Sitting at the base of Jacob Hamblin Arch is my favorite place

Sitting at the base of Jacob Hamblin Arch is my favorite place

This is my first attempt at writing a post for the #architalks series. Architalks is a group of architectural bloggers that all write on the same topic once a month. Bob Borson at “Life of An Architect” organizes everything and sends out the monthly topic. I will include some links to some of the other posts at the bottom. You should check them out, it is really interesting to see the way each person approaches a single topic.

This months topic is "favorite places".  As I thought about what to write there were a few different approaches I considered. The first was to talk about how I can help you make your new favorite place. Another way might be talking about things that make up the favorite places in buildings that I've experienced. But the direction that appealed the most is to talk about my favorite place, Jacob Hamblin Arch. It is located in Coyote Gulch, which is in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I have been there a many times and every time it just takes my breath away and I leave feeling rejuvenated.

Grand Staircase Escalante

I think that part of the reason that this place is so special to me is the adventure that it takes to get there. I am big on “the journey”. To get to the Escalante Monument you drive to what most people would consider the middle of nowhere. Then you turn on a dirt road and drive another 60 miles south. Being on the Escalante plateau is a place that can both make me feel small and big at the same time.

The views that are afforded in such a vast treeless place makes me feel like a very small cog in the giant machine that is nature. It seems that the desert could just swallow me whole and not even notice. But at that same time I feel a certain sense of self importance that comes from survival in one of the world’s most harsh environments.

After the long drive over small bumpy dirt roads you will finally arrive at the trailhead. The hike over to the canyon is only a couple of miles, but it is on totally exposed across slickrock slopes. The wind, which is nearly always blowing, picks up the sand and whips it across any exposed skin. It is some serious exfoliation. I am grateful for my long eyelashes that protect my eyes while still allowing me to see a little bit. Also unless you start “desert early” the sun beats down. It is HOT AND DUSTY. It is the kind of hike that can make you wonder how ancient people could have ever lived out here.

Then the desert floor falls away from right before you, a couple of hundred feet below is the bottom of Coyote Gulch. As you begin the descent down into the bottom you get glimpses of the change in scenery that awaits. Once on the valley floor it feels like a completely different world. The wind and sun are blocked by the canyon walls. This combined with the small creek create a complete oasis in the desert. The vegetation is green and more dense that anything that has been seen for the last few hours.

A small hike upstream gets you to the downstream side of the arch. The sheer mass of stone that soars across the sky is breathtaking. It is here, sitting at the base of the rubble, just looked in wonder at the forces that can create and maintain such an amazing site, that I would call my favorite place. The smell of the grasses, the sound of the water, and the shade of the canyons always make me feel like somehow I have been transported to another time. If you sit there long enough you can almost feel the presence of millenniums worth of people who have come to this spot to ponder their place in the world.

After spending time in the remote deserts of southern Utah I always have a greater clarity in my “city” life. This greater focus allows me to be a better Architect, husband and father. Things that don’t really matter quickly fade into the background. I am able to spend significantly more time focusing on the things that matter. This time of clarity is what make spending time at Jacob Hamblin Arch my favorite place.


If you are interested in reading some other take on the topic of “favorite place” check out these other #archtalks blogs.

Lee Calisti – Lee CALISTI architecture+design (@leecalisti) favorite place

Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen (@archy-type) Baltimore

Evan Troxel – Archispeak (@etroxel) My Favorite Place

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA) Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Lora Teagarden – L2Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC) ArchiTalks meets #ThisOldHouse

Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture (@hawkinsarch) My Favorite Place in the Wild

Matthew Stanfield – FIELD 9 Architecture (@FIELD9arch) Ruby Slippers

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC) Cinque Terre

Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man) Favorite Place

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w) my [first] favorite place

Tara Imani – Indigo Architect (@Parthenon1) Favorite Place – Architalks 8

Jes Stafford – MOD Architect (@modarchitect) Making Space and the Favorite Place

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch) Where Do You Like To Go When You Aren’t Working?

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect favorite place

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz) Favorite Place(s)

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX) MIT Chapel – My Favorite Place

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect) favorite place: #architalks 5th edition

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