Sometimes you just need to drop everything and live. Plans are nice, and they help me get from Point A to Point B without traveling through the rest of the alphabet most of the time, but there's something to be said for spontaneity.
My oldest daughter, Bri'anna, was visiting from Germany. She attends school there, and we don't see her much anymore. One day during her visit she called and said, "Hey, wanna go to Goblin Valley for a day next Wensday?" Just like that. And I said, "Heck yeah!" Although I began to have my doubts that the trip would actually happen the closer Wensday approached, I was happy to learn that everything was on. And so we climbed into a rental car and took off late in the afternoon for a four hour journey to Goblin Valley, a place we had talked about visiting for years.
My dream was to visit Goblin Valley and spend hours sketching the li'l critters until my pencil had worn away to a nub. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. It was unusually wet & rainy on our way, and even though four hours is a long time to travel, it seemed the wetness kept pace with us and happily rewarded the end of our journey with spattery sheets of spray and mud as far as the eye could see. The interesting thing about the desert is that it is made up of dirt. A lot of dirt. When you add water, there is a surprising amount of mud generated. You don't normally think about this because as a rule deserts tend to be hot and dry.
As the water continued to fall from the sky it created rivulets and tiny streams around us. I suddenly realized how possible flash floods could be in the desert. Fortunately, mud was the worst thing that Mother Nature threw at us. I may not have drawn very much, but I had a wonderful time with all four of my daughters. They brought costumes and pranced about the goblinesque clay figurines as fairies. They had such a good time.
We stayed until the sun began to set. This spontaneous day trip has been etched in our memories as a magical event, never to be forgotten.
Out past Salina. The thick clouds threatened rain often, but as is the way of the desert, didn't actually moisten our journey. Far off lightning followed us on our way to Goblin Valley.
My first view of Goblin Valley. I have always wanted to visit this part of Utah. I stood here and couldn't believe I was finally seeing these odd structures with my own eyes.
Heavy rocks compacted on top of clay, worn away by long forgotten waters, created these bizarre structures over time. They were as varied as they were strange.
My second oldest daughter, Cathryn, posed for some photos, her professional camera in the hands of Bri'anna, my oldest, while I captured what I could with my iPhone.
Cathryn is my shutterbug. She took some absolutely wonderful photos of my other daughters that I cannot show you because they are still minors and I don't like to expose them to strangers. However, you can take my word for it that my girls were startlingly beautiful amidst Nature's alien wonders.
As my girls took soggy photos, I went exploring. I had managed to get one meager sketch in before the sky threatened to make my Moleskine a waterlogged nightmare of runny paint and ink.
The meager sketch.
This is my oldest daughter, Bri'anna. I would have felt silly wearing wings and posing next to rocks, but my girls had a delightful time. I think it is a good thing they are not as cynical & jaded as I am.
How many times have I seen this land formation in other people's photos? And here I was taking the same shot, just like a tourist. And yet, the heavy sky, the moving clouds pregnant with moisture, and the setting sun made an indelible impression on me. I simply had to make a record of the moment since I couldn't draw it in the rain.
The Three Sisters. Another iconic Southern Utah land formation. I didn't feel touristy at all taking this picture. The moment was magical and private to me, despite the popularity of the view.
This is my favorite shot. For a moment the sun marked its presence in the sky before disappearing behind storm clouds for a final time that day. The clouds almost seemed to be burning, though I knew that couldn't be possible. My soggy shoes and drenched clothes were proof enough that the sky could not catch on fire. The sun was more likely to be doused instead. Yet later, on our ride home, the clouds parted long enough for us to pull over and see the Milky Way. For a few minutes we could see the distant spiral arm of our galaxy before the milky clouds came in and hid the spectacle from view.