The drive from Los Angeles to Nebraska and back (on two different routes) drives you through 9 states, 10 if you take route 54 and go through 10 minutes of Texas.
9 states in 4 and a half days of driving is a lot of states when you consider the size of them. Coming from New England I am accustomed to being in and out of a state within an hour. But out here in the wild west things are a lot bigger.
Starting with the sky
The vastness of this country didn’t hit me until this road trip. I’ve been on many road trips in the past, from Boston to upstate New York, Orlando FL, Arkansas, Atlanta GA, Washington DC. But those were all before the age of 15, and again, the east coast is a very different beast than the west. I never drove on a major highway unencumbered by noise blocking cement walls.
But a couple hours outside Los Angeles and you find yourself on a long, straight, desert road that leads to seemingly nowhere. This one highway continues for miles, hundreds and hundreds of miles.
I could wax poetically about the sky, and the mountains, and the vast openness of the United States of America. But that’s been done to death. The idea of road trips has been romanticized for hundreds of years. One more person adding flame to that fire won’t do a whole lot. Also, I’m exhausted and editing these pictures took hours.
I will say this, nothing feels quite as freeing as going 80 miles an hour down an open high way in the middle of a work day while listening to the Harry Potter books on tape. There’s a sense of greatness all around, and instead of making me feel small and insignificant it made me feel alive and powerful. And because memories are fickle and unreliable I finally used my camera for something good. Taking lots and lots of pictures of the drive and the Grand Canyon.
The open road can lead anywhere in this great wide world, and this trip taught me that I can take whatever road I choose. So perhaps one day soon I’ll find myself on this long desert road, leading into the Rockies and farther into this great nation. There are national parks to visit, and monuments to see, and food to eat, and people to meet, and cities to explore.
For now though, I’ll leave you with these photos. A majority of which were taken from a speeding car, so please forgive the awful composition.
The above photos are from our afternoon to evening drive through Utah on the I-70.
And here are the sunrise shots of the Rock Mountains the following day. A lot of it actually looks like Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland/world.
Then we hit some wonderful morning and early afternoon clouds and sun light right before crossing the continental divide.
Even more gorgeous photos of the Rockies and some magical lake and my California car surrounded by snow and ice.
The next photos I took were in New Mexico, because honestly Colorado east of Denver, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma all look exactly the same. So here is a grey morning in New Mexico, the last two photos were mostly just me fiddling with contrast and saturation. There’s a few of those, I call them my ~**artsy**~ shots.
Montana is technically the big sky state, but I think a lot of the flatter west is full of sky. It’s a gorgeous sky. Still more New Mexico.
Even more New Mexico! Last set, I swear. The top row middle picture is one I like to call Jabba the Mountain.
Welcome to Grand Canyon West! Set on a reservation of the Hualapai Native American Reservation, they have 3 stops on their tour, one being the infamous skywalk. Sadly they don’t allow you to bring anything on the skywalk because otherwise there would be a pile of junk at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Oh, and that foot print is from a giant pre-historic sloth that is the only proof they have of pre-historic life in that part of the Grand Canyon.
*Swoons over Mother Nature*
Welcome to the series of photos I took of a couple ravens who were way too agreeable to being photographed. I assume they get this a lot though.
In that third photo from the left you can clearly see the Colorado river which created this giant canyon in the first place.
The final shots. That structure used to be a mining rig to harvest bat guano from a cave across the canyon. In the 1960s a fighter jet didn’t see the rig and snapped it, and they never bothered fixing it.
I would like to say that this road trip opened my eyes to so many types of land, people, places, lifestyles, and animals. I will now begin planning the next one. Pacific Northwest here I come!