“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” - Romans 1:20
“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” - Romans 1:20
I do not believe it is coincidental that Passover and Easter fall in the spring. As we contemplate and celebrate the resurrection of Christ we are surrounded by the glorious rebirth of the land. God uses His creation to speak loud(ly) and clear(ly) (grammar geek) to me. Nowhere have I ever seen that more evident than here in the desert. A place that, on first glance, appears as lifeless as the sand that covers it comes bursting to life with an abundance of flowers.
Happy Easter, everyone!
Yesterday we brought you the Four Corners. Today we are here to share scenes from the most famous stretch of highway in the whole country:
Route 163 through Monument Valley.
We went not only for the iconic photo of the vista...
...but mainly just because we wanted to stand there.
When we got there I hopped out of the truck, almost giddy with excitement to be seeing this view in person, and we were not the only ones. There was a cross-country cyclist, a European family, two other American families and then I lost count. And there is plenty of traffic on this road so getting that shot with no cars in it is not easy. The locals must hate this. They might have cussed in Navajo.
Getting enough time to shoot a fifteen-second video clip is harder, but it was totally worth it for what happened when we did. A carload of South Koreans had just pulled up when we were beginning to shoot our little dance piece. As soon as we busted out our phat (I’m bringing it back) moves, one of them burst out, “OH! Gangnam Style!” and started dancing with us.
What we would not have given to have had the camera trained on them instead of us...
He then went on to explain what Gangnam really is (a city with a glitzy style all it’s own) and he should know because he lives there. I am not kidding.
Over and over on this journey I am thrilled to go somewhere and get some great photos, usually aiming to have no people in them. And over and over again I am finding that the people all around are what make the photos that much more memorable.
If you are going to drive all over the United States for a year, there are a few things that you will likely decide you simply must see or do. We have a few of those on our list and were blessed to get to two of them this week. The first was seeing Four Corners, the spot where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet. We are out here. It had to be done.
The actual location is on Navajo land and is quite the little tourist attraction. Apparently we are not the only nerds who wanted to lie down with random body parts in all four states. We were, however, the only nerds who wanted to play Four Square. It was Kelli Stuart’s idea. I can’t take any credit.
We don’t actually know how to play Four Square. Does anyone?
By this time there was a line forming for photos. If we had been the only ones there we might have done more (Twister, cartwheels, Gangnam Style, etc). As it was we only had time for a few other shots
We drove two hours out of our way and paid admission for this. And, while I may not look all that impressed, I think it was totally worth it.
I have few words for today’s post. Partly because I am trying to describe a place that is fairly indescribable and partly because once again I am up high looking down. WAY down. Usually a thousand feet down, and we’ve talked about my feelings on that whole “way down” thing, right?
So I am just going to tell you that Canyonlands in beautiful and we had a great time as long as I was a solid forty feet from whatever ledge we happened to be visiting. Or at least behind a very solid barrier. And these are all the photos I took when I could convince myself to get a little closer to one of those precipitous drops.
At least 1000 feet up
Probably about 800 feet, it’s called Upheaval Dome and is an apt description for what almost happened to my lunch.
This one felt safe and I just love it...grass is nice.
I don’t know how high, but there was a guard rail between me and the edge so we’re cool.
No guard rail but 12 feet more edge, CRAZY sunset.
Then I grabbed the tripod and camera bag and bolted back to the safety of the truck and reminded myself that one day I will be back at sea level wishing I was out on the road and this amazing adventure again.
I have always wanted to see this place. Well, always as in, since I learned of it’s existence. I was thinking, “a desert wonderland full of cool rock sculptures.” It’s a bit different than I had pictured.
Arches National Park is home to over 2000 natural rock arches, hence the name (we are pretty smart, no?). The famous ones are huge. Landscape Arch is over 300 feet long and Delicate Arch is at least 40 feet tall (although it looks at least 100). But many more are small or look more like keyholes and windows in the rock fins.
What I found most exciting was the colors and the variety in the landscape. The same geological features responsible for the large concentration of arches is also the driving force behind the creation of the fins and walls and bizarre shapes all around the park.
There is Balanced Rock...
...and the Park Avenue area with all the great patterns and cool erosion.
For me, hiking to Delicate Arch was a great day. I will admit I was not really expecting it to live up to all the hype. I mean, this thing graces the cover of scores of coffee table books and brochures and even the Utah license plate. And I knew it was large because I have seen a photo of it with a person underneath to give scale, but I had no idea how much bigger it would seem in real life. And even after all the photographs I had seen, thas was the first time I was struck by the wonder of such a majestic arch sitting in the middle of a rock ampitheather. All the others are connected to fins and canyon walls. It really looks like God just chose to plunk to it there in a setting we could hike to and sit around and enjoy.
Our little Ugandan warthog friend and his clone troopers. We keep it real, people.
On our second day we chose a longer hike of about seven miles to see a number of different arches. It was to be training for our Grand Canyon hike. However, some serious wind came up and we spent so much time getting sand-blasted that we turned back after only two miles (thus making it a four mile round trip). We still got to see several great arches and enjoy a cool slick rock scramble.
This deal just got boss.
Since we had time and energy, we took the scenic drive to see Turret Arch and the Windows. As a consolation prize, God sent the moon up into a sapphire sky right under the arch. Awesome.
At Sand Dune Arch we hiked into the narrow mini-canyon space between a pair of rock fins and lived the dream of free microdermibrasion in the form of a 30 mph wind picking up most of southern Utah and hurtling it directly at us (I had on capris - now I don’t need to shave). We turned our backs to it, we ducked behind boulders, we hunkered down. All to no avail. Kristin found her own way to manage.
If she had remained another five minutes she might well have been buried.
We retreated to the shelter of the Bob T, but as I write this I think the wind has strengthened to at least 40 mph gusts. It takes a lot to move an eleven ton fifth wheel but this deal is rocking like a Stones reunion concert. I fear we might go to bed upright and wake up on our sides in western Colorado. If not, we will check in tomorrow with our post from Canyonlands National Park.
Capitol Reef National Park might well be one of the most underpublicized gems of the southwest. Before we came here we had only seen a few photos and it was not super high on our bucket list. I am SO glad we did not miss this one.
sunset, Panorama Point
The park is not a reef. Sorry. I am sure you guessed that already, being as it is located in the middle of the Colorado Plateau and all. And I can’t really tell you how it got the name. Had something to do with pioneers thinking it was as dangerous as an ocean reef is to sailors. I think...
Anyway, I would venture to say the park is as colorful and exciting as any coral reef. Leave your snorkel at home, but don’t forget your camera and good walking shoes. YOu will want to explore every trail, stop at every overlook, remember every stone. On our first morning we tried to do the scenic drive. We made it about three quarters of a mile before we were off on walk-about up the sides of the hills. Geology lessons abound here. Kristin picked up a small pebble and said, “Hey, check out this cool smooth rock I found!”
Joel asked, “Are you sure that’s not poo?” (my kids know their scat)
Kristin replied, “Of course I am sure. You can’t polish a turd.”
In our campground at Fruita we were visited nightly (and morningly) by mule deer and turkeys. There is a pasture with horses next to the orchard and the historic Gifford House sells homemade fruit pies each day. Go early because they usually sell out by noon.
Even if you only have a day to drive through the park, Capitol Reef is a gem we think you should not pass up.
If you have never experienced a slot canyon and you get out here to Utah or Arizona, you NEED to do this. Unless you are claustrophobic, in which case I suggest you just grab a cup of coffee and enjoy someone’s blog post about it. And if you go, don’t head straight for Antelope Canyon. Pricey and crowded. Take the long drive out to Escalante and hit Peek-a-boo and Spooky canyons.
While staying in Capitol Reef National Park we enjoyed a night of campfire and s’mores (well, duh) with some of our neighbors. They offered us some great intel on other things to see and do and we immediately pounced on the opportunity to explore some slot canyons. I got the opportunity to go five years ago into Canyon X on a photography day tour and it remains one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in the natural world. I wanted the rest of my family to see it too.
We began with Spooky. There is something about being in a slot canyon that makes you instantly hush. And it's a really tight squeeze in many spots (suck it in). AND it's dark. AND you have to climb but without a capable climbing guide to show you the best route. We spent quite a bit of time stalled out, quietly analyzing a wall by feeling around with our hands. We looked like five underfed mimes. (If a mime dies in a slot canyon and no one is there to witness it, does he make a sound?)
But the upward climbs were fun, if you enjoy this sort of odd adventure. Imagine playing charades, trying to act out all forty-nine English prepositions. It might have been helpful if, like snakes, we could unhinge some of our joints or something. Channel your inner invertebrate, my friends. It’s your only hope.
We proceeded from Spooky Canyon on to Peek-a-boo. This one is not quite as narrow (as in, these mimes could afford a slice of cheesecake), but there is more climbing. In fact, it begins with a twelve foot climb at the entrance. Going up and in was not so bad, but getting back down out of it was crazy. And did I mention it was windy? And slot canyons create a veritable wind tunnel for your hair tangling and camera sand-blasting pleasure? For the first time in this trip we were in closer quarters than our trailer and since I spent much of the time downwind of everyone else it became abundantly clear what happens when you are dry camping and thus on water rations for a week.
We ended the day tired, sandy, sore and happy. My camera is once again full of grit under it's dials and knobs. The adults have fresh bruises and scrapes from trying to squeeze through spaces God reserved for those who are under age eleven or don't like to eat much. We walked out of the canyon and back up the slick rock under a brilliant setting sun. I spent at least twenty minutes imagining ways to make this blog post sound like it was written by the likes of Ann Voskamp, or at least someone who scored about 780 on the verbal portion of the SAT. It was yet another one of those days when I ask God, "Really? This is my real life and I'm not dreaming?"
In short, it was a terrific day. Mimes not withstanding.
Once one has hiked the Narrows and Angel’s Landing (ahem), there is but one big Zion hike that should not be missed. Or at least that’s what the tour books say. I say do any hike in the park and you will not be sorry.
In a place this amazing, is there such thing as a bad hike?
Anyway, that remaining “must do” hike is Observation Point. Eight miles round trip. Fifteen hundred feet of elevation gain. A view that looks DOWN on Angel’s Landing. No guard rails.
No guard rails? Exsqueeze me???
The park service guide paper lists hikes with a brief description. For Angel’s Landing it clearly states, “People with a fear of heights should not attempt. Steep drop offs, chains for holding.” Regarding Observation Point: “People with a fear of heights should not attempt. Steep drop offs. No chains.”
Not one to learn my lesson the first time, I plowed in with the philosophy “if it gets ugly I will just turn around and go shoot stuff.”
I needn’t have feared. This hike was AMAZING.
You begin on the canyon floor and travel through the same sort of ecosystem you’ve become accostomed to seeing as you drive to all the great vistas and trails. Mosses, red sand, mule deer, and cacti (yes, it’s cacti, not cactuses). Proceed upward and the surrounding rock walls change dramatically. It looks a bit like the pictures we all see of Jupiter.
Echo Canyon is almost a slot canyon. Actually, part of it is, but the trail stays mostly above it. If you only made it this far (about one mile in) it would be well worth it.
The next couple of miles take you through the Navajo Sandstone, the distinctive white rock layer that is characteristic of southern Utah and particularly Zion NP. This is where we encountered the aforementioned steep drop offs, but the trail was really wide so it was not scary. And the view was just getting warmed up
The last mile levels out into the red rock cap layer and the trail widens as you reach the rim of the canyon. At the end point you do indeed look way down on Angel’s Landing. And the lodge. And the Temple of Sinawava, and Salt Lake City, passenger jets, etc.
The trip back down is a bit more hair-raising, as you can clearly see and focus on the drops. On the way up, not so much, because you are panting and puffing and just trying to get up the hill (oh, you’re not? Well, I’m from sea-level so I am). Still, not so frightening to make me wish I’d kept my feet on the canyon floor. This hike was totally worth it.
Our original itinerary had us leaving Zion NP after a week and heading for Bryce Canyon National Park, where we were hoping to do a night or two of tent camping below the rim. However, the overnight lows were predicted to be around nineteen or something horrid like that. Recall I am a Florida girl. My blood congeals right around thirty-five degrees F.
BUT Bryce did get a generous helping of snow and we had been hoping and praying that at some point in this year we might get to see red rocks with a light dusting of fresh powder so we left the cozy Bob T in Zion and drove to Bryce for a couple of days.
A light dusting would have been nice, but what they got was actually seven good inches of snow. And I learned that snow on red rock is far harder to shoot than I had thought. Also, it’s a beat down to hike in. You know, it’s fun for about fifteen yards then you’ve had it. So we settled for viewing the canyon from the rim, knowing we will be back in a couple of months. Then we found a lovely open field with undisturbed powder and we totally trashed all that natural beauty with a raucous snowball fight.
We also made a snow turkey. You might wonder what inspired such a thing. I wish I could say we are just randomly humorous like that but the truth is, we tried to make a snowman and failed. I was rolling a snowball around, rejoicing in the perfect stickiness of the snow and at how large my snowball was getting when I realized we would never be able to lift this puppy onto the snowman’s bottom piece (Floridiot). The remains of a snow fort wall were close by and it made a lovely tail piece so we just crafted a neck and a waddle and BAM! Snow turkey! We later learned March is National Frozen Food Month and there is a whole day devoted to poultry so this photo came in handy. For what, I can’t really say. Facebook?
People keep asking us if we have any favorite locations from our trip so far and we are never able to answer. HOW does one pick??? I have noticed that it is much easier to narrow down our favorite days and this one was certainly in the top two or three.
“Hi, my name is Jenni and I am an Introvert.”
Sometimes I feel like I should introduce myself that way. If you are also an introvert you probably know what I mean. We need our space and our alone time and just a little piece of quiet.
I have lasted a full two months with no significant time alone and no resulting meltdown and that, my friends, is nothing short of miraculous. But I hit my limit this week and my wonderful husband urged me to go out alone this morning. No limits, just do what I wanted to do.
I chose to drive through the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel to the other side of the canyon. The park changes dramatically in that one mile journey through ancient rock. The whole character of the place is magical and feels to me like a place I could get pleasantly lost in for a good long while. I found a nice rock (plenty to choose from!) and planted myself for quiet time with the Lord and shutter time with my camera.
After shooting the rocks in the choice morning light I lit upon the idea of trying to capture myself enjoying my spot. I had my handy little remote shutter release but alas, it only works on my 50D and I did not have a card for that camera body. So I had to rely on the 10-second delay timer and my mad rock scrambling skills (ahem). This perfect little spot I found just happened to be the distance limit for what I could run up in ten seconds. It took me four takes to get it right...
I found my happy place.
Actually, it was a fabulous photography morning. Assuming you are the sort of photographer who remembers to cover your equipment while the snow is still falling, thus keeping the snowflakes and sleet off your lens. I am not that sort. Therefore I shot some really stellar images with huge water splotches all over them. Grrr. Argh.
But that said, Zion with a fresh coat of snow is like heaven come down to earth. Okay, so it doesn’t really need the snow to look heavenly. It’s just so amazing that I am going to go ahead and share a bunch of messy photos so you can see and imagine and live vicariously through my morning. This was totally worth getting out of bed, freezing my tail feathers off, and getting locked out of the truck for. Yes, Kevin put the keys on the seat, shut the door and then instantly heard a click and a honk and the doors were locked. HOW does that work? I mean, you have to hit the key fob to lock it, right? The keys were no longer in his hands so HOW did it lock? I think Jose is mad at us. He was supposed to go in for his 60,000 mile spa day and we rescheduled it so we could enjoy this snow. Jose is Mexican. He doesn’t like snow and he wanted his oil changed and his gears lubed and his rims shined. Clearly he is pouting. I think if he keeps it up we are renaming him Christine.
Yeah...so, um...back to the photos. Here are the bad-but-pretty shots:
Later the clouds blew through and the snow stopped and we ventured back up the canyon again for some photos sans water blotches. There was considerably less snow, but it was still lovely and this is what I was able to capture.
Much better without the snowflake photo bombs.
The other quintessential hiking experience of Zion National Park is the Narrows. Too chicken for Angel’s Landing? Maybe the risk of flash flooding and hypothermia is more your speed. It is mine.
We were not planning to do this one, having hiked a short part of it five years ago with Joel and thinking our youngest could not handle this. But on our visit to the trailhead she spotted a couple in full dry suits and gear headed into the canyon and declared, “I want to do that.” So we turned around in search of some gear. Yeah, we let the seven year old make big decisions for the whole family all the time. I call it “Life Management Training” and award the appropriate school credit.
We got outfitted by Zion Adventure Company. I highly recommend them. Great folks. For a safe (read: warm) Narrows experience you need a dry suit that has neoprene gaskets that you will swear are cutting off all your circulation, special shoes and these neoprene sock things that are a size too small and take ten minutes to put on. You also get a big stick and a bag to carry anything you need to keep dry. You need all this crazy stuff because while the canyon has many sandbars on which to hike, it is mostly wall-to-wall water. Cold water. Like 39 degrees. Ain't nobody got time for that.
We had planned to be in the river by 10:00 a.m. but after a big breakfast and forgetting a few important things, it was more like 11:30 (that’s how we roll). I started to consider this a plus, figuring that placed the sun high enough in the sky to warm the canyon until I remembered why this part of the park is called the Narrows. Here is where I will cease with my words and let the pictures do the explaining.
In the end, the cold and shade did not matter. It was a wonderful experience and we were all glad we did it and were looking forward to a celebration dinner at the Bit & Spur (after the 45 minutes it took us to get out of the dry suits). Unfortunately we found they were closed for the winter, so we at at the Whiptail Grille instead. It did not disappoint. Nor did the chocolates we indulged in at the local candy shop. Then we went back to the campground and collapsed.
I woke up nervous. This was the day we were planning to hike to the top of Angel’s Landing. I think I’ve mentioned before I don’t do heights. But I have gone rock climbing and I have seen pictures of this particular precipice and it’s route and I had determined in my mind I could do this.
It turns out the reality is FAR worse than the pictures.
The first two miles are wonderful, scenic, and while not lacking in danger, the trail is wide and easy. We reached the end of the non-hair-raising part where Kevin was to wait with the girls while Joel and I made a push for the summit (see how I just made us sound like hardy mountaineers?)
We covered the first set of chains, a VERY narrow section of trail with ridiculous drop-offs and precious little that passes for firm footing. My legs were shaking and every muscle in my body was tense. It was a state of butt-puckering terror such as I have only experienced in my nightmares. As we passed the last metal chain post I breathed a huge sigh of relief and made my way to a (relatively) large flat area to rest and look around. “Ah! So that’s it, eh?” I said to Joel.
“No. That’s it over there,” he replied like someone who has hiked this before at the tender age of nine.
I looked and all the wind went right out of me. It was a false summit, a high point that makes you believe you’ve made the top when really you have far to go. We were only at the saddle. The worst was ahead. I spent about 3.8 seconds considering then said, “I’m done. Going back.”
I don’t like defeat. I had been determined to conquer my fear but I got schooled. I saw a Cocker Spaniel coming down, for Pete’s sake. This was not how my day was supposed to end.
So Joel and Kevin decided to go on to the summit while I stayed back with the girls. We monitored the guys’ progress through binoculars and I tried hard not to barf. They returned safely less than an hour later.
As it turns out, my chickening out and the resulting delay was a really cool thing. On our way back down the trail we met up with some fellow hikers. We like meeting people out here and most everyone is pretty friendly. The outdoors just does that to you. Anyway, the more we talked with them the more we found we had in common. We hail from nearly the same town and studied the same thing at the same school. He has visited the gear shop owned by our friend Rob, whom incidentally, we met in the same sort of odd way. This intrepid couple is also out on the road for a full year. While their plan looks a bit different from ours, we share a love of nature and adventure and a deep appreciation for the freedom to just take off and enjoy it all.
Since our new friends were staying in the same campground we hatched a plan for campfire and S’mores after dinner. They brought their secret ingredients and we learned the art of roasting a Peep to caramelized yummy perfection. We burned through two cords of wood and talked until close to midnight. The next morning we spent more time enjoying their company and agreed to meet up again in Canada in a few months.
Am I disappointed to not have summited Angel’s Landing? Not in the least. Out here, again and again, I am finding that the best part of most days, the summit if you will, is rarely the thing I was expecting.
This place is hot. As the family lizard, I am not complaining, but other members of this clan are. While hiking off the salt flats and again uphill toward the Natural Bridge the kids started whining about the heat. We’re Floridians so 85 degrees Fahrenheit should be non-threatening, but after several weeks of not being able to wear shorts, I think perhaps some of us have acclimated to cooler climes. Consider the exchange that ensued...
kids: “It’s soooooo hottttt....”
Kevin: “It seems my hot weather lovers are all burned out.”
Kristin: “We’re used to a different kind of heat.”
Kevin: “What kind of heat would that be?”
Emily: “Less heat.”
And it’s only the first week of March.
I don't know about you, but I had never seen enough pictures of Death Valley to have a good idea of what to expect. I was envisioning vast expanses of flat, dusty nothing surrounded by some basic treeless mountains. I knew about the Racetrack Playa with it's walking rocks which we didn't get to see (but google it - very cool). I knew about Scotty's Castle (meh). I had been told Death Valley was amazing and I believed that well enough that over the last few years I had nurtured a pretty strong desire to get here. I wanted to see for myself. I really wanted to get out and search and know it as my own. In short, I came thirsty.
My take-away is this: when you go somewhere seeking beauty, be prepared to look hard for it. Beauty does not always jump out at you. Beauty does not always seek attention. It waits patiently to be discovered. If you look a little, you will find a little. But if you come thirsting for it and refuse to end the search before you find your perfect oasis, you will be handsomely rewarded.
NOTE: For those of you who follow my Facebook posts and are scratching your head and thinking, "I thought they were in Zion NP this week...," our blog is a few days behind reality. We blog when we get a good internet signal. Also, when we have reached the point where we can look back and laugh.
Have you ever wondered if a Canon 70-200mm L lens could survive a 150 foot near vertical end-over-end tumble into a canyon? Neither have I. Mainly because I once dropped a cheap wide angle lens a mere two feet onto carpet and the focus ring bit the dust. So I already knew the odds of high-altitude crash survival were slim.
I have always heard Canon products are built like rocks, but that’s not why I bought their system. It’s just what I started on and I’ve been happy so why switch to something else? Also, Kevin does most of the gear purchasing and when it comes to photo gear he goes big and somewhere in all his research I think he read how solidly Canon lenses are constructed. So that is how such nice glass came to rest in my bag and then the bottom of Twenty Mule Team Canyon. My bag that was not zipped, as it turns out, when we went to pick it up. NOT. GOOD.
Picture this scene: a dozen or more photographers gathered on Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park to shoot the sunrise. The light is great. The weather is perfect. The only sound disturbing the peace is the occasional three rapid clicks as someone fires off a trio of bracketed shots. After fifteen or so minutes the sun is high and the best light is over and most are packing up to head out. This is where my memory grows foggy. I can only recall watching helplessly as the protective case for my best lens goes slowly rolling, then tumbling, over the precipice and into the canyon.
Yes, time slowed down. Yes, I almost lunged. Yes, the word, “Nooooooooooooooo,” went through my mind all slow and hollow and echoey-sounding. Two grand worth of glass flashed before my eyes and another photographer said, “Uh-oh. What’d you just lose?” I replied with a chuckle, “The lens case. No lens in there, thankfully.”
I don’t really know why I thought that. Maybe it’s because the last time I recall handling that lens a few days prior I did not put it into the case, but into the center of the bag. Kevin stood watching helplessly also and did not tell me that, yes indeed, the lens was in it. God bless him. He knows that would have been the point at which I would have likely passed out and tumbled into the canyon myself.
So after what seemed like ten minutes of watching it fall in Olympic-style super slow-mo, the case came to rest and we thought we (two fellow visitors helped us watch it fall) had it’s location burned into our brains. Kevin said, “I can get down there,” because there was a trail. No sweat. Did I mention this thing is the EXACT color as the sand in that particular part of this park? I mean really. This place is a wash of colors that make you think when God created Death Valley He had just gotten out his paint palette then suddenly sneezed. But the one spot that had to be a somewhat boring beige would be right where we dropped a lens in its boring beige carrying case.
It took a solid ten minutes of hunting to find, with our new and helpful friends yelling down helpful hints like, “Maybe it went that way,” and, “Hurry! Before it rains!” I did find that funny because at this point I really still thought it was just the case. But Kevin retrieved it and brought it to the rim and told me, “The lens was in there.”
To my credit, I did not freak out here. I put it on the camera and fired a few test shots and immediately decided to write a nice letter to Canon to let them know how solid their gear is. And also maybe let them know we have a blog read by about 150 people (thanks, Weebly analytics), four of whom (I think) are photographers, and would they maybe like us to crash test any other glass for them? Like maybe a big old 600mm zoom. Because we’ll be in the Grand Canyon in a month. I think that’s a great location.