Revisiting Benton’s House (Utah 2019 V)

I have already written about Benton’s House for special needs cats four years ago. This year, we’ve revisited them.

While the world hasn’t changed for the better since, it was reassuring to see that the people at the Best Friends Animal Society still show the same dedication and compassion as four years ago.

This time they let us help with cleanup, cat walking, and general socializing.

If not for Benton’s house, they’d be euthanized by now.

In other cultures, these would have been goddesses.

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The Flow of Time (Utah 2009 IV)

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What if we had the opportunity to thaw, say 100 years after our death, and, for possibly only a limited time, contemplate and re-valuate our life and its historical context? Would we seek revenge or make amends?

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The flow of time is a tricky thing. Can we stop or even reverse it?

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This already is an intriguing topic, but Evgenij Vodolazkin in his novel The Aviator aims deeper: How does life gain meaning? Does it come from isolated actions of singular importance, or from repeating seemingly insignificant chores?

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Sometimes the timelines of several people can fuse in order to tell a story. 

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Warmly recommended.

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The Chapel (Utah 2019 III)

A little way east of Kanab, along Highway 89, is a popular roadside attraction called the Toadstool Hoodoos. The short trail takes you through a somewhat desolate landscape.DSC 2013

You might encounter children running around and screaming sandwar! and the like, which makes you wonder whether they just toppled all the hoodoos over.

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Most peaceful people come to enjoy the landscape above and hoodoos like the ones below. 

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For me, the main attraction however is a little secluded space at the far wall of the plateau that I called the chapel.

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If it was made by humans, I would call it an intriguing piece of architecture. You can see it as a face or a heart, it is both closed and open.

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The interior has some pre-human wall art to contemplate the passing time.

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Nobody ever goes there.

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Slot Canyons (Utah 2019 II)

Escalante is a dreamy little village on spectacular Utah Highway 12, featuring a great little restaurant in the annex of the outdoor outfitter store. For some, this place is just a stop at the most scenic portion of the highway, for others the place to begin an exploration of the many slot canyons nearby.

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Our destination was Dry Fork Trailhead, a 30 minute drive away on a bearable dirt road (Hole-In-The-Rock Road). Bring plenty of water. 

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There are four slot canyons accessible from this trail head. They are all long and narrow. We went through one of them, forth and back, because we couldn’t get up the steep boulders at the end. It would have been easier to enter at the other end at slide down.

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But only in retrospect: These canyons are really narrow, and you should never make a move that you cannot undo.

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Often one has to wedge oneself through, trying various body positions. I wonder how many people get seriously stuck there.DSC 1752

Small occasional caverns let you take a break and rearrange your limbs. I found that the most unreal part about this place is that I actually fit through. This doesn’t happen in real life.

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Don’t forget to save some water for the long hike back.

Coexistence

Bryce Canyon in March is a risky endeavor. Two years ago strong winds and temperatures below freezing prevented us from exploring much else than the vistas. Yes, we are wimps. This year most trails were open, but it was still cold enough to keep the crowds away.

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Looking at the amphitheater from above in the late afternoon light doesn’t suggest that there is a trail though this maze of hoodoos.

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Descending the Navajo Loop Trail from Sunset Point reveals competing inhabitants in this sloped landscape.

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I did not expect to see forests at the bottom of this. The contrast is peculiar. Short lived trees among eternal rocks?

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The direction of growth is different, though. Nevertheless, the hoodoos and trees protect each other from erosion and desert climate.

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After completing the Peekaboo Loop, we say farewell to the trees.

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In my next life, I want to be a hoodoo, too.

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Balance (Zion National Park)

Every symmetry needs to be broken.

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The tree up above stands on a pass that separates the Upper East Canyon in Zion National Park from the area south of it that eventually drops into Parunuweap Canyon. The casual tourist driving on route 9 will not wonder what else there is beyond the magnificent scenery that is accessible from the road. We did. The symmetric tree on the pass is not an indication what to expect.

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The way up through the sometimes narrow Checkerboard Mesa canyon is not difficult, and the view back from the pass is already rewarding.

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Turning around, the landscape opens up. We are on top of an intermediate mesa, and can stroll around, even climb some minor peaks.

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Few people come here, we had all this for ourselves. Still, there are regions higher up, not (yet) revealing their secrets to us.

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Then, this rock, put by chance upon much smaller support that did not erode away like everything else, and kept it in balance.

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So this is what we seek: Broken symmetry, but still balance.

Secret Passage (Utah)

Continuing the exploration of special places in Kodachrome State Park, here is the Secret Passage, on a optional side loop of the Panorama Trail.

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It is bordered by a tall vertical wall on one side, a sloping climbable rock on the other, and leads nowhere, symbolized by the two meaningless boulders.

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So what is special about this place? The texture of the vertical wall is so rich of detail and variation that I just stood there for a while, staring.

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Of course everything is mindnumpingly red.

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This reminded me of an exhibition of large format abstract paintings by Emil Schumacher that left me unimpressed until I discovered their textural richness.

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In both cases, the fractal-like richness of detail seems to provide a non-spatial third dimension to the otherwise mostly flat wall.

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