Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Looking Up

The sleepiness from jet lag is slowing letting go. I took a quick catnap today and I NEVER nap. Not ever. Unless I travel abroad. Then, jet lag hits and I get sleepy in the middle of the day. That's why I didn't even try to write today. Tomorrow, I hope I won't doze over my laptop.

As you could tell from my post last week, I took advantage of that conference to discover the Big Island of Hawaii. I'd never been to any of the Hawaiian islands before, so this was a fun trip. The varied scenery of the Big Island was fascinating---lava flows and tropical rain forests. I loved seeing whales while sailing on a catamaran (sp?). But the most impressive trip was the quietest one of all.

The last night there, Thursday, I went on the Summit and Stars tour which drives you up to the Big Island's tallest mountain, Mauna Loa, which is over 13,000 feet. Snow had fallen the week before and was still there. The views were marveolous, reminding me of going up into Colorado's High Country. Looking down on clouds, seeing the sun set with brilliant colors.

But the most affecting experience was when we drove down to about 11,000 feet to the visitor's center where our tour guide could take out the telescrope. We all trooped out of the van and huddled around while he set up the computer-controlled equipment. While waiting, we all looked up into the sky and . . .took in our breaths.

Wow! The Milky Way was right over top of our heads and was brighter and whiter than I'd ever seen it. The stars were brighter, larger. And once we got to look through the telescope we saw things we hadn't seen before. Star clusters beneath Orion's belt. The Seven Sisters, Saturn with the rings and its moon, Titan. Incredible.

And all of it hit me. I know I'm used to looking up into the Colorado sky and enjoying the gorgeous star view, but I haven't inquired about star gazing programs in our High Country. We've got Fourteeners -- mountains over 14,000 feet. There have to be star gazing programs on some of them. I feel like such a dunce for not having inquired before.

That was a huge hit upside the head for me last week, standing on a mountainside in Hawaii. I need to find some star gazers here in my own backyard. And get lost in the stars closer to home.