#TravelTuesday and ScottKelby.com combine means one thing – I’m here! I’m Dave Williams and each week I step in to give Scott a little break and offer you something from the world off Photoshop, Photography, Travel or Life. Today it’s about life, and I want to share three little quirky incidents from the past couple of weeks while I was in Utah, Arizona and Nevada following an epic Photoshop World Conference.
Story #1 – the Area 51 thing
So, towards the end of the trip I was in Hurricane, UT, not far from Zion National Park, and throughout the entire trip I was with Siân Elizabeth. We were in the car at about 11:30pm and driving west towards our classy hotel, the Days Inn, and something strange happened. Straight in front of us, high up in the sky, a bright, white light moved from way high on the left, straight down to the Earth on the bottom right. We both saw it and a moment of silence in the car was broken by us both saying, “did you see that?!”
The strange light in the sky was too slow and long for a shooting star, too fast for a plane, and too coincidentally directly above Area 51 (some 150 miles straight in front of us) to be anything other than Paul. That’s right, I made a movie reference to an alien – because it must have been, right?
If you’ve seen the incredible work of Erik Kuna you’ll know that space is humungous and personally I don’t think there’s any where we’re alone here. This was cool, but it put me on edge a little, wondering if it had seen me see it, and I watched my back for a few days!
Story #2 – for the gram
So, back-track a few days and we were in Monument Valley. The place is phenomenal – a truly exquisite work of art by Mother Nature. I’d seen Monument Valley by night but now, having spent a couple of days exploring, I can honestly say it is a magical place that captivated my pants off. One evening whilst on the Monument Valley Loop Drive shooting the area at sunset and into twilight and beyond we came across a pull-out with a rather large rock in the middle of it, roughly the size of an ambulance and perhaps a little bit taller.
As we approached the rock there was a car parked tight up against it and a little flashing light from a cell phone atop it. Wondering whether I was about to be lured into a trap (then remembering where I was, so likely not) I tentatively pulled up close by and rolled down the window and shouted out to see if all was ok. Turns out all was not ok and a young girl was stranded on top of the rock with her mother in the car beside it and they’d been there a good few hours because the girl wanted to get up on top to shoot a little video ‘for the gram.’ The video, I’m sure, went really well and she probably got lots of likes, but she was now stuck!
Being the gentleman that I am I was now in a position where I had to rescue the poor girl. I had her sit down and shimmy down the side of the rock until her feet landed on my shoulders before dramatically swooping her to the safety of terra firma, then exchanged a quick few pleasantries before getting back on with shooting the dramatic landscape, not quite sure what had just happened. All in a days work for a travel photographer, right?
Story #3 – the growler
This one shook me, I’ll be honest.
Siân and I were shooting the Red Reef Trail of Red Cliffs Recreation Area in Utah, also known as Cottonwood Canyon, when we came up against a little hurdle. It was all going really well – I’d found a cool cave to shoot out of for great framing, but unfortunately it was so hot that the river had dried up and there were just a few puddles left where the waterfalls had previously cascaded. The tier system of the canyon was cool to shoot anyway so we trekked further and further up the gorge. We reached a section which had a rope attached to the canyon walls so that people could climb up to the next stage and I went up there, with Siân instead electing to stay down at the previous stage and shoot the little frogs around the water.
I was up safely and walking along the canyon about 1/4 mile from where I’d left Siân and reached a fork. The left section stretched off into the distance, and the right section quickly turned a corner and out of sight. At the fork there was a cool depression in the ground containing the driftwood that had been carried down the now dry river, so I got myself all set-up to shoot it as the foreground of what would’ve undoubtedly turned into an awesome composition. I’ll never know what that photo turned out to look like however, as when I was bent over getting my camera ready I heard a few thuds on the slope up the canyon walls immediately to my left where the canyon was shallower and covered in boulders and bushes.
The thuds, perhaps 3 or 4 of them, immediately grabbed my attention in the silence of the canyon and I stood and turned to face the direction they’d come from. I saw nothing among the terrain but a few seconds later were two more thuds, one accompanied by what I can only describe as a grunt, as if something had accidentally engaged it’s vocal chords and exhaled upon landing.
The entire time we were on the road trip there was talk of what we may see in the wilderness, from snakes and scorpions to bears and cougars. The cougar, or mountain lion, is what I saw in my mind when I heard the grunt, and I kept my eyes focussed on the slope of the canyon wall while gathering my things and walking slowly but purposefully back the way I had come from. Concerned about being followed, and more concerned about alarming Siân, I got back to her and told her it was time to leave. I obviously wasn’t very discrete while I was walking behind her and kept checking my back because she soon figured out that something was up, but we got out of there pretty sharpish!
My three little stories of strange happenings whilst in the States are all part of the experience (and fortunately I wasn’t cat meat, nor did I get probed) and part of the reason why I love travel. From travel I get so many awesome experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise get.
Some people say that I’m lucky, but in response to that I think that luck is a what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I prepare and I search for opportunities, and I strongly urge you all to do likewise because when that luck strikes it’s a fulfilling, inspiring experience that often results.