8-22-2011 @ 6am Flight from SFO to DEN (Denver) on United. The super shuttle I reserved for some reason scheduled to pick me up at 3:00-3:15am. I ended up getting to the airport around 3:45am. There was a few people there but no United workers to check my bag in. I therefore waited and took a cat nap in my fluorescent green Patagonia Puffy Nano jacket. I was warm and comfy. After checking my bag in at 4:30am and making it through the security line (again I was a code 4 because of my cargo shorts), I made my way to the gate. I checked the monitor and I was #60 on the upgrade list to first class. It was a long shot, but in the end I was in economy.. plus.
8-22-2011 @ 9:20am arrived in DEN and had to wait until about 11:30am for a flight from DEN to CNY (Moab, UT) via Great Lakes Airlines. The Great Lakes Airline terminal was way out there at the end of Terminal B. United flew into Terminal C. There is a subway train that connects the 3 terminals together. Where the prop planes were located, I knew that we were going to be walking outside and had to climb into the airplane.
8-22-2011 @ 11:30am-1:00pm FLT from DEN to CNY on a prop plane. It wasn’t too bad, but since I’ve been on big commercial jets, these little ones are really subject to a lot of turbulence. The plane felt like it was dancing in the air. I don’t know how the pilots keep the plane on the correct path.
8-22-2011 @ 2pm arrived in Moab, UT city. I was getting my rental car when I over heard a couple on the same flight as me didn’t realize how far out of town the airport was. A taxi was going to take at least 20 minutes to get out to the airport and I heard that the taxi driver was going to charge the couple for driving out to pick them up. They then turned to me to ask if I was driving into town. I said yes and they politely asked if I could drive them to their hotel. They offered to pay, but I didn’t accept. This couple had their bags already, but I didn’t manage to get my checked bag yet. The guy packed the car with their stuff first. Of which was what looked like a case of wine! In the end there was plenty of room for my gear and we made our way to the city of Moab. I drop a couple off at their hotel. It wasn’t any trouble. Their hotel was about 1 block away from mine. Thereafter, I hit the local grocery store called City Market. I bought a lot of water, fruit and some snacks. It was a bit eerie that the grocery store seemed like Safeway, BOGO Free! I then made my way to the hotel to check in. Temp: 100 F.
8-22-2011 @ 5pm made my way to Arches National Park which was very close to Moab. I was going for the Delicate Arch. Paid my $10 entrance fee and made my way to the arch. The hike to the arch was 1.5 miles up hill. I managed to tag some way points along the way and the ones I already had were very accurate. Once I arrived at the Delicate Arch, there were a lot of people there already. I took some picture and attempted to make some panoramics during the sunset hour. I met a nice guy who was telling me he got his tripod for like $35 bucks at a garage sale and several other pieces of equipment super cheap. I kept my mouth shut because my camera alone was $2300, my lens was $1700, my tripod was $800, my ball head and clamp was $400, and my panoramic equipment was $600. No discounts here! Turns out he was a firefighter and he was telling me how he beats the young guys at some firefighting training exercise. He said he uses his brain instead of brute force. The hike back was quick and well after sunset, but a headlight wasn’t necessary. His wife was upset because she had trouble seeing in the dark and she had made her way down the trail ahead of him. She was very upset. To smooth the situation, I mentioned that my wife also had trouble seeing in the dark.
8-23-2011 @ 2:45am Made my way into Canyonlands National Park to capture the sunrise at the Mesa Arch. It was quite a drive. It took about 45 minutes to get there. I paid my entrance fee of $10 at the self service box. I could tell I was going to be the only one at the arch because there were no headlights behind me the whole way to Mesa Arch. Arrived at the parking lot to find a Toyota 4 Runner there already. How could someone beat me to the arch. The engine was running on the Toyota, which meant that I was probably going to be the first out there. Indeed I was. Just as I was coming up to the arch in the dark, I saw a rather large, skinny legged spider. I hiked around him and arrived at the arch. I got my spot I wanted and set up. I was sitting on the ground waiting for others to show up and for the sun to rise. I felt something at my neck so I used my hand to swat what was at my neck. Turns out it was a spider that looked exactly like the one that I avoided on my hike in. I’m not sure if it was the same spider and that very same one jumped onto my pants leg and later crawled up to my neck. Luckily, I didn’t get bit. One quick stomp and he was dead! After that, I couldn’t sit on the floor to relax. I paced back and forth, just in case, for the next hour or so. I later moved position because of another photographer who arrive at 4:15am. He was shooting with a panoramic camera with film and I was a bit too far forward. In the end I got some decent pictures with the composition I was looking for, but not the right settings. I met some really nice people that morning. The panoramic guy’s last name was Cuba and he said he was the only person with that last name in Florida where he was from. Two other guys I met were Jon G. and Todd M. Todd actually set up right next to me trying for the same composition I was looking for. Jon was to the right of the arch setting up for a composition he saw online and liked very much. So much, he whipped out his 17″ Alienware black laptop to make sure he got the correct setup position and composition. I talked about going to False Kiva after the Mesa Arch and they were interested in doing so as well.
8-23-2011 @ 8:30am Jon, Todd, and I drove back to the Ranger’s Station to ask for directions and information on how to get to False Kiva. The ranger was very nice. He kindly told us where to park, the trail head, and he even pulled out a white binder that had some pictures of the trail and where to go when you get to a certain point. I’m glad Jon and Todd was willing to go to False Kiva. I was hoping for a little company and help to get to False Kiva. They both were from Seattle and they drove in Jon’s car all they way down to Moab. It took us about 45 minutes to hike to False Kiva. It wasn’t too bad of a hike. The last bit was up hill and was a little difficult, but it wasn’t that bad as people have made it out to be. I took some way points with my gps along the way. Took some pics, but I planned to return for the sunset hour. It took about 45 minutes to hike all the way back to the car. It was mostly uphill. We brought enough water. Todd had an NFL jug with a long straw. Jon had a 1/4 filled plastic water bottle. I offered and recommended to fill their water holders to the brim just in case. The temp at 9am was about 90 F and was going to be a lot of sun all the way there and back. Todd actually put his water jug down on the decent to False Kiva and later on the way back out he retrieved it. He didn’t want to have to lug it all the way with him. When we got to the Kiva, it was pretty cool. There was no wind. The view was awesome. There was a geocache in the kiva where we left out names. We read through a few entries. It was time to go and we made out way and back to our cars. There were a lot of gnats in the early morning hours where we had parked. Of course I made good use of the head net that I bought off amazon. I looked like a dork, but it was so much better than fighting through the gnats. Strangely enough when we made the hike to the Kiva, it was a little down hill and there were no more gnats. In the kiva, I didn’t need my head net. On the hike out, I needed it again. What a life saver!
8-23-2011 @ 12 noon. Lunch at the Muff Cafe. Todd has eaten their before and was raving about the sandwiches. He particularly like the Jamacian Jerk Chicken sandwich. I took his suggestion. It was a little spicy, but it was very good. The Muff Cafe also offers breakfast which was very tempting. We parted ways to our own hotels. I cleaned up and took a nap before planning on heading out to shoot False Kiva in the evening.
8-23-2011 @ 5pm. I drove out to False Kiva again for the sunset hour. There were some suspicious storm clouds in the distance that started to join each other. The sunset was nice. Since I was by myself this time, I chickened out and ended up not doing the hike on my own. I played it safe. I did drive to other spots nearby and scoped them out. I then drove back to Moab. I texted Jon and Todd that I had chickened out. They were at the Moab Brewery just about to start with dinner. They offered for me to join them. I quickly cleaned up at the hotel and made my way to the brewery. I had a burger which was decent. It came with onion rings which were awesome. And to wash it all down, I had a nice ice cold lemonade. It was perfectly sweetened. They showed me a lot of pictures on their iPhone. They use their iPhones a lot to take pictures of just about anything. They always have their dslr’s as well. I learned from them that I need to use my iPhone camera a lot more to take pictures of anything.
8-24-2011 @ 3:15 am. I wanted to reshoot the Mesa Arch since it was the major location I wanted to capture well. I felt I didn’t get everything I wanted yesterday morning, so I had to shoot it again. This time I left a bit later. I got there around 4:15am. There was a red pickup truck in the parking lot. I waited until 4:30am to make my way to the arch. Again I was the first one there. Phew. I set up in pretty much the same spot as the day before. I also planned to do more panoramics. In the end it was a very good and productive morning. I managed to get several good pictures that I just can’t decide on. I did get a panoramic with a sun star. I also got some different perspectives and view points of the arch later on in the morning. I managed to do this because everyone almost had left. There were no tour buses this morning, but it was a little busy, but not as busy as the day before. The guy who set up right next to me was a German fellow by the name of Claus P. He wanted to check out the False Kiva as well. I was planning on heading there after the Mesa Arch shoot. By the time I was done shooting the different angles, he had left already. I’m not sure where he went to. I also met another nice couple from Germany. I helped them take a nice picture of them and the arch. I managed to take a picture of myself sitting on top of the arch. I braved my fear of heights. The arch was only about 2.5-3 feet wide! I basically crawled slowly into position and used my remote control to fire off a few pics. They turned out ok.
8-24-2011 @ 8:30am. I made my way from the Mesa Arch to False Kiva, which was about a 10 minute drive. I parked at the same place I did the day before. Low and behold, there was the red pick up truck. The person who owns that pickup truck must be camping in his car. I stripped my back pack of all the non-essentials to lighten my load. I put on my brimmed hat and folded over my head net. As I was about to make my way to the trail head, Claus pulled up in his SUV. I waited for him and we made our way. Turns out he went all the way back to the ranger’s station for directions to False Kiva, but the station didn’t open until 8:30am. Luckily he caught up to me right as I was going to start hiking. On our way in, he asks if he will be back into town by 10:30am. It was about 8:45am. It probably took us 30 minutes to hike in and 45 minutes to hike out. Driving was about a good 45min into town, driving fast. We basically had about 5-10 minutes in the Kiva before we had to head back. Turns out it was plenty of time. On our hike out, we found a blue note pad. A few seconds later some guy from nowhere asks if we saw a blue book. I told him it was a few feet down the hill. I flipped through it, but I couldn’t decifer the guy’s hand writing and what he was writing about. This is also about the time when Claus pointed out the Longhorn Sheep, basically a ram, like the Dodge Ram symbol. I couldn’t whip out my camera so I used my iPhone. Snapped a few pictures and we had to make our way back. We tried to keep up with the guy, who lost his blue booklet. He had no back pack on him so he was hiking pretty fast. I needed to take a few breaks. We made it back to our cars and Claus and I made our journey back to town, fast!
8-24-2011 @ 11am. I texted Jon and Todd. Turns out they were at a breakfast cafe 1 block from my hotel and they asked me to join them. I cleaned up and walked there in 100 degree weather. I finally had a proper breakfast. It was good. They were leaving soon to drive more south to go to Monument Valley as well as the Antelope Slot Canyons in Page, AZ. After breakfast I walked down the street looking for things to buy for the family. I also remembered passing by a gallery that I wanted to check out to see and maybe get some ideas. Turns out Jon and Todd were in the gallery already. There was a lot of really cool pictures in the gallery. The photographer’s name was Tom Till. I parted ways again. Nap time in the hotel.
8-24-2011 @ 5pm. Time for the Delicate Arch again. Today was much hotter than others, and I was concerned about the 1.5 mile hike uphill. I took extra cold water and made my way out. I just brought my headlight and camera gear. I managed to get there with a red face. I drank a lot of water often to keep myself hydrated. I saw the same German couple that I helped take a picture of at the Mesa Arch earlier this morning. He was quite friendly. After conversating for a bit, I bid him safe travels. It was now time to make my way back down the hill to the car. Dinner was by myself at the Moab Brewery. I had a much needed caesar salad, hamburger, again, and a refreshing lemonade. With tip, the bill came to $19.99!
8-25-2011 @ 8am. I plan was to do the Mesa Arch one more time, but I felt I got what I wanted the morning before. I decided to make a mad rush through Arches National Park to take some quick snaps with both my dslr and my iPhone of the key features of Arches NP. My flight out of Moab airport was about 1pm so I had to be there by 11:30am. I knew it would only take about 20 minutes drive from Arches NP to the airport. I got my pictures I wanted, and made my way out of the beautiful national park. I definitely want to go back and shoot all the landmarks that I didn’t know about as well as I didn’t get to even touch and see. I made it to the airport and the same girls helped with my rental car return. I planned to edit a few of my photos while waiting. Turns out because the airport is so small and the number of passengers could fit on 1.5 hands, I didn’t need to get there so early. No biggie. I just relaxed. The plane came and I boarded and it was nap time. I later made it to Denver. The layover was much shorter. I barely had enough time to buy some McDonald’s lunch. I managed to eat the chicken nuggets in the boarding area, but I left the fries for the plane. I scarfed those down and the flight attendant with a huge smile took my McDonald’s trash away. I thanked her. The flight was uneventful and I made it home in one piece. I was expecting to loose weight, but in the end I did. I guess this is a good sign that I hydrated myself well for the trip and ate enough for the energy demands of the hikes.
Airline: United and Great Lakes Airlines
Rental Car: Enterprise (the only rental car company at the airport)
Hotel: Best Western Canyonlands
National Parks Visted: Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Entrance fee for each is $10 for 7 days.