Category Archives: iPhone Photography




Granite Mountain Hotshots

Last story from our little road trip: we drove south and west through Arizona from Grand Canyon, mostly on 2 lane roads. We were surprised by how pretty the scenery was, and a little annoyed that the phone maps routed us around a small town, Prescott. Lots of zigging and zagging that seemed unnecessary, but proved to be serendipitous.

As we were driving, but appropos of nothing, JJ mentioned a movie coming out next month called “Only The Brave” that he was knowledgeable about thanks to his recent “collateral duty.” It’s about a team of mountain wildfire fighters called the Granite Mountain Hotshots, 19 of whom were killed in 2013 while fighting a wildfire that threatened a community.

Not 20 minutes later we came upon the site of the “Granite Mountain Hotshots State Memorial.” I kid you not: we didn’t even know where the event had taken place, nor had we sought out the locale or even known there existed such a memorial! It is a roadside trailhead, leading 3+ miles up the mountain to the site where the 19 men died. Along the way are 19 markers with bios of each individual who died while defending Prescott, the hometown of many of them. The trailhead is manned by a state park ranger 8 hours a day. Other hotshot teams from all over the country come to hike the route and pay their respects, but anyone can make the trek. 

As some of us were in flip flops and all of us were ready to get home, we settled for this picture. We’ll be sure to see the movie next month, and hope you will too. 

Powell’s Trip, And Ours

Horseshoe Bend

When taking a trip to the Grand Canyon, I recommend the route we took, entirely inadvertently. We approached it from the north, and as I mentioned in Antelope Canyon, we discovered several sites between Zion NP and the Grand Canyon when a local woman gave us some guidance. Two others she ensured we pay attention to were the Glen Canyon Dam, where we visited a small museum and first learned about how Lake Powell came to be, and Horseshoe Bend, where the Colorado makes a crazy hairpin turn.

The dam creates Lake Powell, a huge reservoir (where incidentally I concluded a 3 week hiking/river rafting trip at the end of my high school senior year) that is essentially a stopped-up portion of the Colorado River. In 1869 John Wesley Powell, a one armed Civil War vet, led an expedition to chart the last remaining part of America that no one (no white person anyway) had ever explored. It was the last “white space” (no pun intended) of the country to be filled in on the map. It was a crazy adventure, traveling the river’s course and portaging wooden boats through its entirety for months, and it wasn’t pretty…well worth Googling.

Well now we can say it IS pretty; gorge-ous even. 

Our first sight of the GC from Desert View at sunset.

And, as Roger reminds me, people are part of the vistas.

A photographer at sunset.
Family and more.
Assessing the view.
Taking a couple’s picture.

Crowds on the rim.
James’s sunset shot.
Heading back to the hotel.

The variety of territory one can cover in a few days through our country is astounding. It was a blur, but it was grand!

Antelope Canyon

The pictures in this post, and the experience we had while taking them, would not have happened if we weren’t such slobby travelers. Some people pack up coolers for a road trip; they save money and stay healthy by bringing their own food to snack on. We sort of do that…then stop every couple hours for junk and sodas to assuage our generally patient kids and stuff our faces because we’re “on vacation.” But if this wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have stopped at a quik mart in the middle of the desert where a woman described some “can’t miss” attractions we needed to see. And that’s how we found ourselves in Antelope Canyon.

Some of these shots may look familiar, because they’re iconic. One particular view was featured on the cover of National Geographic not long ago. In fact, I started to feel silly taking pictures because a) professional photographers have done much better work in this canyon than I could ever do, and I could just get a postcard to remember it by, b) there are so many shots one feels compelled to take, and c) the Chinese tourists in our group took all of those and more. 

“Man in white hat and sunglasses” was one of seven Chinese folks in our group, led by our guide, Dakota, the blue shirted young Navajo man on the right. The Chinese contingent was led by a man who was a relative of several and now lives in New Jersey. That’s irrelevant, but funny to learn when we asked where he was from. “Man in white hat…” was one of the worst photo-taking-slow-poke offenders, insisting on taking shots and selfies at every nook and cranny and holding up our group. Dakota was patient but firm, insisting in Chinese that they move along and save picture-taking for other spots ahead. He’s had to learn basics of multiple languages for pure safety reasons. I could see why when “Man from New Jersey” bonked his head on a sandstone outcropping.

The “Bottleneck” title may have been more appropriate for this post. See “Man From New Jersey” in white hat and blue shirt.

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon that feeds rainwater (rarely, but forcefully when it occurs) into Lake Powell. It is on Navajo Land, and after at least one unfortunate occasion where visitors lost their lives during flash floods in the canyon, you can now only enter it with an official tour. Most of the guides, if not all, appear to be young Navajos. 

The Lion’s Head

I couldn’t imagine touring this place without a guide. As we descended via ladders and stairs 100 feet below the surface to the floor of the canyon, Dakota proved himself invaluable. He calmly reminded people to put cell phones away until the descent was complete, lest they be dropped onto the head of another below. And of course he could tell us about how the canyon was carved by water over milennia and point out how flash floods still do so today, and discuss the calcium deposits and yada yada. But most importantly, he introduced me to the iPhone Chrome filter and with no provocation (or permission really), took the best pictures of canyon features and formations on my phone today. 

The Half Pipe
The Rose – can you see it?
Smiling Shark
Sun Setting Over The Rockies

In retrospect, I’m sorry I didn’t get a better picture of Dakota. He was a young man of many talents, not the least of which was yelling “Bu Yao!” when certain members of our party weren’t following instructions. Which was frequently.