It’s nearly August, a month which has found us wandering west for so many years that it’s difficult to recall one trip from another. Several summers ago we were emerging from an overnight camp in the San Rafael Swell – a rarely-visited desert area in south-central Utah. The region is roughly the size of Long Island and is criss-crossed by a handful of graded roads. It’s easy to to end up in a bit of a mess in this place, and so one needs to think long and hard before making any sort of turn. We were dusty, in need of showers and speculating on the location of the nearest gallon of iced tea. Mostly, we were hoping our little rental car would eventually make it to some sort of Mexican restaurant. The nearest town of any size was Price, some 35 miles to the north.
In the back seat my young son gazed out at a land which was only beginning to scratch his imagination. While making our way across the grasslands which rise onto a plateau to the west, huge storm clouds began to gather. This was an event which quickly rewrote the landscape. As the winds picked up, the heat began to back away like a Fundy tide. The west is a mercurial place. I pulled over near a corral and removed my tripod from the trunk. A picture was taken between the opening salvo of raindrops with the smell of ozone releasing the floodgates of memory. In the car, my wife was begging me to get back in.