Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Edge of the Galaxy

Yesterday, Josie and Doug drove me out to the peninsula where the Makah Nation Indian Reservation is located. The intent of the trip was to take me to see the Pacific Ocean.

The trip was windy and interesting. We took the Edmonds\Kingston Ferry, and then stopped in Port Angeles for a late lunch of fish and chips and dungeoness crap before moving along 101, driving past Lake Crescent (webcam, wiki), right along the edge of the Olympic Mountains (US Park Service Site, wiki).

We made it to the reservation around 7PM, but it was quite dark before then. I wasn't going to see much in the way of shoreline, I figured, but at the least I could say I'd been there.

I was SO wrong about not seeing anything...

We found a spot to park along Hobuck Beach. I opened the car door and heard the ocean roaring along the shoreline. Flashlight in hand, I checked where we were standing so to avoid a costly accident. The shoreline was rocky, the road we drove on butting right up to a huge 100 foot cliff. There were loads of rocks on which to climb down to the packed sandy beach. I was at the water's edge for quite a while, just listening to the ocean waves crashing along the shore, on the huge rocks. I found it quite peaceful.

Then I looked up to the sky. On this beach, there is no light pollution -- light from city streets or buildings or lines of cars or streetlamps. I turned off the flashlight once I was off the beach, and the sky was just magnificent.

When Carl Sagan talked about billions and billions of stars, I never realized what the number meant. With no light pollution, I could see billions of stars -- tiny specs of twinkling light dotting the dark night sky. In the midst of all the stars I could see the cosmic dust and aurora that makes up the disk that is our galaxy. I have never seen that before ever in my life. Doug called it The Edge of the Galaxy.

My head was craned up to the heavens for about an hour, and I never felt any pain. I saw three shooting stars that night, more then I had ever seen in one night in my life. I saw stars between stars, and constellations between those stars. I also never saw that many shades of dark blue, either, contrasting with the shades of white of The Edge.

Time flew by. I was so thankful I saw the sky that night. I still have a goal to see the Pacific Ocean by day, but I was there that one night, gazing into The Edge of the Galaxy, and finally saw how small we really are.

I think I may have gazed into God's eyes that night.

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