Roadies On The Prowl

The road rolls by. It is Saturday afternoon, the first day of another Road Scholar tour. This one, a photographic tour, is starting just 4 hours after my previous tour ended with a Colorado River float trip. I’m tired, but it’s Fall, the temps are dropping, the leaves are brightening, and I’m a pro, so I’ll get myself ready to land and kick off new introductions and an orientation.

Cholla and Ocotillo
Cholla and Ocotillo

Tomorrow our teacher, Chuck, a published Arizona Highways contributor, will join us to lead classes and field trip sessions. He’ll teach and guide. I’ll help him, then manage schedule and logistics, and give interpretation during our drives. Each of us learned the photographic craft using bulky 4×5 inch film cameras, often hefting 30 or more pounds of equipment on our backs, always carrying sturdy tripods. Both of us now use digital cameras.

Our participants will come from many places, from Florida to Seattle, California to Massachusetts, and Ontario, Canada. Their experience levels will range from beginners (maybe with new cameras) to the experienced to those who may even teach. They will all be coming to learn how to better chase the light and to see our beautiful southwest landscapes through their viewfinders.

The world through which we’ll be moving will be marked by age and by power, the ever-changing persistence of the earth and the life it sustains. We’ll see earth that collected 270 million years ago and was carved open more than 5 million years ago. We’ll see cacti whose ancestors date back as much as 30 million years. We’ll see the foundations of buildings, made of local earth nearly 100 years ago. And along the way we may pass squirrels, birds, coyotes, bobcats, and elk.

There will be challenges. For me, watching over 23 people, their safety, their comfort, and their satisfaction could be challenging. For them, our full schedule of travel, learning, and image review may be grueling. When the week is over, we will have travelled, talked, and eaten together, been warm, been cold, arisen early and been active late. We will have worked hard. Most important, we will have shared some magic.

The people will return to the rest of their lives. Chuck and I will relax. Here are some of the images I collected.

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