The joy of heading towards unknown destinations
A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a new expression, I've never heard before: "coddiwompling"! This funny sounding word describes so perfectly what we have been doing since we started photographing the American Southwest back in the late 1990s. At the turn of the millennium there were quite a lot of blank spots on the maps of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico - and even still nowadays!
Coddiwompling means "traveling with an open mind and in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination". And that's what we always loved doing most: venturing out full of curiosity and anxiety to see where we end up. Sometimes we knew what we were searching for, but we didn't know neither how to get there nor how things would turn out. And sometimes we just purposely headed straight into the unknown. While a handful of places were less rewarding and not worth the effort, a lot of them just simply took our breath away.
For this month's image e.g. we did some scouting on old satellite maps, although back in 2008 they weren't nearly as detailed as Google now. A longer cross-country hike led us to a jaw-dropping view at a remote rim, from which we hadn't seen a single image before. Striped badlands with high rising towers and small fairytale-like castles - what a sight! But we did that scouting during midday, so the light was horribly flat and also in the afternoon there were hardly any clouds. Only at our last visit we were lucky to witness a thunderstorm nearby generating some drama, a small rainbow (-> image) and a beautiful mood just right after the sun set. Unforgettable moments!
So here is our advice: Don't just follow other people on social media and to places that are overshot already. Don't just visit the usual landmarks and copy what others have done before. Following another persons' gpx tracks is not nearly as exciting as recording your own new trails. At the end of the day that's what really make up good memories. It is so much more rewarding!
Related links: Please feel free to check out all our other "USA Images". Thanks for your interest!
Image data: 1 s at f/14, ISO 100; Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM at 45 mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV