A Dream of Canyonlands- WIP

There’s a fair number of National Parks i’ve visited at this point now and even more that I plan to visit soon.. but I think Canyonlands NP in Utah will forever remain in my top 3 favorites. I visited last October and there are still days where i’ll be at work or getting ready for bed and some memory of it will flash across my mind and i’ll want to drop everything to go visit again now, soon. This is where the inspiration for this piece came from, the memory of my visit and the photos I took there.

I want to say I started this in…mmm….middle of March?And it was meant to be a weekend project but then that didn’t quite happen and now it’s July and i’m still not done with it. Which i’d love to say isn’t what usually happens but that would be a terrible lie. To be fair to myself though, I generally only get to work on any art projects of mine every other weekend or so and by “weekend” I mean about 4 hours on either Saturday or Sunday after I chugged my iced coffee and am feeling productive.

Faber-Castel PITT artist pens
Prismacolor colored pencils (currently debating on splurging for some Faber-Castel colored pencils but haven’t decided if i’m feeling that artistic just yet)

I’d very much like to finish this one up soon so I can start on another that i’ve in mind- this time from a photograph that I took in Arches, but we’ll see how that actually goes. For now i’m just hoping the weather keeps giving me sun filled weekends and the bf keeps making me excellent iced coffees.


p.s Don’t mind the fantastically low quality of this iPhone photo, I just didn’t feel this work in progress was worth hauling out the actual camera for, not yet.

Goodbye, Utah- Canyonlands National Park

The thing about roadtrips is, no matter how fantastic a place might be, eventually you have to move on to the next leg of the journey. And as amazing as the time we spent here was, after three full days spent wandering around this corner of Utah, I was ready to pack up and head West.  We finished up our last morning at Canyonlands with a breakfast at the picnic area at Upheaval Dome and then headed out with a playlist heavy on Coldpay and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I think we’ll be back to Utah, eventually. But considering my heart is almost desperately yearning for a different continent altogether, probably not for a good couple of years. Thats ok though, because while it would be a lie to say i’ve gotten my fill of the marvels this state holds, I think I’ve enough good memories to tide me over till we come back again.


Green River Overlook- Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Orange Cliffs Overlook, Canyondlands national park, Utah Orange Cliffs Overlook, Canyondlands national park, Utah
Green River Overlook, Canyonlands NP
Green River Overlook landscape, Canyonlands NP
Canyonlands NP, Utah
Canyonlands NP, Utah landscape

The second in my series on Canyonlands NP, the last post will be on Friday (hopefully, if procrastination doesn’t just knock me over and sit me down on the couch to watch Star Trek Beyond ).

I had originally meant to just fit these photos in with the last post but there was something holding me back from that…and whether thats the fact that this overlook had that “WOW” factor I hadn’t been expecting or because I had America’s song Horse With No Name on repeat while I edited these photos in Lightroom, no one will ever know. We managed to get this overlook all to ourselves for a good while that morning, and with the sun filtering in and out of the clouds overhead, casting different lights and shadows as it willed, it was magnificent. It’s certainly a different kind of view than the Grand View Point, but perhaps it was the fact that I didn’t have any expectations coming into it that made it all that much more incredible.

Full disclaimer- despite the title of this post, the first two photos are actually from the Orange Cliffs Overlook, which I highly recommend stopping by as well. While we were there, only one other car stopped by and they didn’t even get out of their car. From the road the overlook doesn’t look like much, but if you walk a little further down the path, the land opens up a bit more and you start seeing buttes and other kinds of formations out there which….sure, might not be much to get excited about for a lot of people but, you’ll always find me running out towards whatever geological formations are around 9/10 times.

“You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
La, la, la…”


p.s This song might have been more appropriate while editing photos of Death Valley but, you’ll soon understand why “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel was much better suited.

It’s Almost Another World, Isn’t it?- Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Shafer Trail Road, Canyonlands National Park

super crowded Mesa Arch
Grand View Point Overlook, Canyonlands National Park

Brian at Canyonlands National Park

M at Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park in October
M at Canyonlands National Park
the blue light at Canyonlands National Park

There is a sense, when you stand at the edge of almost any overlook at this park, of otherworldliness. Your mind rebels at the idea that this vista your eye beholds, that it belongs on this earth. The scale of it all is one thing, but the sheer oddity and variety of all the formations out there on the great expanse, it easily pulls you to imagine you’re far away on some distant world.

The crowds were sparse here, at least when we visited that early morning- though I will say if you’ve plans to enjoy Mesa Arch, time your arrival well in advance and be prepared for loads of people crowded around the formation. Grand View Point Overlook was almost completely deserted when drove up, and compared to the previous day we had stopped by when there was absolutely no parking available, it was a welcome sight. We spent the better part of an hour just wandering around the edges of the overlook there, casting our eyes down down down to where we could see hints of the at times dangerous and high clearance, four-wheel-drive recommended Shafer Trail Road. I think very highly of my beloved Renegade, but that doesn’t mean i’m so foolhardy as to think we should attempt any part of that road, no matter how utterly tempting it might have been. (Definitely something i’ve bookmarked in my mind to come back to later though. )

Leaving the Grand View Point overlook was almost harder than leaving one of my favorite overlooks at the Grand Canyon, and that’s truly saying something, though I guess i’ve a thing for “grand” things.

Don’t we all though?


An Unexpected Finale – Arches National Park, Utah

Balanced rock, Arches National Park

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

About a month after the photos in this post were taken, i’m sitting at home in my office/art studio with graphite pencils scattered all over my floor, three sketchbooks open to various projects and a reheated cup of coffee that tastes just this side of too sweet. In my head i’m composing letters to penpals I really need to send and coming up for excuses as to why i’ve yet to finish Gödel, Escher, Bach by D. Hofstadter though i’ve no problem buying still more Byzantine empire history books. In short, my heart is content to be at home, but there is always a part of me that longs for the promise of adventure that the open road holds and the way my hands itch for a camera and an interesting landscape. 

By the time we had finished up at the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint it was around 9:30 and while we turned the car back around with enthusiasm to head back deeper into the park, there was definitely the sense that the relative peace we had been experiencing was well on it’s way to being over. The day before, after getting drenched to the bone, we had arrived back at the park around 10:30 to stop in at the visitor center so I could stock up on postcards and other souvenirs for friends, coworkers and penpals and it had been a surreal experience to wait in a long line of cars for about half an hour just to get inside. There had been loose plans to possible do the Devils Garden trail, at least as far enough to see the Landscape Arch section but after seeing the overflowing parking lot we decided to save this part of the park for another trip.

Before you get wilting with sadness with me,I should point out that this is something I like to do almost everywhere I go. I like this idea of leaving behind pockets of unknown adventure for myself to look forward to on a return trip, something wholly new and unexpected to come back to and explore. (Also,I can be such an anti-social SOB that the idea of knocking elbows with dozens upon dozens of people while trying to find a way to enjoy something outdoors is bristling to me. Drop me into a city and i’m fine, but the crowded outdoors is a jarring dissonance.)

On a more positive note, I’ve got to mention the Sand Dune Arch as one of my most favorite parts of the park- there’s something utterly magical about the area and the way the light filters through the rocky passages and spills itself onto the warm sand below that is not to be missed. After leaving Sand Dune Arch, if you head up towards the Skyline Arch, there’s a bit of an unmarked offshoot dirt road you’ll see on the lefthand side of the road and if you happened to take that, you’ll end up in the valley bellow, wondering where the heck you’re going but also hopefully enjoying the unexpected views. This actually takes you towards the Tower Arch trail….and if you keep going, dumps you rather unceremoniously out of Arches. About 45 minuets after that, just when you’ve begun to despair that you’ve really gone the wrong way and you think the road couldn’t get more rough and bumpy, yet again you’ll be unexpectedly dumped off the road, this time back onto the main 191 highway.

And so, that’s a weird way to say goodbye to Arches that I wouldn’t exactly recommend unless you’ve got some kind of Jeep/high clearance vehicle but hey, the surreal-ness of the adventure was definitely enjoyable.