Dusk, spring 2020—we were bbqing, drinking a beer together in my yard. For a moment things felt normal. Then my brother said:

I'm moving to New Orleans.

Fast forward a few months and things had come together. His move finalized, his goodbyes made, and vague idea of how we would get him across the country.

A 2000 mile trip across the American South West. Camping, exploring sites off the beaten path, getting lost, taking detours, all the trappings of a good trip. We took in all that we could—from the red rocks of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, to the Petrified Forest and the Texas Panhandle. Our excursion even saw us paddle across Lake Texoma, just to say we went to Oklahoma as well on our way to New Orleans.

The trip was bittersweet. An adventure we will always remember, and one that marks the changing of the times in our lives.

I picked up a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6l IS II the day before the trip. The telephoto compression was a lot of fun with these landscapes.

Sedona

Sedona was our first stop after an overnight in Phoenix with our grandmother. Whenever we visit Arizona we try to include Sedona, often going out of our way to make it happen. There is magic there.

Grand Canyon

The next stop was a campsite in the high desert, some odd 30 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Colorado Plateau stretched out before us to the base of the Humphreys Peak caldera. And the sky, a sky like no other once the sun had set. Dark, vast, and endless.

We rose before dawn after our first night of camping to chase the sunrise. There was a stillness to the morning as the sun broke the canyon rim, spilling light in the violet shadows.

Meteor Crater Road

Formerly known by the infinitely cooler name "Canyon Diablo Crater", Meteor Crater is a 50,000 year old impact site. Affectionately known as "Arizona's other big hole in the ground".

Petrified Forest

The absolute highlight of the trip. A hostile alien landscape, badlands in every sense of the term. The heat was blistering and the sun baked down on us with every step. It was unlike anything we had experienced. Beauty and splendor as far as the eye can see.

Lake Texoma

Straddling the state line between Texas and Oklahoma sits Lake Texoma. Located at the confluence of the Red and Washita Rivers, it is one of the largest reservoirs in the country. We spent two nights camping lakeside, enjoying a small respite from our long hours of driving. The rest was welcome before our final jaunt down to New Orleans.

New Orleans

The end of the line. After six days on the road we had reached New Orleans, and the bittersweet emotions of the trip were surfacing. Soon I would be flying home, and the days of us living a short drive from one another had come to a close.

In retrospect

The goal of this trip was not to take pictures. I took my camera, as I always do, but really this trip was about sharing an experience with my brother. I came home with memories, some photographs that I love, and a list of places to visit again someday.

One more thing

These California boys grabbed some Whataburger on the way. Had to see what all the fuss was about, and whether or not they actually stacked up against our beloved In-N-Out. The verdict? It is a darn good burger. I do think the In-N-Out comparisons are a bit unfair to both chains—these are very different burgers that should really be seen as compatriots trying to stand out in an endless see of chains like McDonalds and Wendy's.