I’ve traveled a lot this summer. I’ll regard these days with nostalgia and gratitude, though not every moment has been peaches and cream. Such is life.

I was considering being done. I was considering dedicating myself to capturing many places around Sedona and Grand Canyon that I’ve not hiked or explored with my Nikon and Samsung. Perfect light is fun wherever. Considering how much more of Arizona there is to see, it seemed a no-brainer.

At the same time, America’s highways didn’t stop beckoning. The open road out West can present astounding vistas unexpectedly. My destination would be Yellowstone.

I was there in September 2021. The Grand Canyon along the Yellowstone River – with its radiant yellow and pink walls – blew me away. However, the rest of Yellowstone didn’t. The geysers, lakes, rivers, valleys, buffalo and perfect temperatures didn’t strike me as THE best place in the United States of America. It wouldn’t make my Top 5 favorite national parks, and I wondered if it would make my Top 10.

Then I got back to Sedona after this first trip. Then I began reading Empire of Shadows, which details the history of the Park. While reading it last year, I’d often sit back in my chair and remember the many places I didn’t see on my short 2021 trip. Impressions grew fonder and sweeter. I knew I’d have to return.

This nostalgia made staying in Sedona for the rest of August 2022 seemingly impossible. So, I drove the 850 miles to capture the waterfalls, geysers, prairies and mountains with better cameras. I’m here again now a year later.

Got here Sunday. Went to Artist Point on the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Walked along the rim to Point Sublime. On Monday just puttered around West Yellowstone, looking at shops and museums. Yesterday hiked to the top of Mt. Washburn to get an airborne view of the Park that most tourists never get. Seeing places from up high changes your perceptions of them when you’re back down low because you now know what’s beyond the horizon. Then drove through the north portion of the Park, which I didn’t see in 2021, before getting back to camp at the end of twelve hours of driving, hiking, ambling and, of course, shooting.

It is hard for me to capture images I fall in love with. At the same time, when the light is good, I still get into that pleasurable, creative zone in which the end result of the photos aren’t paramount. I also need to remember it’s not all about the photography in the first place. It’s about the impressions. It’s about creating memories that will create pleasure and more nostalgia for places on earth that God made truly exceptional – like Yellowstone’s Firehole River Basin having more geysers than anywhere else on earth combined! I need to remember that it’s a blessing to come to a place like this, and even more so because of the fact that I have all the time I wish.

I have this time because I’ve considered greatly the trade-offs between time and money, between spending and saving, and between current and future gratification. Thus, by driving a 45 mpg car, and spending $20 a night at Baker’s Hole USFS campground right outside West Yellowstone, and getting most of my food from grocery stores, I have the opportunity to spend as much time as I wish in the world’s first national park.

I probably won’t spend weeks. Traveling has been burning me out. Sedona continues to call. But I will spend days, and I will take good photos, and I will create good memories, and I will be grateful.

Glad I decied to come.