Saturday, September 21st
Land Art - Journal Entry No. 6
11:15 am - On the Road, The Grand Canyon to Holbrook, Arizona
After a short overnight stop in Page, Arizona, we were quickly back on the road towards our next destination. Considered one of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Grand Canyon is the most well known land art piece on this road trip; I was incredibly excited to visit. However, “grand” doesn’t even begin to describe what this canyon really is. The 277 mile long and 18 mile wide landscape boasts an impressive 6,000 foot long depth that promises amazing views, an intense visual history of the earth’s rock formations, and various species of wildlife. It inspires many and over 5 million people from around the world visit each year. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to see, and yesterday I was finally able to do so.
After a five hour drive, we finally made it to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim where we would be staying that night. This location is exactly what I imagined camping would be like: surrounded by tall, pine trees and air that smelled like campfire. As soon as we secured our campsite in the national park, we hurriedly headed over to the Rim’s edge to catch the Canyon’s brilliant views before sunset. To no surprise, even the path leading to the Rim was picturesque. Comprised of adorable log cabins and carefully carved wooden signs, its charm was felt immediately. Through the trees, we began to see the multi-colored rock, and as we did, the group headed there with more haste. Once we finally made it there, the majority of us were quickly at a loss for words.
As I made my way beyond the trees, I caught my first open view of the Grand Canyon. I stood completely still and gazed out at what I immediately realized to be the most unbelievably beautiful view I have ever been fortunate enough to see with my own eyes. The Canyon’s depth is so vast that it almost appears to be endless. Beautiful dark violets, warm reds, and a culmination of other earth tones seem to blend together and create a striking contrast against the bright blue Arizona sky. I reached for my iPhone and quickly snapped a dozen photographs. When I looked through them, I immediately understood that a cellphone camera definitely didn’t have the capability to capture the beauty of this landscape. I made a second attempt, this time with my DSLR camera. Again, I was completely dissatisfied with the product. Even that development couldn’t express the greatness of what I was looking at. It really is something you need to physically experience to completely appreciate. No picture or word can do it justice. Sorry, the internet cannot help you with this one.
1:03 pm - On the Road to Holbrook, Arizona
Although I was impressed beyond belief by the Grand Canyon, I felt a bit differently about our location after spending the night there. This morning was a completely different story than the beautiful evening it followed. After a night of s’mores and stories by the campfire, I was really enjoying the Grand Canyon camping experience. As much as I was excited to sleep in the North Rim’s beautiful high altitude woods, unfortunately, my mind was not. I had some of the most intense, vivid dreams I’ve ever had in my life last night. They were so powerful that they have, unfortunately, negatively impacted my entire morning and are still haunting me while I’m writing this in the van, already miles away from the Canyon. As personal as it was, I dreamt of the death of one of my immediate family members. It was incredibly strange. In my dreams, I was crying and filled with strong emotions of both sadness and anger. I seemed to be the only one who really cared. It was so intense that when I woke up in the middle of the night, my face was soaked and I was rightfully petrified. It took hours to shake off most of the feelings and fall back asleep, sadly to only re-enter the nightmare.
When I woke up for the day, I took a walk away from the campsite to gather my thoughts. I needed to call my family members but, as always, I didn’t have any reception. I had been on trips where I was unable to easily contact them in the past, but for the first time the disconnection I was so pleased with on this trip had the opposite effect. Something felt wrong and I felt powerless against it. When I walked back to the campsite, we were all packed up and ready to head out. As we headed towards the van, I started talking to another artist on the trip who began to explain a vivid nightmare she had also had last night. I listened and explained my own. I wasn’t the only one having horrible dreams. In fact, a small group of us did. Alex Gerson overheard us and confirmed, “The high altitude here is known to give visitor’s really vivid dreams, often nightmares.”
Knowing that information didn’t really move my thoughts away from the dreams I had last night. As I sit in the van waiting for cell phone reception, I strongly feel the desire to hear any of my family members’ voices. It has been an absolutely amazing experience so far, and I understand that you occasionally need to completely leave your comfort zone in order to appreciate the life you have lived as well as your present. That sometimes includes being separated from those you have always felt comfortable around- your friends and family. But it’s important not to forget them, not to disconnect yourself from them. The trees wouldn’t stand so tall and beautiful in the Grand Canyon were it not for the strength of their roots. Likewise, I wouldn’t be able to experience this life altering opportunity were it not for the friends and family who have assisted me in getting here. In this moment, all I want is for all of them to have been able to accompany me at the Grand Canyon and share this experience with me. They deserve it just as much as I do.
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Adam loves eating five cheeseburgers a week. To be honest, sometimes its more. It's a fairly terrifying sight. But he only enjoys a cheeseburger after he makes pictures. That comes first. He completed his B.F.A. at the Art Institute of Boston. He now resides in San Francisco, CA where he recently completed his M.F.A. in photography at the California College of the Arts. He formerly lived in Boston, MA where he relocated from south of the Mason–Dixon line, by way of Boulder, CO. Adam is available for editorial & commercial work and is actively pursuing his personal work as well.
Originally published on Promote & Preserve.