Here is the transcription of my voice-recorded guidebook entry for Arches National Park, written in July, and dedicated to Wilma, who I bet would have wanted to be there, but who couldn't for the reason that she died last December. We had always wanted to drive out west in a big camper, to just see the things that are to be seen. And then we couldn't, so I went and decided to make a series of recordings to accompany the pictures that I took. Anyway, here it is:
Wow! [huff] Well I'll tell you. Wait is this recording? Yep, yes it is [huff]. Okay! Well, maybe you haven't hiked up the kind of surprisingly long and steep and un-railed path to Delicate Arch -- with no water, under the dry Utah -- or Utahn as, I guess, Utahns say -- on a day when you forgot to fill your water bottle at the gas station outside the park, surrounded by about a thousand adorable, but I'll admit [huff], a bit gregarious, shall we say, schoolchildren. But if you haven't, wow! You're missing out.
[30-second pause, sniff, huff]
Because in the moment when you crest that last steep upward push and come upon the vista -- and, of course, after fumbling with your bag to get out the inhaler, and priming it, [shaking sound, like a ball bearing in a plastic bottle] and then pumping it once or twice and inhaling deeply [puff puff], and feeling the blood return to your brain -- wow.
[12 second pause, wind, some huffs]
The red rocks stretch out everywhere, and the sky stretches out everywhere too. But right in the middle of the whole thing, shebangaroo! Ha! Ha! There's that stone arch -- immense and, well, graceful somehow, like a dancer on its toes. [Oh excuse me. What a beautiful day no? Such a beaut-- okay have a nice time!] And then you read the placards about sandstone and the passing of time, the wind, the abrasive dust, the monsoon downpours in what looks like a bone dry place, more wind. And you'll have a moment to pause and think about how small everything is.
[Around a 30 second pause, and a cough, and a kind of whimper. Gosh I make some weird noises I guess. It's kind of hard to believe that it's me. Anyway].
Yeah, sure, at the same time, other feelings can start to creep in at the [huff, cough], at the margins. Honestly, I'm not one to find even the disappointing parts of life's journey to be all that disappointing. I'll just mention that. Because I don't want [sniff]. Well I don't want to make this whole thing about Wilma not being here, you know? It's a celebration. A hundred days in and here I am.
Amazing. It just. Well it's amazing. I'm going to walk on down to it. Here I go.
[Wind, some grunts. Hi there. Oh. Well. Hola! I guess. Ha ha. Co-mo está? Okay. Okay adios then, amigos. More wind, two grunts].
So a little bit of a treacherous walk. Surprised they don't have stairs here. Anyway, I'm at the bottom here now, and wow! Double wow! You can get just right up to it and look up. And it's, well. It's about twenty degrees cooler in the shade of the rock. I didn't know you could just walk straight on up to it. Let's see what it feels like. [Sound like rubbing a dusty surface]. Well it feels. Wow. It feels, well. Like a rock to be honest. Like a rock that's cool to the touch. But just to think about it being this rock. Such an old rock and a rock that brings so many people together. That's the source of the wow, I think.d
A little close to the edge too, ha. Ha. A little dizzy here, just looking. Not going to look down that again. Ha. Nope. Going to keep my eyes up.
[60-second pause, wind, sniff].
I don't know actually. I think it would have been helpful to have Wilma here to describe things a little clearer. Though I think maybe she would have been a little miffed by it, just to be honest. All these people here gaping at a rock. Maybe she would have rolled her eyes a little bit at their hiking gear. Ha! Look at these backpacks. Babies in them with floopy hats. It's too hot for these little ones. And these boots.
Wilma would never be mean about it, but maybe just. I don't know. Maybe she'd doubt that it merited all the fuss. She'd probably say something like "Well, it's definitely a pretty rock." Which would be hard to deny. And we'd stand here in silence and look at it, I guess.
So I'm going to walk under the arch and take a look. A little steep, so I'm going to be -- ha -- well, I'll tell you my heart is really going. Whoo. Wow. Definitely Wilma wouldn't have liked this one bit.
[20-second pause]. Okay well. I looked down into the canyon there and I can tell you -- whoo boy -- my palms are sweating. Not planning on joining Wilma up there today! Ha. No sir. She'd be so mad if I fell in like that.
[120-second pause, with wind and some scattered huffs. It was really hot and steep to get back to the overlook point at the top of the slope].
Well anyway, here I am, back at the top for one more [huff] look. I'll take a quick picture. And. There we. Nope, out of focus. Okay one more time. Good. A picture for the road.
[15-second pause]. Well Wilma, that was the Delicate Arch. I made it for you. It's a big rock. It is impressive and cool to the touch, and feels like a rock that is historically important. And it makes me [5-second pause], of course it makes me think of you. As do most things, still, of course. [Hi there. Hi. Yes of course, I'm fine. Thanks! Enjoy the rock. The Arch. Enjoy the Arch. It's cool to the touch, you know.]
Well, but anyway. There it is. Wilma, I love you honey. I made it here, and I'll keep going. And to my listeners, keep enjoying, and I'll check in soon.