Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Salt and Gold

After a long day in Arches we decided to get up early and go again for sunrise. We had a 15 hour drive that day but the chance for a beautiful sunrise was worth the later start. So we walked up to a spot I had planned on shooting in the dark and waited. Words can't describe the silence we experienced. Miles away from any town, no wind or animals. Just peaceful silence, enough to make you feel deaf. Feeling like you and the love of your life are the only ones around is really special. As we waited I decided on a composition I've never seen from this spot and slowly the clouds began to glow. I got this photo which is my favorite from Arches.
"Take Me Away"


After that I decided to run up the rocks to the left and get the over photographed iconic scene I've seen many times online. When the sun rises it makes the arches and red rock glow an unreal orange as if coming from inside the stone.
"Turret in a Window"

As we were leaving I noticed a couple enjoying the view beneath the arch so I got a quick shot of them to show the size of this stone window.
"Freeze"
Now we headed for the grueling drive that I don't recommend anyone do unless you like torture. Most of this drive was very boring and there is nothing around for hundreds of miles. The same scenery gets old very fast. After a while it broke up a bit and we were treated to some more mountains. The smell of smoke started filling the car and we later found out a forest fire had started in the area. So we took a break in Salt Lake City to get some lunch and gas. If you ever plan on driving from there to the border of Nevada, do so on a full tank. There is absolutely nothing but a couple of bathroom rest stops for a couple hours.


We passed by so much natural salt that I thought we entered limbo at some point. Nothing but white flat land and a not pleasant smell. We had to stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats rest area to refocus our brains so I took this photo while we stretched our legs.
"Salt Lands"

Onward once more through some nicer scenery in Nevada. The song home on the range really fits for this area. Pleasant grasslands dotted with mountains and prairie dogs. By now though we were getting tired, but we still had a long way to go. My wife decided to play a game of questions to pass the time and I really liked feeling closer to her.
Cell Phone photo in Nevada

 We reached Reno around nightfall and wanted to get through the crazy traffic as soon as possible so we waited on dinner. Again an invisible barrier transformed the flat grasslands into tall lush green mountains as we finally crossed into California. What a relief to be in the state we have been dreaming about visiting for the past 2 years.


Though between there and Sacramento it was much like the terrifying drive in Colorado. Steep mountain roads, high speed and lots of cars this time. It felt much longer than that drive cause we were sick of driving and just wanted to stop. My wife was sleeping and I needed a rest so we hit a rest stop for vending machines. This wasn't going to cut it, we wanted real food. So after another hour of driving I found what I had been searching for.... In N Out Burger. There's something special about sitting in a burger joint really late at night enjoying a meal with your wife. 

After a few more hours of driving we were finally near the hotel. One thing stood in the way. Fun fact, I don't know how to swim and have a fear of deep water due to someone dunking me under water as a kid to "teach me to swim". So the very long bridge connecting the eastern bay to the west bay had me white knuckled for what felt like forever. But we didn't die so we checked into our hotel around 1am.


The next morning we wanted to get a grand sunrise shot of the Golden Gate bridge. Just a tiny problem, the thickest fog I've ever seen covered the whole area. I was not happy but my wife finally broke through and helped me accept it. I did manage to get these two shots. The black and white one was due to my camera seeing more than I could.
"Glowing Gold"

"Haunting Gates"


So on we went to our days little adventure, the San Francisco Zoo. Our favorite sight there were the new rescued baby black bear cubs wrestling in their new home. Without the zoo adopting them, they would have died since their mothers were killed in Alaska.
"Step Siblings"

 After the zoo we wanted to head to Muir Woods. Again as my luck had it, the parking lot was already full so we didn't bother stopping and I semi angrily drove back across the bridge towards our next hotel. At least I got to drive through my favorite bands hometown in Oakland. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the sunset on the coast that night was apparently bland and not colorful. Plus we could use the mental break from the previous days drive. Tomorrow we had a big day in a National Park that started my inspiration for photography.

Visit stephentopiaphotography.com for prints of the photos listed above and more!

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