No need to adjust your screen... it was dark, very dark. We had set the alarm for around three in the morning in hopes of making it to the Moab Desert, in Utah, just in time to photograph the first rays of light hitting the arches. Unacustomed to doing much at that hour, the apples and granola bar in my pack offered little assistance in shaking off the grogginess. In fact, eating anything at that unGodly hour holds little appeal for me. Some people "don't drive drunk," my husband does not drive without a double shot of espresso in him. So it was me behind the wheel... for hours... in the dark... total, black inky darkness. If it wasn't for the invention of GPS, we would not have made it. The entire ride was cloaked in black... aside, of course, from the glow of the dashboard. I kept myself amused (and awake) by imagining what the reflection of that dashboard looked like on the surface of my eyeballs. Questions like... "I wonder if everything is in reverse, like when one reads the word A-M-B-U-L-A-N-C-E on an emergency vehicle only to see it correctly written in one's rear view mirror," and "If something comes running out into my path, and I hit it, will it look like a squashed, mindbending, miniaturization of something catapulted directly from the dinasaur age, or will it look like the Road Runner from my cartoon loving youth?" Obviously, you can tell I was having a tough time staying awake. I kept checking the GPS, and saying to myself "you JUST checked it three minutes ago, you fool. What could have changed in the past three minutes?" The road was straight, and it kept unfurling before our car. I had visions of the grill on the front of my SUV being a giant mouth swallowing up that road, like a fraternity pleby sucking down beer through a tube. My own yawns were adictive. Desolation ruled everything beyond the metal and glass boundaries of my car. When we finally did arrive at the gates to the Arches National Park, you guessed it: NO ONE was there. We just drove right in, the wheels just kept right on rolling as we followed that GPS as we had done so many times before out in the open ocean when we lived on the boat. This was different than the boat though. On the boat you follow the GPS all the while scanning the horizon for the tell-tale red and green lights on another boat.You watch your radar like a hawk incase some idiot out there has fallen asleep at the wheel. At least on the radar screen you see a 'pleep'... here, there was nothing. NOTHING. If I didnt stay firmly in the middle of the road, one swerve to miss a "silly Wabbit" and I could, unknowingly, be flying off the edge of a cliff. It COULD happen, my heart was in my throat. For heaven's sake, I kept thinking to myself, I have children to raise. By now my caffeine deprived husband was way past the head bobbing stage and fully awake. The GPS said we had "arrived". Really? I put it in park and we prceeded to take out all of the equipement in the back of the car. And then, out of nowhere, came the barely detectable glow of morning light. We rushed to get set up... hard to do when your only real light source to the foot path is the flashlight app on your iPhone. And then, with the same exact speed of an advancing storm, the light started to reclaim the desert and this is what we saw:
It was quite the magic show. My husband was still concerned about my whereabouts and kept warning me not to trip over the legs of the tripod- something I have been known to do... even in broad daylight.
and then... sunshine. GOLDEN GLORIOUS SUNSHINE.... EVERYWHERE.
My husband's camera was literally "firing off on all cylinders." Non stop. While I was fully absorbed in the Grand Awakening going on around me. The Moab was saying "good morning."
I tried my best to remember the parade unfolding before my eyes so that I could recall later, at home, when I would be standing before my easel:
Once the magic moment was past, and the sun was a little higher in the sky, we set off to see what we had missed on the way in.
Peaceful. Magestic. Bizzare.
It didn't make any sense.
Being in the desert is a weird thing. You feel utterly different. Small. Insignificant. Alone.
The fleeting few moments I had in the Moab were... were...
It left me feeling unable to capture the majestc quality that nature is. Nature has NEVER failed me, but I, in my feeble attempts before the easel, fail it. I had not been able to paint since. It is only now, months later, that I am attempting to do so once again. I need to go and spend a few weeks there... and listen to what it says to me so that, in paint, I can do a better job at holding up my end of the conversation.