I traveled with a box of books on our early fall trip to New Mexico. Knowing we’d have just one night in Moab, I grabbed one book, Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey — of course. In Desert Solitaire, Abbey describes the seasons he worked as a park ranger in what was then an asphalt-free Arches National Monument. Ranting, funny, and beautiful, a journey to Arches and the surrounding landscape with Desert Solitaire in hand is the perfect meeting of book and place. Although, as Abbey predicted, much has changed, what remains continues to inspire awe and protection.
A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us — like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness — that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, the world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures. — from Desert Solitaire