Dusk on a spring day in 2020—the bbq was lit, beer was flowing, and for a moment things felt normal. Sitting across from me my brother paused, and changed everything with a phrase.

I am 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 miles across the American South West, camping, and exploring sites off the beaten path. 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 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.

202003 export Arizona-Sedona-Travel 1171202003 export Arizona-Sedona-Travel 1174

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.

202003 export Arizona-Grand_Canyon-Travel 1193

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.

202003 export Arizona-Grand_Canyon-Travel 1195202003 export Arizona-Grand_Canyon-Travel 1196

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".

202003 export Arizona-Meteor_Crater-Travel 1153

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.

202003 export Arizona-Petrified_Forest-Travel 1090202003 export Arizona-Petrified_Forest-Travel 1104

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.

202003 export Lake Texoma-Texas-Travel 1186202003 export Lake Texoma-Texas-Travel 1185

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.

202003 export NOLA-Travel 1191202003 export NOLA-Travel 1195202003 export NOLA-Travel 1193202003 export NOLA-Travel 1194
202003 export NOLA-Travel 1190202003 export NOLA-Travel 1192

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.

202003 export Food-On The Road-Travel 1187202003 export Food-On The Road-Travel 1188

© 2019 Matthias Jordan. All rights reserved.

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