Photo credit: Wallpaperup.com
This is one of my favorite driving stories, so I can’t wait to share!
There’s a really interesting transition from Salt Lake City to the South Eastern part of Utah.
If you turn onto Highway 6 east, just past Utah Lake, you’ll start climbing into the mountains.
The road lines the Uinta-Wasatch-Cahe National Forrest, and at the time, the landscape was part evergreen and part turning leaves.
Then slowly, as I came over the peaks, the auburn leaves gave way to auburn earth.
At first just bits of it showing where the road cut into the hills, then more and more. Tall trees disappeared to be replaced by small bush.
And just like that, in the span of a couple hours, the landscape transformed completely from lush forrest to a flat and arid red desert.
I passed Price Canyon around sunset, and was lucky to see this transition in the daytime, and then witness the desert’s glow in the warmth of dusk.
Nothing was to prepare me for what was to come next.
I had no idea what time it was, my Kia Rio had no functioning time on the dash. I drove in silence, my cell phone and iPod in my bag on the back seat behind me.
The road ahead was long, and empty, and was slowly getting extremely dark as the heavy curtain marking the end of the day was being drawn . No other cars in sight. No city lights.
I could only see what my headlights were lighting up, the 20 or so feet of asphalt ahead of me.
Darkness reigning now, I felt like I might as well have been in space, but for the lack of stars below me.
And then the horizon to my left started glowing orange again. As if the desert’s stubborn auburn earth was fighting nature and trying to reignite the day.
Maybe the lights of a city ahead? The Atlas confirmed a complete lack of city in that direction.
Maybe a forrest fire like I had seen once in the Montana dusk? The Atlas confirmed a complete lack of forrest in that direction.
In fact, the Atlas confirmed a complete lack of anything in that direction, nothing that could give off such light, except that it was due mostly east where the sun should be rising.
It possibly couldn’t be. I wasn’t sure how long I had been driving, but I could have sworn it had set no more than an hour prior. Yet it really looked as if it was rising again.
Was I losing my mind. Was I starting to completely lose track of time on my long drives?
It felt as surreal and disorientating as that moment when you set your alarm for a short nap, and wake up, in a panic, before it rings, thinking the time on the clock reads AM instead of PM.
I kept driving, fascinated as to what could possibly be happening. But it just kept getting brighter. The whole sky now glowing an eerie orange, the desert below reflecting the same hue.
I turned on the radio for a clue, but the seek function kept spinning in both am and fm.
Finally I could no longer take it. This was just too bizarre. I pulled over and started getting out of my car to get my bag from the back seat to at least check the time.
As soon as I opened my door, the sun started rising.
I stopped dead.
If I’d taken a selfie at that time it might have looked like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” But I wasn’t screaming. Just completely baffled.
I now know exactly what would happen if a nuclear bomb were set off somewhere and the plume spread toward me. I would stand there, dumbfounded, watching it approach.
It couldn’t be the sun. It wasn’t light enough out… yet here was the tip of an orange sphere peaking its head over the horizon, and rising slowly, just like the sun.
It wasn’t until the face of the moon was fully visible that it finally clicked. I was watching a giant orange November moon rise in a perfectly clear desert sky.
I crumbled to the ground and started bawling in complete amazement, and sat there until it was well above the horizon, gazing at a moon, dancing through my tears.
No other car passed me, in either direction.
This was just for me…
That’s all for today kids, but comeback next week for more.
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Episode 7 (out same time next week)