Posts from the ‘USA’ category

Ode to the man in seat 20B

Oh sleeping man, 
you have slept so deeply, 
for many hours. 

Those snug earplugs save you,
from waking yourself up,
with your incessant, snorting snore. 

On and on you snore,
Louder and louder.
No music drowns you out. 

Also, you have taken the entire arm rest,
Which is annoying. 

So I have made an unflattering inktober sketch of you,
since I cannot sleep. 

If you had moved whilst I sketched you,
I would have suffocated you,
with that tiny pillow under your arm. 

I am sure you are very nice when you are awake though.

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Just a short sketching opportunity this morning before I fly back to the UK.

Excalibur from the Luxor pyramid

A peaceful Sunday morning at the Luxor tram stop

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My lap of honour around Vegas starts at the Luxor.

I am alone in the pyramid lift and it is making a noise no lift should make. It shakes violent from side to side and the display says ‘EZ’. What does that mean?  Is this part of the experience? I feel claustrophobic.

The display still says ‘EZ’. The doors start to rattle inwards and for the first time in my life, with force, I press the ‘save me’ bell. Nothing happens, but a second later the display says ’16…17′ etc. Soon the doors open and I leap out with enthusiasm.

Near check-in, The Luxor


To my dismay, when I head out, the only available lift is the bone shaker. I hold the doors until a big group of people join me. Their reaction to the shaking and grinding confirms this is NOT part of the experience.

Who can resist the MGM Grand Lion at sunset

I can confirm that women wear far more clothes in the real Paris

Halloween at the Harley Davison shop. Almost as terrifying as the lift at the Luxor.

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I ended my last day in the National Parks at Zion, the most lush and colourful. This meant a very early start, to miss the holiday crowds.

A chipmunk nibbling on a prickly pear on the Kayenta Trail


The Riverside Walk takes you up to the start of The Narrows. Which is essentially a hike in the Virgin river, so you need to be prepared. Fancy shoes, dry pants and a wooden pole can be hired for the occasion.

A couple of people setting off up the Narrows. Would love to have done this but sadly, although I had dry pants, I didn’t have the other necessary fashionwear

Ended the day with The Watchman trail. An amazing view up the valley, although the cloud was setting in.


Goodbye Zion

Now the joy of my world is in Zion

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I’m at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona and it’s raining, which makes it feel like Symonds Yat in the UK.


Whilst I sketch, a Chinese woman asks my partner to take her picture. She gradually edges towards me, until eventually, she squats down right next to me, puts her arm around my shoulder, and grins for the camera. She doesn’t look at me, or talk to me. Now that never would have happened in the Forest of Dean.

Another trippy ink moment

Look no vertigo!

I left Page with some sadness when  the radio announced that I could have got 10% off at the lube shop. Only if I turned up in my Halloween costume though. Still I’m not one to dwell on missed opportunities.

A quick stop at the Glen Canyon Dam. 15 feet shy of the Hoover dam.

A Baby Driver moment, as Stairway to heaven played on the radio, through rippled Arizona plains. The sky was full of little fluffy clouds, which gave an added sense of the sheer vastness out there. The biggest sky I’ve ever seen!

Then just before Zion National Park, the Buffalo came.

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Windows or Mac user? Who cares! Lower Antelope Canyon has wallpapers for both.

The canyon is as stunning as it appears in the now famous National Geographic cover photo. The tour moves fast, so I only had time for a some quick outlines, adding colour later in the dusty car park.

The sandstone canyon was sculpted by water and continues to be shaped by flash floods. Lower Antelope is around 45m at its deepest

Holes in the wall (left) and ropes, were used before the staircases were installed

The car park and Navajo coal-fired power plant

Sunset at Horseshoe bend, hopefully back tomorrow for technicolor

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Walked part of the Bright Angel trail in the Grand Canyon today. I felt quite intrepid until someone overtook me uphill, carrying a baby. 

Almost a private studio at the mile and a half resthouse

Another picture of me looking smug

So hard to capture the light as it shifts so fast


I love that when you enter the South rim of the Canyon, you are greeted with pictures of deer and elk, in ever increasing states of ecstasy.

Should come with an age rating

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Bluff and I got off to a bad start last night. First I mistook the town laundrymat for our hotel (it’s huge). Then I found myself driving through the dark, deserted town on the left hand side. Whoops!

I admit I had fairly low expectations for Bluff fort, but this great museum and its dedicated volunteers really bring to life the story of the town’s first white settlers.

Bluff fort has numerous log cabins, lovingly furnished by the ancestors of the first white settlers

 

I was struck by the Native American attitude to the land, contrasted with the white settlers who literally blasted their way through rocks, adapting the landscape to meet their unbending needs and faith.

Native American teepee and mud hut, frankly much warmer than the log cabins!

Next, a dream fulfilled. A sketch of Monument valley from Forrest Gump point, whilst being circled by hungry dogs. Somebody pinch me!

Pre-colour

Post-colour


The only thing to top that has to be sunset at the Grandview, Grand Canyon. 

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It’s Sunday, so it must be time for the Arches omnibus.

I begin with Delicate Arch. 

I am Boba Fett perched at the Great Pit of Carcoon, and the Sarlacc is belching below me. At least it feels that way as I sit clinging to my rucksack and ink pots, terrified my sketchbook, or me, will slide down the 45 degree slope and into the sheer drop below.


It may be the altitude, or the heat, or the prospect of death, but when I stand, I have a major attack of the vertigos.

Can’t believe I stood under the arch for the money shot and an hour later I’m clinging to the rock with my head spinning!


Next up, a touch of sedate pen work down in the valley.

That’s Delicate Arch again from down below



One arch isn’t enough for me, so next up, Double Arch.


Yesterday was all chipmunks and vultures. Today lizards, deer and a skunk in the middle of the road!

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Endurance sketching today in Bryce Canyon. Nobody warned me about those bitter cross winds!

I put the full Faber-Castell ‘Terra’ Pitt pens through their paces in far from optimal sketching conditions – stood on a cliff, on a narrow path, in mighty gusts!

7 layers and still chilled to the bone.


A walk around the stunning Navajo loop saw another opportunity to perch precariously for 45 minutes. I really missed my compact little paint palette, as shuffling through a rucksack for the right colour inks on a steep slope is not so fun.

Supreme thanks to my little helper today. You are ‘sweeter than Muscat wine’

After that, a 4+ hour drive to Moab. Some truly eye-watering scenery, if only I could sketch and drive at the same time. 

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