Back on the road

Today I was driving up north from Albuquerque to Colorado Springs, to visit my dad for a few months. While I was driving I saw two amazing things. First is that I was headed toward a huge storm, which I could see from about a half-hour’s drive away. There was lightning and huge pockets of rain pouring down in several places. When I got to the storm, however, I ended up driving between all those pockets, so that it was very dark and humid but there was no rain on me at all. There was lots of lightning, though. Thinking I might see and hear more of what was going on, I rolled down my window and looked out at the grass field passing on my left.

During those few moments a bolt of lightning struck the ground about eighty feet from my car. To get a picture of where I was, to my left was a strip of grass between the northbound freeway and the southbound freeway. The lightning hit about twenty feet to the left of the southbound freeway. I had never seen lightning hit so close, and I noticed two interesting things: one is that at the point of impact – which I saw clearly, because I happened to be looking right at that spot when it happened – the lightning bolt created a very bright red flare. But after the bolt passed, I couldn’t see any sign of where it struck. The second thing was the sound, which was not like ordinary thunder at all. It was sharp and high-pitched, more like hitting a piece of sheet metal with a hammer. And loud. From that point on, I began wondering why lightning doesn’t hit cars more often. (Perhaps something about the engine running causes a car to be somewhat positively charged, since I’ve read that negative seeks a path from the positive cloud to a more negative pole).

The second interesting thing occurred later on in the same storm. I arrived at a pocket of sunshine near the middle, where the storm was still all around me but the clouds had opened on the left side to let in sunlight. The sky was bright blue on that side. The rays from the sun hitting the vapor-filled air to my right created a huge rainbow; and at the exact point where the rainbow was touching the ground, a patch of sunlit grass. Now, the grass was somewhat yellowish, and everywhere else the darkness of the storm made it seem grey and green, but in this one place it glowed bright greenish yellow. If I didn’t know it was the ground, I could have seen it as the opening to a huge pot of gold, since it shone with just about the right color. That’s when I wondered if such an effect isn’t what started the original fable. Anyway, for the first time I felt like I was seeing the famous “pot of gold” which I had always wanted to find as a kid. The end of the rainbow was clearly rooted to it, though both the rainbow and the patch of gold moved along as my car moved.

By sunset I made it to Colorado Springs, and saw the dimness of Cheyenne Mountain with the sun setting behind it. I hope to have some pictures from this area soon.