NY18A champagne-fueled exploration of fluid dynamics Aside from Halloween, which only matters because it was my first date with Dani, the next most important holiday for me is New Year’s Eve/Day. It’s not because I care about it. In fact, I don’t particularly care about any holidays—most are merely attempts by one religion to snuff out another, or inventions to fuel sales, and seen in this light NYE is the most honest of the lot. Sure there’s the silly tradition of resolutions no one follows, but the date is sold as little more than an excuse to stay up late partying. I challenge you to find me one holiday, birthdays included, that is this honest about it’s history and core nature. The hustle cliché was strong this ‘eve: Sunday night, and both of us scheduled with projects for the first day, the first Monday, of the new year. I love that. This was the last sunset of 2017, and our forecast clear-and-calm had been swallowed up by overcast gloom. Not dissuaded by a little weather we made the three-hour round trip to the viewpoint anyhow, determined to improvise and make it work. Epic skies greeted our arrival, the sun popping through between layers of clouds and setting them aflame for a show of colors far better than any bluebird day could have offered. The makings of my perfect New Year’s Eve? Two bottles of bubbly, a thrift-store flute, a second-hand outfit, some cheap sunglasses, a cliffside viewpoint with storybook sunset to match, and a pretty redhead. These were all shot on a Canon 80D with my back-in-action Canon 50mm f1.4 lens (the nifty fifty), a proper high-speed-sync strobe (I’m so done with speedlites), and the laser-assist auto focus from the strobe’s transmitter. Aperture bounced between f2.8 and f4, ISO100, shutter floating around 1/1000th, with the single AD200 strobe set from 1/4th to 1/8th power and a small dish reflector/diffuser. There’s a few shots from the new-to-me Polaroid 600 as well, but those are for another time… Happy New Year! Yes, “year.” Not “years” and most definitely not “year’s.” You only get one new year at a time, and you should never let it own you.…
Destinations: Poncho HouseA side hike into ancient history with the Diné. The unmolested desert stretched out before us without so much as a bent branch or dimpled dune to hint at the correct course. We’d only been making our way through the sand and shrubs for an hour, but the silence and isolation made it feel like days. A combination of dead reckoning and a flashing dot on the GPS were keeping us close to the old two-track trail, which had been wiped clear by last winter’s brutal storms. Finally a landmark, the southernmost point of Tséyík’áán (Comb Ridge) jutting up on the horizon. Moving map technology is neat…when it works. Cautiously we made our way down the cliffs, breaking ground on a new trail to reach the valley floor through the most stable looking notch. At the bottom an old corral clearly marks the start of the foot trail, and off we set for the mile-plus hike up Chinle Creek. As we approached a bend in the canyon I looked up, and looming overhead, a massive citadel clinging to an alcove in the cliff wall. Planning a tour of Tsé Bii’ Ndzisgaii (Monument Valley) or Tséyi’ (Canyon de Chelly)? Ask your guide to include a stop off the beaten path to explore this must-visit destination. Information on (mandatory) guide services in reservation lands can be found at discovernavajo.com. Originally licensed to American Adventurist for publishing on May 11th, 2016.…
Relics: The Richardson HomesteadIt’s amazing what you can find just off the highway. Highways have been standardized to keep the flow of traffic moving swiftly and smoothly onward. White lines flash by in time with the gentle hum of the motor, yellow lines keep you subconsciously floating down the right side of the tarmac, and the repetitive consistency brings on a state of semi-hypnosis. Most of the time the system works, commuters arrive safely, and travelers continue on oblivious to the treasures that might be hidden over the edge of the manicured medians. Over one such edge, on the eastbound side of Arizona Highway 68 as it winds through Union Pass, rests a crumbling gravel ramp. At the end of that ramp stands a nondescript ADOT gate—standard issue, except that this gate is unlocked, and what’s left of the road beyond is open to the public. At the bottom of the hill lies the abandoned Old Kingman Highway, and not far beyond that the ruins of an unnamed town homesteaded by Jonathan Draper Richardson and his family. Originally licensed to American Adventurist for publishing on May 11th, 2016.…