Photography by Tom Lane

USA – Pacific North West


We spent the latter part of August and most of September in the USA, completing a giant 4,243 mile loop from Seattle, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, California, Nevada and Oregon. We had done most sections of the trip before when I was working and kept a car in Seattle, but being retired, wanted to visit the same places at a more leisurely pace. 

The first place on our itinerary was Yellowstone National Park, a place we have visited perhaps half a dozen times and have always enjoyed. Gardiner, in Montana is the park’s northern entrance and a drive of approximately 750 miles from Seattle. Not being in a hurry, we spent a night in Coeur d’ Alene on the way and arrived in Gardiner early evening the following day, in time for dinner at Cowboy’s Lodge and Grille.

We’ve been to Yellowstone during most seasons of the year (except summer when it’s just too crowded) and this was the worst weather we’ve ever experienced there. The first hour or two was okay, but the then it rained ‘cats and dogs’ for the rest of the day and the above images are the only ones worth posting. I wasn’t too disappointed, as I have many digital images and prints from previous visits.

The plan was to drive south, through Yellowstone National Park, via the Grand Tetons and on to Jackson Hole in Wyoming. The Grand Tetons are spectacular and I had looked forward to taking many photo’s there. However, again because of the rain these were the only two worth uploading.

Forgive me for including above, an image of the Grand Tetons, taken on a previous visit, just to show how magnificent they are in decent lighting.

Don’t know why, but we decided to break the drive between Jackson Hole and Salt Lake City in a place called Lava Hot Springs. As the name suggests, despite the not so nice weather, people came to enjoy floating down the river in inflatable dingys and rubber rings. I’ve never seen so many inflatables as in Lava Hot Springs. There’s not much to the town but we found a reasonable Bar & Grill and had a good dinner.

Salt Lake City and a chance of some retail therapy, although we didn’t buy anything, as we found the prices to be far more expensive than what we could find at home. As far as I was concerned that was a winner.

From Salt Lake City it was a 360 mile drive to a place called Mexican Hat in Utah. The city was named after the rock formation above, which I guess is roughly in the shape of a Mexican Hat. The reason for staying here was to spend time in Monument Valley the following day, which was only 26 miles away. We had been to Monument Valley before, but could only find accommodation over a hundred miles away and were determined not to have to drive so far again.

Above: on the journey between Salt Lake City and Mexican Hat we had intended to stop off at Arches National Park, but didn’t realise a time-slot had to be booked in advance and so that didn’t happen. I did mange to get a photo of Wilson Arch from the road and also some nutter who had managed to drive a Jeep on to the top of an impressive rock. The other images were taken in a Canyon we just happened to come across a couple of miles further on than Arches National Park.


The above images show Monument Valley in its spectacular grandeur. The only slight negative of going to Monument Valley is the fine sand which seems to get everywhere and particularly in the car. However, this time it didn’t matter as Budget were going to have to clean it. 

Our next stop was Bryce Canyon City, a drive of roughly 300 miles from Mexican Hat and the above three images I took on the way.

Above: Bryce Canyon; we’d been once before and that was in winter. I always remember it, because the wind was so strong I could hardly stand and I think it’s the coldest I’ve ever been, hence I didn’t take many photo’s. I’ve always wanted to go back and must say it was well worth the time and effort.

Above: for anyone who may be interesting in going, here’s a couple of images of Bryce Canyon City, an interesting little town. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to have enough restaurants for the number of people visiting and so it was, eat early, or be prepared to wait in line. Can’t think what it would be like in summer.

Above: Zion National Park, Utah; including the last four images which were taken at a cafe we stopped at for lunch. We stayed in an interesting little town named Kanab to cover Zion, as it was only 30 miles from the park’s entrance.

Above: Las Vegas, always a fun place to visit, even in this case for just one night. Vegas was only a two hundred mile drive from Kanab and so we arrived early afternoon and left the following morning for Pahrump in Nevada.

Driving between Pahrump in Nevada and Lee Vining in California we came upon the delightful city of Goldfield. Evidently a city left over from the gold-rush days and being derelict and abandoned was a photographer’s paradise. 

Above: Yosemite National Park; one of my favourite places in the world and I think this was my 15th visit there. As we needed to go on to Reno, we stayed for two nights in Lee Valley, California. This meant driving over Tioga Pass and through Tuolumne Meadows to get to the Yosemite Valley and this is where the first four images were taken. We then went on to Glazier Point to get the views of Half Done.

As anyone who knows me will understand that I much prefer Black & White photography and many of my images and prints of Yosemite can be found in this genre.  (There is a section of this website dedicated to Yosemite and this can be found by going into the Library menu.)

Above: The Reno Air Races held at Stead Airport about a 45 minute drive north (I think) of Reno. This was my third, or fourth visit to the races as the company I worked with in Seattle always sponsored a box there. I’ve covered the event before, but always with a Nikon camera and 600mm f4.0 lens and really I wouldn’t have included these flying pictures, taken with a Leica SL2 and 90-280 lens, but I just wanted to show the concept of the event. Unlike the Red Bull series of races, where the planes are flown individually, like a time trial, these aircraft are actually being flown against each other, much like a motor race. The second from last image shows them approaching the start line and once they cross it, it’s every pilot for themselves. Last time we went to the races we had a very narrow escape, when we fortunately left early to avoid the crowd and an aircraft crashed, with some of the debris landing in the area we had been seated. Unfortunately, again this year, two pilots were killed when their planes collided on landing. It is an unforgiving, dangerous sport and although I was pleased to have attended the last race ever, part of me is pleased that it’s come to an end.

Farewell to the Reno Air Races

Above: Downtown Reno, which advertises itself as “The Biggest Little City In The World”, wasn’t my favourite place for walking round at night. We stayed there two nights and found a great sports bar to eat in, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel and thankfully didn’t have any unpleasant encounters.

Technical details: I took a Leica SL2 body with the three SL zoom lenses, 16-35mm, 24-90mm and 90-280mm, also the Leica Q2 which was used for walking around Salt Lake City and other towns. On this trip I also used a Polarising Filter which came in handy for darkening the skies.