United States


Page, Monument Valley, Bluff

141 days away


358 km / 222 miles since last post

52,848 km / 32,838 miles total


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It's A Long Way Down

Our Route (to 18/03/2011)

It's A Long Way Down

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Well, it's been a long time since I've starred as both the author and the photographer on this blog. Sarah has found it too stressful to write an entry for today, the reason for which will become apparent a little later on. She has done a great job so far and I look forward to her return!

So we headed out of the small town of Page around 11am, after I finished up a long conversation with Valere about the future and direction of our internet business. It's all part of the fun being a gypsy developer/business owner.

We then spent a long time driving through fairly same-ish terrain until we hit the 163 which takes you through Monument Valley. For me this was another "big ticket" photographic destination. The world-famous view of three standing sandstone peaks amidst a never-ending desert backdrop has inspired photographers for decades. I was quite looking forward to joining the crowd of has-beens and taking my own pictures.

Travelling through such an iconic region as the American South West is a mixed bag. The good part is that you get to experience the vistas first-hand, the smells, the weather, the atmosphere, the people and the food. The bad part is simply typing into Google Images, for example, "Monument Valley" will give you 1001 better images then yours. To be honest, there is little I can really do about this. The images on Google have been taken by a professional, probably paid, to sit out in the Monument Valley View Hotel for a couple of weeks waiting for the correct climatic and light conditions in order to capture the awe-inspiring shot. Me? I had half an hour travelling through - I had to make do and move on. Still, I am pleased I'm getting the experience first-hand. Many will not, I am grateful.

We took a stroll around the visitors centre and the gift shop. There were some really interesting stories about the Navajo during the World wars and pieces about their culture and beliefs. I am sure that my Dad would have come away with a carrier bag of purchases. There were lots of trinkets, old photographs of Native Americans, carved stones/wood and handmade rugs. Exactly the kind of thing you'd like huh Dad? :) In fact, I saw the picture of Geronimo you have up in your study in the gift shop! Sadly we have no room for such things on our travels so we left another shop, yet again, empty handed.

Travelling out of Monument Valley we took advantage of the famous road-view which leads down a valley and back up towards the peaks. This is another famous photography/film location - it's where Forrest Gump decided to "stop runnin'". They have erected an amusing tribute sign to such effect. A couple of tourist photos later and we were back on the road.

We travelled up the 163 towards the small community of Bluff. I checked in at the RV site and noticed a picture of Gooseneck Bends behind the counter. After speaking with the RV site owner it was clear that we had already passed the viewpoint, but a 20 minute backtrack would take us there. We decided to drive back and take a look before the sun set - who knows, perhaps get some good pictures too!

So, after a fairly swift drive back I got my camera gear setup, swapped memory cards (I've hit the limit at sunset so many times I now just swap out to an empty card at such "critical" photographic opportunities), got the tripod sorted - lets rock!

Picture the scene, amazing vista (yet again) I'm busy snapping pictures on my tripod - all is good, if a little blowy - occasional gusts of wind, but nothing serious - not like Horseshoe Bend which was insanely windy.

So, I've got my tripod half extended, taking a delayed shot, so my hands are off. One gust of wind later and whoosh, GOODBYE CAMERA AND TRIPOD! Straight off the edge of a canyon to who knows where. "SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! The camera's gone!" I yell out, Sarah comes running over with the most worried expression I've ever seen on her face. I peek over the edge - it's bad. 12 feet down wedged between some rocks I see my camera, tripod and uh-oh lens and wires all hanging out. I scramble around trying to find a way down and manage to sneak through some rocks to retrieve it.

So, yes, it's broken. Broken bad. My wide angle lens is a write off. The lens hood, thankfully, took the brunt of the impact and managed to protect the front-element. The 5dMk2 has a smashed up right shoulder. LCD is broken and has a hole in it. The viewing screen has a horrible scratch on it. The tripod leg is dented and retracts/extends with a struggle.

Thankfully the camera still takes pictures (just about, we'll see how it fairs) with a different lens attached, which I think is an amazing testament to how sturdy these cameras really are when bad things happen. The LCD screen may be smashed, but it's not vital to the operation of the body. The good(!) news is that hopefully we can continue our tour with photos until we reach somewhere I can get a replacement. The downer is that a lot of the places we're going to visit would really benefit from wide angle - but its taped up in two pieces in my lens pouch. I'm very happy that it wasn't me blown into the canyon!

In total? Well the combined value of all equipment is £3,000. Ouch! Big ouch! I've no idea what is repairable or replaceable, but it's going to be one interesting phone call with the insurance company tomorrow. I took out semi-pro insurance which should cover me for the mishap, providing they don't start trying to find loopholes in the contract.

Oh well, as Forrest Gump would say, "Shit happens".

Doesn't it just?