Let’s face it, visiting landmarks on your travels can sometimes be as interesting as everything in life. Sometimes things seem so easy until you begin the trek itself. Here’s the scenario. You see a picture in a magazine, you see others posing for keepsakes and that soon becomes your goal. The goal is obviously attainable as the pictures suggest and it almost becomes the singular goal that your trip is sandwiched around. At the point you finally arrive in your destination, you soon realize that if the trip doesn’t contain this one moment, it is lost.

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Easy Walk to Delicate Arch?

Such are many trips that are both concocted through the pages of a magazine or the many google images that you flip through on a dinner-induced pre-bedtime coma. If they can do it, so can I. Our family was recently a casualty of this exact obstacle as we made the final venture into Arches National Park in Utah. Everything we saw, read or otherwise showed this beautiful arch that represented everything Utah, Delicate Arch. It’s even the image on their license plate as well as every souvenir between Salt Lake City and Moab. With a prominence so vast and known, certainly a photo-op is not only possible, but probable.

And then you get subtly reminded that all is not as it seems. From the below lookout point, the Arch seems, not only small, but quite tame in terms of visiting. The description from the National Park Service website quotes Delicate Arch trail as :

Open slickrock with no shade. The first half mile is a well-defined trail. Follow the rock cairns. The trail climbs steadily and levels out toward the top of this rock face. Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail traverses a narrow rock ledge for about 200 yards (183 m).

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It’s Rock and It’s Slick, So I Guess Slickrock?

The Empty Arch

It’s as if that last sentence didn’t even ring in that hollowed out brain of mine. Narrow rock ledge. Even slickrock didn’t grab me, but it did my wife. Any rock that is slick can’t be good. We’re not geologists, but I did spend some late hours in lab years ago. I think it was geology? Only that wasn’t the treacherous part. Smiling as we approached the arch, I realized that we were in the company of at least 40 per so people. Only at the base of the arch, there was no one. It may have had something to do with the steep toilet bowl-shaped drop off that was between all of us and the perfect photo. Somehow, we make it, but the kids stay behind, one, involuntarily, to take the glorious photo that may soon become a holiday card…or get lost in the 20,000 photos under the pc sun.

Worth the Risk?

We’re not ones for taking risks, but this story and the many others that are not told represent what we travelers seem in life, and that is growth. Growth in who we are and what we want to achieve in life. The drive that feeds us through travel is one that fulfills a desire. Such is a desire to be at the base of an arch for a two second pose. It wasn’t that we felt the need to do something risky or have the unfortunate episode of having our kids watch our demise into a toilet bowl¬†chasm. It was more that we wanted to be a part of a scene, a moment. Our moment, on our travels in our lives. It was our magazine. But we don’t have to read it, we were there.

Live within your means, travel beyond them!