginning of my day which I had all planned out and was to be spent playing in the Devils Playground. Seriously, its what it was called. It was fantastic! This small little area had all sorts of really fascinating structures that are difficult to describe in words. It was very much like a playground of rock with arches and little caves and all sorts of places to climb around and explore. Really great way to start my day I thought.

So after a cup of miso soup I got back in my car and started on down a long dirt road, 35 miles or so down that road in fact. About 20 or so miles in I noticed something that made me a little nervous and still does and that was my "check engine" light came on in my car... I figured there was no sense in freaking out and besides, I was really looking forward to the place I was heading so I kept on moving along. I found the smaller more rugged dirt road that lead to the trailhead and as I was driving down this road I noticed on my GPS the word 4WD Road on the screen and got a little nervous as I crept along. It ended up just being an exciting 2 mile drive down a fairly rugged dirt road where I found myself wondering if I was going to get myself stuck somewhere along the way but at this point I was simply bound and determined to continue along and get to where I was going.

Once I reached the trailhead I thanked my car for getting me there safe and packed my bag for my hike. The trailhead, for those of you keeping track, was called Dry Gulch and the dirt road I came in on was Hole In The Rock Road which cut straight through the eastern part of the grand Staircase Monument. The reason I came to this spot was because I had herd there was some really great little slot canyons in the area and after a short mile (?) long hike I found myself at the mouth of the first slot canyon.

The first canyon that I wandered through made me forget any and all worries I may have had and replaced them with a feeling of awe as I wound my way through the slot canyon. This first one was on average about 4-8 feet across and smaller in some places. The walls on either side were somewhere around 40 or so feet up to the surface. I love these canyons because the rock on each side of the canyon is so beautifully sculpted by water and wind and the light from the world above shining down into them always cast such a wonderful glow to them. Really beautiful stuff and amazing to wander through.

So after that I was excited to scout out the other two canyons in the area. I went around a bend and noticed a small opening that was up a steep slope and appeared to enter a small little slot canyon but from a distance it did not appear to be accessible and So I wandered on down through the main canyon. I ended up finding another slot a good ways down the trail and the entrance was a large sand covered wash and as I walked across I was admiring how flat and smooth the sand was. It was almost like red snow lying on the ground. In fact, I followed a trail of footprints out to a spot where someone had lay themselves down in the sand and made a snow angel shape, only in the sand. Happy So it was time to head off into the slot. I immediately was excited to find that it was a very narrow canyon, the walls went up maybe 30 feet or less and the distance between the canyon walls was only about 3 feet across. Once I was a hundred feet or so into the canyon I found that I had to take off my pack to squeeze through because it continued to get more and more narrow the further along I went. Eventually I came to a point where the walls were only 1-2 feet across and So I stashed my bag in a little alcove in the rock, grabbed my camera and crammed myself through the skinniest passage yet which I had to push and pull my body through to make it. The walls of the canyon were so narrow at this point that my back and chest were both scraping along the smooth cliff walls. Part of me was a little nervous that I may get stuck crammed between the rock of the canyon but I managed to squeeze through to the other side of the pass.

It didn't really get any wider beyond that, the texture of the rock changed slightly and I still had to shimmy my way down and around the bends of the super narrow slot canyon, really a lot of fun if you ask me. I ended up at an awkward point where I had to kind of do a half split with my legs and bend my head down underneath some debris that were stuck in between the canyon walls and about 10 or 20 feet later I found that I simply could not go on because the slot made a pretty sharp ascent up a little dry waterfall and it was just to narrow for me to climb up it to continue. So I made my way back through taking photos along the way.

At this point I was really happy with the way the day was heading and on the way back down the trail I decided to investigate that little slot that I saw which was accessible with a bit of climbing. So I ditched the pack once again, grabbed my camera and headed up this slick smooth rock to the slot above. I could tell that people had been up there before because of black smudge marks from shoes smearing against the slick rock to scramble up to the slot. As soon as I pulled myself up into the slot I was so happy to have checked it out because as it turned out it was a slot that I had read about online and wanted to see while I was out here called Peek-a-Boo Slot or something like that. It was very dramatic with its curvy walls and empty pools where water flows when it rains. There was also a double arch across the top of the slot which was really neat looking. The slot canyon was a very short one but rewarding because of the really neat looking curves and arches and holes to climb in and out of.

So at this point I hiked back up to my car and it was only 1 in the afternoon and so I had a whole afternoon ahead of me so I made the decision to drive on down the highway because I did not want to put my car through anymore rough dirt roads after that little check engine light came into my life. So I headed north to get to the next highway I needed to get to to make my way out towards moab and canyonlands. This highway quickly became the most beautiful drive I have made on the trip so far. It wound around and made its way up through canyons and all the way up to the peak of one range and made its way along the top edge of this canyon/mountain range leaving a really really amazing view to one side of me as I drove. Realllly amazing. I noticed at this point that whenever I stopped to hop out of my car it was getting really really cold out and clouds had been present all day long. I did not think anything of this until the highway I was on (12) started heading up in elevation. And when I say up I mean up. I climbed up the road in my car and thought to myself eesh, this just keeps going up and up and it started to get to the point where I was driving through low lying clouds. A quick glance at my GPS told met that I was climbing fast and the higher I got above sea level the more and more clouds came out to play with me and the windier it got. Eventually I was driving on snow through this windy mountain pass and I stopped when I noticed a sign that said peak elevation or something like that and I found that I was 9600 feet above sea level and when I stepped out of my car to snap a couple of photos I was nearly blown over the wind was gusting so much. FUN! So I hopped back into my car now that I was frozen by the chilly windy air and kept on driving. I had made it that far, why stop there? I made my way further into the mountain and the snow started to pile up on the highway and my speed started so slow as it was getting pretty hazardous to be driving on a road I didnt know, alone, in a mini blizzard all while night was creeping up right behind me.

So that was all well and exciting to drive through snow like that and as I was driving across the peak I noticed the markers on the side of the road had long orange poles on them sticking up a good 15 feet into the air and I realized that this was so that snow plows could make their way down the road if they could not see the road. pretty smart I thought to myself and I found that I was not looking to be inside that snow pile that the plow came plowing through so I kept on moving along down the road.

Eventually I found my way tot he bottom of the pass and the snow cleared right up and I was out of harms way. A nice sigh of relief was in order. I stopped to top off my gas thank and asked the gas station worker advice on how to make my way over to Moab and she pointed out a route that kept me at lower elevations to avoid going through more of that snow and mess.

And that is what I did and now I am stopped in a national park called Capitol Reef, one of the northern most parts of it. I drove through the park in the dark of the night so I have yet to see it but I think I have been through here before and I think I remember it being pretty nice to I am looking forward to spending a little time here tomorrow.

On a last note before I wrap up another to long post, I found that this camp is right next to a stable with horses roaming a field and so I walked up to the fence and had the chance to say hello to a horse and pet its warm snout before climbing back in here for the night. A nice way to end a long day or exploring.

Sorry for the super long post everyone. Talk to you again next time...

song of the moment: "Loro" by the band Pinback
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The Grand Staircase

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I spent the first half of my day today in Kodachrome Basin where I got in a couple nice hikes and took a much needed shower in the campground there. I was one of two people that I saw in the park this morning so I pretty much had the place to myself. It seems the further away from Zion and Bryce canyons I go the less people are around. In a way it is really nice and it really is an amazing thing to exist in an area of nearly perfect silence. Everything you don't normally hear is amplified. The different sounds your boots make as you walk along different terrains. The sound of a birds wings as it flies overhead. If I listen closely I can hear the sand and leaves on the ground drifting along in the breeze. Music that I listen to seems much more personal like I am sitting there with the musicians as they are singing their songs.

But with this solitude I can't help but feel lonely from time to time and the occasional Jack Rabbit or deer is welcome company. Still, even loneliness is something that feels good in a way being out here. There is something to be said about being somewhere like this alone. It's a feeling that I won't soon forget.

So the later half of my day I spend driving around in a relatively new National Park called Grand Staircase National Monument. Evidently this huge piece of land contained some of the last land to be explored and charted in the US. I hear from the locals that there has been a good amount of trouble stirred up by the government sweeping in and declaring all of this land to be a National Monument. I don't know to many details so I'm not sure what my stance would be on the matter, all in all its pretty fascinating to me.

At the moment I am sitting in my car/tent at the end of a short dirt road that appears to be a nice place to park for the night. In ths area there are hundreds of roads to explore and probably 99 percent of them are dirt roads many of which can not be accessed without 4 Wheel drive capabilities on your vehicle and my car is far from 4 wheel drive. At least I have a new set of tires on it because I spent the last hour or so driving around and down some roads that probably were not meant for little cars like mine. Even still I could not help but want to keep driving and driving through the dirt and snow. Every mystery road that I saw veer off the main dirt road was one which I simply had to explore. I did end up at this great spot though right near the edge of a cliff that overlooks a huge amount of this area within the monument and here at sunset it is really beautiful.

I think a lot of this trip so far I have found myself in positions where I will be hiking or driving and I find that I can't stop myself from going just a little further, then just a little further, then just a little further. Sometimes this takes me places that put me at risk like up a hill that is just a little to steep to feel totally comfortable climbing, or scrambling up a canyon with a steep floor of loose rock causing the occasional slip down a few inches but quick glance back down to the bottom always gets me to slow down. I'm pushing my limits just enough to satisfy this weird mix of curiosity and adrenaline flowing through my blood. It has taken me to a few places that I may never see again in the way that I have seen them so I don't regret a minute of it.

It's a shame the trip has had to be cut a bit shorter than I would have liked it to be. I am keeping a pretty tight eye on my money because after buying back enough gear to make this trip work I found myself with just enough to get around a select amount of places and not every single place I may have wanted to go. This said, with each compromise I have made I have found myself in a place that who knows if I would have seem otherwise. I figure that even in a somewhat desperate time every turn that I take and every hike that I go on leads me somewhere amazing and new. Even places I have seen before feel new with a coat of snow and without all of the tourism and flocks of people you might find in the area during the peek traveling season out here.

After taking this trip I know I will be here again. It has woken my desire to see all I can see in the world and It has reminded me just how much I miss being out hiking and camping, if thats what you can call this strange in car camping trip. Oh what I would do for a full size backpack to go on a couple of longer treks. My Spire Meta bag has filled in as my backpack and has been great. I love that bag.

So anyways, I will leave it at that for now. Just another little update and to be honest, I'm not sure when I will find internet again. the deeper I go into this state the smaller the towns get. I hope that average readers of the site that come for the desktops have not been to bored by my ramblings. Don't worry guys, in 2 or 3 weeks things will settle back into what they were, or maybe not. Who knows, Maybe I will start up that new site that I have been talking about. Who knows. OK, OK, thats enough, bye for now...

Song of the moment: "Moon" by Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto from the album 'Insen'
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A couple of new desktops

Are up in the desktop page, I will get more up sometime soon when I get some more time.

frozens

And just a bit of an update, I am leaving zion today and driving somewhere else down the road. I have a vague idea of where but not exactly yet.

Also on a side note, I would like to recommend a place of business here in Springdale which is right outside of Zion National Park here that has been really nice to me and helpful the last few days. It is called Cafe Soliel and they have everything from breakfast to lunch to coffe/ espresso and smoothies. All of which are quite good I might say, well of what I have had here. So I give my thanks to Eddie here as I leave this amazing area for the next step of my adventure...

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Photos from the past few days..

This is the first time in a while that I have sat down to go through my photos and eesh, there are so many that I know that I cant manage to post them all. I could also probably write a whole post for each one of them but I want to get back out there and get a hike in today. So I hope that you enjoy this little sampler of photos and I will try and get a couple desktops up next time k? And away we go...

UPDATE: the images are now all slightly larger... slightly

photo 4
(from near las vegas. can anyone guess which casino that light is coming from? by the way, thats my car there..)

photo 5

photo 6
(sorry this is so dark and blurry, this is zion at night)

photo 7

photo 12
(part of the trail leading up to angels landing)

photo 14
(the ridge leading out to the peak)

photo 15
(a peak down next to the trail)

photo 16
(one last trail shot to angels landing)

photo 20
(view from the top)

photo 22
(on the way back down)

photo 31
(my friend the deer)

photo 33
(messing around before going to sleep)

photo 34
(another day another trail)

photo 39
(paying my respects for...)

photo 40
(this...)

photo 41
(observation point)

photo 43
(a slot canyon i found)

photo 48

photo 51
(the road through the canyon)

photo 54
(still getting used to sleeping in the car...)

photo 53
(dinner)

photo 55
(last remains of my little campfire)

Well that is the abridged version, I hope that you can get an idea of the area from these shots, talk to you again sometime soon!

p.s - song of the moment: "13 Angels Standing Guard 'Round The Side Of Your Bed" by a band called 'A Silver Mt. Zion' ... easily one of the most beautiful songs in existence and perfect for this place...
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Zion and the Angels Landing

Well I am still going strong despite everything. I drove through California and Las Vegas which is always interesting to drive through. That place has got to be one of the most visually loud place on earth. I wove around to a place called Red Rock Canyon to find a camp for the night and the next day I got my first good hike in which helped remind me why I came out here. Then I headed north for Zion out across the desert. I arrived late and decided to spring for a hotel room for the night to regroup and get ready for the coming days of homelessness among the canyons of the west.

Driving into Zion was like magic. It brought back all sorts of feelings and memories from past visits and seeing the area covered in snow was something that was really unique seeing as the other times I have been were in the summer months when this area is hot hot hot. I talked to a park ranger to check on trail closings from the winter weather and was pleased to find that only a couple were closed but I was told to watch my step on any of the hikes because snow and ice while walking near the edge of some 1000 odd feet drop is not all that safe with your eyes closed. So I decided to dig right in and I picked a hike that I have been on before called Angels Landing. It is called this for good reason. It is a huge cliff that rises out into the middle of the main canyon here in the park. The only catch is that it is a very strenuous hike involving a huge ascent that takes you hundreds of feet up. The higher I got on the trail the more my muscles moaned at me for being neglected for so long (I'm a bit out of shape is have to admit). Also with elevation came temperature change and with that came more and more snow and ice. Thankfully most of it was packed snow and therefore was not all that slick to walk on.

On this trail the first 2 miles of the trail wind up the side of a cliff which wares you out but is really the easy part when it comes down to it. The last half a mile is where things really get interesting, especially in this weather. You walk along the crest of the rock face to get to the top of the rock in the middle of the canyon. This involves scrambling up rocks and using chains bolted into the rock to keep you balanced as you climb and climb. It is actually a lot of fun in the summer, its just you, the rock, the chain, and you glance to your side to look over the edge of a cliff that drops off hundreds of feet below you. The trick in the winter turns out is all of the snow on the peak that you are walking on. So all of the convenient places to stick your foot as you climb are packed down with snow leaving little snowy slopes as foot holds. This is where the chains really come in handy. I found that its best to kind of grip the chain and pull yourself with your arms and use your body weight as leverage to keep all of your weight on your feet which are standing on those slick little pockets of snow as you climb up. So you really have to watch your footing and take it pretty slow to prevent your feet from slipping out from underneath you and tumbling down to your... I wont say it. kind of freaky to think to much about it. But MAN was it fun.

So I made it to the top and everything melted away. the view from this peak is unbelievable, you turn around 360 degrees and this enormous canyon surrounds you on all sides. It is really inspiring and was totally worth the trek up in the snow. I brought along a little stick of incense with me and lit it and let it burn down into a patch of snow as a way to pay homage to the beauty of the land I was climbing. It is such an amazing thing to be perched up on a rock that is bigger than a skyscraper. This huge mass of stone jetting out of the earth. Such a beautiful thing and I had to make sure to pay my respects to this wonderful creation the earth has given us. I figure as tricky as it was to get up there I may as well thank the rock for safe passage to the top right? Right.

The climb back down proved a bit more difficult and required me to kind of repel down some of the more slippery slopey areas using the chain as my rope and kind of half slide my way down to safety. Really great but I would not recommend this to anyone else unless they are really comfortable and understanding of their capabilities while on trails.

I ended up hiking more along the canyons rim on another trail that splintered off from Angels Landing which was great because I had a chance to hike down some truly snow covered trail. By the time I needed to turn around to get back to my car before dark I found myself hiking through a good 6-12 inches of snow! I love snow and it really thrilled me to no end to be hiking in one of my favorite places on earth in the snow. Really truly a beautiful experience all around and although my body is crying right now from that exhausting hike I am planning to go on an even longer one tomorrow with an earlier start to give myself plenty of time. Its a hike that I have not made before but I am really looking forward to it. Another one straight up the side of the cliff but aren't all good hikes like this? The more strain on your body the more amazing the view I figure. Then after that I will most likely spend one more day and go on an even longer hike all the way down and around the east rim of the canyon but that is all just in my plans, well see how my body holds up.

So that is all for now, I took plenty of photos although I will have to admit that taking pictures was not really what I was focused on while I was up there. I think on this first hike I just felt so overwhelmed by the fact that I really made it that snapping photos was more of an afterthought. Still though, I took a couple HUNDRED I think so no worries seeing what I went through today. Just dont expect any awards for them or anything. I will try and get those posted sometime soon after I go through them a little bit.

OK, thats all for now guys, I will report back again soon so wish me luck on my coming hikes and I will talk to you again in a few days. (I will try and get some photos up before then but no promises, sorry. By for now...

Song of the moment is called "Chimeras" by Tim Hecker, it is hauntingly beautiful song that has put my mind at ease more than once while out here and is highly recommended.

Also, the album I found myself listening to while hiking today is called "Plays Pajama Pop Pour Vous" by Lullatone and is really really beautiful and simple. I think it has got to be the most perfect album ever made for waking up in the morning...

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Back on the road



song of the moment that you must listen to... now. Jamie Lidell - "The City" (seriously, this is the song right now to be heard to understand)

song of the moment version 2.0... Nada Surf - "Do it Again"
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Broken

plastic 2
(plastic food!)

Imagine, you are in San Francisco, for the first time in your life. For those of you who don't know, its a large city, never ending buildings, cars and people at every single turn. You find yourself at Macworld in the city and you buy a new toy, a battery pack for your iPod so you will always have music with you on a trip you are on. This trip is not any ordinary trip. You are 3 thousand miles from your home, your life is in your one little car. Everything you brought along to survive. So after a few days in the city and a couple days exploring Macworld it comes to the last day of Macworld and you have to get over there before it closes because part of the battery that you bought is missing from the packaging. So you arrive at 4pm to find hundreds moving away from the conference center. Pushing through the crowd you fear the worst and wonder, it couldn't possible be closed yet, right? You go ahead and wander all the way to the entrance and notice a security guy standing at the door. Eye's wide and watchful. As you approach the door to the floor a big gloved hand goes up and you show him your entrance badge but he explains it is closed. You make up a lie and say you have left something in there that it is very important and you need to go grab it. "Sorry sir, there is absolutely no way you can enter." So you head back to the escalator and step on with the pack of other people and you feel totally defeated, of course this would happen. Of course. You would think something as simple as a clip for an iPod accessory would not have the ability to break someone down but today, this day, it just so happened that it can... hang on a second, let me take a step back, rewind.

This morning, after 3 great days in the city and a little over a week on the road you find yourself ready to leave the city and head for the land you came out here to see. It was the beginning of the rest of your life. As you leave the apartment you were staying at you walk down the street thinking of the amazing places you are going to see, you close your eyes, feel a breeze and imagine you are there atop the edge of a canyon in the middle of no where. The sky is wide and the landscape never ending. You open your eyes, and cross the street and as you gaze in the direction of your car, something is not quite right. Things are not as you left them. You walk to the other side of the vehicle and find that a rear window has been smashed clean out. You look to the ground to see pieces of it scattered all around and your heart sinks. Sinks down to your toes. You decide there is no reason to freak out or anything, what's done is done. You reach into the door and unlock the front door and set the belongings you have in the front seat. Walk back around to the other side and sit down into the front seat. Everything around you is a mess, everything has been tossed everywhere, your current life is there, beside you, tossed salad.

A deep breath and a moment later you step back out of your car to inspect things, the trunk is open, one window is no longer there and you start thinking of what to do next. You feel all sorts of things, betrayal from the open road for letting something like this happen, you wonder what kind of person did this, you picture a blurry figure in the night going through your things, and you feel overwhelmed by what the hell you are going to do now.

So now you are in my shoes. all of this crowded in your mind. The rest of my day has been spent sorting this mess out. Filing a police report, going through everything that was stolen, getting a new window in the car, you know, all of the obvious things. In between those things I have been wondering all sorts of things about human nature and imaging the person that would do this. I hope to myself that it was someone that will at least use some of the things that were stolen, which reminds me. I'm sure you are curious just what has gone missing. Here is a vague list of things:

My backpacking backpack which had my brand new tent inside, as well as my sleeping bag, sleeping mat, camping stove, an additional down blanket, stuff sacks and other little things. One of two bags of clothing which appeared to have been gone through and a new pair of pants which were insulated for cold weather, a pair of fancy fleece long underwear, 2 new long sleeve fleece shirts, a towel, a stick of deodorant, and another long sleeve shirt or two (pretty much all of my cold weather clothes for camping). A brown wooden box which was a gift was taken but not before all of its contents (shells and stones and items of sentimental value) were dumped onto the floor. A bag full of about 20 dollars worth of change for laundry and whatever else. A power strip along with a power converter which converted power from a cigarette lighter to your average power outlet (so I could use my laptop out on the road for photo management and whatnot). A small box containing misc. tech things like batteries, a cable or two, an M-Audio Trigger Finger Midi drum pad controller for making music while out on the road, a set of folding iPod speakers, and an iPod car charger along with a special cup holder that was used as an iPod mount. A couple of small green bags, one of which contained nothing but spices for cooking, and the other contained various audio cables, an ipod digital camera adapter, and a few other odds and ends of things. Then there is the fun part, my camera bag. Thankfully I had my 5d, my 35mm 1.4L lens, 3 of 4 2gb cards, and two batteries with me but... along with my camera bag (a great bag which was a gift to me recently) went a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens, a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, a Canon 28-105mm 3.5-4.5 USM lens, a Sigma 80-300mm lens, a couple of lens filters, lens/camera cleaning equipment, an older Canon EOS film camera body, the manuel to the 5d, 2 battery chargers, misc cables, and also a pair of 200 dollar sennheiser HD 25 Headphones, which I really miss... There were also other odds and ends of things missing and things I probably haven't even realized are gone but thats the bulk of it. Fun, no?

So thankfully I had my Spire bag which had my laptop (two of them actually), cables, external photo hard drive, DS, and all sorts of other necessities, like chargers and ipods and notebooks, and whatever else.

So from here I will do what I can to rebuild some of my basic needs like warm clothing layers, sleeping bag, camera battery charger, and press on. These things happen in the world and it is things like this that make you question so much about life and humanity and the state of things in the world we live in today. Rather than sit and dwell the best thing I can do is to simply press on and just dive into the trip once again. It is going to take more than a broken window and a bunch of my stuff to break my spirit. I have worked to hard to long to let this get to me to much. I have a great bunch of friends and family that have my back in all of this and I have to thank them for helping to push me through. After all this, I still find that I really love this city. After driving back through it today I still find it to be a very welcoming place. somehow in a way. I can have some sympathy for those in the world that are at rock bottom and have to turn to these sorts of tricks to get by but only a little, im still pretty upset about this whole thing... So at any rate, I am picking up and moving on once again to the great and vast canyons of the american southwest. Wish me luck!

P.S - If you ever have your window smashed in the San Francisco area, I recommend the guys at US. Auto Glass Center ( www.usautoglasscenter.com ). They were super nice about it all and did a great job.

I cant help but feel grateful because of the support I have seen from people around me both strangers and family, friends and so from that I find myself making sure to treat others as nicely and gratefully as I can and I suggest you do the same, pass it on. Every bit helps in this world.

Till next time folks...

plastic 1
(what a way to start a day!)
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San Francisco

The city has been fun to explore and I will be spending one more day here in the city before moving on to browner pastures (desert). Not sure what I am going to do today though. Eat more good Japanese food while its around, wander the streets, maybe head back to macworld for a bit. who knows. So anyways, this is an amazing city and I hate to leave it but it is not the focus of my trip now is it? next up will be either the Redwood Forest, The Sequoias, or Zion Nation Park in Utah, not sure which yet so we will see. Anyways, I may not talk to you guys here for a few days, I'm not sure. Thats why I have posted a handful of new desktops for you guys to enjoy and some photos from the past couple of days. Anyways, I hope to talk to you again sometime soon and until then, try to find a little adventure in your own everyday lives if you are not traveling yourself. You know, try something unexpected for a change... till next time then..

the_soft_oceans

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Snapshots from San Francisco's Japanese Tea Garden

san 15

san 16

san 17

san 19

san 20

san 21

san 22

san 23

san 24
(i think that sugar was invented for these to come into existence)
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So I saw the iphone

And it was amazing... there are a couple other shots from macworld down there too...

san 1

san 2

san 3

san 4

san 5

san 6

san 8

san 9

san 10

san 12

san 14
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West in photos #1

I have decided to simply make posts with photos from the trip when I can and this is the first batch for everyone to see. Yes, this is just a tiny little taste of the images I have taken so far and yes, I am holding back some choice photos for now. I will hopefully get some desktops up as soon as I can because I'm sure some of you are anxious to share in the trip. Anyways, here are a few shots from the first few days traveling...

west 3

west 4

west 6

west 1

west 7

west 8

west 9

west 10

west 11

west 12

west 13

west 15

west 16


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San Francisco

Well, I finally made it to the Pacific ocean. I drove until there was no more road to drive on and the ocean sits in front of me spanning out into infinity and I look out wondering if or when I will overcome that obstacle and travel overseas again.

The drive was a long one and I finally feel settled and ready for the month I have ahead of me. This is just the beginning. So far I have been getting into camps after sunset which has been fun. It is always strange to drive at night when there is no city around because you are just driving into the black and when that happens you could imagine yourself being anywhere in the world traveling down a dark deserted road. Whenever morning comes around the sun wakes me in my tent and I get to head outside and see the place that I traveled to for the first time. Its strange really. Its like when you get a gift and the person giving the gift says, "close your eyes and put out your hands". At night my eyes are closed as a drive into a camp and in the morning I can open my eyes to see the gift of a new landscape awaiting me.

I spent my first day without a destination exploring a beautiful area north of San Francisco which was a mountain area right on the edge of the ocean. This allowed me to see the whole bay area around here and I felt like it was a perfect place to really start my trip. I ended up driving through the area with no map or any real idea of where I was going which was great. When I came to a fork in the road I pretty much just picked the direction that seemed like it would lead me somewhere nice and somehow every turn that I took was perfect and I ended up down on a rocky beach next to the ocean. Waves pounded the rocks as they swept in to the beach. I ended up being on the wrong rock at the wrong time and found the bottom half of me soaking wet. This gave me a chance to just sit and dry out in the sun.

So now here I am, in the dark once again, at another new camp writing this just to get caught up a bit with the site and I am going to head into my tent here in a minute, close my eyes, and wait until morning brings me the next day of this journey.

Talk again when I can, see you soon!
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Still on the road..

Well, I have been driving for a few days now and im starting to feel the burn of being in the same spot inside a car for 2061 miles acording to my GPS unit that I have been keeping track of things with. I am currently in a great little coffee shop in flagstaff, Arizona called Macys. taking a much needed break somewhere comfy. Last night I camped out in the snow which was really nice actually all bundled up in my tent in the middle of nowhere with the faint sound of snowflakes falling down onto the roof of my tent. I woke to find a lake out on the horizon. It was one of the most peaceful nights sleep that I have had in a long while. Here is to many more of those on this trip!

Driving through the snow in New Mexico last night was fun. I always compare driving through snow to flying through space only the snowflakes are stars. Its hypnotic, the road and you have to be careful driving late at night after a day of staring and singing along to music and thinking and scratching down notes while speeding along down the interstate. I think I am locked into a state of excitement and I don't think that I will feel settled until I see the Pacific ocean at my feet. San Francisco is still a couple of days away but I can feel it calling my way. Once I feel a bit more settled I think I will try and write out more of a journal and upload a couple of photos of my progress so sit tight, I will be back soon, promise.

There is a guy singing over in the corner with his guitar, i love this song, I think I will record with my little built in mic for a few minutes and post that here with the post if it comes out at all.

I have so many things going through my head its hard to keep track. It can be overwhelming traveling like this. It has put my mind on overdrive and I am loving it. I have not felt this creative in forever. So at any rate, (holds up drink and shouts quietly to the masses with his keys) heres to safe travels, plenty of good stories and photos and memories to last and drive me to a new beginning of some sort.

Talk to you again soon...

p.s - The recording came out terrible and I'm to lazy to break out my mics right now so just picture yourself in a little coffee shop in a town you have never been too late one night and a guy is playing his guitar and singing over in the corner.

p.s.s... - song of the day: Woke Up New by The Mountain Goats... look it up, buy it, whatever you need to do, just go listen. I think I will have a new song every post on this trip for you to listen to that somehow reflects something somehow of what I am thinking about. This song was from a couple days back when things got started... ok I'm really going now.


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Heading West

Sorry for the lack of posting here in the past few days, the end of the year has been quite a busy one. Show after show of work, holiday activities, a few issues that I can't go into here which involve one of the biggest ass's ever to walk the earth and in between all of what life has thrown my way over the past week or so I have been trying to scramble together my things for a 6+ week road trip across the U.S.

Speaking of my trip, I mentioned it in the podcast once but I don't believe I have officially let readers in on what is going on with it. On Thursday I will be departing for what I am planning on being a six week trek across the country on my own. My main destinations are mostly in the Colorado Plateau (four corners) area in the southwest and hiking/backpacking my way through all of the beautiful canyons of the area in the chilly solitude of the winter. I am planning on camping in a tent the majority of my time on the road but I'm sure an occasional hotel will be thrown in for a shower and some warmth here and there. I am also considering heading all the way out towards California to San Francisco and crashing the Mac-World Expo but we will just have to wait and see about that.

The southwestern US is an area that I have visited 4 times now I believe but never have I been there but certainly not in the winter like this. It will just be me, my car, and whatever belongings I end up bringing with me.

So this said, I'm sure you must realize that I will not be able to access the internet all that often to post updates here on the site but when I do stumble upon a random hi-fi spot you can expect updates and plenty of photos here on the site from my trip. I am hoping that I will have some stories and photos that will make up for the infrequency of my posts during the trip. You can expect some nice desktops from the road as well as possible podcasts and things. It should be quite an adventure and I hope to let you guys in on it as much as I can.

So If you don't see posts all to often don't think I am closing up shop, I will simply be out in the remote areas of the Southwestern United States. So wish me luck and I will talk to you guys again sometime soon!

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