Why Last Summer’s Trip Sucked and Why I’m Doing a Trip this Summer Anyway

Earlier in the week I discussed my thoughts, concerns, and frankly fears about travelling this coming summer. I’ve been working to do more travel, but an overall rather bad travel experience last summer left me a bit shy about this year. I’ve hinted at that trip more than once, but I guess I should explain a bit about why the trip left such a mark months later. There are people involved I do consider friends, even if some of those friendships are strained at best now. So forgive some intentional vagueness, but an interlude into my last trip to Arizona and why it left such a mark.

The idea for the trip came a few months after I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time back in 2012. I wanted to backpack into the Canyon itself for a several days, and hopefully complete a rim to rim crossing. That’s starting on one rim, descending into the Canyon, and then ascending to the other rim. Early last year I asked a friend to accompany me on the trip, and she agreed. I was able to secure a permit for a trip in June. This friend models and the resulting plan eventually coalesced into travelling to Arizona for several days before the backpacking portion. When schedules and time allowed we’d travel together to split expenses, but otherwise plan to meet up and head to the Grand Canyon for the backpacking trip.

Sidetracking the preparation and above came in March. In a fairly short period of time I entered into what I only describe as an absolutely horrible stretch of time. So many things went sideways in a short time, a few weeks really. My professional life hit an absolutely horrible stretch leaving me a bit lost and bewildered. Suddenly though a professional opportunity I’d really had hopes for, but seemed dead came back out of the blue. That made it even more painful when it just missed and I got the news in early April. And just after that a seemingly promising romantic relationship fell apart suddenly and unexpectedly. Many more things, small and large over those months . Through all this the trip was sort of my anchor and my landmark as I waded through the muck. The thing I kept looking forward to and stayed excited about.

I’d had some concerns in the last weeks leading to the trip, but felt it mostly nerves. A phone call a few days before my departure soothed those and I felt good whenI left home to drive to the airport for my flight. Right up until the moment I stopped for gas and saw the text from my friend that she wasn’t coming.

I was already committed, I was on the way to the airport, so I flew out. My friend didn’t return my calls before or after the flight leaving me somewhat worried about her along with being bewildered and completely unsure what the hell to do with myself and this trip. The backpacking trip that meant so much to me began to crumble, and I had no idea why.

Still I’d planned several days before we met up, but almost nothing went right. So many shoots canceled or fell through at the last minute. A friend in the area I found both over promised and under delivered combining the frustration I felt. In fact even the shoots that did come to pass almost all had issues such as reptilian photo bombers. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the highlight of the trip was not being bitten by a rattlesnake in spite of being a couple feet from a coiled one. As for the backpacking trip, I’d planned the trip for two people and changing to a solo experience with a few days notice felt impossible. I tried to make it work, but it wouldn’t. A few days after arrival I canceled what I could and ate the rest of the backpacking trip along with changing my flight to an earlier departure. On the day I’d originally planned to arrive at the Canyon, I instead flew home. The dream delayed.

If you’ve followed this blog for more than a few months, you know that I did go back in November and complete the backpacking trip with a few additional stops I’d not planned the first time. It lived up to my expectations and surpassed them. I’m very glad I made the trip even if it took a bit more time and drama than I’d hoped. The effects still linger in frustration and damaged friendships. While I’ve forgiven the friend for not coming out for the trip, I still feel hurt at both how she did so and her behavior since then. While I still hope we’ll reconcile, we’ve not. The friend in Arizona I consider lost.

So that was my trip last summer. Broken friendships, lost trust, Murphy’s Law, more canceled shoots than successful ones, and the dream and core of the trip falling apart when it was almost literally close enough to see. This hasn’t been as short as I’d meant it to be, but that’s why another summer trip feels me with a level of almost physical discomfort at times.

While my day job will take me out west this summer in any case, the question really comes down to what to do afterward. I’ve really decided to sort of go for it. Yes, I’m nervous about a trip going as bad as last summer’s. That’s no reason to not make some trip and enjoy myself. Yes things could turn into another disaster, but they could also be awesome. Without going they’ll simply be nothing.

Oddly that decision made the rest of it fall into place pretty quickly. While I’d love to do the long west coast trip, it would only be possible as a whirlwind and I don’t want to travel that way. I want to experience and savor the places I visit for a few days. So I’ll be visiting Las Vegas and then heading over toward California. It’s a big state and I’ve been there for only a few nights since starting to do this seriously. The plan right now is to start out in Vegas and visit Death Valley, Yosemite, and Sequoia parks. Also planning to come to the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and perhaps Sand Diego for a bit. I think it will be fun. More planning to do, but I look forward to some fun shoots coming out there.

Moving to Spring and Planning for Summer

The quiet period is coming to an end. January and February usually pass as quiet months. Winter means few models from outside the area travelling through. Sometimes other opportunities present, but the cold and waves of snow and ice this winter have kept things fairly quiet even locally. Some shoots of course, but few as even local shoots seemed to fall victim to forecasts of snow more than once the last couple of months. That’s changing as March arrives. The first promises of spring tease in the air. People begin to move about the country again now that ice doesn’t blanket most of it.

My posts around the change from last year to this one focused around some frustrations from the last year. The last couple of months have given me time to make peace with much of that, and I look forward to the coming year as it starts to pick up. My experimentation has been mixed, but the secret of experimentation is that it’s designed to fail. The mistakes are learning opportunities to build upon.

I’ll be heading out west again this summer to Las Vegas for work. I’ll be extending the trip with some additional travel, though I’m not sure how much yet. The disaster that last June’s trip became has me a bit gun shy. During that June trip almost everything went wrong from the drive to the airport to the flight home. The normal lies somewhere between that worst case and the much better return in November and that’s where I debate. I’d love to take the time to enjoy the whole west coast from San Diego to Seattle or Vancouver, but that seems a little too far. Too many logistics that could break, too many days away, and other good, sound, logical reasons.

In truth I worry it’ll end up like the trip from last summer if I push it too far. When I returned in November the June trip led me to keep the trip tightly scheduled and my time for the unplanned short. So I had no time for the unexpected moments that arose. I didn’t get to work with some people because of my schedule, and what time I spent in Phoenix in particular was constantly either shooting or getting ready for a shoot. Being too busy seems better than not being busy at all. Is it better to rush through at a madcap pace or take the chance of leaving time for quiet leisure and the unexpected? The unexpected hasn’t been my friend of late, but I feel comfortable coming toward it again.

I don’t know what I shall do yet. I feel California along with Nevada are almost certainties. I have places I want to see there and I’m not sure the next time I’ll get back out west after this trip. There’s much of the country I’ve not seen in a while and I’d like to get back to those places. I’d like to add the Pacific Northwest, but again the logistics make it tricky. I have time to decide so the decision can be debated a bit more. The longer I debate though, the more likely I will find myself in the northwest this year.