Moab, Utah was just one of many small towns dotting my route as I frequently traveled between the University of Utah and my home town of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Stopping to explore this impressive landscape was never considered. Time was always short, rushing to get back to school, go skiing or to get home on a vacation. Now that I have nuttin’ but time on my hands I rented a VRBO cottage in downtown Moab. This great location did little good as many of the shops, restaurants and both photo galleries I wished to visit were closed, as February is considered the off season. Some shops were scheduled to open up the day we departed for Colorado. Many times while dining we were the only tourists in the cafe. It was fun listening to the business owners in town discuss the issues of the day. They seemed to look upon the inevitable onslaught of tourists starting in March with both great anticipation and trepidation. Goodbye to their quiet little town.
Moab has some of the absolutely most recognizable landscapes of arches and sandstone towers in the United States. The most famous of these, Delicate Arch, is pictured on the Utah vehicle license plate. Delicate Arch requires an hour hike up a sandstone slope. It is not the largest arch, but is set apart from all others as it stands alone at the edge of a cliff in a large sandstone bowl. The sunburst photo below is the result of trying to get some unique angle and view of the arch.
How many photos have been taken of this famous arch? Is there anyway that my photo would somehow stand out from all these others? Some people capture beautiful light with lightning and storm clouds in the background. With less than ideal light and mostly blue skies, my photo would be quite mundane. This is one of the reasons you will not find a photo of the Delicate Arch in my Website Gallery and why it is my goal to get away from taking photos of such iconic images. I am much more proud of the scenes and compositions of my own making.
Back to the rhetorical question of how many photographs have been taken at Delicate Arch…. Let’s assume six months of off season with 100 tourists a day snapping photos, and 500 tourists a day taking pics in the busy season. An average of 300 tourists a day, 25 photos each, 365 days a year for the last 15 years = 41,062,500 photos. This is the reason I spent hours hunched over tiny Onion Creek looking for golden reflections and designs created by the bare aspen trees in the late afternoon, shown below.
The adjacent cliffs if full sun reflect in Onion Creek making it appear a brilliant gold.
Zooming in on the stream scene with the tumble weeds above, this photograph concentrates on the fine detail of the reflections in the sand of Onion Creek. I much prefer the type of images I find and create on my own vs. going to the crowded iconic locations in the guide books.
Sandstone pillars around the North Window area of Arches national Park.
The North Window at almost sunset.
The exodus of tourists at the end of President’s Day weekend
Looking through the North Window at Turret Arch at sunset.
The view of the Colorado River after an all day jeep ride searching for a unique view. How can a small puddle in a rock that fills up only a few times a year cause erosion in the rock when it over flows? The answer is billions of years…..
This is a side view of the prominent peak in Cathedral Valley 25 miles outside of Moab.
Soft tones of a Moab sunset, a rock I named Split Rock
By the way, I would highly recommend the Eklecticafe and the Love Muffin Cafe for breakfast, Milt’s Stop and Eat for great burgers and homemade fries and Los Jilbertos for good Mexican food fast, served 24 hours a day.