Drawing A Blank

There are places we visit that, for one reason or many, neither engage nor inspire us. That’s why you won’t see a photo of Horseshoe Bend atop this post—it’s totally a blank for me.

I’ve stopped there on every trip I’ve made to the Southwest, three and counting, and I come away each time wondering why I’d pulled into the parking lot.

If you’ve seen photos of the canyon (and who hasn’t?) you already know 99% were taken from the rim overlooking the Colorado River, and that’s part of my problem—you can’t move around to change the viewpoint. A few feet to the left or right won’t make a difference. To me, it’s like going to the beach—you can only go so far and then you must wait for something to happen. I’ve been in other locations—Artist Point above the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone comes to mind—where a photographer’s movement is limited by the landscape, and come back with decent photos, but I’m stumped here.

I suspect another part of my Horseshoe funk derives from its location, or what’s been done to it. I’m not a devotee of Edward Abbey but I wonder how Glen Canyon and its surroundings would be doing today without Page, Arizona, and progress. There’d surely be fewer power lines to eliminate in Photoshop.

I can say that my brief stays in Page have been uneventful—the library staff is friendly and internet access is available, they have a famous Mexican restaurant where Laura Bush ate, and I don’t get lost there, even at night.

But I’m never going to get Horseshoe Bend, hard as I try. This time I walked to the edge of the precipice, shrugged, and went skulking along the edges of the trail back to the truck, looking for other, smaller things.

With all that you can be sure that the next time I pass by I’ll stop, hopeful as ever—“This is it!”—just like that round-headed kid who never got to kick the football.


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