Hooray for fall! Saturday morning I flew to Albuquerque, grabbed a rental SUV, and headed towards Chaco. Didn’t get far until I was total stopped by traffic, on a Saturday! I arrived at Chaco around 5, and had enough time to fire off three exposures at Pueblo Bonito.
Sunday I was up bright and early and hit the ruin loop for Pueblo Bonito and Casa Rinconada. Chaco canyon is, in my mind, almost the perfect national park (actually it is a world heritage site) the campground is nice, but not over developed, the ruins are awesome, although the ropes and “NO” signs are getting a little too prevalent.
After taking advantage of the morning light I headed to the Bisti Badlands. This was the first time I had visited, although I remember many years ago driving along 371 and being intrigued by the name. This is BLM land so very undeveloped, I scouted out the location I wanted to photograph, no sense in wandering with 40lbs of photography equipment. A couple hours before sunset I headed off with my camera to the area they call the “egg factory” Truly remarkable what a little water can do to a landscape. After shooting for a couple hours I made the half hour trudge back to the car and drove back to Chaco.
Monday morning sunrise promised much better “photographic weather” as those nice little southwest clouds had made their appearance. I photographed the loop again, and headed back to Bisti. On the way a nice cold front passed through with lightning and rain squalls, simply beautiful. Monday night I got some, hopefully, better photographs at Bisti. I started to feel more “in the groove” so to speak, and I started seeing things a little more clearly. I also was burning through film faster than I normally do. Maybe because I have for the most part stopped taking color photos. 4×5 color film is just too expensive, and I end up scanning color anyways so I have been taking my Nikon D80 along for the ride. However, I find color distracting, I need a very different mindset to make a good color photo than a good B&W. B&W I feel is a little more creative, although I, like most other folks, respond very strongly to those bold, saturated images of the Southwest.
Tuesday was a break day, I drove to Page, Arizona and grabbed a hotel. Wednesday morning I headed to the local BLM station to try and get a permit for “the wave” However, the lottery they do every day is done at 9 o’clock Utah time, and I was an hour late! Maybe tomorrow.
I headed to another new destination nearby at the end of a long dirt road, and a half hour hike. Once again geology was on display. It is amazing that these cap rocks would protect the soft underlying soil so well that a hoodoo 40 or 50 feet could be created. The columns seem so precarious, the caprock looks like it might slide off at any moment. I am told that for this location, summer light is better. The hoodos are in a north facing alcove and the late fall light was making it hard for me to get a good angle.
As I mentioned before I was burning film faster than usual. I brought 60 sheets of Kodak Readyload Tmax 100 with me, and it was almost gone. So I made a call to Freestyle Photo Sales who FedEx’d another 60 sheets to my hotel, thank you Freestyle! Kodak in their infinite wisdom are discontinuing Readyload, so it looks like I will need to go back to loading sheet film holders soon. I’m glad I didn’t throw away all those Fidelity holders!
Tonight I grabbed a margarita and enchiladas at Fiesta Mexicana (– for name creativity, ++ for large margaritas) Today I felt like I hit my stride, problems of life were merely ripples on the surface of a larger lake. I was in tune with the land, with my equipment, and looking for more adventures.