Southern Utah - A Personal Journey
Southern Utah is a truly amazing place. Wherever I wander I am overwhelmed by the spirit of place. Never, in all of my travels, have I experienced such an ethereal landscape. I emphasize the word "experience" because there is more to this land than meets the eye. It must be felt from within.
During my first visit to this area, in the summer of 1986, I became enchanted with the magical spell this land casts upon those sensitive to its natural beauty. On one special evening, as I watched the sun set over a landscape of unimaginable beauty, my life was transformed forever.
In the years that followed my wife Rhonda and I made our way 2000 miles west, from our previous home in western New York to our current home in Moab, Utah, in the heart of the land that we both love. Join us on our journey, as we continue to explore and learn about the natural wonders that surround us in southern Utah.
Since I haven't updated this blog in over 2 years I have been getting a lot of emails asking if everything is OK with Rhonda and I. First off, everything is just fine! We have been doing more travel and photography than ever before. Here's the story...
Two years ago, after 25 years of exploring and photographing southern Utah, I was starting to feel creatively burnt out. In an effort to remedy the situation Rhonda and I did most of our traveling outside of Utah in the hope that some time away would realign my perspective and sharpen my creative focus. As a matter of fact, last year we didn't even go on a single camping trip in Utah! We have been exploring other parts of the United States, from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida to the Pacific Coast of California. It has been a lot of fun and I am happy to report that it has been a complete success. My enthusiasm for exploring southern Utah has never been more intense. I love it!
I am currently in the process of coming up for a new design for this website. I have been using the current design for over 7 years and frankly, it's time for a change. As an owner of a desktop computer, laptop computer, 2 tablets and a smart phone, I want something a bit more versatile. I am exploring some exciting options.
In the meantime, if you would like to stay in contact with Rhonda and I, feel free to follow us on Facebook. I have been posting many new pictures from this year's explorations in Southern Utah. You can visit our page by clicking on the following link...
September 26, 2010: Desert Sightings
I've seen on lot of unusual things in my 25 years of desert hiking, but few events can quite match what happened in the Spring of 1999 when my friend Roger Heins came for a visit. It took me ten years to get the strength to put this online, but it's time for for the story to be told.
July 4, 2010: Finally, an update!
I have finally added some new images to this website. Throughout the past year I have been dabbling in 360 panoramic images as a more immersive way of presenting some of the places that Rhonda and I have been visiting. Although I have been enjoying them at home all along, this is my first attempt to present them online.
These 360 degree panoramas are composites of multiple images, often up to 20, combined in such a way as to provide a 360 view of the landscape. All of these images require that you have a recent version of Adobe Flash installed on your browser. They are also quite large, usually between 2-5 megabytes in size. As a result, a broadband connection is strongly recommended.
March 4, 2010: Greetings!
I've been receiving quite a few emails lately about my lack of website updates for the past year. Rest assured that Rhonda and I are doing just fine. My lack of updates is nothing more than feeling burnt out with regard to the internet. Last year a large part of my job involved website design, so when I got home the last thing that I wanted to do was spend more time on the internet. We actually did more traveling last year than we have done in a long time. I also discovered the wonders of HD video last year, so I did a lot of video work at some of my favorite places. I'm actually eyeing the new Canon 550D/T2i DSLR since it does 1080p video at 30fps, and it would provide a worthy update from my 350d. Anyway, I should have some updates online soon.
December 13, 2008: New Arches National Park Gallery
I have added another Lightroom Gallery of my photos, this time from Arches National Park. Since I live only 5 miles from the park, I have a lot of photos that I have taken there under a huge variety of lighting conditions.
I really like the presentation of this software. After the main gallery page loads I recommend that you just hit the play button at the bottom of the screen, sit back and watch the slide show. Also, open your browser in a large window because larger versions of each photo will be loaded based on your window size. A high speed connection is recommended...
November 20, 2008: Autumn in Zion
In the beginning of November we did a late-season trip to Zion National Park. The weather was great and the foliage was absolutely beautiful. I have added a few photos to my 2008 Gallery.
September 16, 2008: 2008 Journeys
2008 has been a lot of fun as we continue to explore southern Utah and portions of western Colorado. Some of the trips that we have taken, and will be taking, demand a lot of planning and preparation so updates to this website have been rather infrequent. However, we just got back from Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and are taking a short break, so I have finally uploaded over 70 of my favorite photos taken thus far this year into a brand new gallery. I really like the new software that I used for this gallery so have a look! After the main gallery page loads I recommend that you just hit the play button at the bottom of the screen, sit back and watch the slide show. Also, open your browser in a large window because larger versions of each photo will be loaded based on your window size. A high speed connection is recommended...
Photo Note: The lenses used for all of these photos were my Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 Di-II LD Aspherical and my Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 EF-S IS.
May your journeys be exciting and safe. Enjoy life my friends!
VERY exiting news: As strange as this may sound, there is now a permanent feature on the planet Mars that bears the name of our cat, Steve. Trust me, I am not kidding! On August 16, 2008 the Phoenix Mars Lander team named a rock at the landing site after our very own Steve the Cat. The team is continuing a tradition that was started 30 years with the first Mars lander of giving whimsical names to nearby rocks, which are then used in planning surface operations. Steve's rock is located adjacent to "Snow White Trench", which is the spot where the team first directly sampled water on Mars.
Here is how it all started: Several years ago I put up a small website with pictures of our cat, Steve. After submitting his name to be included on a DVD that would be attached to the Mars Phoenix Lander, I added a Mars section on his website. It turns out that the Phoenix Science Operations Team came across Steve's website and really enjoyed the content so they added a link to Steve's website from the Official Phoenix Website. Since that time I have received hundreds of messages from people around the world regarding Steve's adventure. In fact, on the weekend of the Mars landing Steve's website received over a quarter of a million hits!
Why have updates to my utahredrocks.com website been few and far between lately? Because I have been a slave to my CAT'S website! However, Rhonda and I feel that this is an IMMENSE honor and it has been worth every second of effort. We will never look up at the night sky the same way again.
You can check out Steve's website by clicking here.
I am indebted to one person in particular who opened my eyes to the natural stone artistry of southern Utah, the late Ward J. Roylance. Author of numerous books and videos about Utah’s "Art in Stone", Ward had a gift for sharing his love of Utah with everyone he came in contact with. During the short two years that I knew him, prior to his death in 1993, he was my inspiration for continued exploration of the wonders of southern Utah.
It is with great honor that I dedicate this web site to my dear friend and mentor, Ward J. Roylance.
Ward once told me that he and his wife Gloria thought of themselves as seed sowers, planting seeds of inspiration in the souls of those they came in contact with. I know that my roots now lie deep in the heart of red rock country and I know of many others, too numerous to mention, who also carry on Ward and Gloria's passion for the land.
Living With No Regrets
2002 was one of the most challenging years Rhonda and I have ever experienced. Although it's good to have it behind us, I have decided to add a permanent section about our experience to this website because there is much that I don't ever want to forget. I have done this not to emphasize the bad times, but to encourage others who may be considering a major life change.
Utah's National Parks
Utah has 5 national parks, all of them located in the southern part of the state. Although there are thousands of square miles of additional wild and scenic lands, the national parks showcase some of the very best scenery that Utah has to offer...
- Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of sandstone arches. You won’t see this many arches anywhere else in the world. Colossal sandstone fins, massive balanced rocks, soaring pinnacles and spires dwarf visitors as they explore the park's viewpoints and hiking trails.
- Bryce Canyon National Park is filled with massive sandstone spires, called hoodoos, located deep in a natural sandstone amphitheater. The trails to the bottom of the amphitheater transport you into a city of stone.
- Canyonlands National Park is the largest national park in Utah. Views from the Island in the Sky District encompass thousands of square miles of canyon country. The Needles and Maze Districts are backcountry paradise.
- Capitol Reef National Park is an oasis in the desert. The Fremont River traverses the center of this park, resulting in a lush oasis complete with beautiful fruit orchards and abundant mule deer. The west section of the park contains beautiful red sandstone formations, and the eastern section consists of beautiful rounded white sandstone domes.
- Zion National Park has the Virgin River at its heart which has created a picturesque canyon full of lush riverside habitat. The eastern side of Zion consists of beautifully eroded white Navajo Sandstone formations.