The Joys of Travel and Life: Starry, Starry Night

Milky Way over Channel Islands National Park

by Ken McAlpine

Travel, like life, is about making the most of our moments, for we only have so many. Today marks the beginning of a weekly travel blog; snippets of life, and the world, written to entertain you, to touch you, and, now and again, to make you think. How lucky we are to have this moment. Thanks for sharing it with me… Your friend, Ken.

Starry, Starry Night

One March evening, I found myself on San Miguel Island. You may know San Miguel Island as one of the five islands in Channel Islands National Park. If you have been there, you are lucky. If you haven’t, get on the next boat.

On this evening, I was alone in San Miguel’s campground. Being alone in San Miguel’s campground is not unusual, for the island is relatively distant (seventy miles from Ventura Harbor) and relatively elemental (wind-raked and fog-swept), and so, not so visited, both pluses in my mind. Added plus, San Miguel’s campground sits amidst one of the largest stands of coreopsis on the Channel Islands. I had arrived just after a series of spring rains. The campground looked like an advertisement for floral amphetamines.

I watched the world go dark. The gloaming came on as discreetly as dawn had arrived. Nature feels no need to beat her chest. Twilight deepened, but a spectral glow remained. The sea of yellow coreopsis flowers seemed to throw back the light of the departed sun, but the bushes still stood silently before the falling night, like a respectful crowd. As it grew darker, the world lost the sharp edges of reality. In the distance the peaks of Santa Rosa Island flattened; close at hand the coreopsis dissolved so that lollipop bushes heavy with lemon drops could indeed exist. In the darkness, lovers become who you want them to be. At the very last the blackest sky bent down and kissed the earth.

How often do we stand outside and watch darkness fall? Not often enough.

It got dark. Very dark. The kind of darkness you rarely see. Yet there were more stars than darkness. Rivers of stars pouring into an ocean of stars. A northerly breeze saw them ripple, as if Heaven’s blanket was being lightly shaken.

I once read that roughly two-thirds of the population of the United States and about half the population of the European Union can’t see the Milky Way.

I wished them this.

 

Ken McAlpine has traveled the world as a writer, from the depths of Palau to the heights of the Andes, but no matter where he goes, he can’t wait to come home to Ventura. We hope his stories remind you of why you love the place you call home, and this gift called life. For more info, please go to www.kenmcalpine.com.

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