Atlanta And BeyondAmanda
Atlanta & beyondest. 2009

Breaking News: Southwestern Travel Lessons (And Fine Art Store Now Open)

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

Travel Lessons:  Southwestern Edition.  And Some Pretty Pictures.

You  may have noticed I’ve been running a couple of weeks behind with blog posts lately.  Allow me to present the reason why.  At long last, I’ve finished editing the digital photos from the Big Utah Adventure.  Between you and me, it wasn’t easy.  There were a lot of photos to choose from.  As it turns out, the Southwest is a pretty photogenic place to visit.  (Just so you know, we aren’t even gonna talk about film right now…. erg.)

Here’s the trip by the numbers:

Number of states visited:  11
Number of burritos consumed:  14
Number of coffees consumed:  46
Number of digital photos taken:  3375
Number of miles driven:  5506

Overall, the trip was a huge success.  We visited every destination on the original list except one, the Spiral Jetty.  Since the water level in Great Salt Lake determines whether you can see the jetty or not, and the lake level was very close to being too high, I decided it wasn’t worth the six hour drive out and back from Salt Lake City.  So now I’ve got an excuse to make another trip.  (Sweet!)

There were many unexpected bonuses on the trip, like finding an abandoned ghost town in eastern Utah.  That was a happy find.  In fact, from now on when I travel, I’m going to always use the Roadside America app to find cool stuff like this.  Even more interesting is the fact that I came back with a gorgeous set of photos that isn’t even in the least the kind of photos I expected to have.  The photos that I made represent our experience perfectly, and stay pretty far away from the typical tourist snapshots, or the low hanging fruit, as one of my favorite photographer mentors would say.  And that is very satifying.

But you’re not here because you want a neat summary of my trip.  We both know what you want.  You want the Travel Lessons.  After all, that’s the best part of any road trip, right?  And I shall not disappoint.  So without further ado, here is the Southwestern Edition of Amanda’s Travel Lessons.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #1:  Lotion is an absolute necessity.  For reals.  There ain’t no humidity west of the Mississippi River.  It’s all on the east coast.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #2:  In the southwestern states, cell phones are a fashionable and glamourous accessory.  They also make excellent paperweights and drain plugs.  But for actual telecommunication services, they are about as useful as tits on a bull.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #3:  The phrase, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,”  is utter bullshit.  Hot is hot.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #4:  You ain’t seen flat til youve seen Utah.  That place is flatter than a runway model’s chest.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #5:  Rumble strips are your friend.  And they tickle your feet.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #6:  Never trust a road sign in the southwest.  Even if you’ve seen 15 billboards for that world famous Route 66 diner, and you’ve been looking for lunch for two hours and are starved to death and your 15 year old co-pilot is threatening to faint, there’s not even the slightest guarantee it will be open when you get there.  Or even be there at all.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #7:  Get gas every time you see an open gas station.  Every.  Time.  See Lesson #6.  Seriously.  You cant trust the signs.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #8:  The shortest distance between two points on a map is four hundred miles of stick straight highway, so bring a letter opener to stab yourself with so you can stay awake.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #9:  Dust gets in everything.  It will never come out.  Deal with it.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #10:  Slow the hell down.  You drive a brick on wheels.  You’ll get better gas mileage if you drive slower. (Who knew? Thanks Forrest.)

Southwestern Travel Lesson #11:  The likelihood that it will rain in the desert increases dramatically if you drive across the continent with a car full of photography equipment.  The chance of rain becomes 100% on the one day that you set aside to spend in the park photographing sunlight on the rocks.

Southwestern Travel Lesson #12:  Crap happens.  Winners with tiger blood have a back up plan.

And that is just a short summary of all the interesting things I learned on my extended road trip through the southwestern United States.  And a few of the cool photos that I made too.  If you’d like to see a lot more of the photos, they’re all available for viewing (and even a little light purchasing) in my online fine art photography gallery.  And keep checking back in the gallery over the next few weeks, because I’ll be uploading some Shenandoah National Park and San Francisco photos, and some other cool stuff too.

Finally, I’d really like to thank everyone who contributed to the Big Utah Adventure.  You all really helped me get out there and stay longer and explore a little deeper than I would have been able to otherwise, and it really shows in the photos.  It was really awesome to know that you trusted me to deliver something special for you, and the added pressure to perform really elevated my work and motivated me to get up and get out there and get the good light.  Thank you for helping me make this dream come true.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Amanda Summerlin
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