Shannon Across America: New Mexico and the Grand Canyon

Exploring along Route 66 and the most famous canyon on Earth

This is part of a series of posts chronicling my travels across the western United States over the course of several weeks, living on the road and randomly visiting places along the way. You can start reading about the journey from the beginning.

New Mexico

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7V1B9886Right as I crossed the border into New Mexico, I spotted a place called Russell’s Truck and Travel Center from the highway which I thought would be a good place to settle down for the night. I’m glad I decided to drop in here as the outside is unassuming, yet inside this is quite a neat truck stop featuring a classic car museum. After grabbing a bite to eat at the diner and working on my photos on my laptop, I wandered around the museum looking at all the nostalgic items and photographing the cars. The lone attendant spotted my camera and questioned what I was shooting with, mentioning another photographer had been busy with his wide angle in there earlier.

After waking up in the morning, I paid a visit to the town of San Jon located along the remains of Route 66 only a few miles away from the truck stop. The town was once known as an important stop along the route featuring restaurants and motels, but that changed when the Interstate came through. The town still remains with a few hundred inhabitants, though the south side along old 66 feels very much like a ghost town. I spent a little bit of time walking around the  area and photographing old buildings.

The rest of my travels through New Mexico were spent photographing deserts, visiting random sidestops like Santa Fe and listening to Spanish radio stations as I crossed the border into Arizona.

The Grand Canyon

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It seems like every person I know who has visited this place did so as a child on a family trip. Unfortunately I never had family trips while growing up (I’ve never even been to Disneyland), which probably explains my thirst for adventure as an adult. As such, I didn’t become acquainted with many American landmarks until my adult years, and this would be my first visit to the Grand Canyon.

After miraculously managing to wake myself around 3AM, I managed to pull into Yavapai Point at the Grand Canyon all of twenty minutes before first light. I’m glad I had brought my gloves and winter gear because this place at 5AM is COLD! There were already a few people there already – mostly photographers – but they were no problem as I scouted a great location and awaited the sun to rise out over the canyon peaks.

Watching the sun rise over the Grand Canyon was spectacular and completely worth the trip. If I had known more about the area, I probably would have spent more time around here visiting the town of Supai down in Havasu Canyon. But as the town is only accessible via an eight-mile hike or helicopter and I would be without my car to sleep in, the logistics would have been difficult to pull off.

Overall as it was my first visit, doing it via the tourist-y South Rim made a lot of sense. Next time, I will come more prepared to explore other areas around there like Supai, or make the effort to visit the canyon via the North Rim.

Next Time: City of Lights, City of Sin