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The American southwest was never all that appealing to me as a child. My grandparents lived in a small town called Blanding, Utah about an hour south of Moab. We would visit them every summer, take day trips here and there, and (in my youthful opinion) look at rocks. We would climb all over the rocks but they were still just that...rocks. There was nothing special about them. I could climb on rocks around my New England home if I wanted to. Or even better, I could climb trees that swayed in the wind the higher you worked your way up. Blanding reminded me too much of Tatooine and I thought, if Luke Skywalker was in such a rush to get away from there, why would I want to spend any time in such a desolate looking place.
Since my youthful days, and seeing the world now as a photographer and not as a 12-year-old boy, I have come to appreciate the immense beauty of the American southwest. After my parents moved to southwestern Utah several years ago, I have visited them several times each year. I spend the days exploring the area and have enjoyed several adventures with my dad. One of the locations I really wanted to bring him to explore was Arches National Park. Despite our many trips to visit my grandparents every summer growing up, we never once made it to the park. However, it was on my dad's bucket list.
After a visit to my parents in February 2021, I got in the car and began the 40-hour drive back to New England. I decided to take I-70 and about four hours later, I saw the sign for Arches. It was 3:00 in the morning and I realized I had plenty of time to catch a couple hours of sleep, get to the park, hike up to
Delicate Arch, and comfortably be there before the sun came up. So I took the detour and the opportunity while I could.
I began the hike to the arch in the dark, relying on apps on my phone to keep me on course. Still, I managed to get myself lost twice, I'm sure I disturbed a couple of snakes in the brush, and had to retrace my steps to find the markers that would put me back on the right course. Thank goodness I arrived early because despite getting lost I was still able to make it to the arch over 30 minutes before sunrise. I had seen it once before when I was in my twenties and visited the park with my brother-in-law, but I didn't remember how impressive and "delicate" it truly is. As I came around the bend and saw the arch, even in the dark, early hours, it took my breath away. I couldn't resist walking up to it, feeling the sandstone texture, and looking up to remind myself how small I really am in the world.
I walked the area and found a spot to set up my camera at an angle where I could catch the arch with the snowcapped La Sal mountains running through the background. As I was finding a spot to set up the dawn colors began to appear and I was able to put together one of my favorite photos from last year. I decided after this visit that I was going to take my dad on that father/son trip so he could cross this place off of his bucket list.
We never made it to Arches together. My dad passed away later that year and never had the opportunity to see Delicate Arch. This photo became something even more special to me after that. It's a reminder to get out and explore. It's a reminder to take the detours when I come across them. And it's a reminder to not rely on tomorrow to experience all of the beauty that this world has to offer today.
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