Up next in A Series of Things is 00003 – Ranger East. All of the photos found in this issue were taken in 2012 with my trusty Canon 7D and kit lens on a winding road trip from Denver, CO to Harrisburg, PA. None of these photographs have ever been in print before. Honestly, most of them have never been shared in any form or fashion. Looking back at these photos, it amazes me how little I knew about photography back then. Sure, I could frame a shot, but thank god for shutter priority mode. I’m not sure I even knew what an aperture was back then.
I didn’t do a very good job of documenting the trip, as the camera didn’t live around my neck like it does now. I didn’t photograph the bugling bull elk and his harem of cows in the orange early morning fog of Estes Park, Colorado. I didn’t photograph the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen in the arid stretches of southern Wyoming. Then, like now, certain moments’ momentum outweighed my desire to capture them. Plus, the camera was in the bag.
Now, the story, the abbreviated one.
In 2012 my brother was living in Flagstaff, Arizona doing conservation work in the Grand Canyon. In the autumn of that year his work came to an end and he decided he was moving back to Pennsylvania. He would be dropping his friend off in Fort Collins, CO and then driving the last 1700 miles to Harrisburg all by his lonesome. Being the big brother that I am, I couldn’t let it that stand. Plus, an airline was running cheap direct flights from Harrisburg to Denver and it had been too long since my trip west.
Getting to the Rockies
Three hours of the first Avengers movie and one brief meditation session later and I was headed to baggage claim to grab my things. My brother swooped me from the airport and we headed to REI to grab some last minute camping paraphernalia. It’s not like I forgot things, I just wanted my trip to start at one of REI’s flagship stores; while impressive it does pale in comparison to the one in Seattle. I grabbed some gear and we left in pursuit of tacos. I’d been to Denver before, and this REI actually, when moving from Portland, OR to Harrisburg, PA. So I knew there was a great taco place nearby to grab a quick lunch.
After tacos we hopped in the Ranger and made our way north. Wait, I think I forgot to tell you. Before heading back east, we planned to squiggle through the Rockies for a few days camping and exploring. We didn’t have a definitive destination. It was all about the journey.
We picked up supplies in a grocery store in Fort Collins and set our sights on Estes Park, CO. We intended to camp there, but after arriving with only a few hours before sunset and not being able to find anywhere flat to throw our tent, we opted for a motel. Side note, if you’ve ever seen Dumb and Dumber, you’ve seen one of Estes Park’s icons, The Stanley Hotel. You may recognize it as the place where Jim Carrey hands out hundred dollar bills after he gets out of his Lambo. The next morning we were jostled awake by the aforementioned bugles of mating elks. We didn’t explore Estes Park too much. We opted to eat some waffles and hit the open road in our journey to the north.
Road Tripping through Wyoming
We really didn’t have a destination in mind when the trip started, but we eventually decided to head to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Along way we camped at two different places in Medicine Bow National Forest, both of which were in Wyoming. The first site was near a small beaver pond, just west of where Rt. 10 meets Rt. 230 in southern Wyoming. The second site was along the North Platte River at Six Mile Campground. Luckily for us we were out of season and along with the all but abandoned campground, the camping was free! We stayed there for a few nights before heading north to Rawlins, WY to shower and regroup.
From Rawlins we buzzed along 80 until we hit route 191 in Rock Springs, WY, and that is where one of the most gorgeous drives I have ever driven began. If you’ve never been to western Wyoming, I highly, highly suggest you do. It is absolutely breathtaking. The scenery is as timeless as it is grand. We arrived at our destination, Jackson Hole, WY, just before sunset. Luckily for us we were in between seasons and the lodging rates were actually cheap. Not Jackson Hole cheap, cheap. Like $60/night for the chicest, dopest Motel 6 I have ever seen. Yeah, chic!
We spent the next couple of days exploring both Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks. Being that it was September and the snows had yet to start, Jackson Hole, along with both parks were all but deserted. Our only company was the majesty of the land and the bright yellow Aspen groves. After checking the weather and realizing there were winter storms approaching, we decided we had better start the dreaded trek back east. While I love the east coast, I have never witnessed anything like the American West. The scale and space of it makes it is addicting.
I need to get back to the west.
ASOT 00003 – At a Glance
Photos: 55 – Pages: 72
Dimensions: 8 x 10 in. – 20 x 25 cm
Cover: Glossy Softcover
Paper: 70# matte, 105 GSM