Our Thanksgiving Adventures in Moab, Utah and western Colorado

For those of you who don’t know, this holiday season has been a bit rough on us. In between all of the photography-related stuff we’ve been working on, we’ve been thrown some unfortunate curveballs. After a couple weeks away from home for weddings and workshops, I flew back home to Colorado on November 16th. To celebrate the closing of a hectic fall season, Ed and I had plans to drive to Badlands National Park early the next morning and enjoy some time out in nature. But our plans were cut short when our car was hit out in the countryside of Wyoming, just as we were about halfway to our destination. The trunk was filled to the brim with camping gear and our pups were hanging out in the back seat. One moment we’re making a right turn, and the next we’re being pushed off of the road by the car behind us.

Let’s just say we were a lot luckier than our car was. This car, which we had just bought back in March, was totaled. Our adventure-mobile. The car that had been with us on over 25,000 miles worth of adventures just this year. Gone. We watched as our favorite little vehicle was towed away, the backside mostly destroyed, except for the National Park stickers that littered the space below the back window.

We were shaken up, I won’t lie. We somehow got home that night, thanks to some amazing people that helped us when we had nowhere else to turn (let’s just say insurance said they couldn’t get a rental car to us until one or two days later, and we were stranded by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in 8 degree snowy Wyoming weather). After that, though, the thought of being in a car sounded terrifying. The whole ride from Wyoming to Colorado in the back of Ed’s uncle’s truck, I was sitting there, heart racing, wondering if something would happen. It was a long day and I tried getting some sleep in the back seat, but with every turn we took, my fear shook me awake.

We’d had plans to go to Utah for Thanksgiving, but with every passing moment, Ed and I realized that this wouldn’t be possible…until it hit me. This was Thanksgiving. And we were ALIVE. We were so lucky that we didn’t look as bad as our car did, and rather than viewing at this situation as a negative, we should have been using this as an example of why it’s so important to always keep pushing and adventuring and doing what fuels your soul. And for us, that involved getting outside. So we talked about it and decided that we wouldn’t allow this situation to ruin our Utah plans. We would find a way to make it out into the high desert.

And we did. And boy did we have the most incredible time. We feasted our eyes on some of the coolest views we’d ever witnessed. We hiked up to some of the craziest overlooks. We danced under the desert moon. We watched the sun rise. And we watched it set. Our boots collected so much sand and red dirt that they basically changed colors. Sure, we drove like snails the whole way out there, peering over our shoulder countless times before every lane change and turn. But we made it out there to our destination, and that’s all that really mattered. Deep down, we knew nothing was more fulfilling to us than chasing adventure, and no accident was going to get in the way of us doing just that. So in honor of facing our fears and not letting them dominate us, I’ve shared some of the photos from our trip. Despite all of the madness of the past month, all I see when I look at these photos is joy. We found our way to the place where we truly needed to be: out in the wild.


Sheena Shahangian is an adventure elopement and intimate, small wedding photographer based in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. We primarily serve couples looking to elope or marry in the western United States (Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, Wyoming, Montana, and beyond), as well as a select few eastern states (North Carolina and Georgia). We love serving couples who’ve chosen to do their own thing on their wedding day, whether that’s eloping in a National Park or having an intimate backyard ceremony in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We’re here to make your adventure wedding photography dreams come true.