Category Archives: Photography

Time to Get Back on the Horse

I haven’t blogged in almost a year! Before that it had been several months….. When you first start RVing it’s like you’re on vacation and have a million stories to share. And then you finally get in a groove and either you don’t appreciate the stories you have to share or your just get lazy about writing about it.

I was both lazy and distracted to see all the stories we have to tell. I keep forgetting that my “everyday” is not everyone else’s “everyday” and might actually be interesting! We have traveled quite a bit this past year and are currently outside of Provo, Utah. It’s gorgeous, I won’t lie.

The other part of my blogging was taking pictures with my Canon Ti5 and posting here. But I wax and wane with using the camera. I’ve been getting better with it the past few months. But sometimes it’s hard to bring it along when you just want to hike or bike ride because I’m constantly stopping to shoot. Mike swears he doesn’t mind but sometimes I do! Especially when I’m biking I like to get on my road bike and RIDE! And I would never take it mountain biking because I rarely come home in one piece and I wouldn’t want to ruin my camera.

Speaking of mountain biking. We were in Page, Arizona about two weeks ago and biked the 10 mile Page Rim Trail. It was fantastic! You can hike it or bike it and it runs the edge of the rim around town with beautiful views of Glen Canyon, Lake Powell and the stunning18342795_10154408822195474_6770848968407107273_n rock formations out further in the desert. If you mountain bike there are some technical sections, or if you’re like me, you haul a$$ up and down the rocky sections and then wipe out on a flat section. Yes,this is the bruise about day 3 or 4. I hit so hard it squished tissue out from the side of my thigh to a fat lump on the back side. But less than two weeks later it’s almost gone!! I have never had a bruise heal so fast!

Another big change we have done in the past year, actually just since January of this year, is we joined the Elks Lodge. Many Elks lodges across the country allow RV dry camping for members only and some even have hook ups! They charge a nominal fee, even the locations with hook ups. We started boondocking (dry camping) for a large portion of our travels this past year and the Elks were a great addition to alternative options to state parks and expensive private campgrounds. Plus we get to meet great new people at every location! It’s a win-win!

I don’t want to overwhelm you or me with relaying a year’s worth of info so I’ll finish up here and share some photos.

Some Utah photos:

 

Payson, AZ:

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Page, AZ and the Glen Canyon:

Toadstool Trail (HooDoos) north of Page, AZ:

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Granite Dells, Prescott, AZ:

Prescott AZ Granite Dells

Grand, Towering Sequoias… and no photos of them….

We spent a few days dry camping at Pioneer Point campground at Lake Isabella, CA at the bottom tip of Sequoia National Forest finishing up some work reports. We wanted to be close to the park so when we did finish with work we could head up in the hills and sightsee for a night then head back to civilization before prepping a few days before our big trade show in Anaheim. We would have LOVED to have sat in the forest, writing our reports under the canopy of the giant sequoias, but alas, there is no cell service deep in the park and we had lots to accomplish before a mini-break!

I scoped out a route and researched all the campgrounds. Most on the route to the Trail of 100 Giants don’t even open until Memorial Day weekend. But I found one waaaay up north that was open year-round. I circled it on the now-known-to-be-terribly-inaccurate National Park Campground map we were given at Pioneer Point (another year-round open campground) and we headed out to dump our tanks, refill will water, food and fuel. We were good to dry camp another 3-4 days, if needed.

We headed north further into the canyon, following the Kern River that would eventually take us to the Giant Sequoias. The road was steep, twisting, turning, hugging the side of the mountain, as we climbed in elevation. Take note – Lake Isabella elevation is 2513. The vistas were breathtaking. Literally. There were no guardrails. NO GUARDRAILS. Not even rocks placed at the edge! We were climbing hugging the mountainside, which I immensely prefered, but Michael said he would have liked to have been on the other side of the road. When hugging the mountain, rock protuberances hung out high above our heads, sometimes over the white line. No problem if we were in a sedan. But Mike had to swing wide in those instances and  we had to keep an eagle eye to be sure we didn’t scrape the side of the camper! And around those tight curves? Luckily there was very little traffic since he had to spend a lot of time in the oncoming lane.

Neither of us had ever seen a giant sequoia. I had read about them a few weeks ago – the Redwoods and Giant Sequoias are two different trees. Both are “giant” type trees. The sequoias are found in the lower half of California and are smaller than the redwoods found in northern CA. We had to drive quite a ways before we started to see any tree that was unusual to either of us. We had long lost our cell signal so I had no way to research while in the car. And I had not remembered to look any of the info back up before we left to refresh my memory. We were on our own!

Let me remind you we are hauling a 39 foot, 16,000 pound fifth wheel camper behind a Ram 3500 dually. That truck is a BEAST! She drug that camper around those West Virginia-like hairpin turns at 5-10% grades with ease. But these were no ordinary east coast hairpin turns. I grew up driving through WV backcountry and what we drove through in the Sequoia National Forest – all I can say is WOW! Can you see the tiny road on the ridge? That was us climbing….

Kern Rive google map

Finally we started to spot these reddish barked trees. Not so large at first, but we had never seen anything similar before. Then the trunks started to get bigger and bigger. I had to keep reminding Michael to keep his eyes on the road! Luckily by this time we were in forest and not hanging off the side of a cliff! They were pretty giant! But we both concurred not as enormous as we anticipated.

We finally got to Trail of 100 Giants, which I thought was just a scenic road. (Misinformed by the useless National Forest map.) Apparently there is an actual trail. We decided we’d get to our campsite, which we estimated was another 30-40 minutes ahead of us, drop the camper and come back later that day or in the morning. So we kept driving. And climbing and twisting and turning. We reached our peak elevation at 7200 feet.

And then we started down.

6000 feet. Same twisting, winding, switchbacks but now with 16,000 pounds pushing on the truck. We have trailer-brakes and a jake brake on the truck. But we were going so slow the jake brake wouldn’t engage. So Mike was on the brake pedal a lot. I dare you to open up the map below and really look at how squiggly that yellow line is. That is the road Michael was driving down. At a serious grade.

Camp Nelson google map

We hit 5000 feet.

We pulled over at a turnout and took a nap for about an hour (aka, let the smoking truck brakes cool down). I kept looking at my map. Where was this campground? All the other national park campgrounds were so well marked. Why hadn’t we seen this one? Maybe we just hadn’t hit it yet.

So we kept driving. Going down. We’d stop so I could take a picture now and then and give the brakes a rest. It didn’t help that at this particular junction it did not help my nerves that the dash now told us our trailer brakes had disconnected.

We stopped, I checked the connection. Pulled the plug out, plugged it back in. Nope, still not reading. No wait, yes it is! No, no, it’s not. Seems we have a short. Great timing!! As were were driving Mike could hold the trailer brake tester on the dash to engage those brakes before stepping on the truck brake. Folks, we were going about 20 miles per hour. This was some intense driving.

So as Mike focused on driving these steep, winding hairpin turns while trying to save as much of the brakes as possible, I’m trying to spot any traffic coming in the opposite direction from afar and call it out and trying to figure out wherein the hell this campsite is….. (remember, no cell service. can’t just pull up the site and check directions.)

4000 feet, 3000 feet, 2000 feet…. and we were out of the park.

Folks we just climbed up 4,700 feet and back down 5000 feet in one day. We never did find that frickin’ campsite. Obviously we needed to turn off on a road somewhere that I didn’t make a note of. So we kept driving. We ended up camping at Tule on Lake Success, unfortunately not looking very successful at the moment. It too, appears to be a victim of the four-year Californian drought. But the campground if flat with electric and water hook up and a dump site before we head out.

And since we never got to our original campsite we definitely do not have it in us to drive all the way back through that to walk the Trail of 100 Giants. And that, folks, is why I have no pictures of giant sequoias. But I will regale you instead with some other photos I took along the route, including secluded meadows, waterfalls and scenic vistas, the last photo, taken at Lake Success, outside of the park, where we end up spending the night.

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VEGAS BABY!! … with teenagers….

Our trip was quickly wrapping up. I’ll be honest. I had mixed feelings. We had a great time with the kids and Uncle Dan!! But it’s a delicate waltz living with one person full-time in a camper. This pounding Celtic jig the five of us had been doing around each other in our small space for the past week was starting to wear on me. Not to mention, the jig was being stomped out in fine terra cotta-colored dust and sand that was coating every inside surface. I’m no neat freak but this was unbelieveable!

After reviewing our route we decided to boondock it another night on the way back to Las Vegas so we wouldn’t be in such a hurry. But that left me scuttling in the truck looking for a place to stay. This time we wanted something to do – not just a pull over for the night. My trusty atlas outlined the Valley of Fire State Park right across the edge of the Nevada border. It was a first-come, first-serve campground so we hoofed it there as fast as we could.

When you full-time you get all kinds of experiences. But the best ones are the ones you never expect or don’t plan. And this was one of those times.

This park was hidden away. We kept driving and driving, wondering why it was called the “valley of fire”. And almost as we turned a corner we saw it – out in the middle of nowhere these gigantic red rocks burst from the ground! Huge, jagged forms EVERYWHERE! and RED! And you could CLIMB on them!!

JACKPOT!

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Remember how I said this group likes to climb rocks? Did I mention Indy, my dog, is a natural rock climber, too?!

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Do you see them ↑ ? Waaaay, waaay up at the tippy top? That would be Michael, Z, Uncle Dan and Indy….

And of course, we can’t forget “S Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection, Valley of Fire State Park, NV”

Valley of FIre SP UT

That night we all sat outside looking at the stars. The sky was so clear that far out and away from city lights. If you have never had the privilege of viewing stars out in the country you need to make it a top priority. There is nothing that will remind you how small and insignificant you really are in the scheme of the universe. It was this deep thinking that had all of us sitting out in camp chairs, looking up at the night sky, contemplating the cosmos that night. Uncle Dan summed it up nicely when he acutely observed, “Looking at so many stars makes you realize that you’re only just a tick, on a tick, on a tick, on a tick on an elephant’s butt.”

The next morning before we left we headed further into the park and saw Rainbow Vista. Any guesses as to why they call it that?

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And I realized if I flip the screen on my fancy pants camera I can take really high resolution selfies too!

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We were sad to leave and marked this in our campsite journal as a place to DEFINITELY return!! One night just didn’t cut it. But we had to get back to Vegas because we had a show to see!!

Friday night we all hit the town to see Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil at Aria!! I think Z and I were the most excited of the bunch. Neither of us had seen a Cirque show before and I know I was really looking forward to it! Before we hit the show we hit, none other than, a buffet!! It’s Vegas! You  must eat at least once at a buffet!

Now I scoured the buffet lists and I found several that ignited my culinary flame! But alas, they were usually $40+ per person. And Michael was paying for 4 of us. Let’s face it, a picky 13 year-old and a 16 year-old are NOT going to appreciate these particular choices. So I went looking for one that was cheap and close to Aria. That left The Buffet at Excalibur.

I am a foodie. I love gourmet food and home cookin’ alike. But when you go to The Buffet you are getting what you pay for. At $26/ person (it was a little more that night because it was ‘seafood’ night), it’s food is ‘eh’, but satisfying. You aren’t going to get food poisoning. (at least none of us did) But I didn’t find anything outstanding there. Let’s say, for me, it was uneventful.

However, for everyone else, it was a HIT! Z got to try “sushi” and he LOVED it! (None of it contained raw fish. They had cucumber rolls and something filled with an overly-mayonnaised fake crab. But he didn’t know the difference and was delighted.) Since it was seafood night they had boil and peel shrimp, skinny crab legs, mussels and a few seafood-inspired dishes. And S, who claims to detest seafood, loved the buffet because she could pick at her salad, mashed potatoes and gravy and then the dessert bar and no one would yell at her for not eating anything. (Even though her father forked over $26 for this privilege.)

So maybe The Buffet didn’t hit my snooty food mark but it won in everyone else’s book. According to Z it was “the best meal he ever had!” (mumbled with food in his mouth as he continued to shove it in by the forkfull.) So I’ll count it as an overall win.

Zarkana. It. Was. Amazing. If you’re in Vegas, go see it.

And the last, current, installment of “S Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection, The Las Vegas Strip.”

Vegas Strip

The next, and final day, consisted of going to a water park in Vegas. The kids got to don bathing suits before hitting the plane later that night back to cold Syracuse. We thought this would be a great idea since temperatures were to hit in the 80’s that day. Well… it wasn’t exactly as we had expected. The temps reached the high 70’s. But it hadn’t been consistently hot enough to really warm up the water. It was FREEZING! I hit a few slides than called it quits. Michael and Dan hit a few more than me. Other than that we let the kids play until closing.

We put the tuckered out kids on a plane that night and let them sleep the night home, all the way back to New York. It was a great trip! And now, almost 2 weeks later, I still don’t have this camper completed rid of red dust and sand. But that’s ok. It was worth it!

Utah is……

I know, I know. I’m kinda dragging out this whole vacation posting thing. And S, if you’re reading, I know, there’s not enough about you in it. 🙂 But the thing is, I have real work to get caught up on, RV packing up and moving to do, campsites to immediately find, pictures to go through… on top of that I’m also trying to reach back a week or so and even remember what the heck we did. Yes, there were funny moments – none of which I feel I’m capturing here. (yet, anyway). But I really want to make sure I, at minimum, get down what we did and where for posterity. Along with the photos, of course.

The lesson learned: Blog while you’re vacationing. Even if you can’t post it you can write it. Then it doesn’t turn into such a chore when you get back. And you really do capture the funny stuff to share!

After our night in the secluded beauty of the rainbow rocks, we continued to our next destination, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park in Escalante, Utah. I had booked us a few nights at the state park that sits inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Let me be honest – I had no idea what this park was about. Several months ago, when we decided on this vacation, I sat down and started combing state and federal parks for a site that a) was available and b) could fit our rig. A 39′ fifth wheel is no small camper. Campground after campground was coming up booked (it was spring break, after all) or could not accommodate a camper our size. When this park had an opening I snagged it. I figured we were close enough to other parks that the worst situation was that we’d drive everyday to a park and just use the campground as a base camp.

Man did we luck out!

It’s called the Petrified Forest state park for a reason! DUH! First there were rocks and boulders EVERYWHERE! And what did I say keeps a Boadway happy? Climbing on rocks and boulders!! Second there was a fantastic path up the side of the hill through an area covered in petrified wood! I had no idea it would be so colorful!

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And the scenery was breathtaking.

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That’s how we spent one morning. That afternoon we headed to Calf Creek to hike the three miles, one way, to the Lower Falls. It was just a 10 mile drive east of our park. The drive itself was indescribable. Marbled canyon walls, steep, hairpin turns. Unfortunately not enough great places to pull the big dually over to take photos. There’s the Kiva Koffee House between our camp and the falls on Hwy 12 that sits atop a hill, surrounded by all of this gorgeousness. It has wraparound windows for an unobstructed view. However we went to falls on a Tuesday – the day the Koffee House is closed. I have no idea what their coffee is like but I’m certain you need to stop for the phenomenal views!

At Calf Creek we meandered the three miles to the falls. Interestingly, a lot of the trail is sandy. Sand so fine, in fact, it’s like powdered sugar the color of terra cotta! Sounds neat. Crap to hike in. But still a hike that it worth it!

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There were ancient pictographs too!!

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And getting close to the falls…

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And the falls!!!

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And more in the “S Doing Scorpions in Scenic Places: A Collection”

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That was enough excitement for one day! I think we all slept like the dead that night. Which was a good thing because I had it on good authority that Bryce Canyon is waaaay better than Zion National Park. Convenient – since we were a lot closer to Bryce Canyon anyway.

That is, of course, so long as it’s not’s SNOWING!!!

Yes folks, the kids that left Syracuse, New York to get out of snow woke up to light flurries. Oops! Although no one was in the mood to hike in it, it made for some great pictures. That’s after the mad raid for warm clothes through MY closet. S was swaddled head-to-toe in my oversized long sleeve performance shirts, fleeces and jackets. Z was in my Adidas workout pants, flood waders for him, and my Clemson sweatshirt. (because you know, 16 year old boys are too cool to be too warm and cozy, but humble enough to wear ridiculous looking highwater athletic pants.) And Uncle Dan had on a pair of my funky designed spandex running tights under his shorts. Michael swears he will never look at me the same way in those (previously sexy) running tights again. :-/

We may have driven through Bryce Canyon but I took some pictures (and on the way there!!)

We pulled over the side of the road to capture this snow system moving across the distance!

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Bryce Canyon in snow.

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Another long day and we were pooped. We needed our rest because we were headed back to Nevada and Las Vegas, baby!!

Spring break adventure… with teens…

You may recall a while back I lamented on the difficulty of posting regularly while on the road. You may also notice it’s been about two weeks since my last post. Yep, there’s a reason for that.

Like most of the US, especially those with children, we have been on Spring Break. And our SB involved:

  • a 13 year old
  • a 16 year old
  • retired Uncle Dan
  • some of the most beautiful places in America
  • spotty, if any, cell service

Anyone in this day and age might read “13yo, 16yo and no cell service” and gasp in horror at what terrible stories lie ahead. There are stories to be told, and for your bladder and eye comfort, not all in one post. But I will say we all survived no worse for the wear after this extended holiday. I’ll be the first to admit my utter surprise that we all appear to have remained sane. Me, most of all. (but just barely)

Some background: Michael has three kids. T, the oldest, is in college and is past “family holidays”, much to her dad’s chagrin. Spring break is a little easier to understand since colleges don’t have the same break schedule. Z is 16 and a sophomore and S is a 13 year old 7th grader. These ages are hard to juggle vacations too but more because you’re vying for time against school activities, after-school activities and the dreaded “social circle of teenager friends”. Because we all know, there is absolutely NOTHING cooler than your teen’s BFFs, am I right?

And if you’re an amazing enough parent that your kids want to spent time with you , you still have to be in constant competition with the current Wi-Fi enabled communication device. What if there’s a text from their bestie?!?!  And, seriously folks, where was streaming music when I was a kid? Yes, I had a walkman and then a discman, but I could never get that volume loud enough to drown out the books-on-tape my mother insisted on renting from the library before we went on a cross country car trip!

And I can’t forget Uncle Dan. Mike’s brother is barely 50 and already retired. You think we’re living the life?!?! Uncle Dan lives in WV. The kids flew in from Syracuse, so everyone was excited to get out of cold weather. We started our grand adventure with everyone flying into Las Vegas, because what else would get you the side eye when you say you’re taking your teenagers to Vegas?

I was the self appointed tour guide for the trip. I had very mixed feelings about this title. Michael didn’t ask me to plan the trip at all. But his idea of trip planning is “winging it” and hope for the best. I’m the exact opposite. Since we’ve started full-timing I’ve had to loosen up a bit. (for me it’s felt like a lot!) But I refused to have 3 people show up and not have a flippin’ idea of what was going to happen. I wanted them to have a nice trip. And I didn’t want to become unhinged. (to put it mildly)

I didn’t take this responsibility lightly. I pondered and complemplated and speculated for weeks about what kind of activities would really “make” a vacation for this group of people. That’s a tough order. At least I thought it was. Luckily they all like to hike. I finally realized, what better vacation than to show them the “fun” vacations my family took when I was growing up? None of them had similar experiences and it would include all the types of activities Michael and I would like to show them.

So I decided to plan a traditional “Dillon Vacation”! The only real difference – my family did it in a car or minivan with camping gear in the back. This group was lucky enough to do it in the luxury of a 5th wheel camper and Wi-Fi! (sometimes..) My dad was a teacher so we were fortunate enough to hit the road for weeks at a time in the summer, just road-trippin’ and seein’ the sights! Tourist trap, anyone? And like any vacation with sight seeing on the agenda, the trick is how-much-can-you-jam-into-12-days??

FIRST STOP – THE GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK

Everyone knows this is a default on “The Bucket List”. None of us, except Dan, had ever been there. So as not to try and over-plan our trip I generally made campsite reservations and looked up possible things to do in each area. Then once we got there we could take a consensus, see what people were interested in, see if there was anything the locals or guides suggested. You know, roll with it. (This is about as “winging it” as I feel comfortable. Especially since many campsites were completely booked solid months ago since it was a holiday week.)

We really only had a few days in Williams, AZ, a cute little Route 66 town. And yes, I made Mike drive part of the way from Las Vegas to Williams on the historic Route 66. Scenic drive!! Ok, not as much as I had hoped. But I felt compelled to give a quick history lesson about Rt. 66 and what is was, etc.

And that’s when it hit.

Oh My God!

I’ve turned into my mother!!! (insert Psycho movie music here.)

Because every vacation had to include an educational element. And it was tailored to your age. Because my brother is 11 years younger than me. And sometimes my little cousins would come with us. So everyone had a learning syllabus geared towards his or her age, interests and abilities that ran parallel to the vacation stops. Case in point: One year while in the Northeast we had to stop at Walden Pond. I was in high school so I had reading assignments by Thoreau. My little cousins got to gather sticks and hot glue gun them onto picture frames. Clearly they were in elementary school. The oldest, Brian, then about 10, now a lawyer, probably had to identify some plants while doing this. But I digress.

So, Route 66. The kids could have cared less. Uncle Dan seemed very interested and always had his own facts to add. Mike? Couldn’t say. He always drives when we’re haulin’. Not interested or just focused on the road? Or maybe just amused by the whole show going on in the rest of the truck? But we did stop at little dive tourist trap on the way – Grand Canyon Caverns. We took the $20/ person tour through the “Largest Dry Caverns in the United States”. Folks, I’ve been to some amazing caverns. I was really excited to see the “largest”. And it was a very interesting tour! Did you know you can actually spend the night – like a hotel – in this cavern?? But what I realized as we were touring is that all the cool stalactites and stalagmites and the really colorful deposits are left in wet caves….  :-/

As you may recall I bought a fancy pants new camera. I’m still learning how to use it, let alone take fancy pants artistic pictures with it. But I don’t feel bad about my pictures of the Grand Canyon. I think very few people can truly capture “The Grand Canyon” on film. But I snapped a few. The first day we drove up and just checked things out.

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Little did I realize we started a new photos series with S, her doing cheerleading scorpions in scenic places across the US. That is what is interesting to a 13 year old girl.
Grand Canyon

The second day we took the scenic Grand Canyon Railway Train to the canyon instead. Once there we only had a few hours to hike a bit down into the Bright Angel Trail and back before the trail left the station for the 2.5 hour ride back to Williams.

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In Williams we stayed at the Canyon Motel & RV Park. It’s a cute, quaint little place where you can stay in a room or in a caboose or railway car!! It looks so neat I almost didn’t want to stay in the RV! THe staff was very helpful with getting our train tickets too. However, as a side note, when management of the RV park tells you to unhook your water line at night because it might freeze… don’t forget to do it the second night because it might break a fitting on their pump. And parks don’t like it when you accidentally break their stuff. Just ask Uncle Dan.

So after all the majestic grandeur of what is known as THE Grand Canyon… no one was very impressed. I’m serious. “too many people”, “paved trails? really??” “It’s crowded”.  It seems as though this particular tour group prefers serious hiking and rock climbing. I think everyone would have enjoyed it more if we’d had more time to really hike down into the canyon, possibly spend 3-4 days packing it in and around. That’s probably too advanced for S, but that’s right up Z’s ally. I have already informed Mike that we have to get my camping/backpacking gear out of storage so we can do the canyon “right” next time!

NEXT STOP – UTAH BY WAY OF VERMILLION CLIFFS IN ARIZONA

I Caved

I have a few friends who are professional photographers. Weddings, newborns, families and general artistic endeavors. I love what they do. I’ve thought about dropping some cash and tooling around it as a hobby, like so many millions of people already do. But as we set out on this grand RVing adventure I thought, “Self, do you really need another hobby? Especially an expensive one??”

I’m the first one to admit taking up photography while living a life on the road seems pretty obvious. But sometimes I can be a bit obtuse. Since I had to crate and store my piano in order to live this lifestyle I brought along my guitar. The difference? I know how to play the piano. I’ve been doing it since I was about 6 or 7. The guitar is a new instrument to me – a whole 5 or so lessons under my belt. Which explains why I haven’t touched it since we left New York. My reasoning with not getting a “nice camera” was, “Don’t start something new when you have something right here to keep you occupied!”

Granted, both are artistic outlets. Clearly this is something I presently feel lacking my in life. But there was something that struck me as we drove across barren west Texas and New Mexico on our way here to Phoenix. Beautiful landscape has always interested me. Ansel Adams has continually captivated me. Give me a realistic photograph of breath-taking scenery to hang on my wall over a painting any day.

For those of you who may not know, my dad is a high school art teacher. What’s so neat about his classes is that in his advance art classes he teaches neat stuff, like pottery, silk screening, casting jewelry and many years ago, photography. (back in the 80’s when the arts were properly funded!) He taught the basics of using a 33mm camera and how to develop the film. I was too young to be in his classes in those days but I remember him trying to teach me the basic of the camera and taking photographs: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. (The perks of being an art teacher’s kid!) We even had a dark room in our basement. When he wasn’t developing pictures I like to built forts in there. Gimme a break, I was about 10.

I was tentative to snap pictures back then. I was shooting on expensive 35mm FILM. *GASP* Plus, you couldn’t tell if you were doing it right until you developed said expensive film. And I was 10!!! Or maybe 11… But I still remember holding the huge camera in my hands and fumbling with all the levers and buttons. Winding the film after every shot. It made me feel very important and adult-like. Much more grown-up than my Polaroid!

Cameras on our phones have come so far these days, as have the filters and what-nots that are accessible. But I accidentally got a big tax refund this year and decided to just go for it. All my other hobbies, expensive or not (piano, big power tools to build things with wood, gardening, beer making, sewing) are packed up in storage. Might as well start a new one!

At the advice of a friend and long-time photographer, I purchased a Canon EOS Rebel T5i bundle. (Danelle, as a side note, on your advice I did buy an extra battery!) It came with a bunch of lenses and bells and whistle extras. I’ll eventually get to it but right now I’m focused on learning how to shoot it in manual mode. I want to learn my camera like my dad taught me how to drive: I was only allowed to drive the family minivan after I was proficient driving his manual truck. If you can drive a stick you can drive anything.

As tempted as I might be to set this amazing piece of technology to “auto” and start snapping, that defeats the purpose of buying this particular camera. Otherwise I would have bought a really nice, expensive point and shoot. But that’s not what I wanted, so I didn’t. But it takes practice and perseverance.  My friend suggested I buy 2 books with the camera (which I did!!)  The first is camera-specific, Canon EOS Rebel T5i/700D Digital Field Guide and the second is a general book on exposure, Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition. I have found both of these exceptionally helpful and enlightening!

Am I going to start flooding the blog with pictures from my new camera? Probably not. At least not yet. I still have a long way to go before I feel like I’m taking half-way decent images. But hey, isn’t that what learning a new hobby is about?