Shot to Death

Photos by David | Words by Amber

“… did you see that?!” His eyes were twitching with excitement and he couldn’t have stopped the corners of his mouth from curving up for his life. It was excitement for sure but he also smiles when he’s nervous and he knew I was toeing the line of being grouchy- I didn’t want to make any more stops.

“What?” I said quickly, trying to keep the annoyance out of my voice. For some reason I thought I should pretended like I didn’t know what he was talking about. Of course I knew- anyone who’d spend five minutes with the guy could have guessed. We’d just come down from Independence Pass and were driving along the tapering foothills of Colorado, only the soft rolling hills remained from the rocky, barren peaks of an hour ago.

Independence Pass, Colorado

I wanted to make it to our destination for the night, find a place to stay, and get something reasonable for dinner- preferably some of this before the sleeping infant-time-bomb in the back seat exploded into screeches of carseat disapproval.

But I didn’t want to say no. This was kind of the point of the whole road trip after all; to take our time and see the sights, to stop and smell the roses so to speak. Plus I didn’t want this to be another one of those stories he told for years about how whatever happened (me, in this case) and he missed the shot.

So after a few minutes of both sides playing dumb (“are you sure it’s ok?” “I mean… if you have to…” “ok then…!” “well are you sure of what you saw?”) he made a quick U-turn across the deserted highway and drove back to the field.

As the car crawled up the gravel sideroad, we twisted our necks over the dashboard trying to see the steep hills in front of us. The ambiguous public-private status made me a bit uncomfortable, only because I grew up in the country and I know how particular country people can be about their land. And how they like their guns. It was probably public but only the ten people who lived up there ever drove it.

We pulled off to the side and I stared out into the field, trying to see what he saw. “This is stupid” I likely muttered to myself while he dug his bag out of our packed trunk. But while I did think it was kind of ridiculous, I was also intrigued. David had phenomenal taste and an impeccable eye. If he thought something would make an amazing photo, it probably was going to make an amazing photo. At that point, I hadn’t seem many “making of the shots” and I was curious. Maybe this is how a groupie feels?

Break on the Road

As he lugged his camera out into the field, my nervousness about private property and guns quadrupled. But there was nothing to be done at that point so I sat and watched. And waited. And I noticed that the clouds and the fog were beautiful and kind of surreal. And I wished my phone had reception. I wondered at our luck that the babe was still sleeping and I cursed him for taking forever (read: ten minutes).

That night, we ended up in a mediocre motel room with an awkward smell that made me really look forward to not staying in hotel rooms anymore. But our dinner was unexpectedly upscale and trendy- surprising us both in such a small remote town- and the next day at the Sand Dunes was absolutely gorgeous. Nothing would have been different in the slightest, let alone better, if we hadn’t taken 20 minutes to pull over at that rusty old car. And to this day, I really do love the shot.