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Surfer, Encinitas

Thursday, August 24, 2017

All good things must come to an end.

I better get on with it and finish up blogging about the trip. Put it to bed. Long trip, too much to share and poignant moments already slipping into memory's wastebasket.

I thought about driving back to Flag from Chinle but was tired and decided to stick around instead. Got a room at the Holiday Inn which is actually very nice.

Drove over to Denny's and had a club sandwich, not having eaten all day. Lots of navajo kids running around, all the locals very nice and friendly.

The first time I was in town, well over thirty years ago, there was only a Kentucky Fried Chicken, now long gone. I remember they were out of chicken, potatoes and biscuits the night I was there. Was I interested in a piece of corn?

I got up at dawn and drove to Antelope again for some sunrise shots that really didn't take. Then back to Spider Rock to see how it looked with the sun to the east.

Looked pretty good. One of the things I like the best about the Cañon is that unlike Chaco, it isn't a dead place, it is a vibrant and living place, long inhabited but in no way despoiled. I once took a horse twenty two miles into Cañon de Muerto. Wild horses, farms, all sorts of signs of life in balance. Looked in a way like a thirties regionalist painting.


I bought a lot of little tidbits from the local vendors. I had just made a bunch of money selling Indian stuff in the big city and felt it was time for a little karmic payback. Least I could do.

This chap sold me a lovely painting on a rock for five dollars. But it was what else he said that got me thinking. After a brief description of the iconography, he said that it was for people that required healing and to put it in a place where they could feel its power and effects.

And I thought, hey I could use a little healing. Never know in what form the sage will come, pays to keep an open mind about such things.

And since I am on the subject about loss, I was greatly touched talking to Jay in Santa Fe, who lost his beautiful wife last December. Jay's grief is barely under the surface. Mel lost his wife ten days ago. Many people are feeling sorrow from a loss or certainly will if they live long enough.

I was personally touched by the words of all the promotors and their staffs concerning the loss of my brother, Terry, Marcia and John. John mentioned his name in the brochure and I teared up looking at it.

I took my leave from the Canyon, thoroughly enjoying my solitude and experience there. I headed down the road and decided to find the 264 and see what happened from there.


I drove through the hopi res, past Keems Canyon but didn't tarry in the mesas. Drove past Moenkopi, the western most Hopi outpost and towards Tuba City.



Love the colors of the reservation desert. Loved a month with no news and little politics, no computer, no chatter. Love seeing how people who possess so little and endure so much, live with such grace and manage to walk in beauty.

Jeez, it was taking me a long time to get home. This return trip was going to set a new record for me. But what the heck, I was so close, might as well see what was up at the Grand Canyon. Drove a few more hours and stopped at the first overlook to the Little Colorado, always a good stop.

The park itself was a zoo, such a contrast to the relative isolation and intense peace of Cañon de Chelly. It was cloudy and drizzly and I would not be getting any great shots this day. Mostly watched asians taking serious risks with their lives taking selfies from precarious positions on the ledge.


Grand Canyon is a place of wonder but humans really screw it up. I get the same sick feeling sometimes that I get from Niagara Falls. Too many humans. Still... can't protest too damn much. Awesome even on a shitty day.

You know, I don't claim to be some great photographer or artiste, at least publicly anyway. You like my stuff, fine, but a well trained chimp could quickly gain the same proficiency.

In any case, I got a call from a photographer friend a few weeks ago that was a real beauty.

You are almost ready to take good shots, young Quanchin Caine.

Excuse me?

Your shots are almost good.

Well shit, I don't know what to say.

We talked again the other day. "You should have taken the telephone pole out of that. Your sunset is too dark. Too bad you didn't stay and take more angles of that one, I would have (I did).You're never going to be a real photographer until you start selling more work. Why are your daytime shots so dark?"

The point is, everybody can set their own rules for what is aesthetically appropriate. I am comfortable with mine. I rarely take unwanted objects out of shots. Cartier Bresson wouldn't even crop. Telephone poles are an aesthetically distressing fact of modern life. I like things as they are and not overly romanticized. I typically shoot my night and evening shots darker than others do. Why?

Because that is how I like them. You do yours any way you want to. Capiche? I of course, have been known to have an opinion and criticize. Feel free to tell me where to jump too. I am simply never going to take pictures the same way you take them. And I never will. What would be the point?

Photography is simply a means of recording and communicating visual images. I will communicate my way, sometimes knowingly imperfectly and I can live with that.

Saw a bull elk tearing down a tree by the side of the road. He was being mobbed by fools. Much like the french tourists petting the cow elk last time Ken and I were here.

I got my long lens out and kept a safe distance.

I snapped off a bunch of shots, I am sure universally almost good.

I left the canyon a little bit queasy. Pushing the play portion of my return a little too hard, not ready for the sudden rush of humanity. Leslie found me a nice hotel in Williams, an hour away, the Grand Canyon Railroad Lodge. It was pouring rain when I got there. Had their excellent although expensive buffet.

Next morning posed a real problem. I could shag ass home in eight hours or so or I could go up to the canyon and give it one more college try. It was the solar eclipse, first since 1979 and who knew what it would do to the canyon's light and chroma?

In for a dime, in for a dollar. I stayed. Got up at 3:30 a.m.. Williams time is different from reservation time, the dineh stretch into four states and they want life to be uniform for them. I drove in darkness, trying not to hit a deer or elk and arrived at Grandview Point before dawn in a light rain and heavy wind.

Pretty glorious sunrise. Worth the price of admission and the extra two hours in the car.

And the day only got better. Many fewer people this day, no one being stupid. And looked to my left and lo and behold, a double rainbow. I suddenly felt a deep and powerful connection with my late brother, perhaps he was pulling strings for me from the other side?

It was getting pretty wet by this time and even with an umbrella I got some water on my lens glass. Oh well. Still very spectacular.


I headed east, only a couple hours until the totality.

Caught some pics of first light in the canyon.

One of the amusing moments this day was when a guide told an indian woman that the oldest rock in the canyon was six thousand years old, within an arms length of a sign that set the date of the super rock at a 130 million.

I couldn't help it, I snorted and she gave me a death stare.

Later I saw another tour guide from Phoenix say the same basic thing and I got scared.

Checked with Kerry, yes there are creationist tours of the canyon now, free from such pesky trivialities as the fossil record, which everybody knows was faked.

Tried to engage a ranger but he went bible too, giving me a lecture on the length of one of god's days. Guess there are selling creationist material in the gift shops now.

Headed for  the Desert Watchtower, the incredible creation of one of my very favorites, if not my favorite architect, Mary Colter. Note the metal drum hanging from a tree, which a real artist would surely photoshop out of the picture.

The eclipse, at 68% of totality, had a less than major effect, at least from my view.

The interior of the tower is something to behold. It was decorated by the great Hopi artists Fred Kabotie (my favorite) and Fred Greer.

If you haven't done so, do climb the tower. If I ever had in the past, I have forgotten it and it was so lovely.

I left at 10:30, which was the eclipse peak, starting the long ride home. Almost croaked a few times, from sheer exhaustion. Rolled in very late.

Good to be back. Long ass trip.



1 comment:

Jon Harwood said...

Wise Man say: "Your shots are good, leave the phone poles--sign of Karma."