- my encounters with the promised land

My very first encounter with the promised land should trace back to 2015, winter. I was still living in Los Angeles back then, a bit less than a half year after I stepped onto the land of the nation of dreams. Some friends invited me to a road trip along the famous route 66, while several well-known landscapes were listed as a bonus along our trip. I was still playing around with my old buddy, a 2-year-old Canon 70D, which is long-gone by now, and to be honest, not that into photographing back then. Still remembering that I just got back from another road trip to NorCal, having that salty Cali coastline mist lingering in my body, I just set off to the total opposite right away. Desert, western, drought-out, endless views right after we passed the Cajon Junction, but not boring at all for a kid who had never seen desert before. We stopped at every possible place, let the mid-winter warm wind blew over our cheeks. I knew I would come back someday, but totally didn’t expect this kind of joy-blasting visually-stunning second encounter.


August 2018. After I put a comma in my career, I went back to Utah for a total impulse-driven road trip (planned and booked the tickets 1.5 weeks before I set off). The drive from Phoenix to Monument Valley was quite a challenge even though I’d consider myself a decent driver. Encountered with a back-chilling thunderstorm in the mountains north of Sedona. The pouring rain was causing some rock sliding along the road, and some people were turning around right in front of me. I tuned up the Scorpion in my car, trying to let Drake’s blasting lines balance off part of my nerve. After almost 30 miles of struggle, finally got out of the mountains, gradually, green vanished, the land turned into red, mountains started to shape, I knew I entered Utah.

My first stop, maybe not a common choice for most people, was the Monument Valley. The name itself was already calling my name so loud.

Another fact that I was blessed to learn before I started this trip is that you should appreciate the unclear weather. I used to think that clear sky is for sure best for photographing, but that was totally underestimating the magic of clouds. When I arrived at the Valley, I was not sure those clouds were preparing a storm game or dismissing from one. But they definitely made my 7-hour drive much worthwhile. And not to mention those cuties that made me stop my car for so many times in the middle of the red desert.

Delicate Arch sunset, Mesa Arch sunrise, the secret False Kiva, maybe 3 of the most representative scenes of western states. I carefully planned the schedule of my limited 3 days time spent there. Even tho I felt very blessed with the perfect weather, but for some special spots, I had to track back before or shortly after the sunset for the concern of security even tho I brought GPS and enough food in case I got lost, comforting myself that I was saving it for next time. Anyhow, they totally exceeded my expectation still.

Even though a short 5-day road trip is still far away from enough to explore and digest the magnificence of this promised land, it definitely served as a good teasing for my eyes and heart.

Travel is nothing but a series of moments that pass you by all too quickly, you’re gonna open your heart to feel it. And a journey that doesn’t change you isn’t a journey at all.

Not surprisingly, I went back to this promised land only 4 months later, experienced something that is so different yet still wildly pretty. Stay tuned for vol. 2.