Annandale, VA

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HERBIG IDEA is a creative studio comprised of WHITNEY LYLE and SAM HERBIG. Whitney is a designer who loves to create books, packaging, and do more crafty projects in her spare time. Sam is a film electrician who loves to take photos tirelessly, while finding time on the side to create maps in various mediums (a long-standing hobby, starting with his 3-d topographical map of his hometown, Tübingen, Germany in elementary school).

Together, Whitney's big picture ideas and Sam's impeccable attention to detail, they pull prints in a print shop or set-up a makeshift photography studio. They love to generate ideas and find ways to execute them. 


We're chronicling our travels around the states on this blog. Check it out, if you're bored and sitting on an apple box (you can also check it out from home or the office).


Whitney Lea

A whole lotta nothing...

Something we have both learned on the trip has been that things are almost always more than they seem. We have also learned that a place (or experience in the case of the road trip) is more than the sum of it's parts. Nothing could be a better example of this than the Lightning Field.

Our trip to the Lightning Field was by far the most expensive single night on our trip. It was also our second wedding anniversary, which certainly helped to validate the cost. We had heard about it from Sam's work buddy, Hunter, who had visited a number of years ago with his girlfriend Laura. 

We woke up in Gallup and knew that we needed to be in Quemado, NM by 2PM. According to Google it would be a 2.5 hour drive. We got up, ran to the store to grab some drinks and snacks, and then got on the road. I think we spent almost the entire time talking about the German National Soccer team because we had downloaded a pre-World Cup friendly match to watch if we managed to have downtime during the day. (We discussed our ideal squad, both lamenting that Marcel Schmeltzer would likely not play, that Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger would both give us a weak mid-field if they weren't at top performance, why the hell Toni Kroos is ever a part of the line-up, and whether the coach should pick Marco Reus or Andreas Schürrle to play attacking mid-field. This sounds like an awful conversation for most of the people reading this, but I assure you that talking about my favorite team was a wonderful anniversary gift.) We had looked at the forecast and saw that no rain was expected for our time there but decided we would still have a nice time regardless (we had the game, remember?). The only things we knew about the Lightning Field are what I am about to tell you now:

We would arrive in Quemado, park at an empty white building on the main street, bring whatever we would need for the night provided it wouldn't take up a ton of space, sign an NDA and a guestbook and then get in a car/truck with a cowboy who would drive us to the Lightning Field. Once there we would settle into a small cabin with up to 4 other people, eat dinner, and wait for night to fall and hope that a storm would roll through. In the morning, the cowboy would come back to pick us up and bring us back to Quemado. The Lightning Field isn't the house, but a field behind the house with a bunch of metal rods set-up as a grid, 1 kilometer by 1 mile in size. All of this was situated in a valley that attracts a lot of lighting and if it were to strike, it would dance across the metal rods and look super cool. An artist had come up with the concept and had done a few similar pieces with metal rods that could be found in different parts of the world.

So that's what we knew. What actually happened wasn't as flashy on the surface but it was decidedly more impactful in the end. We did park at the white building and sort through our cooler. We signed a paper that made us promise not to touch the metal rods if a storm rolled in and to use common sense. Nothing explicitly said no cameras, but we had read that part online somewhere and decided to leave the digital in the car. We sat by ourselves for a few minutes before being joined by 3 other people. Surprisingly enough, we discovered that not only were they also from New York City, but all three worked in the film industry. Two of them even knew Hunter (they actually had no idea that he had even been), although the reasons they were visiting were entirely their own. One of them had worked at an art foundation in Marfa, frigging Texas (that we had never heard of as a matter of fact) and that was where she had heard about The Lightning Field. It's a small world after all. 

Quemado according to Google Earth and Photoshop

Around 2 our "cowboy" showed up. Her name was Kim and she was a lifelong resident of Quemado, though she had briefly lived in Pie Town, just up the road a half hour or so. She was in High School when Walter De Maria (wiki!) began his Lightning Field project and many locals had no idea it was going on. High school students knew though because they actually helped him build the whole thing. We loaded into her Suburban and belted in for a bumpy ride. Kim told us a bit about working at the field and the maintenance she and Robert (the cowboy that Hunter referenced) have done in recent years, as well as about how the land was procured. She explained that Walter was very careful to buy up enough land so that when you're exploring the field you can see no trace of other people. She mentioned that someone built a house that was in view on one of the mounds in the distance, but I looked pretty carefully once we were there and saw nothing of the sort. Kim also talked about why we had an escort. Part of it is to preserve mystery about the exact location of the house, but the real reason is because the road to get there is total shit. As we drove it felt like we were in a monster truck at the rally as it drives over old beat up cars. The road was large gravel with some parts that were small holes and I think Kim maintained a speed of 50MPH. It was exciting.

So we arrived at this small homesteaders cabin and could faintly see many poles glinting in the distance behind the house. Kim opened the house and gave us a quick tour. It was actually quite beautiful and everything was thoroughly thought about and well-made. We entered in a kitchen that had basics and a little more. There were beans in a slow cooker and a tray of enchiladas in the fridge. Flan for dessert. Coffee, eggs, bacon, granola, fruit for morning breakfast. She showed us the bathroom, the three bedrooms, and the main room which had a few comfortable chairs and a large dining area. There was a binder with an artist's statement, as well as a typewritten version of an article about it from ArtForum in the late 1970s. Kim talked about the different animals we might see and also strongly urged us to walk around the field at sunset and sunrise. She kept remarking that she wondered if the artist was aware of so many different aspects of how the poles interact with the landscape when he decided on this parcel of land for this work and the different traits of the rods. I kept thinking, "Does she mean that there was supposed to be a lot of lightning here, or what? All I see is a bunch of scrublands, just like the rest of New Mexico. And most of Texas and Arizona, and Utah. Sure, it's pretty, but it's nothing miraculous." 

When she left we picked our bedrooms (the other group let us have the room with a double bed facing the field because it was our anniversary, which I thought was very nice of them). Then we hopped outside and walked onto the field. The poles themselves weren't quite as shiny as chrome, but they were more shiny than a stop sign post. They were all between 15 and 18 feet tall and were spaced pretty far apart. The tops were rounded points, so they looked like rows of metallic toothpicks stuck into the ground. There were hundreds of them and it was hard to see from one end to another from where we stood in front of the house. In the distance were a few rocky hills, similar to much of the landscape in that part of the United States. We walked about 3 posts into the grid and then 3-4 posts to the right. We looked around and were impressed, but didn't quite feel compelled to make the trek around the perimeter as our compatriots were doing. The ground was pretty uneven, the sun was pretty intense. The wind would kick up every now and then. All in all, our initial impression was, "Heh, ok, this is pretty cool. But it's too bad that we won't see lightning." We spent a lot of time talking to each other about the changes in soil or guessing about which animals could have created some of the poop pellets we were seeing. Noticing small wild flowers. Longing for Sam's camera, but still trying to make observations with the same eye we use when we do have it with us. 

When we returned to the house we skimmed the artist's statement and read some of the technical specs. Apparently all of the pointed tops on the rods were at the same height so that a flat plane could balance perfectly on the points without any slant, not an easy feat considering how uneven the ground was. Again, we were mostly considering the meaning of our time there on the surface only. I remember thinking to myself that all in all, it was definitely a really special place, but not quite as cool as many of the other great things we had seen on the trip. I thought that maybe we had reached a "cool stuff out West" overload and I couldn't appreciate the more simple things because we had explored so much in the previous two months. I focused on appreciating the engineering of the whole field a lot more than I normally would. I thought to myself, it was just as much a feat in engineering/land surveying as it was a piece of art. After our introduction to the lightning field Sam and I decided to take a nap for an hour before cracking a few beers and watching the game.

Lumo Field View No. 1

This is where my eyes finally started to open. Since our bedroom window overlooked the field, I glanced out every now and then as we watched the soccer game. I noticed that one moment the poles would look like a series of bright white gashes against the hills in the background. Five minutes later they were nearly invisible. The sunlight, shiny metal, and very plain surroundings were playing tricks on my eyes. I thought, "Hmm, maybe that's what Kim meant when she was wondering if Walter intended the poles to look like this..." Still, I chalked up the invisible poles to the hundred yards of distance between me and the field. After the game we ate a snack and went back out to the field. We had all agreed to eat dinner after sunset so we could enjoy the hours leading up to it fully out there.

We got outside about 20 minutes before scheduled sunset and headed right, or West, along the far edge of the perimeter. It wasn't a well-beaten path, but it was smoother than walking across the raw scrubland. We had the Lumo and Quad cameras, because we had justified that taking "artistically motivated" photographs that aren't meant to capture the field itself would be permissible. The cameras were entirely plastic after all;  we wouldn't be able to depict anything realistically. We noticed the poles started to take on a peach color, akin to the sky. Before we really realized it, we were at the mid-point of the Western side of the perimeter. The sun was still up and we had walked an entire quarter, so we decided, heck, let's walk the whole thing.

The sunset itself was more colorful than any I had ever seen before. In the opposite direction, the hills in the distance were becoming more intensely hued. Looking East at the poles as the sun blazed, the colors were different every minute. One second they were the color of smoked salmon, the next they looked like rows and rows of hot pink neon lights. They changed to golden toothpicks and then as we rounded the next corner the bottoms of the poles would take on the purple color that the hills had become. We were looking back at the last moments of the sun, trying to really soak in the beauty, all the colors, all of the rapid changes that were still hard to detect from one second to the next. As the colors started to take on more blues and purple, about half a mile into the third side, we found ourselves focusing on the changes in perspective as we walked amongst the rods. All perfectly aligned. If the house hadn't been there to orient us, we may have walked in circles all night and not even noticed. And with less light to play tricks it was easier to get an actual count of the rods and see the poles at each of the farthest corners.

Lumo Field View No. 2

It was dark and the stars were starting to appear as we rounded the last corner. The homesteader's cabin was glowing a warm yellow, casting long milky light out into the field. We carefully made our way back to the porch and then into the house, which by now smelled like enchiladas.

We all sat together for dinner, then champagne and flan, and finally a round of cocktails. The five of us talked about our experience on the field. We now understood what caused Kim to wonder about how much Walter De Maria could have realized when he decided to create art there. Did he intend for light, not lighting to be so much at play? Did he know how starkly everything would change from moment to moment, or did he start out with a surface idea that gained depth as he continued to plan and then build the field; much in the same way our expectations evolved into realities during our visit. What things happen there that he didn't imagine even then? It really did seem like this particular spot was a magical place for the Lightning Field to be. And even though it took him five years of scouting to choose this spot, I'm certain some of the effects of the field on the rods and the rods on the field couldn't be foreseen. Did he use the idea of a "lightning show" to draw people in like a marketing point or headline, and then let them explore and discover what this place is really about for themselves? How much does the small number of people visiting at one time and the overnight stay impact how meditative the audience is about this work?

That night we went out into the field once more to stargaze. Sam tried to take some long-exposure pictures of the house with his Lumo, but they didn't turn out in the end. We went to bed fairly early with the intention of catching sunrise, just as Kim had suggested. I have to say, sunrise was beautiful, but not as transformational as sunset. The neon glow was back, but rather than pink, they rods glowed buttery yellow. The sky was pale and lacking the intense colors that we had seen the night before. It was more serene and peaceful. An awakening feeling, but I am not a morning person. So after about 20 minutes we went back to sleep for four more hours. 

Breakfast was tasty and we followed with one last walk around the field where I ignored my rule-following instincts and told Sam it would be okay to take a cell-phone picture of the house.

Kim came to take us back to Quemado at 11 and before we knew it,  we were saying goodbye to our new friends and driving down the road to Pietown (wiki!). Which is known for, you guess it, pie. We split a lovely slice and the snapped this photo before making our way to Santa Fe for a night.

Pie related mood improvement

Pie related mood improvement

Where all the Extremists go

Samuel Herbig

Real paper maps will be back ... at some point. Pinky swear.


Following the last post we really just had a lot of driving to do. Originally, we'd intended on staying a night in Jackson, WY (Whitney had told me all about the antler gates and such) and we did stop there if only for a milkshake but then decided to keep pressing on. We kept going mainly because in a tourist destination such as Jackson, rooms aren't exactly cheap to come by. Secondly, we wanted to make progress towards the South, to reduce the driving in the following days and seeing that we were traversing Wyoming and Utah, we didn't exactly have a lot of "cities" to choose from. We picked Evanston, right at the southwest corner of Wyoming at random.

By the way, we did need to stay at a motel that night. Not necessarily because we wanted to sleep in a bed. I'd like to think that we have gotten pretty comfortable with the whole camping setup. It was more that, as Whitney so gracefully put it, "we've had two more [expletive] milk shakes than we've taken showers in the past three days." That argument seemed to hold water.

We crashed in Evanston, ate the two most depressing meals of the road trip (dinner and breakfast), and got out of there as quickly as we could.

Fun side note: apparently the motel we stayed at got a lot of visitors from Australia in the winter season. So much so, that the front desk had a local time, Athens time and Sidney time clock on the wall. No one could explain the Athens time one though. Hmmm.


From Evanston we had booked two nights at the Lazy Lizard Hostel (turned out to be a "hostel", more on that later) for a bottom dollar price of $30 a night in Moab, UT. Now that I think about it, we really had intended on staying at Moab Basecamp while we were in the area, but their pricing and our budget didn't match up unfortunately. If I'm ever back there, I think I'd try to get out there though. Sounds like a heck of a cool place to visit.

Moab became more of a focal point mainly because of it's proximity to Arches National Park, which came highly recommended by Whitney's aunt Ronnie (whom you'll get introduced to later on, right after Denver). If you come from the North as we did, you'll likely approach Moab on Route 191, which is pretty unremarkable. It's flat, sandy, with low brush and grasses on both sides of the road. It's white, beige, yellow, brown... that kinda color spectrum reminding me of New Mexico and southern Texas. Then about 45 minutes outside of Moab, the road turns and starts to drop. Quickly, the large red walls that define this region started to rise all around us. The road drops off even steeper until you roll across the Colorado River and into Moab itself.

Extr-EHH-me sports!

Immediately, we started seeing signs for bouldering classes and climbing gear stores. There are signs to the nearest airport for skydiving and advertisements for SUV tours of the countryside. The main street was lined with big trucks, jeeps and ATV's. We were in and (almost) out of Moab in less than 10 minutes.

We checked in at the Lazy Lizard just at the other end of town and settled in. When I wrote about it earlier I put it in quotes, because it really seemed more like the house of a guy whose family had moved on and he decided to rent the rooms out as hostel rooms. Our room door barely closed, the carpet and furniture was a colorful mumbo jumbo of whatever was picked up at his friends place that wasn't needed anymore, etc. Considering that *everything* else in Moab starts at $100+/night it wasn't surprising, I guess. Just the same we were glad to have a room with a door and a place to take a shower.

Aside from exploring the area a little bit for it's striking formations, we also had laundry and some blogging on our agenda. For the evening program we wanted to try to do a little bit of both and set out to get up to Arches National Park for a first impression before sunset.

Late afternoon sunlight

We hopped back into the Omimobile and back tracked up 191 to the National Park entrance. Equipped with our America the Beautiful park pass, we only had to wait behind three Winnebago's that were paying with credit cards (sigh), had a chat about where they could drive with their monster-wagons (eye roll) and probably asked how the weather's been, just to be friendly (grumble). We had some sunset light to catch, people! Whitney, by the way wasn't sighing, eye rolling or grumbling, unless of course you're accounting for her disdain of my comments on the Winnebago's slow progress.

In order to get into the park, the road takes you up a relatively steep grade with multiple switch backs. Once you've made it up the first steep climb, you enter a plateau of sorts. It's flat, rocky or sandy, and covered in brush, bushes, lots of grass and shrubbery. Right before the road turns away from the valley you can actually get a pretty neat view over Moab. Immediately, huge red stone formations start to rise out of the plateau. They stand there like big chess figures or groupings of giant men and women (one of them is in fact named the "Three Gossips"). The road winds it's way along and it just becomes an awesome highlight show. 

Formation #1

With the sun setting the shadows of the rocks started to reach farther and farther towards the horizon, while the color of the rock started to change to a gleaming golden red in the sun and a purple violet on the shade side and although we had talked about it before, we both knew that we at least had to *try* to get in some painting time while we were here. We stopped here and there, so I could take some pictures, including this extr-EHH-me one of Whitney, look:

Oh my!

I'd meant to get a good tour around the park done in the evening, to get a feel for the park and what we wanted to do perhaps, when we got back up there in the next day or two, but Delicate Arch ended up being our turnaround spot. While the sun set behind us, we slowly cruised back towards Moab, trying to pick out a spot or two we might be able to paint at.

Back in town, our stomachs were grumbling and we picked out the Moab Brewery. It wasn't anything particularly special to be honest. The food and beer was fine enough. Carrying on with the extr-EHH-me theme that Moab operates under, the place was full with Kayak's suspended from the ceiling, advertisements for rafting and TV's alternating between a video about cycling and hill climbing.

The struggle is real

Right after we popped into the grocery store next door to pick up some beers. That's at least the way we thought this was going to go down. Pop in, pick up a couple of beers, pay and leave. Only, that even though we were in Moab, we were still in Utah and what they sell as beer in the grocery store is... different. The fact that the sign above beer fridge said "These beverages contain alcohol. Please read the label carefully." should have been a giveaway. Long story short, there's no beer above 3.2% at grocery stores (which all the big brewers go along with apparently, including some international companies), so we went back to Moab Brewery to pick up some "real" beer. Overall, we agreed that we'd had better beer. The packaging and labels were nice though.

Once back at the Lazy Lizard we each hammered out the text for a post. We probably would have enjoyed doing that in the common room or perhaps at the kitchen table, but unfortunately there was that guy. In this case that guy was an older, thin hippy with short white hair, standing at about 5'5" or 5'6". That guy was a talker and had finagled himself a young, and judging by the topics of discussion, naive kid to impart his wisdom to. I think that guy also gave the poor kid cookies. Yikes!


After a good nights rest we woke up late-ish to finish the posts before heading out. Finishing in this case meant selecting and editing, then exporting and inserting the pictures into the blog drafts before we publishing them. In all honesty, even though I'd really been working on cutting down on the time I spend selecting and editing the pictures, it still takes quite a long time to get everything to work the way you want. From that point of view, I see how blogging can easily become a full time job. Whether that job deserves compensation or not is a different story, I am just saying that it takes an awfully long time. 

Being back in a hot and dry climate, reminded us of the wonderful time we had had at Hamilton Pool and Balmoreah and had in fact found ourselves another swimming hole to check out. En route we stopped at the Peace Tree Juice Cafe for an afternoon snack. They had one of those fancy misting patio's out front we'd seen in San Antonio and elsewhere in the Southwest. Whitney usually let's me choose where we sit whenever we eat out, so out to the patio we went. I'd like to point out that I'm not the only one that gets excited about those misters. While we were sitting outside a very upset little boy was walking by with his mother and sister. He was upset because the misters were too high up, so that the breeze would carry away the cooling water droplets before they reached him at about 4 feet above ground level. Totally unfair, I felt that kids pain. Didn't stop me from having a nice time though :-).

This. Is. UTAH!!!

We hopped back into the car and drove through a couple of neighborhoods out the east end of town, turned left onto a dusty one lane road and after a few hundred yards came to a little gravel parking lot. We parked, put on our bathing suits and sunscreen, I took a picture of myself in the reflection of the hubcap of a Ford F650 and headed on down the trail. Compared to Hamilton Pool this one really felt like a swimming hole. You didn't have to pay, the legality was somewhat questionable and you had to walk along a not always clear path for about 15 minutes which criss-crossed the stream multiple times before you got to the pool.

How YOU doin'?

Similarly to Hamilton Pool, we could hear the laughter and screams of delight from about 300 yards out, before we came upon it. In line with the extr-EHH-me theme, people were doing flips off the rock cliffs surrounding the pool from about 20-25 feet up. Another couple of guys had anchored a tight rope on either side of the pool and then switched off gingerly crossing back and forth. We learned later, that a loosely formed group of locals deepen the pool each year, by digging out the sediment and building a wall where the stream exits the hole. This way they said they get the pool to be another 4 or 5 feet deeper.

Both of us took the long walk around to get to the top but in the end opted to jump of the lower cliff only. I like to think that we did that because we were smart (I made solid contact with the ground when I jumped in), but you can feel free to call me a wuss.

This might seem like a weird time to bring this up, but a number of people have actually asked us about how prevalent religion was in public in Utah. Specifically, "aren't there a lot of Mormons everywhere?" was asked a few times. The answer as far as we're concerned is "no". We didn't see a lot of Mormons, there weren't a ton of religious symbols or churches or any of that stuff. As a matter of fact the only time that we encountered something that could have been an event based on religion was at the swimming hole.

Mill Creek swimming hole

A group of about 30 parents and kids were hanging out, in what seemed to us like a church group outing. The parents were encouraging the kids to jump off the lower of the two cliffs. One of the kids, he seemed to be around seven or eight years old, was trying to convince himself to jump in. At different points of the afternoon he literally had the entire assembled public cheering him on. While people were shouting out helpful hints such as "You can do it!", "You just gotta take three big steps and don't stop!" or "Just jump!" he was rocking back and forth peeking over the edge trying to just jump. On a number of occasions he actually started, only to stop himself just shy off the edge. In a way it was a magnificent performance, how he kept pulling people back in over and over again with his portrayal of a tortured soul trying to convince himself to just do what everyone knew he must do. In the end he was a real tragic hero and didn't jump. He left with the rest of the church group with his task undone. I really hope this isn't the way this story ends, and that in the next act he finally jumps and then maybe gets the girl (if the church allows it).

Hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop...

Anyway, we had a real good time. We both jumped a few times. We walked up along the stream for a little bit (above the pool the stream actually flowed across multiple large stone troughs making it seem almost like a large bathtub). We cooled off by sitting in the water and eventually walked back to the car.

Roadtripping isn't all fun and games though, and at the end of the day we still had to find a place to do laundry. We googled and found Moab Laundry Express LLC, backed the Omimobile in, walked over to Gearheads asked for quarters (Thanks!) and loaded up three big washing machines of laundry and headed across the street to grab a bite for dinner at the Moab Grill. We got there just in time to witness an argument that went something like this:

Customer: This is bullshit! I don't buy it. There's no way that's a law!
Manager: Sir, I'm sorry but that's the law in the state of Utah.
Customer: I'm not buying food just so I can have a beer!
Manager: Sir, you'll have to purchase a food item. It's the law. Here, we have Texas Toast on the menu for just a $1.75.
Customer: This is the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard!
Customer exits and tries to slam door for emphasis. Door doesn't cooperate and closes slowly and quietly.

Oh, it was fantastic dinner theater! Afterwards, we went back, picked up and folded the laundry, stowed it in our handy dandy storage system in the trunk and went "home".


Arches National Park day! We tried our best to start early, because we really had two big things we wanted to do: number one was to go on a hike (Sam's wish) and number two was to paint (Whitney's wish).

Though we really try to spread the love when it comes to eating out, we went back to the Peace Tree Juice Cafe for a second meal. Part of that was certainly that we had a very nice time there the first time around, but because the activities took priority going back to the cafe also saved us the time and effort that sometimes comes with trying to find a good eatery. 

I think it works in black & white

After eating we sensibly decided that since I am the more important person, we would go and do the hike first. I had heard and read about that one of the more spectacular areas in Arches, was Devil's Garden with it's many arches and rock formations all accessible with relatively little effort. There I had in mind that we would start to hike along the trail that leads all the way up to the Double O Arch and just see how far we would make it without settling on a final turnaround point. The map at the trailhead estimated the roundtrip to the Double O Arch as about 2-3 hours.

This is also the moment when Whitney started to rethink whether or not I was the most important person and whether it really was sensible to do the hike first. See, at the beginning of the road trip we'd set a goal to do some painting. Since at least Austin, we were traveling with four blank 18x24 inch canvases and we'd brought with us a storage bin of each paint brushes and acrylic paints. Though neither of us are painters we had spent a wonderful weekend in Vermont some time ago and done a painting each that time. We both had enjoyed that experience so much that bringing painting supplies somehow had always been the plan.

Especially when you're a novice, painting something big and interesting is perhaps easier than to paint something more mundane. I'd wager that it takes considerably more skill to get something ordinary just right. That's exactly what these arches were: huge, both vertically and horizontally, with a distinct and bold color palate and they were interesting looking. Also this was likely one of the last opportunities for us to paint this kind of spectacular scenery, since we hadn't taken advantage of Big Bend, Grand Canyon or Zion.

And that's why Whitney wanted to paint the arches.

Now that we had an official estimate for the length of the hike, Whitney became more and more concerned about the timing of our painting session. On one hand we both agreed that sitting in the blazing afternoon sun wasn't a particularly bright idea, on the other hand Whitney didn't think that squeezing in perhaps two or three hours to paint was going to be enough time. Perhaps we should have tried to paint on two days instead of just one?

Landscape arch in landscape

And so the hike through Devils Garden became a negotiation-in-motion. Regardless we got to see the Landscape, Partition and Navajo arches. They're all very, very different something I wouldn't have expected. Landscape arch is the most spectacular, just because it is so narrow and long and so high up. What makes Partition arch special is the view you gain, when you look through it. It's more of a window in a rock, I guess. And finally Navajo arch is a massive arch, that's low enough that you can really get a sense for scale. Walking underneath the arch is more akin to the feeling you get walking through a short tunnel or underground passage. You know what I took some pictures. Why don't you click yourself through them and perhaps that'll show it a little better than I can explain it?

After we visited Navajo arch, we decided to turn around because we were hungry and because we wanted to give ourselves a little bit more time to look for a spot to paint later. But since we were already there we figured we might as well stop by the Tunnel and Pine Tree arches. Tunnel arch is special because of the viewing angle. It really reinforces the notion that everything is a matter of perspective. You're only able to get a good view of the Tunnel arch from a certain distance. Go any closer and you'll lose the view of the actual hole. Pine Tree arch was one of the arches that you could easily walk up to and walk through. It was also perhaps the most literally named arch: there were a lots pine trees.

Mini people!

We left the park for the 2nd time and decided to grab lunch and margarita's at Eddie McStiff's (the margarita's were very good, says Whitney). While in town we also picked up ice for the cooler and gas. Then we returned to the park and while Whitney was questioning the rangers in the station about where we were and were not allowed to walk as well as about possible picturesque places to paint, I called my Omi to check in.

Armed with new information (walk anywhere you like, so long as the ground is rocky and don't crush the mini ground people!) we headed back up the serpentines and into the park. We'd spotted a place to paint on the first day and wanted to see if that would work out, but in the end there was no real place for us to set up. So we drove further and further into the park and perhaps more out of desperation then anything else decided to drive by the Windows section.

Fish eye in the desert

We parked, got out and walked up to the Double Arches. This was better. We could get right up to them and they were big. It was in the shade. After we looked around for a little bit, we both settled on a spot. Next we trucked our supplies up to the arches and found ourselves a rock that would serve us as easel and soon enough we were painting in peace and quite.

Or so we thought.

Our painting sessions ended up being a lot more interactive then anticipated. Our very first visitor fittingly was a professional landscape painter! He gave us some friendly tips and after hearing that we were trying to get a painting done before sunset slowly shook his head and murmured something about "not enough time". So no pressure at all.

After that we were visited by a steady stream of hikers and tourists. It's interesting how you feel like you can feel people looking at you. Okay, well and it also really doesn't help that due to the acoustics you can hear the mother whisper to her son: "Shhhhh! If you're quiet you can look. Just walk around behind them so you can see the paintings, but keep your distance honey, okay?".

We however were not to be deterred from coming home with colorful canvases and after about three hours our efforts seemed to pay off. Whitney wasn't very satisfied with her work, but I really think that it's pretty nice, right?

To say goodbye to the park, we climbed up into the Double Arch shortly before the sunset and looked out the other side. It was a short but pretty tricky climb, because the rock face at first seems to be offering so many opportunities to hold onto, but once you're a little ways up the rock the steep angle makes it hard not to keep your balance.

In the middle of the night in Cortez, CO

Then we packed up and got on the road. After all we still wanted to grab dinner (Buck's Grill House, try it... it's good), before heading out to our next roadside stop at the El Capitan Motel in Gallup, NM. By the way, we didn't do a whole lot of night driving on the roadtrip. That was mostly intentional, because night driving is more strenuous and also it's dark and you know it's hard to see stuff. This however was an exception and I'm glad about it. It was one of the more surreal drives in my mind because we were driving through reservations for long stretches at a time. We stopped once at the Handy Mart, but most of the drive was in the pitch black night with only a brilliantly clear night sky above us. If I was into hard drugs...

P.S.: I'm back to my old tricks and uploading all additional pictures to flickr again. Have a look!

Interlude and Update from the Reunited City

Whitney Lea

So, it has been awhile since we posted about the road trip. We actually have the post for Moab drafted and half of the Lightning Field post done, but never got around to putting everything together. It's not that we wanted to stop the blog with an entire month of the roadtrip left to write about. We got behind and then hit the ground running when we got back to Virginia. And mark my words, we will finish blogging this trip. Sometimes life has to come first, though.

After the trip my sister, Mary, got married to her awesome husband, Eric. We went to Virginia Beach with the Lyle side of my family and Sam's older sister Elisa joined us there with her family. Then we had a few weeks to get everything organized, sort through plans, emotions, money, possessions, celebrate a big win for our favorite sports team (World Cup Victory for the DFB!) and suddenly we were on a bus with our stuff in suitcases headed up to New York. We went to one last wedding, for Sam's cousin Nate and his bride, Audry. And then we checked into our transatlantic flight with tears in our eyes. The lady who checked us in at JFK took pity on us and put us in seats with extra legroom, which was actually very nice.

We have been in Berlin for a month now, and I can definitely say I really love this city. My friend Julia gave me the idea to take a photo every day and send it to my mom (via google hangouts!), so I've been trying to do that. I haven't taken one every single day, but have definitely done it for most. I decided that to celebrate our first month here I want to share those photos here as well!  This will be a long post. The photos are all cell phone pictures that I've taken so the quality isn't comparable to what Sam can do, but they still give a nice impression of our lives here so far. I am only going to apologize for the poor quality of these photos once though!

My first few days (weeks?) here I was a bit numb and overwhelmed. I saw this while Sam and I were on the way to the bakery on our first full day in Berlin. I'll call it a call to action.

We have been staying at Sam's brother (Leo) and almost-sister-in-law's (Franzi) place since we arrived. It's an awesome apartment in the neighborhood of Friedrichshain. We have our own room and they are really nice hosts. When we got here they already had a bed, couch, desk, and clothes racks in our room for us. On our second full day we went to ikea and bought a shelf for 36€ (in wood behind me there!) and that is where we store our clothes for now. It's actually much more accessible than a dresser and I'm considering keeping it as clothes storage even if we get to ship our stuff over. Dressers aren't that common here for clothes anyway.

Above is from a walk we took to Prenzlaur Berg on our third day, a neighborhood north of Friedrichshain. I like color. Can you tell? I think that's why Berlin and I can be friends.

This is Mauer Park. We visited the massive flea market that happens there every Sunday (flea markets here are nothing to eff with). I'd love to print a series of cards or postcards and set-up at table there sometime. We will see how that materializes. The rest of the park was full of musicians, including a full orchestra and opera singer. They are down there in the photo, though it's really hard to see them. Look for the bass in the middle of the photo. The crowd was so big we couldn't get a better view, but the sound was great. They had just finished a cover of The Monster by Eminem, with Rihanna's part sung by the opera singer.


I love the contrast of old and new that you can see everywhere here. Buildings that survived the war, buildings that were created while the city was divided, and the rush of new buildings now. That layered with murals, grafiti, plants, signs, architectural elements, and color everywhere make this city feel so lively.

Bonus photo from the same day.

And another. This is a building on our street where people (including kids!) create chalk graffiti instead of the real deal stuff.

In former East Berlin the crossing signals are these little dudes. Cute, eh? They are different in former West Berlin. This photo is looking down our block. If you examine it closely you can see a small crowd on the corner in the distance. More on that later.

One thing Sam and I have been doing a lot of is walking. We're getting a clear map in our heads of the area around us, we get the blood flowing, and our minds get to work on whatever we're thinking about. We've always done our best thinking on walks. Walks in Berlin are New! and Improved! Now With Beer™! We went to a reddit meetup in the neighborhood of Neukölln one night and decided to walk home over the Oberbaumbrücke. It was a fantastic time.

Another low-quality photo, but NOT low-quality food. Everyone here loves Döners. Everyone but me. Luckily, many Döner places also offer roasted chicken. This place is one of my favorites. Their roasted chickens are spectacular. We got a Döner, that half-a-chicken mit pommes (fries), and that beer you see there for a little less than 9€ ($11.65). That's a tasty dinner for two and then some. Take that McDonalds!

Another thing that is eye-catchingly different here are the playgrounds. The are usually enormous, have super steep slides, the obligatory wooden "Pirate ship", crazy swings, and climbing walls. This photo only shows about half of the playground at Hasenheide Park. Just to the right of this photo were some 7 year old kids playing "throw the dart at the balloons tied to a tree" for someone's birthday. It's like pin-the tail on the donkey with less accuracy and a shorter reaction time. I like that Germans seem to trust their kids not to break their necks because I never liked the all-plastic playgrounds that took over schools as I was growing up. But the fact that I see rear-facing infant carseats strapped into the front passenger seat more often than not here bums me out. It's definitely interesting to see the cultural differences though. When it's all said and done the playgrounds here are really cool.

From another one of our walks. This is a view over the River Spree. The modern green building on the right is an office that does fashion design. Beyond that is Viacom Germany (for MTV and Nickelodeon). The sculpture is called Molecule Man. In the distance is the Fernseheturn (television tower). If you look closely there is a dark brown brick bridge in the distance with two little towers, the Oberbaumbrücke. The masonry on that thing is exquisite. 

I was suffering from a little creative block and lack of direction when I got here. Oftentimes I try to find little projects to keep the juices flowing. Leo and Franzi have a great big kitchen so I spent a lot of the first month hanging out there cooking. I went to the store almost daily and have started to adjust to the differences between groceries here and there. Produce is pretty seasonal. I couldn't find asparagus if I had to, for example, but the variety of mushrooms are great. The lettuce and tomatoes have been so incredibly fresh here. The store sells at least 100 kinds of jarred and pickled vegetables, but only one kind of black beans (canned or dried). Canned goods just aren't common. The sausage here is spectacular and freshly made. The fish is always frozen. The dairy section is enormous. I can get a half pound chunk of good quality camembert for less than 2 euros (there are hundreds of types of cheese and salami). They have at least six different dairy products that are similar to sour cream, and an entire aisle full of different of kinds of yogurt. None of it is Greek style. Tortillas are only available in burrito size and only in flour. The American section of the international foods aisle has Ranch dressing, popcorn, Swiss Miss, barbecue sauce, sundae toppings, and a few other junk food type things. A decent bottle of wine is 4 euros. 

I made a big batch of my grandma's sugar cookies, which are basically crack. I've attempted Shepherd's Pie, succeeded with roasted tomato soup, made spätzle mit linsen, and Sam has done several dishes as well, including Swabian Pfannkuchen (different from Berliner Pfannkuchen that I'll talk about later!). One night when it was just Sam and I, i decided to get experimental with dinner. Above on the left we have a salad with grapefruit, cucumbers, red onion, walnuts, and feta, with a honey vinaigrette. The dish on the right is salmon with pan-roasted tomatoes, shallots, and olives, with polenta. The sauce is "Balsamic crema" that you can just stroll into the store and buy for 4 euros. The salad was killer. The salmon had great potential.

The image above is Sam holding our scanner. My mom performed a huge love service to us and shipped our iMac and scanner to Germany ahead of the rest of our stuff (which is hanging out in storage). That way I can get some heavy duty design work going without having to wait for months. The iMac got held up at customs for a few days, but just this morning Sam set it up and it's ready to roll!

On the 26th of August a group of refugees who are also activists posted themselves up on the roof of a hostel around the corner from our apartment. We came home that day and weren't quite sure what was going on, aside from the fact that Police had blocked off a street on our corner and there were some left-wing student types hanging out. By nightfall there was a march around the neighborhood with at least 200 people. It turns out this protest was just another chapter in a bigger story that has been happening in Berlin this year. The men on the roof were refugees who are being threatened with deportation despite Germany's reputation for having pretty open borders for refugees. The Berlin senate had offered a deal in order to bring them down from a different roof they had been occupying earlier this year and then reneged on their end of the deal. That protest went on so long that the police themselves quit trying to control the hundreds of protesters that turned out.  This time the police strategy was to block off the area in hopes of starving the refugees down from the roof.


In the days that followed, our corner was occupied by lefties who hung banners and camped out in support. The banner above is an example. All-in-all I was impressed by how dedicated protesters were, as well as how civil and fair police seemed to be in contrast to police I've met in the states. They were clearly working but I sensed none of the militaristic air that many police in the states seem to have. They could have been workers at home depot or the post office. The refugees remained on the roof until September 9. During that time the protesters created more banners, the refugees continued to shout slogans and blow whistles from their post on the roof, cars honked their horns in support regularly. There were two more marches and there was even a right-wing counter-demonstration that had a whopping TWO people show up! Very exciting stuff.


Another evening, another walk. This time we were in the neighborhood of Kreuzberg and suddenly heard loud banging noises. It's not uncommon for drunk and or bored kids to shoot off bottle rockets in sewer holes here just to make loud noises, but we came around the corner and realized this was a legit fireworks show for no reason clear to us. Everyone on the street had stopped and people were walking out of restaurants and cafes to watch. The only time one has fireworks here is for New Years and they're always just bottle rockets. 

One night our friend Gunner invited us to a party that was in the courtyard of an apartment block in our neighborhood. The hosts had hung origami, streamers, balloons, paper lanterns with LEDs in them. There was a DJ playing electronic music (the Berliner soundscape as far as I can tell), and there were maybe 50-100 people there. When the cops came to ask people to go home everybody cheered as they left peacefully. Gunner explained that parties usually go like this: the cops come the first time around 11 and ask the host to turn the music down; the second time they come around 1 and say "alright, wrap it up." and at 2 they make their final visit and chase everyone out. No searches, no arrests. We got there around 11:30 so we only saw their second visit and decided to stroll slowly home after that. 

One mission we had was to go to a bakery in Pankow to try their pfannkuchen. A few years ago when Sam asked, Franzi told us that these pfannkuchen were the best in Berlin. What is a pfannkuchen, you ask? Well remember when JFK said he was a Jelly Donut because a Berliner is a Jelly Donut in Germany ("Ich bin ein Berliner...")? It's not true! People in Berlin don't call jelly-filled fried dough Berliners. They call them pfannkuchen (FAN-koo-hen). Germans in other parts of the country do, indeed call them Berliners though. Across the street from the tasty bakery was this gorgeous mural. The front of the building had architectural elements painted on to match.

Later that day we decided to visit our favorite biergarten across the Spree from the Chancellory. In this photo Sam is sitting closer to the Chancellory that one can get to the White House (without a tour). The weather was probably 70°F and we watched tour boats float by and listened to a pretty talented steel guitarist play some nice music. He opened with "When I'm 64", the song that Sam and I used for our recessional when we got married. We smiled and added money to the hat.

At some point the police made the protestors move back from our corner to a park nearby. By then the protestor's encampment had grown to be about 40 people overnight and over a hundred during the day. I think it was a tactical move by police because the move meant that the protestors couldn't see the refugees on the roof and the refugees couldn't see the protestors who were there to support them. The other effect it had though was that it brought the protestors closer to a big commercial intersection so many more people would see the demonstration. This banner is made from old broken umbrella fabric and it looked great. The black umbrella uses a common chant, "No border, no nation, stop deportation."

Another example of how Berlin layers the new and old. Look at that ironwork. There are so many different great doorways here.  And all the tags create extra texture and accent the old world artistry of the door. I think many people would hardly notice this building if it didn't have some of this graffiti.

You know what is awesome here? The weather. That's right. It's been between 85-65°F, but mostly hovering around 70° during the day this month. I think there were only 3 days that didn't have a short rain shower, but maybe just one day that I would call rainy. There's enough sun to get vitamin D but not so much that I have to wear sunscreen to avoid a burn. I like the weather and I love the colors of the sunset. The photo doesn't do justice, but it's a start.

So that's the life in Berlin so far in photos. Additionally, Sam is working tonight (and has 2 more days scheduled!). He made a great resume when we got here and then went on a mission cold-calling gaffers and turned up some work. I am so proud of his determination. For me,  I just finished my first week of German class. I'm the only native English speaker, which I think is exciting. The class has people from all over the world. Peru, France, Russia, Syria, Madagascar, Vietnam. And me. Three hours a day, five days a week for five weeks. At it cost 150€ at the Volkshochschule (like a community college). Heck yes. 

The be all end all

Samuel Herbig

No more flyers!

Day #58 of our journey was going to take us to the famed Yellowstone National Park. What I knew of the park was mainly wildlife (read: bison) and geysers (read: old faithful). I knew that it was big and I knew that it was mountainous and that's about it. Particularly in the few days before driving down there Whitney kept saying, "if we don't see any bison, I'm gonna be really disappointed." No pressure Yellowstone.

I'd vote for Bugs any day

I'd already been feeling pretty shabby, so much so that Whitney had been doing a lot of the drive from Brownies Hostel, which had taken us through Browning, MT (at that time seemingly consumed by a fierce public office election) and across vast stretches of prairie. As I was drifting in between my two co-pilot states of napping and taking pictures we traversed the big sky country for endless hours. The ridges of grass green hill chains bobbing up and down in front of the windshield, with puffy white clouds overhead. All the while we were being accompanied by the mountains of the Lewis Range to our right. Signs of open ranges continuously warned us of roaming cattle and the biggest hinderance to our progress was a road construction site which we were lead through by a truck with a Follow Me sign on it.

In Helena, we stopped to load up on groceries for the next few camping nights. Since neither of our sinuses were feeling particularly groovy, we decided on chicken soup for the evening (NOT from a can). We also grabbed some granola and other supplies that had worked out well for us in the past and then continued on our path towards the park.

Coming down south along route 191/287 we entered the park from the West, with the end goal being the campground at Madison Junction. You'll think this is crazy, but we actually had enough time to set up our tent, and then make the roundtrip to the visitor center near Old Faithful. All during day light!

Of course, we saw bison galore already on that very first drive through the park. I mean it's pretty tough not to. They are big, they are slow and they make a funny huffing noise when they're grazing. Reminds me a little bit of the times growing up when we would stay on farms in Switzerland or the Landwirtschaftspraktikum (yep, that word is street legal in Germany) when being around 2000 pound animals was a daily occurrence.



Tempting as it was, we didn't spend too much time away from the campground, because we still had to make dinner and wanted to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

We woke up the next morning to Whitney feeling the effects of a worsening sinus congestion. So after just making a bit of tea, we intended to set out to get Whitney to a shower, so she could hopefully drain her sinuses to relieve the pressure. Due to a series of unfortunate decisions and events, we didn't make it to a place with showers until Evanston, WY! We started with the best of intentions on a trip clockwise around the Yellowstone park.

One of the thoughts Whitney and I would discuss later at length regarding Yellowstone is, that it was perfect for a sick day or two. The reason is simple: Yellowstone is laid out to be explored by car. Sure there are hikes and most of the attractions of the park can't be seen from the road directly. However, almost all of the spectacular sights and amazing nature can be enjoyed from your car or otherwise after a very short stroll from the parking lot. So if you're not feeling well, which neither of us were, this park is about as good as it gets.


The first time I pulled over the car, was at Gibbon Falls. They are tame in comparison, but it set the tone in terms of what we could expect for the rest of the day. Not necessarily regarding the kinds of attractions, but more the company we'd be "enjoying". It's certainly a busy park and more than once I asked myself, how the park service was ensuring the proper preservation, when the crowds were already so thick in late May?

Snow and hot springs: one day

We drove up to Canyon Village, got gas which was surprisingly not over priced (I know, right?) and then I wanted to go up to Dunraven Pass and Mt. Washburn. Naturally, we weren't going to go on a hike with Whitney feeling worse for the wear as the day continued. Still, I wanted to see the other side of the park, but realizing that it wasn't all that I had hoped it to be, I soon turned back to continue our loop around the park.

I dragged our poor Whitney out of the car again and again: "Do you want to see the Yellowstone Falls?", "Should we go to Inspiration Point?", "I'll take the South Rim Drive out to Artists Point, okay?" or "How about the Sulphur Cauldron or the Mud Volcano?"

Ladies and gentlemen: no words!

Over and over again, Whitney said "I'm really not feeling so hot, but I want to get out of the car anyway." I was really glad that she did, because she'd let me know about the different things she recalled from coming to the park the first time when she was 9 years old. That time the family had travelled out with her grandparents. That's important to note, since Pop-pop (amongst many others) has been a driver of our artistic expression, and I never even met the guy. Also, at Painters Point she sneezed like a four year old. You know, snot hanging by thick threads out of her nose all the while she's looking back at me at least as shocked as I am looking at her. It was funny, you had to have been there.

Pop-pop himself was a painter (oils and water colors) and going through his catalogue a couple of years back in order to make a book of his work, turned into a learning experience of sorts for us. Looking back, it was around that time that we, and certainly I, felt compelled to get back to creating more art from scratch. With my hands. With paint.

Whitney recalled going out to Artist Point with Pop-pop and showed me the colorful earth and rocks surrounding the Yellowstone River Canyon, just below the water falls.

A little later we stopped at the Sulphur Cauldron and Mud Volcano (the names!). It was the first of many stops along the parks famed thermal elements. If you have any inclination of going, just go. I can tell you all about it here, but it's just incredible to see the sheer number of different springs and pools and geysers, and mud pots and so on. The park service was also quick to illustrate that the thermal features were constantly in flux and could change at any point. Hot springs slowly moved over hundreds of feet. Geysers go dormant and reemerge. As a matter of fact the area surrounding the Mud Volcano had completely changed in the 1980's due to a number of earthquakes. A sharp increase in the ground temperature following the quakes has been killing the trees along the hillside ever since.

Finally, our loop took us by the grand stage of the Old Faithful. The area around the geyser is completely built up with shops, the visitor center, restaurants, you name it. It is a bustling complex ready to handle many, many tour busses filled with tourists from far away countries and loads of minivan's filled with vacationing families form not so far away. The geyser itself is surrounded by a large circular boardwalk, which has conveniently placed benches along the edge to view the geyser. Considering, that people used to throw logs and rocks and handkerchiefs into the geyser back in the day, the boardwalk it probably a sound idea.

Regardless of the commercial noise surrounding Old Faithful, it is a fantastic experience to watch it explode into the sky. We were particularly lucky, because just before the eruption a rain storm had moved through, darkening the sky and making the steam and white water shooting from the ground all the more visible against the sky. I wonder what it would have been like, to see the geyser back when none of the buildings were there. Back when you had to take an expedition many weeks long to get out there. What it would have sounded like, just the rushing of the wind in the trees, and the water shooting into the sky...

The end of the show

The end of the show

We treated ourselves to milk shakes at one of the restaurants (which were delicious!) and got back in the car to get back to the campground. You see, before we left in the morning we were sure it wasn't going to rain, but because you're an attentive reader you remember the "dark sky", right? We were worried that the rain had gotten into the tent and we wanted to either deal with it, or prevent further soaking. Luckily, though the tent had seen a sprinkle, nothing seemed to have gotten wet.

On the way back from Old Faithful I had also spotted a bison herd near the road and I really wanted to get some good pictures of those guys. Whitney relented and back out we went to get Sam some bison. Not far down the road was a little off shoot of the main loop where we found at least a couple hundred bison grazing.

Bison, not buffalo (don't be a European!)

Bison, not buffalo (don't be a European!)

From a distance, we were able to see big bulls, nursing calfs, play fighting youngsters and more. It's a marvelous thing to be able to get in such close proximity of such large mammals. That these guys were mercilessly slaughtered isn't easy to stomach, but considering their relatively peaceful demeanor it isn't hard to imagine either. Anyway, I got my pictures!

Back at the campground we made another simple dinner, and then headed up to the "amphitheater" to hear a ranger talk on the parks history and flora and fauna. Whitney and I were quickly getting to like these talks and if you're the National Park visiting kind, it's worth checking them out. I for one really liked getting context for my visit and being able to ask some questions afterwards (i.e. "What's it really called, a bison or a buffalo?"). Tired but satisfied we went to sleep, soon after.

The next morning I was starting to feel better, but no such luck for Whitney. Despite our honest efforts to rest well, drink plenty of tea and to feed ourselves the way Sue would have, Whitney's throat was still hurting and her sinuses stuffed. Being on the road however meant that we could only do so much and Whitney was being a trooper. While in the park, we wanted to visit as many of the thermal springs and geysers as we could, before we had to leave later in the day. So we broke camp, loaded the car back up, made sure that we had all the lozenges and a thermos of hot tea within arms reach and set out.

Whitney self medicating... tsk, tsk

The park has just tons and tons of thermal features. The most famous of them, after Old Faithful, is the Grand Prismatic Spring, but there are so many others! As we headed south along the loop towards Grant Village and the South Entrance of the park we first steered the Omimobile into the Firehole Lake Drive. I guess, because none of the drives features are as bombastic as others in the park it wasn't as crowded, which suited us just fine. Along the route we stopped at the Firehole Spring, Surprise Pool, Great Fountain, White Dome and Pink Cone Geysers before finally arriving at Firehole Lake and Steady Geyser. That's a whopping seven geothermal whatchamacallems! And they're all very different. Some are still steaming colorful pools, others gurgling mud pots, others again spout water high into the air. While I was busy clicking away, Whitney was lamenting the fact that she wasn't able to jump into one of the hot springs. So she did the next best thing: at each spring that was particularly hot and steaming she found the perfect spot to stand in the steam as the wind carried it away from the pool. Even sitting here on the soft bed at an airbnb thousands of miles away, I can still smell the sulphur with each breath as I think back.

As the expedition photographer I wanted to go to the Prism Pool of course. Interestingly, you really can't get that famous overhead shot you always see very easily. You'd have to go on a hike, to gain enough elevation . . . and then hope it's warm enough out that there isn't too much steam coming off the surface of the pool. Still, we got to walk around it and see the other pools as well. It's a neat place and the colors are amazing. It's terribly crowded though with tour bus after tour bus arriving, so we left before too long.

On our way out, we once again stopped for a sandwich at the Old Faithful Visitor Center and (accidentally) saw the geyser erupt for a second time. Not bad! With a little bit of food in our tummies we finally bid the park adieu and began our long treck to Moab. Hang on! We saw some more elk on the way out. 

Elk end

Elk end

In hindsight, I wished we had more time at Yellowstone (as was the case in so many other places). I wouldn't have minded being able to do a hike or two. That being said, with some time and patience and a camera you can explore most of what's there to see. There are also many more pictures from this part of the trip, that didn't make it into the post, but I'll do my best to get them uploaded to Flickr soon.