... & a little bit of Page, AZ!
When a friend hands you a voucher for Alaska Airlines, allowing you to get half-off on round-trip flights to certain airports (from SFO) on certain days, you most definitely don't want to take that voucher for granted. I was fortunate enough to find a round-trip to SLC for less than $90, and as soon as I found out that my good friend Braden (@imbradenolsen) was able to take work off on the days I had selected, I immediately hopped on the opportunity and booked my flight.
It's always fun and exciting to explore new states, but the deserts of Southern Utah were definitely something else. As a Chemistry student (USF c/o '15, represent!), I often found myself geeking out at the orange/red colors of the desert thanks to the manganese, iron oxide, etc. that was so abundant in the rock formations throughout. Having been only exposed to the shiny, golden deserts of Southern California, this was surely a treat. In just 4 days, Braden & I were able to drive through and explore Zion National Park, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend & Upper Antelope Canyon (which are both located in Page, AZ -- pretty much along the border of Utah and Arizona), Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park. We were also able to meet up with our good buddy, Zac (@seahola), on our first day in Zion, and upon heading back to SLC when all was said and done, meet up with Kyle, Zack, and Jacki (who I had the pleasure of meeting last week at Big Sur).
Despite the rain and insane amount of cloud coverage we had during the entire trip (the only time we really saw sun was when we left and came back to Salt Lake City, as well as during some brief moments in Zion National Park), which made for some truly moody captures, Southern Utah did not disappoint. This gives me a reason to come back however, albeit soon, and experience these things over again -- hopefully next time, with more sunshine! There's nothing like catching the sun as it rises over Mesa Arch or Monument Valley, and likewise with watching the sun set of Horseshoe Bend... And let's not forget about the noon light shafts that you can only catch at Upper Antelope Canyon. Nevertheless, I'd like to give Braden a huge thanks for the hospitality, good laughs and conversations, and for simply being down to hang out and show me all of these beautiful places that Southern Utah has to offer. If you told me a year and a half ago that I'd have the opportunity to visit most of the photo-relevant spots of Southern Utah, I'd think you were crazy -- merely because I was so ignorant and uninformed of the beauty it contained. This weekend was a brilliant reminder of how nature can humble us all in ways unexplainable, and has left me nothing shy of inspired for what's to come.