Photo Exploration: Cross-Country Road Trip 2016


1. Goodbye, Portland-Goodbye, Garfield House-resized

My last view of Garfield House, which is what we called my home while I lived there. It was hard to leave. NOT PICTURED: How much stuff I managed to pack into my tiny car.

2. Oregon Coast (mist)-resized

My first stop was the Oregon Coast, even though it was technically in the wrong direction, because I have loved it so much. I might miss it more than Portland, but I’m not positive.

4. Oregon Coast (water, sky, trees)-resized

3. Oregon Coast (sky, pool, and ocean)-resized

5. Dusk at the OR Coast-resized

I like how that last one is a bit blurry; it looks ore like a painting than a photo. It looks like it felt, with the gloom descending and the stormy sea and the wind blowing hair in my face and my heart asking, How can you leave?

But I did.


This next one was my first stop in California. California is GOOD for scenic viewpoints, which is another way of saying that even the highway department knows it’s in a pretty state.


6. My first glimpse of CA-resized

6.5 - scenic-resized

This basically spoiled me for scenic viewpoints for the rest of the journey.

7. Lake TK-resized

I also developed a talent for finding pretty water, like this one, Lake Shasta. NOT PICTURED: all the boats I cropped out of the photo.

Important NOTE before we proceed: We’re going to pretend that I was not in motion while any of these pictures. This is not something I normally do. This is NOT something I endorse, but I made a decision that this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and some pictures can only be taken while on the road.

8. Double Rainbow, CA-resized

The weather in California was often crummy, but I decided that driving into a double rainbow would bring you luck on the road. (Which I obviously needed to document.]

It was ridiculous how pretty it was. For example, this is the view at the gas station.

9. Gas Station 1-resized

10. Gas Station 2-resized

With the storm rolling and the sun going down, everything turned shades of blue and gold.

12. Sunset in CA 2-resized

(You’ll see some of these again in another post.)


I’ve never been to Nevada before, but what I’ll remember most about that state is driving I-80 in the dark and passing town after town where the exit sign warned, “No Amenities.” Which is another way of saying this place is too small even to have a gas station. Then, even later, I spotted signs for Correctional Facilities; those warned you not to stop for hitchhikers. I’m not kidding.

13. Nevada 1-resized

Despite the isolation, or maybe because of it, Nevada has a stark kind of beauty.

14. Nevada 2-resized

15. Nevada 3-resized


I saw this on accident. I had no idea what I was driving through until I reached this rest stop. They’re the Salt Flats of Utah.

16. Salt Flats 1-resized

17. Salt Flats 2-resized

18. Salt Flats 3-resized

It’s hard to explain, even with photographic evidence, the unearthly beauty of the place.

19. Salt Flats 4-resized

20. Salt Flats 5-resized

With the reflection of clouds on the water, surrounding the highway, it felt like driving through the sky.

21. Salt Flats Drive-resized

By the way, if anyone can tell me why the Salt Flats need a foot wash, I will be forever grateful. I love this pic, but I’m incredibly confused—and kind of amused—by the sign.

22. Foot Wash-resized

Salt Lake City was one of those cities where you struck by the ordinary life surrounded by the extraordinary land. Snow and sunshine is a good look for that place.

23. Salt Lake 1-resized

24. Salt Lake 2-resized

Driving south, the canyons were desolate and stunning.

25. Utah Canyons-resized

When I realized that I might never drive through this part of the world again (at least, probably not with such a fun car), I decided to stop some places on purpose.

Here is Arches National Park.

26. Arches National Park 1-resized

27. Arches National Park 2-resized

28. Arches National Park 3-resized

Yes, I know. I failed to show you any actual arches, but look first at how striking the blues and the oranges are. Sometimes, you visit someplace new, and you realize how much of how strange and varied and wondrous the world is.

29. Arches National Park 4-resized

There may be actual arches in that last one, but here are the Window Arches:

31. Window Arches 1-resized

32. Window Arches 2-resized

33. Window Arches 3-resized

34. Window Arches 4-resized

35. Window Arches 5-resized

And the view through it.

36. View through Window Arch-resized

I’ve forgotten the name of this one…

37. Unknown Arch-resized

…but this is Turret Arch.

38. Turret Arch-resized

In general, I had very good luck with sunsets during this trip.

39. Sunset at Arches National Park-resized

Both sunsets and views in both directions.

40. Double View at Sunset National Park-resized


Because I like ruins, the older the better, I also decided to stop at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

In summer, the road up to the attractions would be very fun; in winter, they were rather icy and somewhat scary.

41. Entering Scary Road-resized

42. Scary Icy Road-resized

Due to unsafe snowy conditions, some areas were closed…

43. Closed for Season-resized

…but the view itself was worth it.

44. Mesa Verde View 1-resized
45. Mesa Verde View 2-resized

46. Mesa Verde View 3-resized

Of course, I also got see some ruins. Here’s Square Tower House, from above.

47. Square Tower House-resized

The whole canyon is dotted with ruins. I will be impressed if anyone can spot them from this photograph. I had trouble finding them when I was there in person, and they gave me a map.

48. Mesa Verde Canyon-resized

Usually, you can roam around Cliff Palace at will, but like I said, winter conditions.

49. Cliff Palace-resized

50. Cliff Palace 2-resized

51. Cliff Palace 3-resized

But I did get to see a few ruins up close and personal.

52. Ruins up close-resized

53. Ruin up very close-resized

New Mexico

I made a point to drive through New Mexico, because I love New Mexico. On my trip west, I drove through with my mother, who is a painter, and so, when I drove through this time, I couldn’t help but think—This is Georgia O’Keefe country.

54. New Mexico 1-resized

This is Lake Abiquiu, and I’m almost positive I stopped here while driving out west. I think I just didn’t know its name.

56. Lake Abiquiu-resized

57. Lake Abiquiu 2-resized

58. Lake Abiquiu 3-resized

This is Santa Fe, where I spent the night:

58.5. Sante Fe-resized

59. New Mexico Sunset 1-resized

60. New Mexico Sunset 2-resized

61. New Mexico Sunset 3-resized

62. New Mexico Dusk-resized

The colors!

Of course, I also thought, as I drove through, that it’s easy for me to think it’s beautiful. It’s new to me. For many, it’s home, and since New Mexico is a rather poor state, their home can feel less like an oasis and more like a dead-end.

55. New Mexico 2-resized

New Mexico is another place short on scenic viewpoints. I had to park in a lot of random driveways to get these pics, and once a park ranger—and her small son in the backseat—asked me what I was doing.


My family is from Texas, so as soon as I hit it, I felt like I was practically home already. This, for example, is my cousin Sami, and this was also the first time I’d seen her since she got married and the first time I’d met her four adorable kids.

64. Cousins!-resized

I was a bit road-weary, so this is more or less the end of the pictures. I only slowed down for sunsets, and after a certain point, I grew weary of them too.

63. East Texas Sunset-resized

This is the Texas Hill Country.

65. Boerne 1-resized

65.5. Boerne 2.5-resized

66. Boerne 2-resized

This is San Antonio, where my grandmothers live.

68. San Antonio 2-resized

67. San Antonio 1-resized

It’s funny—the closer you get to the place you grew up, the less you feel like documenting everything. The newness wears off.

But I’ve decided that it really shouldn’t be that way. While I’m back in Charlotte, I’m hoping to take pictures of the pretty places that surround me, like I did in Oregon.

Now, if only I could have some free time to get out there and take some pictures… 😛 This road trip ended on February 1, and it took me until now to get finish this post. (Permanent catch-up mode is basically the story of the year so far.)

So, before I go into too much detail about the move and updates, I’m going to pull together a few photos from the Carolinas, where I grew up. Stay tuned…


  1. Brenda May 25, 2016
  2. BellaEnchanted May 25, 2016
  3. Elizabeth May 31, 2016
  4. M June 1, 2016