SXSW : Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches


And the last installment of images from our trip. Phew.

When we added Zion into the trip we also added in Bryce Canyon. Well after we decided to stay an extra night camping in Zion that meant we wouldn’t spend the night in Bryce. This actually worked to our advantage because little did we know that night it would snow 3 feet in Bryce over night! That would have sucked for camping! When we got to Bryce the next day the whole park was covered in snow and it was absolutely gorgeous! The Campsite we were supposed to stay at was completely covered in snow and you couldn’t even drive down the road. So glad we decided to stay in Zion, especially since we didn’t have a strong enough cell signal to check the weather for Bryce. πŸ™‚


Hiking in Bryce. We were only in Bryce for a couple hours but it was very worth the side trip!




The contrast of the snow against the red/orange rocks was pretty awesome.



Running shoes are the absolute best shoes for hiking in the show. Not. Surprisingly it was really hot with the sun out and even though it was below 30 degrees it felt a lot warmer!


On the way to Canyonlands.


Our campsite in Dead Horse Park, right outside of Canyonlands.









So fun story. Last year in the Grand Tetons we met Jorge and Becky. They were at the campsite next to ours and we shared a couple meals over the campfire together and suggested hikes and places to eat in Jackson Hole to each other. When we left we exchanged contact info and social media usernames. Over the last year we’ve kept up with them and since they live in Utah we asked if they wanted to join us on our last bit of our trip. We were so excited to see them again and spend a couple days hiking and staying up late catching up. Having friends in other parts of the country is pretty awesome and we can’t wait to meet up with them again on another adventure!


Hiking to the False Kiva in Canyonlands.


False Kiva.





Find Philip.





















Our loyal Prius that we now absolutely love. Since we travel so much, and drive most the trips, we felt it was finally time to trade in our gas guzzling Jeep and get a Hybrid. Boy were we glad we did! On our last road trip we drove 3,900 miles and spent over $1,200 on gas in a suv. On this trip we drove 4,700 miles and only spent $227 on gas. Winning!




Honestly on our last day in Arches we were completely exhausted from driving all over the country and hiking about 8-9 miles a day. We saved Delicate Arch as our last hike and we almost didn’t do it because we were so exhausted. Since it is just a famous arch we decided that we needed to suck it up and just do the straight up hill hike. We were pretty glad we did. πŸ™‚




On our final night of camping the stars were out in full force! I’ve never seen so many stars in my life and even though we just wanted to climb into our sleeping bags and pass out I’m so glad that we took the time to get a few long exposures of the stars.


This was one of favorite shots of the trip. This was the view from our campsite and I loved seeing the rocks lit up by all the campfires! Getting a campsite in Arches is actually pretty hard and Philip was able to get us this amazing spot, probably one of the best campsites we’ve ever had!


After half a month away we were excited to get back home but after just a couple days home we were ready to go out on another adventure!!

SXSW : Zion


Zion, oh Zion. When we planned this trip months ago we didn’t plan on going to Zion and truth be told we hadn’t heard of it until two weeks before we left. We are complete dorks and a few weeks before our trip we started watching a 8 hr documentary on the formations of the national parks (from PBS, on Netflix and pretty awesome if you are into documentaries that are really long πŸ™‚ ) and here we were introduced to Zion. Since we were going to be so close we decided that we should go to Zion instead of going back in Arizona after Vegas before heading in to Moab, Utah.

The moment we drove into Zion we knew immediately that we were going to love it and we were so glad we made the change in itinerary. Zion is one of the smaller parks but it is simply breath taking! Our campsite had an amazing view and our first night there was a full moon with a completely clear night. We watched the moon rise above the mountains and fill the night with more light than we have ever seen in Memphis. We had actually planned to just stay one night but within ten minutes of being there we decided to add another day and night in Zion.

In Zion there is a fabulous hike/climb called Angel’s Landing that we did. When we looked into the park before heading out on the trip we discovered this hike and were slightly terrified by it. In the last few years there have been multiple deaths on this hike because it is so dangerous… It is a nontechnical hike but it has shear drop offs that go down hundreds of feet. There is a simple chain along the trail that is supposed to help you… yeah real good for the nerves of someone who doesn’t do well with edges. I told Philip that we would do the hike but only if we wore repelling harnesses so we could hook on if we felt insecure with our footing. And it turns we actually needed it because the trail was covered in snow and ice when we hiked it and many times we couldn’t get our footing and needed to pull ourselves up the mountain and then coming down we pretty much ghetto repelled down… But the view at the top was out of this world and we now have the itch to climb even taller and harder mountains!


Our campsite view in Zion.















I love the above image that Philip got the first night! The full moon perfectly illuminated the mountains and river for the long exposure of the stars.


It was pretty cold camping… Below 30 degrees both nights which is pretty chilly in a tent.Zion0017


The sunrise hitting just the peak of the mountains. Β Zion0018











Zion0030Starting Angel’s Landing. So many switchbacks!



On the right is the start of the last half mile of the Angel’s Landing hike. A lot of the people we encountered on the trail made it this point (Scout’s Lookout) but didn’t continue on to the summit because of the snow and ice.





Drop offs on either side of Philip. This is right near Step of Faith which is a part of the trail that is narrower than this and no chain at all… We watched several grown adults get to this point and turn around since it was so intimidating.

Behind us is the trail and that part was almost completely in shade and had very little snow melt and what had melted was icing over as seen below.

Zion0036Here we started having to pull ourselves up the mountain. So glad we had been hitting the gym heavy before going!


Zion0038Not going to lie, we felt pretty bad-A at this point of the hike. The Zion valley Β is in the middle of the image.



The thin ridge behind Philip is where we came from. It was pretty awesome to see how far we had come. Also at this point we were the only people on the trail.



And the view from the top. Very worth it!






Philip enjoying the summit view.



Coming back down from Angel’s Landing.


Find Savannah! On one of the switchbacks coming back down.

Zion has quickly become one of our favorite places in the US and we cannot wait to go back! Even though the park is super small compared to other national park we felt like we need to go back aspens a whole week here. We barely made a dent in all we wanted to do in this park!


SXSW : Grand Canyon and Valley of Fire


When we planned our trip originally we were going to go to the Grand Canyon and also Antelope Canyon. A week out from the trip we decided to skip the GC and instead hit up Zion in Utah. In my next post I’ll tell you more about how glad we are that we went straight on to Utah but since the GC was was only another 40 miles on our way from Petrified Forest to Vegas we decided to go ahead and make a little detour and include the GC on this trip. While driving the long empty road to the South Rim the sun was out and we were excited to see one of the 2nd most visited national park in the US. Well when we got to the park entrance it was snowing just a little and by the time we got to the first spot to actually see the canyon it was snowing so heavy that visibility was down to about 10 feet. Even though we couldn’t see into the canyon at this point you could still feel the vastness of the massive hole in front of us.Β At one point the snow stopped for about 5 minutes and we got to see a glimpse of the canyon!

After driving around the park for about 45 minutes we realized that we weren’t going to have much luck seeing the canyon and in fact it was snowing so heavy that several inches of snow were already on the roads and we didn’t feel safe driving on them (we are from the south and we don’t do snow, especially in a Prius). Honestly we were kind of excited to see the GC in snow because it was different than how most get to see it. We will most definitely go back and spend some time at the bottom exploring.

From the Grand Canyon we drove to Vegas for our photography conference. While in Vegas we didn’t take a single picture. We’ve done Vegas before and neither of us are huge fans of the city (sooooo many people!!). We spent 5 days inside the MGM watching print judging, taking classes, and catching up with photographer friends who live in other parts of the country and world. As much as we love the learning experience I wish it was in a different city… But while in Vegas we escaped for the day to the Valley of Fire.

The Valley of Fire was pretty spectacular! Confession, we didn’t take a camera with us to the Valley of Fire and we wish we had! We decided to go on the spur of the moment between classes and our cameras got locked up in our friend’s house who we were staying with… Oops. So all the images we have from the Valley were from our cell phones, thankfully iPhones have come a long way πŸ™‚ The red rocks of this park are seriously amazing! It is so crazy how the earth says right here the rocks are brown and ten feet over I think the rocks should be red. Kind of mind blowing if you ask me. I wish we had a little bit more time in Valley of Fire so I guess we’ll just have to escape Vegas for a little bit longer next time we are there for the convention πŸ™‚

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Oh hey a little bit of the Grand Canyon. The most we saw of it!
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I love the transition in color in the rocks!
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SXSW : Petrified Forest


From White Sands we journeyed on to Petrified Forest. The drive through western New Mexico and east Arizona was pretty spectacular. At one point we we watched a storm roll into the valley. Seeing the clouds pouring over the mountains and rushing to the valley floor left us speechless. Had we not been in a rush to get to Petrified Forest we would have stayed and done a time lapse…

When we go to the Petrified Forest we really didn’t know what to expect. On our last big national park tour (Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons) we heavily researched the parks and knew exactly what we were going to see. This trip we wanted to be a little bit more surprised with the adventures. We knew there would be petrified trees but the amount of color and layers in the badlands (a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water) were mind blowing. We did a short trail called the Blue Mesa and never before have we felt like we were completely on a different plant. A storm was moving in while we were hiking and the ominous clouds added to the mystery of the place. Petrified Forest is definitely out of the way and smaller than most national parks but it is a place that everyone needs to visit at least once in their life. Having been to the Badlands in South Dakota I was a little nervous that Petrified Forest wouldn’t be worth seeing but the drastic colors that are on the Blue Mesa trail make it definitely worth while!

And there are the petrified logs. The fact that the whole area previously was a forest ages ago and now all that is left are small sections of trees that are now stone is pretty strange. If you stand there looking at the logs for too long it kind of blows your mind trying to comprehend what happened.

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Storm coming over the mountains.

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First view of Petrified Forest badlands.

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Blue Mesa trail. I thought it more purple than blue personally πŸ™‚

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Part of my Black Dress series.

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Badland layers in The Painted Desert.


Petrified log.

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Horrible Iphone quality image of our campsite for Petrified Forest. This was the only campsite where we weren’t inside a national park. This was probably the shadiest place we’ve ever stayed and made for some great stories… as in Philip decided that we should sleep with the wood chopping ax and pepper spray. But we lived through the night and no one tried to kill us!

SXSW road trip : White Sands

At the end of February we embarked on a half month road trip across the southwest. The main part of the trip was a photography convention in Las Vegas and instead of flying out we decided to drive and incorporate as many national and state parks as possible. We did five days of park adventuring, five days in Vegas, and then another five days of being out in nature. It was seriously one of the best trips we have taken together and I wish we could do a trip like this once a month. Since we did so much I thought I would break the trip up into a couple post πŸ™‚

After driving 1,110 miles through all of Arkansas, Texas (which west Texas, literally is the flattest and emptiest place in the US), and half of New Mexico we arrived at White Sands. Coming out of the mountains and seeing White Sands 20+ miles away in the valley was pretty breathtaking; all you see is pure white in the middle of brown mountains. Once we were inside of White Sands we were pretty speechless. We pretty much had the entire park to ourselves and we ran around for hours exploring the vast sand dunes. One of the neatest things we experienced at the dunes was the silence. We got out of our car and it was absolutely silent; you could hear the wind blowing ever so silently and the individual grains of sand moving across the dunes. Like little kids we went sledding on the dunes and had a blast being carefree. Probably the biggest highlight of White Sands had to be running around the dunes at sunset together trying to get the perfect shot of us. For this trip I did a personal project (seen here) where I did self portraits in a black dress at some of the parks we visited. After I got a few shots in my dress Philip decided that we need images of both of us dressed up in the dunes. Like I was going to turn down a chance to have great images of the two of us πŸ™‚ These sunset images of us are some of my favorite ever. Got to love a tripod, timer, and epic sunset!
And here is a little look at our time in White Sands. Enjoy!