I’ve been really busy and unable to get online to update this blog for a month now, and in the morning I’m going back into the Canyon for another two weeks. In the meantime, I have taken thousands of images, including hundreds of the California Condors of Grand Canyon National Park. I’m going to try to start getting those images up on this website soon.
On the weekends, when I’ve been up on the South Rim at my home with Anne, I’ve gone through many of those images and spent a lot of time thinking about the Grand Canyon, the condors, our experience here. In talking about this place, Anne and I have frequently reminisced about our first visit here together (which was my first and only visit before this winter). Our basic memories went something like this:
April 5, 2005 – We showed up just before sunset one evening, already days into a long road trip. After parking our car, we headed for the rim to see the view, but were distracted on the way there by elk and Clark’s Nutcrackers and practically missed sunset completely. The night was cold and so were we and we woke up early just to run into one of the Grand Canyon lodges to get a hot cup of coffee. We then quickly packed up camp and drove the rim eastward to Desert View, took some photos, and raced off toward Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
And that was it, probably. Having talked about it so much, I finally dug out the photos (from my nearly 10-year backlog archive) and looked through them with Anne. We did, indeed, arrive late in the day and we were, in fact, distracted by elk and birds. We still managed to get a good look from the rim, however, and managed to take a lot of photos. Many of those photos were uninspired, poorly executed, and are not particularly exciting as photos go. That might be in part because we had already spent several days racing through many of the most beautiful landscapes in the country (I’d flown into Vegas and we’d gone through Death Valley, Joshua Tree, the Mohave, and points in-between). It’s likely also in part because I hadn’t yet developed into a skilled photographer.
Going further back through my photos, I now remember that just a month before arriving at the Grand Canyon, I’d been in Rhode Island interviewing for an insurance job. I then spent most of March working as an office temp, floundering. Near the end of March, I’d temped for a candle company where my supervisor had given me a business card of a photographer named Michael Rixon. For days, I was too nervous to call, but when I finally did, Mike was expecting my call and he was willing to have me come along to work as his assistant. He was a little surprised that I would first be going on a long road-trip…
I landed at Las Vegas airport for the very first time on March 31, 2005. Anne, who had driven out west on her own, picked me up in her red Honda Civic DX and we immediately headed for Rhyolite and Death Valley. I had never seen palm trees before. As we drove out of Vegas, I saw a landscape unfamiliar and leaned out the window to take a shot of it. I was wearing my flying clothes: a blue, business-casual button-up shirt and a silver business-casual watch; probably khaki pants. We’d arrive at camp in Death Valley after sundown and would wake up before sunrise to see the desert during one of the best wildflower seasons on record. In a couple of days, I would decide no longer to wear neck-ties to work nor shave.
After several incredible, life-altering days we would arrive at the Grand Canyon. The wet season that allowed Death Valley to bloom so strongly had also, apparently hit the Canyon, though we wouldn’t realize it for nearly eight years…