Friday, August 13, 2010

Perseid Meteor Shower

Oh how I love anything to do with Astronomy! Not that I'm an expert of any kind, but all my life I have been drawn to any and all things that have to do with the heavens. Yes, I am a Trekkie, and no, I am not embarrassed by it in the least.
So it was with a great deal of interest that I was looking forward to the Perseid Meteor Shower this year. It was a toss up whether I would go or not, and if I did go, could I get my wife to go with me?
Well, an act of spontaneity grabbed me last night and I suggested to my wife that we go up South Fork Canyon - an offshoot of Provo Canyon - around midnight to watch the meteor shower. We would take a couple of sleeping bags, two really big blankets, four pillows, a very large tarp, and our scruffy looking, nerf-herder of a Border Collie - Evee.
Now, last time we did this (about five years ago), we were chased off by an intrusive skunk. Nevertheless, we did not allow that cherished memory to deter us from our design. The only problem was that both of us went to bed around 11 p.m. and appeared to be turned in for the night. Suddenly at 11:36 p.m. we found ourselves getting dressed and throwing all our bedding into the car, including the scruffy looking, nerf-herder of a Border Collie, and by midnight were winding out way up the canyon.
Once we passed Vivian Park, we quickly discovered our spur-of-the-moment idea was not unique in the least. A virtual train of cars were heading up and down South Fork Canyon, and as I feared, when we arrived at the park almost all parking spaces were filled. I stressed even more when I realized the park was filled with hymn singing Zoobies (BYU students on group dates) and non-Zoobie-aged young adults with foul mouths and cigarettes draping from their lips. Great, right? Now I can watch a meteor shower while renditions of "Nephi's Courage" and Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" competed for stage time.
So, without too much hesitation, my wife and I lugged our "bedding" across the park looking for a comfy place to settle down. I soon realized the most brilliant idea we had for the evening was bringing the tarp with us as the grass was soaking wet.
We got everything situated and settled in under the blanket for a nice night of meteor watching. The sky above us was a black expanse with bright stars and the Milky Way band a stark contrast. It was gorgeous. We were warming up nicely with the blankets, cool air hovering above our faces, and a dog that felt the sudden need to shower my wife with wet, sloppy kisses. After a few minutes, Evee settled down too.
The meteors were indeed there, and each time one lit up the sky, the crowd throughout the park would 'ooh' and 'aah', or scream, in unison. It really was looking like a great night for star-meteor gazing.
But see, that's exactly the kind of moment when 'Lemon Luck' strikes. For those of you that don't know, Lemon Luck is the bad luck that strikes in a moment and at the worst times. My wife does not like it when I refer to Lemon Luck, but even she cannot deny it's existence.
So it was then when Lemon Luck decided to make an appearance and this is how it went down.
We could hear sprinklers running on the backside of the park behind us on the other side of a hill. I did experience a twinge of dread at the sound, but had hoped the city or county might have had enough foresight to turn the sprinklers off knowing that hundreds people would be at the park that night watching a meteor shower. Instead of seeing things for what there were, I rationalized in my mind that the city probably set the automatic sprinklers to run earlier in the evening and hoped that this cycle of sprinklers that was watering the park right at the moment would be the last. Am I a fool or what?
So there we were, watching the meteor shower, pillow talking and really enjoying the night, when we heard drops of water begin to hit the top edge of our tarp. We immediately knew what was happening and both of us reacted in our own way.
My reaction was to stay seated and pull the blanket over my body to protect myself from getting wet. My wife, on the other hand, chose a completely different reaction. Her's was to jump up and quickly run away from the sprinklers. Of course that meant she grabbed a handful of blanket and took them with her, which means the protection I thought I had disappeared in a flash. Mind you, these were not ordinary sprinklers. They were mega-sprinklers covering the grass with 100 foot swaths of water. So when my blanket of protection disappeared, the onslaught of water on my back and head amounted to a deluge. Of course I jumped up to get out of the way, the only result being that my butt and legs were now wet too.
First thought that went through my mind was, 'this is why I love her so much', ...NOT! It was more like, 'Oh My HELL?'!
So there we stood, looking at each other like, "What were you thinking?", both believing we did the right thing, but both standing there wet from head to toe. Our blankets, pillows, sleeping bags were wet as well. My frustration level at the inconsideration of the city/county rose a few degrees, but thankfully my wife calmed me down after a couple of minutes.
We did not want to leave so soon, so I figured the best idea was to turn the sleeping bags, blankets and pillows over on their dry sides and we would try again. We also dragged everything about 50 ft. forward from where we were so the sprinklers would not hit us.
Several other groups of people did the same thing, but they were not as affected as we were because our location was about the worst place to be for getting wet.
So, O.K. fine, we salvaged the night, settled in once again, and despite being wet, actually began to warm up and get comfortable. The meteors were awesome to watch and the crowd was still into it.
Not ten minutes went by and we again heard drops of water hitting the top edge of the tarp. This time before my wife could eject herself off the tarp and make a dash for it, I grabbed her and told her to stay under, that is UNDER, the blankets and just ride out the storm. She complied and this time we didn't suffer the indignity so much. However, our bedding was drenched and not in any condition to shelter us from the cold. It was obvious there were multiple sprinkler stations cycling and each cycle was heading from the back of the park towards the road.
I pulled the four corners of the tarp together to bundle up all our bedding. It made for a gigantic looking sack, which my wife commented made me look like Santa Clause traipsing through the park. Not really sure if it was the sack or the 30 lbs. I've gained over the past six months that qualified me for that comment, but nonetheless the image made sense.
I lugged it all back to the car, got my dripping family all situated inside and found myself heading back home at 1:30 a.m. having spent barely forty minutes watching the meteor shower. I grumbled all the way back home about the city/county's ignorance and planned to call them in the morning to unleash a piece of my mind upon their poor, unfortunate souls.
Well, I am calm this morning and have not made that call. I am however, a little annoyed that my wife made me type this post against my will.
The things we do to keep the boss happy!

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