As a long-time motorcyclist [in other words, I'm somewhat mature] and photographer, when I ride (which is often), I'm riding about 80% as an aggressive thrill-seeking former racer, while about 20% as a photographer with an eye or two on the passing scenery. So, as anyone who rides with me knows, whether on asphalt or dirt, I tend to stop along the way a fair amount to shoot photos. I just have to. One of the main reason I own bikes is so that they can take me to cool places where I can take photos. I love it! So, I figured I should just go ahead and create a thread dedicated to sharing these adventures and photos with others who share my passion for both activities. I post a lot of stuff on my blog: bwhip's blog. I'll add content as I take more rides and make more photos. I hope you like! So, I'll start with a little trip I took this past weekend, to one of my favorite places to ride - southern Utah. I also incorporated a bit of Arizona into the trip. Here's the first report for your infotainment: Ive enjoyed my early spring trips to southern Utah so much the last couple of years (2014 Trip), (2013 Trip), that Ive been thinking that I really need to get back down there. Id also been thinking it would be fun to explore some new areas down there that I hadnt yet had a chance to experience. The weather in this region recently has been so unseasonably warm and dry, that my impatience was giving me a strong early case of spring fever, so I started looking for an opportunity to break away from work for a day or two to make this happen. This past week I saw a potential window of opportunity with both work schedule and weather, so off I went. I thought the best place to start the trip would be St. George, UT, but the hotels there were totally booked up for some reason, so I started in Cedar City instead. The planned route would take me through Zion National Park, east to Page, AZ, on through Monument Valley, up to the Natural Bridges National Monument, and then back west along the north edge of the Grand Canyon and back to Cedar City. Heres the basic map of the planned route: 830 miles or so, spread over 2 ½ days, which would give me time to explore a bit, stop for photos, and not feel completely rushed. This route would take me to see some cool sites that Id been wanting to see, and return me to Natural Bridges, where Id been a couple of years ago. Id hiked down to one of the three massive bridges there last time, and thought it would be cool to hike down to another one, since Monument Valley isnt that far from there. Id read good things on the web about the Kolob Terrace Road just outside of Hurricane, UT, so I made that an early part of my trip. It was a great way to get started on Saturday morning. Very few people or cars along the way, and some nice, twisty roads with beautiful scenery. I ran into snow before I could make it to the reservoir at the top (one of the risks of traveling this early in the season, I guess), so I turned around and headed toward Zion. As I got closer, I got slowed way down by unexpected traffic. Too early in the season for this! I know the weather is nice, but I usually go early in the season to avoid crowds and traffic. I soon discovered it was mostly due to a half-marathon that was going on along that route, and once I finally entered the park it was smooth sailing (thank goodness!). The route through the park is fairly brief, but absolutely breathtaking! The walls of red rock are just amazing. You can see by the size of my bike just how massive that wall of rock is behind. In this one you can get an idea of how huge the cliffs are by looking at the size of the road in the distance (lower left). The tunnels through the mountain are really cool. There was one long one that seemed to go on in darkness forever. Apparently its called the Mt. Carmel tunnel, and its a little over a mile long. Heres a pic of a slightly shorter one: After Zion I took a detour north on Hwy 89 toward Glendale, thinking there might be some nice scenery and a place to get some lunch up toward Glendale. Nope, nothing really much to see or do along that stretch. Oh well, it was worth a shot. Next I rolled on toward Page, AZ, where Id be spending the night. Id been wanting to check out Horseshoe Bend there along the Colorado River/Grand Canyon, because the photos Id seen of it were amazing. I checked into the hotel mid-afternoon, took a shower and relaxed a bit, and then put on my hiking boots and rode the mile or so over to the parking lot at Horseshoe Bend. You then hike over a little hill over to the actual edge of the canyon. You know its out there as youre getting closer, but suddenly you step right up to the edge of a 1,000 foot drop and see this! Ive seen a lot of cool sights in my life, but this one may be the most spectacular ever. Mind-blowing, breathtaking, unbelievable. Adjectives fall short, and certainly cameras do too. Its so large and monumental, that you can only fit so much of it into your cameras lens at one time. Even with a wide-angle lens on my Fuji X100T, this is actually a merge of 20 individual photos stitched together in Photoshop. And the fact that you just walk right up to the edge no wall, no fence, no railing. Its really quite a special place. I just wish I could have parked the bike in the scene like I usually do. I had a GREAT (and huge) barbecue dinner in Page at Big Johns Texas BBQ, which Id read about on Yelp, and highly recommend! Best BBQ Ive had since the last time I was in Austin. The next morning I got an early start, and headed toward a place Ive wanted to see for years Monument Valley. Along the way I snapped a few early AM pics of the cool desert landscape. Monument Valley is completely classic and cool. Canyon walls at Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon are pretty easy for me to understand. The river keeps eroding rock and soil away over time, digging deeper and deeper, creating canyon walls. But how do these monuments of rock go straight vertical in the middle of the desert? Its just so unique to this part of the world, and really cool and special. The classic scene looking back from the Utah side toward Monument Valley: Next it was on to Mexican Hat, UT, and north to Natural Bridges. I had no idea what I was about to encounter. The highway headed straight into the side of the mountain, and it was unclear where it would go next. I found out. Pretty much straight up the side of the mountain, on a super-twisty, treacherous, and spectacularly scenic dirt and gravel road on the edge of cliffs. SO COOL! On to Bridges I went, and decided to do the hike down to the first of the three arch/bridges called the Sipapu bridge. The hike is just over a mile down into the canyon, and its so steep that in a few places you use stairs or ladders to make your way down. Well worth the hike just look at it! Its massive 220 feet high with a 260 foot span! So awesome. Back on the bike and off I went, returning to the cool twisty dirt road down the mountain toward Mexican Hat, where I made a much needed stop for fuel (for the bike and my stomach). Of course I had to grab a couple more shots of that view along the way. Usually I dont like to do out-and-back routes, preferring to do a loop so I dont traverse the same terrain twice. However, on this trip it was necessary and it was also kind of cool from a photo perspective to see the landscape change with the light and shadows from morning to afternoon. So, of course a few more shots were required to capture how majestic this place is. I rode on to my destination for the evening the sleepy little Navajo town of Tuba City, AZ. Not much to do or eat there, but it worked, and I was ready for a rest. I wanted to get an early start Monday AM, since I knew I had four hours or so of riding, before loading back up in my truck and an 8 ½ hour drive back to home in Idaho. The main sight along the final route was Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, which was another amazingly beautiful stretch. You get a sense for how big those boulders are when you see how little my bike is in this pic! Much of the trip was riding long stretches of straight, flat, fairly nondescript desert between sites of mind-blowing spectacular scenery. The final route along Hwy 89A was no exception, including a stretch of road that was one of the longest, straightest roads Ive ever seen. However, at the end of it, was the best stretch of twisty mountain roads on the whole trip! Finally had a good reason to switch the Multistrada from Touring mode to Sport mode. Road was empty, grip was good, and it was awesome to have a little fun on the edges of the tires. As I got toward the top, I found that despite the warmer temps weve been having, it was still indeed winter up there! I was hoping I might be able to take Hwy 67 down to the north edge of the Grand Canyon, as that is supposed to be a really great road for motorcycling, but alas, it was closed for winter. Oh well, I sure cant complain. It was a completely fantastic 2 ½ days, 840 miles of riding therapy, and sights Ill never forget. Very grateful!