Gradually leaving the Great Plains and steadily watching the progression of the terrain rise from the flat fields of the Midwest to towering mountains in the distance was truly an incredible experience. It’s amazing to see the landscape transition before your eyes over the course of hours.

As an aside, you know the first time you flew in a plane and you looked down and it struck you that there aren’t actually lines and pastel colors separating the states?  That’s how I was feeling at this point. “You mean there aren’t bold black lines and primary colors distinguishing the different terrains and climate zones out here?  How am I supposed to know if this arid or just semi-arid?  Are these mountains or foothills??” (Spoiler: when you’ve never lived west of the Mississippi ALL HILLS ARE MOUNTAINS. It makes an experience like this all the more exciting.  I actually shouted “AHH IT’S A MOUNTAIN!” at the first sighting.)

Colorado’s mountains and mining towns turned into Utah’s golden-pink mesas and canyons. We stopped at Arches National Park (because I’m pretty sure that there’s a law declaring that you have to) and I actually put down my camera for most of our time hiking about. (Of course I brought my camera phone though — I couldn’t totally stop documenting the trip.) But I did manage to take a few shots that absolutely can’t do justice to how vast and imposing these formations are in person.

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January 3, 2013
Love it all! I did a Southwest road trip this past fall, and I know what you mean about being from the east seeing the mountains. Our favorite thing was driving through the mountain passes watching the altimeter on the GPS go higher and higher... yeah, we're geeks. But we got over 12,000 feet! Not in an airplane!
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    January 3, 2013
    Oh I wish we'd had an altimeter to geek out over too! I *think* we were close to 10,000 ft at one point :) Woo!
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