First impressions: an Easterner's new life in the West, in pictures

  • In June, I prepared for my first move West. High Country News had offered me a job, and within weeks I wrapped up my old New England life, filing my final set of photographs for my former newspaper. I packed my car with essential items for a new western life -- cameras and sleeping bags, snow shoes and skateboards -- and set out from Maine for Paonia, Colorado.

    Andrew Cullen
  • I had scarcely seen the West before, but my native states had begun to feel constricting. I wanted a life of small discoveries; open space to span before me; to live in daily wonder.

    Andrew Cullen
  • The waypoints were all new, and maps became constant companions as my friend Emily, another recent East Coast transplant, and I tried to find names for what we saw on our frequent excursions.

    Andrew Cullen
  • In the West, we found that nature and human history were less at odds than back home, where builders of the great cities had demolished all but the faintest traces of the outdoors. In Crested Butte, Colo., the sky seemed to invite itself inside.

    Andrew Cullen
  • It was easy to feel giddily awestruck in the heart of the Weminuche wilderness, where the moose wandered, ignoring us, miles beneath the towering peaks of Arrow and Vestal.

    Andrew Cullen
  • The West, I learned, is the kind of place where the nearest Thai restaurant includes big game on its menu -- except when it doesn't.

    Andrew Cullen
  • In the canyons and deserts, Emily and I found smaller wildlife, which was no more impressed with our presence than the moose had been.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Not long ago, the other world that is Utah seemed a planet away. Now, it's a weekend drive.

    Andrew Cullen
  • As my first weeks in Colorado passed by, single, perfect aspen leaves began to turn gold.

    Andrew Cullen
  • And then whole forests of them.

    Andrew Cullen
  • In the canyons of Utah we left gifts of newfound acquaintanceship: small patches of skin torn from our hands and knees, and fabric from our pants.

    Andrew Cullen
  • After six weeks in Colorado, I'm no westerner yet. I've managed to explore just a tiny sliver of the region, and I hope it remains fresh to my Eastern eyes. When those open-air cathedrals no longer inspire me to stop the car and revel in their arid, craggy glory, I'll have to move on.

    Andrew Cullen

 

Photographer Andrew Cullen used Instagram to document his summer 2012 move from Maine to Colorado, capturing Western scenes of surprise, wonder, and delight. Click on the gallery view to see the images full size.