Even though I travel some of the same roads over and over again, each time I see them differently. The road I followed today I’ve been over several times, 3 times in just the past few days. Yet as I came though the lava fields of southern Utah I saw a landscape new to me. As the sun settled behind the ancient volcanoes they came to life. The sky was dimming and only the glow from behind them lit the sky. It is easy to imagine that molten rock flowing down the back side of these mountains is what's causing them to glow in the twilight. Even the sliver of moon, hanging just above the crest, is orange from the heat of
the erupting earth.
As I left the violent, ancient land the sky turned black and the world around me condensed to a small sphere around my headlights. The road began to twist and turn, rising and falling without warning. I’m passing through the Virgin River gorge. The headlights flash on heaved and folded rock. I can’t see more than a few feet off the road but I can feel the mountains looming over me, watching me pass through the wound caused by the flow of the river over eons of time.
Between the undulating road and the wild visions of the distorted mountains I feel like I’m in a funhouse at an amusement park. Not sure if I’m going up or down, gravity seems to be of no help in figuring it out.
The road now opens up to the desert. I stop atop a rise to pause and look at the night sky. There are no man made lights to be seen. The stars are so bright and thick they blur together.
It’s easy to feel what the first of our kind must have felt looking up to the sparkling sky. There is no evidence of mankind out here at night. Not until I notice a few of the stars blinking. They are all in a line like they were strung on a necklace across the sky. The planes lined up on final for the Las Vegas airport.
I get back on the road and follow them across the desert. In the distance the sky begins to brighten. A man made dawn, rising from the south behind another wave of mountains. As I crest the last rise I am looking down on a lake of electric lights. The stars fade away, giving up this part of the sky to the artificial galaxy below. It’s a long steep grade down to the shores of this lake. I half expect to make waves in the lights as the truck plunges into them.
It’s amazing how sharp the line between the modern world of man-made spectacle and the power and beauty of the unspoiled mother is out here.
Just a few minutes drive and I’ve traveled hundreds of thousands of years.Back to Blog