A photo tour and recap of my two week photography road trip and camping trip throughout the Colorado Rockies, Utah and the West Coast.
This past July I joined forces with my good friend and fellow photographer, Logan, as we set out on the biggest road trip of our lives. Spanning over 6,800 miles across the good ole US of A, we drove out west to explore Colorado, Utah, California, Oregon and Washington. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pee my pants a little when Logan initially presented me with the idea.
The main objective of the trip was for Logan to meet with various Ad agencies. Me? I was merely there for the ride. Afterall, how could I turn down the opportunity to spend a couple weeks with Logan? I have looked up to him as a photographer from day one. He is a huge artistic inspiration to me but I’ll let you take a look at his work and see for yourself.
Somewhere between Michigan and Colorado.
Our first stop was in Denver, Colorado. We drove straight though from Grand Rapids, Michigan. After a few of Logan’s meetings we made sure to stop and shoot some of Colorado’s landscape. We were pretty short on time and had to get to Utah next.
We ran into a bit of car trouble on our way to Utah. We were almost out of the mountains in Colorado when I suggested we take a side road. Within the hour I noticed a terrible grinding noise coming from the tires. Low and behold, we burnt out the brakes…and rotors. I called every service shop in the little town of Eagle and everyone was closed. Thankfully, we made good friends with a guy from a local car part store and replaced the brakes and rotors right in their parking lot. Unfortunately, that ate up about 3 1/2 hours of drive time so we had to make an unexpected overnight stop in Utah later that night. Why we chose the grungiest hotel we could possibly find? I’ll never know.
Creepy sight outside our hotel room.
Logan said it best, “Book Cliff Lodge, she was a dirty mistress, but she gave us a hell of a view this morning.”
“Some people just weren’t cut out for life on the road” – Lloyd Christmas
We took old route 66 somewhere from Utah to Joshua Tree. Time wise it might have not been the greatest decision since we were super excited to be at Joshua but the weird things we saw on that old road made up for it. We saw a naked person in the desert, a huge statue of a lion in the middle of nowhere, Old run down businesses and houses, a squirrel, and “The Oasis”. The Oasis was the only gas station we could find for miles and miles. Luckily we made it to get gas since we were running low while on route 66.
We left Joshua Tree late the night before and made our way to Palm Springs where I have family. We stayed with my cousin and his wife and left early for some meetings Logan had in Venice.
We met up with Collin, a friend of Logan in Ventura, California later that day. We had some killer seafood on the pier and the next day Collin took us out for surfing.
Taking a surf break at Mondos Beach.
Collin’s place overlooking Ventura FWY.
Saw these old buildings on the way to Alabama Hills and had to make a pit stop for photos.
Portrait of myself shot by Logan.
Alabama Hills at sunset. I can’t say I’ve been to a place that felt so remote. The scenery at Alabama Hills was out of a movie. Probably why they film so many movies and car commercials here. In fact, they were filming a Nissan commercial somewhere over those hills when we were there.
A time lapse video from where we camped at Alabama Hills.
Setting up camp at our next destination, Yosemite. We were lucky to find a camp site considering we never reserved one the whole trip when we camped. Especially here in Yosemite. We made it here early on a Friday morning. After setting up camp we tried getting into the park and after waiting in line for way too long we decided to check out Mono lake which was a few miles outside of the park off the highway.
This giant field of shrubs was on our way to Mono Lake. Had to stop to take some photos of the view.
Logan floating in the water of Mono Lake surrounded by trillions of tiny brine shrimp. The salt content of this lake is said to be 2.5x that of the oceans which makes you much more buoyant than the water. No floaties needed. Just lay back and float no problem. I will add that we were the only people swimming in this lake. When you get out you notice the slime of the water and salt and then your skin turns into a dry salty mess. We washed off by a river near a campsite.
The next day we got up early and decided to drive to the valley. That was one of the many rookie mistakes we faced when going to Yosemite during peak season. The line to get into the park was awful. When we got in we drove for about an hour and half towards the valley. Parts of it were bumper to bumper. I guess the people from California who we talked to about Yosemite were right when they described the park as the “Disney Land” of national parks. We were running out of time and were eager to get on some trails so we turned around when we had a chance and drove back towards our campground where a portion of the John Muir trail was located. We decided we would hike there before sunset. We ran into another hiccup on the way there when a car ran off the mountain and caused quite the backup. Once again we were stranded on a mountain, bumper to bumper waiting to get to our destination. At least we saw this rad mullet.
I didn’t take too many photos through the trail since we were so strapped for time and really wasn’t in the mood to walk back in the dark. This is where we ended our trek. There was a lake tucked in the mountains in front of Logan there. We snapped some photos, drank some beer, and went for a quick, cold swim.
A different lake we jumped in the day before when we couldn’t get into the park. It was on the way back to the campsite. It was frigid to say the least. Onlookers clapped for us for jumping in.
Our last state on the agenda was Washington. We stopped in Reno, Nevada on the way there for some tacos. Naturally.
Logan facetiming with his wife and kiddos.
After some of Logan’s meetings in Seattle we decided to hit up the Fish Market.
The first night in Seattle we stayed with Logan’s aunt and in the early morning made our way to Olympic National Park to set up camp.
After scouting Ruby Beach for a while I thought it would be a good idea to bring the axe from the car and use it for a photo. We took took our gear about a half mile down the beach where no one was and started on some shots.
After shooting half the day at Ruby Beach we took the time to take it all in. We were both pretty quiet and tired at that point. We realized how much we had done and how much we had seen in a short 2 weeks. We also had a daunting 2400 mile trip back home ahead of us and knew it was almost time to put this trip behind us. Ruby Beach was a great place to end the trip. Our photos can only do these places so much justice. I found that there is so much in our own country to see from this trip. Especially out west. I urge people to get out and do something like this. Take the time to explore and take the time to appreciate what we take for granted.