by Cheshire Dave
in Brianís bedroom a thousand miles away in San Francisco, the wall
calendar was still stuck on July. But it was now October. The national
parks, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite, that appeared on the other
pages were pretty, but he had seen photos of them before.
July page had taken him by surprise. At first he didn't even believe it
was a real place. It could have been a scene from one of his favorite
science-fiction movies that took place on distant planets. The ground
was a color he had never seen before. It was not quite red but not quite
brown either. It reminded Brian of the color of rust, except that it
seemed to glow.
the center of the photograph there was a rock formation. It was the same
color as the ground. The way it sprang up out of the ground like an
upside-down U, Brian thought it looked like an arch. He laughed to
himself when he saw the photo caption, which told him that the name of
rock formation was Delicate Arch.
guess it really is an arch," he said to himself. The caption said
Delicate Arch was in Arches National Park, in the eastern part of Utah.
looked to Brian like Delicate Arch had been carved or built by someone,
but the caption said all the arches in the national park were formed
naturally. They had been formed over millions of years and were made of
sandstone, which is also called slickrock. The caption said the ground
seemed to glow because the photo was taken at sunset.
thought the name of the arch was just right. The arch looked small and
thin as it sat on top of the big, wide landscape. It looked like it was
about his height. He thought if he stood under it he would be able to
reach over his head and touch the top of the arch with his hands. He
wondered what the slickrock felt like.
liked the photo on the July page so much that when August rolled around,
he discovered that he didn't want to turn the calendar page. If he
needed to see a date in August, he would lift the page up and then let
it down again so that he could keep looking at Delicate Arch. Even when
September came he was still looking at the glowing arch.
it was October, and Brian finally decided he had to see the arch for
himself. He drove two days to get to the town of Moab. Moab was the
closest town to Arches National Park even though it was five miles away.
decided to hike to Delicate Arch in the late afternoon. He wanted to see
the same glow he had seen in the photograph. As he drove through Arches
National Park, he saw many different types of rock formations. They had
different names: The Three Gossips, Balancing Rock, The Windows. They
all had that same science-fiction red-brown color. He parked his car
where the trail to Delicate Arch began. He took his camera and water
bottle and started walking down the trail. He was surprised to see that
the trail was made of concrete, not slickrock.
of a sudden the concrete trail came to an end, but Delicate Arch was
nowhere in sight. The slickrock went off in many directions. Without the
trail, how would he know how to get to the arch?
saw some other people walking on the slickrock. They seemed to know
where they were going. He watched them walk past a little pile of rocks
that were stacked neatly on top of each other. They looked almost like
they made a pyramid.
noticed there was another pile of rocks a little farther away, and
another one even farther. He saw a park ranger and went over to her.
"What are those?" he asked her.
are cairns," she said. "We use them to mark the trail so that
the landscape isn't changed too much."
thanked her and followed the cairns. The slickrock, just like its name,
was slippery. A couple of times Brian's feet almost slipped on the
little pebbles that were everywhere. They were like tiny marbles.
about a mile, he finally saw the arch. It was the same view he had seen
in the photograph. The sun was beginning to set, and Delicate Arch was
surprised him the most was that the arch actually didn't seem so
delicate after all. It was huge! When he walked over and stood
underneath it, it seemed like it was a hundred feet high.
lay on his back under the arch as the sun went down. As night fell,
stars began to appear. The night sky was cloudless and moonless. Since
the lights in Moab were so far away, the only light Brian saw came from
the stars. That night, Brian could see more stars than he had ever seen
before. The sky was lit as brightly as if the moon had been out.
Arch was no longer a glowing red-brown. Now it was black compared to the
bright, starry sky. The photograph in his calendar had come to life and
changed right in front of his eyes. As he made his way back to his car,
he used the starlight to see the cairns. He knew that he would finally
be ready to turn the page when he got home.
and Discussion Questions
Unlimited Learning 2002