I spent part of yesterday looking through old photos. They’re never the photos I wish I’d taken, of course, and they often don’t capture the memories I really want to hang onto.
Like my photos from Arizona a few years ago.
I was in Phoenix for a work conference, and turned 25 halfway through the week. Of course, I have no photos from the slightly-crazy birthday dinner I had with my work friends, plus various people I felt obliged to invite because it was a work conference, plus the various additional people I didn’t even know who got invited by invitees who didn’t realize it was a birthday dinner. Somehow the 2 dozen of us got a table at a decent restaurant, without a booking, and I think even the non-birthday dinner people had fun.
After a week of being peopled-out I needed a break, so I’m glad I booked a few days vacation after the conference and went to the Grand Canyon via a road trip through Sedona.
It was a trip of new experiences. Having just turned 25, I hired a car since it was suddenly so much cheaper than it would have been a few days prior. Travelling with a car was a novelty for me — I’d been very much a bus/train person, to a fault — but there’s no way to take a photo of the feeling of being in a new car, an easy-to-drive automatic at that, and thinking “Oh my gosh I can go anywhere!”. Although I do have a photo of the car (well, plus some snow; this was at the Grand Canyon where it was frrrrreezing):
And you’d need better photography skills than mine to get an image capturing the feeling of driving north on the Interstate, traffic flowing smoothly on a ribbon of highway through a country of strange rock formations and giant cacti. The car had a digital radio and I eventually settled on a classic rock station that played Hotel California approximately every six hours — to this day, that song reminds me of my time in Arizona.
Propelled by the I-can-go-anywhere feeling, I pulled off the interstate after about an hour, deciding instead to take the back roads on my way to Sedona. I didn’t get a photo of the road winding through switchbacks up a rocky hill, up to where there was snow on the ground and the view back down to the plains went on for miles. Mostly because I was too busy freaking out about the fact that I had zero experience driving on crazy winding roads, and what if there was ice, and what have I done why didn’t I stick to the Interstate??!
Though I did get some photos from a view point on the other side of the pass, where I pulled over to calm my nerves afterwards.
And then there’s the places that are unphotographable even if you try. Like Sedona, where I spent a couple of nights. (Another change of travel style for me: I got a motel room, breaking my tradition of staying at backpackers no matter what.) If you’ve been to Sedona — and you should go, if you ever get the chance — you’ll know what I mean about how impossible it is to get photos that do any justice to the rock formations.
I mean, those are some nice snapshots of rocks, but the feeling of exploring somewhere new to me, of seeing a landscape so different to everything I’d seen before… that’s hard to capture.