Yesterday I drove from Rifle, Colorado to Moab where it has been raining off/on for 3 days. In the low ’80s the temperature was fantastic and the rock surprisingly sticky. I climbed with 3 guys from Carolinas and the locals who came in droves from 6 till what I assume was 9 pm. Big Bend their local, outdoor gym.
I headed South at 8:30 that same night and was overwhelmed by the most magnificent electrical storm I have ever experienced. It extended from Monticello to Blanding, and nearly to Bluff. Heavy, thick, black clouds that threw bolts to the ground every 10-15 seconds, never more than 30 seconds without a series of flashes for a contiguous two hours. There were dozens of horizontal whips of electricity that shot from one prominent underpinning of a cloud to the next, the fire produced similar to that between two or three CDs placed in the microwave oven.
I celebrated my front row seat to this masterpiece with Vivaldi’s flute concertos. I pulled onto a gravel road and faced my car East into the panoramic heart of this living, breathing creature. I literally clapped at the finale of a burst of strikes on three sides of me and above at the same time. Secretly, I hoped it would strike me car just to see what it was like. But when one such bolt came far too close, that desire was satisfied.
At Bluff, I was on the edge of its unfolded wings, the moon breaking through the sharp border where the storm stopped and the clear night sky began. I slept in my car just between Bluff and Mexican Hat, on the pull-out to the road that winds up and up and up the cliff. I wanted to return to where we had camped before our float trip, high on the cliffs West and North of Bluff, but was concerned that if the storm made it this far South, I could find trouble on those dusty roads.
The storm lost its power in pursuit of me, but the memory of it will remain for a very long time.