Arizona for the weekend?

Every year my company holds a photography competition across all of our offices (about 20 worldwide).  It’s a lot of fun, there are four categories, and they use the submissions to decorate our offices.  Needless to say, since there is a winner, I take this very seriously.

I made the finals with this picture last year, from my trip to New Zealand:

Stirling Falls, Andy Luten, 31 August 2013

Stirling Falls at Milford Sound

I was happy with how the picture turned out and the judges were as well, since it made the finals, but it didn’t win.  Boooooooo.  I think the main reason is because it doesn’t as much look like a waterfall as it does a gargoyle/demon rising up out of the water.

Anyway, the competition just started for this year.  I’m going to Machu Picchu next month, but wanted to try and get some other pictures “in the bag” before then.

On a very much related note, I had 2 weekend nights to use at any Hilton in the world as part of my Citi Hilton Reserve Visa.  I had neglected using these, instead favoring Hyatt of late.  Well, last week I looked at those certificates and realized they expire at the end of this month!  Not wanting to miss out on the nights, I started looking for reasonable options, and by “reasonable” I mean one of the nicest places I can get to without spending a bunch of money.  Oh, and I’d need to be able to take some good pictures as well.

The Boulders
Just north of Phoenix is a Waldorf Astoria resort called The Boulders.  It gets good reviews and is supposedly a very unique property that embraces the rugged landscape of the American southwest.  They had availability, which is unsurprising due to how hot it currently is in that part of the world, so I booked it.

Hotel portion is complete, so what about the pictures?

Antelope Canyon
Near Page, Arizona (Motto: “Not in the middle of nowhere, just west of it”) is a slot canyon that you’ve probably seen on some Buzzfeed list of “18 of the World’s Most Surreal Places”.  It’s a bucket list item for any photographer.  Here’s why:

Antelope Canyon

The only problem with this whole idea is that Page, Arizona, is nowhere near Phoenix/The Boulders (about a four hour drive, one-way).  Also, I don’t shoot with a DSLR camera, only a high-end fixed lens handheld.  However, I managed to find a space on a photographer’s tour of Antelope Canyon (which is hard to do on short notice) and, let’s be honest, I’ve done a lot more ambitious stuff just for the sake of a road trip.  They say it’s dumb to try and do Antelope Canyon as a day trip from Phoenix.  I say it’s epic.

What will make this trip a little easier?

Silvercar
Silvercar is a new rental company that is unique in the fact that it only rents out silver Audi A4s.  Their business model is unique: all cars have navigation and satellite radio, you’re not charged outrageous prices for gas (just market prices plus a $5 refueling fee), and you start the rental by scanning a QR code on a vehicle with their app.  Silvercar charges a flat rate of $59/day, but they frequently offer $50 off your first rental, which made the price of a 2-day rental not much more than a regular rental.  They happen to be available in Phoenix and had availability during my trip, so I went ahead and booked one.

(if you’d like, use my referral code if you book with them, it’s ALUTEN, I get $25 off a rental and you do too!)

 

All in all, should be a great trip, you’ll hear about it soon!

4 Comments

  1. I visited Antelope Canynon two years ago (photo tour) and while it is stunning, the amount of tourists they cram in every day is unacceptable. It was crowded, and guides were screaming at each other, and at other groups to get out of the way so their group could get a good photo. There doesn’t seem to be any thought about conservation or preservation, it is all about the tourist dollar, which is a real shame,

    Reply
    • I’d tend to agree with you, although my tour (also a photog tour) only had three people and the guides worked very well with each other. I’ll write up a full report soon, with pics!

      Reply
      • Look forward to your review, sounds like you had a better experience than us!

        Reply
  2. The kid in the canyon provides a great visual to the size.

    Reply

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