Saturday, April 26, 2008

Golden Arches

“I worry about this rock. I really do,” The old fogey with the walking stick was saying. “This rock,” he said gazing up at it now, “it’s almost a spiritual thing. I worry that this rock won’t be around for much longer. I worry that my kids and their kids won’t be able to see it.”

Take one look at it and you’ll understand what he means. But its delicacy is illusion. While it won’t be around forever, it will be around for the kids of his kids of his kids to see. Call me crazy, but as we looked at the rock in question and watched the families at play around it, I could all-but hear marketing geniuses pitching a new attraction to an investment group.

“You’ll see it everywhere,” I could hear my inner executive saying. “Billboards. Brochures. License plates. T-shirts. Heck, anywhere you can imagine.”

“We’re going to put it someplace crazy. It’ll be someplace not only improbable but remote. Make no mistake, it’ll be hard to get to. Customers are gonna have to work a little to get there. It’ll be strenuous enough to make them feel like you’ve accomplished something, but accessible enough that an extended family of 10--from grandma to the toddlers--can get to it. In a word, it'll be memorable. Imagine,” says my inner executive while rolling through a string of PowerPoint slides:

A long and arduous climb, complete with spectacular views...

... on wide and wandering trails that only heighten the sense of Wilderness but without any real danger.

Except, that is, for dangerous cliff-side trails fit for the Indiana Jones in all of us.

Then, when you least expect it, you round yet another blind corner, and What Ho! There it is!

But its size is deceiving. It looks small from a distance...

... but as you approach, it gets bigger and bigger and more improbable until it overwhelms you. And best of all you never saw it coming. No photo or t-shirt or license plate can do it justice.

“Great!” exclaim the investors. “How much will we charge?”

The biz dev exec smiles broadly, ready to close the sale. “Nothing.”

At this point my sales pitch falls apart. It's just as well. For you can't put a price on this or any other outrage in the long line of improbable exhibits that comprise the southern Utah geological arcade of abnormalities. Head east (and then south) from Bryce Canyon and you’ll find:

The petrified sand dunes of Escalante

Large country estates with real curbside appeal.

The road to Goblin Valley...

... and then Goblin Valley itself:

Green River – home to Ray’s Tavern and one of the best cheeseburgers you’ll ever hope to encounter.

The many Golden Arches near Moab, UT...

and the Canyonlands.

Tom Tom’s Volkswagen Museum, whose proprietor claims to have played poker with both Jack Kerouac and Ed Abbey--and won!

Monument Valley, before sunset...

... and at sunrise ...

... not to be confused with a tequila sunrise.

Turns out the abnormalities are everywhere. All you have to do is look, and it's nothing to worry about. But that's another story entirely.

1 comment: