I’ve attended a conference in Las Vegas the past two years called Photoshop World. For a photographer it’s three days of stuffing as much information from industry pros as you can possibly jam into your brain, and returning home not quite knowing where to start implementing the massive amount of information that you’ve retained (nevermind what you’ve forgotten again by the time the plane touches down at home). That’s all great.
But it’s Vegas, and you have to get out of the conference center to take in some of the sideshow that is The Strip. Photographing hotels and casinos alone could fill numerous days. The characters both in and out of costume would complete the week. The shows, restaurants, and shopping could keep you there many more.
It’s not me though. Sure, I have snapshots, but I wanted to get out to see the countryside. I wanted to explore the arid mountains, curious rock formations and scrubby vegetation to see what lives there and simply to appreciate a landscape vastly different from home. My friend Theresa was driving in from California; she graciously offered her car and we were joined by friends Mel, Gail, Brandon and Sue on a half-day trek to Valley of Fire.
A state park which name could derive from both the colour and the temperature had to be intense, and it was. A desert is not only about sand and cacti — we climbed hoodoos, examined petroglyphs, and wondered about perfectly spherical stones along the path. We played with a fearless chipmunk, eager to cache all the granola he could snatch, and marvelled at miles of empty tarmac leading through this otherworldly place. We know we saw only a small portion of what is there, but it was as much an education as many of the courses in the air-conditioned chill of the conference building.