Photographs. Anecdotes. And observations on Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Arches National Park, Utah. August 2010

Words cannot describe the grandeur of Arches. Of all the places I've traveled to, this little section of Utah had my undivided attention during a solid eight hour visit: my eyes were wide open, my jaw slack from awe...

Sunset, staring East onto the "Parade of Elephants."
Balanced Rock at sunset.
Delicate Arch, left at top center.
“A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us—like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness—that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.”

-Edward Abbey

Our hike down from one of a handful of double Arches.
Double Arch minutes before a monsoon.
The Parade of Elephants.

All photos by M.C.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Not so Wild West Part Two

And so we headed over the boarder of Colorado into Utah. After passing through Grand Junction there's not much to see minus oil derricks, tumble weeds, and the allure of the desert scape--creepy yet beautiful. We decided to take a short cut on our drive to Moab and stopped here: Cisco. What was once a oil hub in early Utah history has turned into a semi-ghost town. One afternoon in the early to mid 20th century, the construction of Hwy 70 began just a couple miles outside poor Cisco diverting major traffic and sending the modest settlement to its grave.

Cisco post office.

50's Frigidaire baking in the sun.

Outside of Cisco was this sign pointing to Moab. The stickers somehow relieved the eeriness of desert solitude.
While following the Colorado River, stumbling upon this guy was my initiation unto the classic American rock monuments of the West. I could have stood in admiration of this spot for hours.

Moab signage by A.G.. All others by M.C.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Not So Wild West: Part One.

1998 was the last time I set foot in both Colorado and Utah. On Aug. 15th, my young lady and I hopped on a plane and headed out West--It was 12 years over due.
In Florida, the yew bush was just something I pulled the light blue seeds off of. It was my weapon of choice in mock military raids on neighbors/friends houses. On seeing the western Pinyon-Juniper for the first time, I thought it was just a giant, overgrown Yew. Not the case. Much more appealing to the eyes alive (background) and even dead as seen here (foreground).
Colorado National Monument--I was amazed at how few people were here visiting. The infamous Balanced Rock is scheduled to exit the canyon side in the near future: Maybe a reason you should visit ASAP.
Paonia, Colorado. We visited extended family that raise two types of unconventional live stock. A. The Alpaca. Shown here against the back drop of the West Elk Mountains. My significant other got a little too close to this young female's offspring--We witnessed, first hand, an Alpaca "stink eye."
And B. The "tamed" Elk. This large buck was quite docile. After learning his name ("Clover"), we are able to give him a couple good pats and a couple light antler yanks. Fortunately, Clover is kept as a pet--12 years old a counting. We were informed that if one of the family's animals has a name, it remains a pet. I was relieved to find out that Clover will never become a menu item.

All Photos by M.C.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Every traveler is an envoy"

"We had a very strange encounter with the Aghori sect in India. They are Holy men who embrace unholy things, showing that all things are from God. They drink alcohol and smoke ganja. They drink their own urine and eat feces. I got into the action, too. A guy brought me a chicken and told me to drink the blood...Iv'e learned that a single traveler can build understanding between different cultures. Every traveler is an envoy. People tend to fear each other, but exploring the other culture, even the hard-core parts, can demystify it and reveal common humanity."

-Excerpt from an interview with documentarian Riku Rantala

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Americans put the Rational in Ir-rational.

"Americans are and always have been credulous skeptics. They question the authority of priests, then talk to the dead; they second-guess their cardiologists, then seek out quacks in the jungle. Like people in every society, they do this in moments of crisis when things seem hopeless. They also, unlike people in other societies, do it on the general principle that expertise and authority are inherently suspect."

-Mark Lilla (excerpt from "The Tea Party Jacobins")

Monday, August 9, 2010

Freedom of debate...

I've been wondering why I feel inclined to argue a point even if I know I'm wrong?

Is it really that important to get my point across?

Does my own input really matter?

Yes, yes, yes. We need to pan out debate to justify being right (or proven wrong). To argue is to be human, and each argument a part of the grand scheme: the progression of human enlightenment.

And if we didn't have the capacity to debate through some social construct? Through politics. Through religion?
The freedom to debate: one of the many important little things we take for granted.

While reading Leila Ahmed's "A Border Passage,"I found this line regarding the glory of freedom of speech in the depths of political oppression (Egypt under Nasser in the 1960's).

"Still, the exhilarating intellectual vibrancy of almost every party and gathering was so remarkable that I began to wonder whether there weren't perhaps some unintended benefits to having one's freedom of thought and speech threatened...Perhaps it not only focused the mind but made one prize and understand all the more acutely how important, how vital, indeed, to one's life and well-being it is to question and reflect on and openly share one's ideas."

Monday, August 2, 2010

The not-so-accidental Tourist

Over the years, I've found that the best way to be a tourist is to pedal through its interstices. Down each road, through each alley, around every corner there is always something amazing to see. To hear. To experience. Time is limited: Why not soak it up in half the amount with some foot to pedal action.-M.C., Leeds, UK.
Photo by Daniel Benson

Sunday, August 1, 2010

From Afghanistan, with love.

A friend of mine is serving in Afghanistan. On their daily search for I.E.D's, they ran into this man, who, upon searching, had nothing questionable. According to my friend, a photo must be taken of anyone they come into contact with who may be suspicious.
When asked to take the man's picture, he happily agreed and demanded that he hold his grandchild and a teddy bear for the photo.