We weren’t planning anything for spring break this year. Actually, we hardly ever do. A week just seems too short to bother with and it’s a good excuse to just catch up and relax at home. But, at the last-minute, my wife said she found “reasonably” priced airplane tickets and hotel accommodations. In Las Vegas!
I’ve only been to Vegas once, for a couple of days, a few years ago. The rest of the family has never been. I still have these notions of a city of wild parties and boring business conventions or perhaps a mix of both. I didn’t think it was a proper destination for a family trip.
But looking at Google Maps, I discovered a treasure trove of natural parks close by. Red Rock Canyon was a mere 30 minutes west of the famed Las Vegas Strip. The Valley of Fire State Park, an hour east. My older son was itching to go hiking and a 30 minute drive beats a 7 hour expedition to Big Bend, so things started to look interesting.
Of course, photographically, it could be interesting too. My recent first trip to Big Bend National Park was my introduction to hiking and landscape photography. I felt comfortable following up with another trip — at least I already had the hiking boots and photography backpack. Then, of course, there’s always the wild, kitschy and exuberant Las Vegas architecture. That would fit in great with my urban landscape interests.
We had a great time. We went to Red Rock Canyon twice as well as the Valley of Fire. We did some night life things too, in moderation. We saw two shows and walked through some of the more dramatic showcase hotels. Each family member got to do some of their favorite things.
I shot photos of course. That was my main interest beyond spending quality time with the family. I couldn’t shoot as much as I wanted, though I’m sure, the family thought I shot more than any normal person should. It’s a delicate balance. I also, hesitantly, brought 4 cameras on the trip — two digital and two film plus the iPhone.
I was testing the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and also had my small Pentax Q7, mainly for black and whites. On the film side, I brought my chunky medium format Mamiya 645E and the compact Nikon 35Ti. All, packed into a 15 pound package, which I managed to successfully pass through TSA checkpoints. I even got them to hand check the film.
The hiking was more challenging than my first trip to Big Bend. I carried the said 15 pound package plus a 3 pound tripod up a trail rated moderately strenuous. The Mamiya was the heaviest and most bulky. I wondered if it’s worth the effort but then I see the colors that I got from film and I’m encouraged.
It was a fun mix of nature and the man-made. Day time outdoor activities and night-time glitz. A lot more photos to come.
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