Passing through places I’ve never been I often find unexpected areas of beauty that lead to quiet reflection. This barn scene at Capitol Reef National Park was a place that caught me off guard on a day where I needed some time to think about myself and why I had been feeling the way I was. The serene meadow surrounded by the red rock cliffs was a perfect place for a time out among the horses and light traffic before heading up into the canyon for more adventures.
On a drive through Utah from Park City to Provo I just happened to pass by some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen on the side of a road. This open pasture was just too perfect with grazing horses and a flowing stream, but to top it all off the snow-capped mountain range in the background makes the scene. This is just one of many amazing roadside attractions I wanted to stop and spend the rest of my day at along the way. If anyone wonders why I want to spend more of my time in Utah, this is the answer.
While driving through Georgia visiting some sections of the Appalachian Trail we came across Vogel State Park. We could see this waterfall from the road so we found our way into the park, ate breakfast, and then picked up the short trail around the lake that led to the falls. There is a small observation deck at the edge of the falls, but you can walk down farther to the bottom if you choose. I stood by the torrent for a long while, letting the white noise of the rushing water drown out all of my thoughts for a few minutes. At that point I needed it, and it was nice.
Watching birds gracefully float through the air is calming to me. They take off in a fuss but end up spreading their wings and letting the wind carry them smoothly through the air. In Louisiana we visited a man-made nesting area for birds, and there were hundreds of them inhabiting the small islands of wood and leaves. Every few seconds one would take off and soar over the water, trying to grab a fish or bringing back more building materials for the nest. They flew with purpose and conviction, but they flew silently, skimming the top of the water with their wingtips.
Striking colors distract from the death that surrounds us, aiming our gaze upwards towards the heavens instead of the small plot of land in the ground which our bodies will inevitably inhabit. Whether it was forethought or just the necessary placement of windows, these ideas lurk in my mind while exploring the cemetery grounds throughout New Orleans. The time- and water-stained above-ground graves and mausoleums are monotone while the sanctuaries boast colorful flowers and windows in true NOLA spirit.
After waking in the dark and driving the sinuous roads that lead through the mountains of the Olympic Range I found myself walking quickly up a steep path in the early morning light. The sun had yet to cross the peaks, and it was chilly for August. After some switchbacks and open trail walking I made it to my destination. The top of Hurricane Ridge is expansive and majestic. Jagged mountains surrounded me while rolling meadows lay at my feet. Olympic marmots whistled to each other while everything else was silent above the clouds as the sun showed its face and washed over me as I sat in awe for an hour or more taking in the incredible power of nature.
Morning in the midwest had such epic beginnings when the sunrise began nearly an hour before our star crossed the horizon. The pillowy clouds stretched on for miles in the sky, carrying the soft morning glow from around the curve of the earth and lighting our pre-dawn drives. The great expanses that make up the middle of the country are quiet except for the occasional roar of tractor trailers on the interstate and the thoughts in our heads as we watch the day unfold.
Being up before sunrise has an energy that is invigorating. There is potential to the day while you wait for the sun to break the horizon. Staring at snow-covered mountains towering in every direction around you in the blue tones of early morning is magical. And when the first warm glow hits the peak of the tallest point, it radiates with life-affirming color while it slowly swallows up the darkness and ushers in the morning.
Going to a good museum is always an inspiring experience for me. When I leave I feel a renewed sense of drive to create interesting and creative work. It seems that just seeing a collection of amazing work by talented artists helps me see the world in a different way again. I like finding shapes like this that create interesting negative space and line illusions. This is the outside of the Cleveland Art Museum. Fittingly, the outside was just as inspiring as the inside for me.
Anyone reading this probably already knows that Utah is my favorite place to visit. The National Parks are astounding, but the view from any given drive on a backroad, state highway, or even an Interstate can leave you speechless from the unmatched beauty that rises up all around you. The red rocks paired with the often blue sky seem to exist in perfect harmony and play off one another, creating the most rich, brilliant versions of either color that you will encounter in nature. Everything else seems just a little more dull after crossing the figurative state line.