Trash

Desert Beauty- A visit to Arizona and Utah

A dear friend from Columbia had moved in to Phoenix AZ with her husband in early 2012 and they invited the whole gang over. After a lot of back and forth, we made it down to AZ in June of that year. This was in itself, a minor miracle given that a number of the party were in pursuit of their PhD’s and doctoral hopefuls are notoriously at the mercy of their advisers whims. Phoenix has an imaginative named airport “The sky harbor” which is one of the nicest, well though out airports I have had the pleasure of traveling through. Being Summer and Arizona, the heat was terrible. Being a party of Indians, we all had at various points in our lives experienced high temperatures. However, the dry heat of Arizona was something out of the ordinary. It feels like the life is slowly being sucked out of you.

We started out from Phoenix and made out way to Monument Valley National park. While not as popular as the Grand Canyon, I found Monument Valley to have its own charm. There are sandstone buttes (pronounced as byutes and not butt-es) rising out of the desert floor set against stunning cloudless azure skies ( a feature through out the trip). These Buttes were all that remained of a high and great plateau that had not succumbed to the action of the wind.The park offers an option whereby you can pay for access to a dirt track which allows for a 2-3 hour long self guided tour through the Valley. At the end of the tour, we found ourselves in Utah.  By then, night had fallen, and the desert sky was a sight to behold, a dark blanket studded with diamonds. On our way back through the silent, lonely night, we had planned a warm surprise for one of the group whose birthday it was. We celebrated in memorable style, under the vast unbroken canopy at a gas station in the middle of nowhere which was closed for the night. It will remain a cherished memory for not just the birthday girl but the rest of the group as well.

That night, we bunked at a place delightfully named Mexican Hat. We got there fairly late at night and in true Indian spirit, the 6 of us slept in a room designated for 2. Another early morning saw us on the road to the Grand Canyon which was to be the highlight of the tour. Our meal stops afforded me the opportunity to try out true Tex-Mex cuisine which I fell in love with. The trip was ill conceived and our time at the Grand Canyon was short. However, it has left a lasting impression on me. The first reaction that most of us who were seeing it for the first time had was a sharp intake of breath as our senses struggled to take in the vastness of the scene in front of us. The entire horizon is filled with a canyon with stunning detail, colored stratified rock faces, precarious rock formations and tiny figures trekking at the bottom. It was a scene where one could sit and meditatively contempt for hours and yet come across something new to take your fancy.

Being at the start of my photography days, the only camera I had was my trusty old Mamiya C330 TLR with a 80mm normal lens. These are not the best tools to capture landscapes being too narrow an FOV and a complimenting square format. Also, my lack of meter meant I was exposing to Sunny 16. The great distances you could see would have been rendered better throught he use of a UV filter. All excuses aside,I feel like there were some good images, here are some of pictures from the trip.

We were beat by the time we got back to Phoenix and spent the next day drinking and relaxing indoors. Thanks to our great hosts, we had an awesome time. I will always look back to my time in Arizona (and briefly Utah) with a certain fondness with memories of starlit skies, wind carved monuments and river crafted canyons will always remain with me.