November 18, 2001

the leonids

Please lower your voices… I’m trying to sleep.

The Leonids were spectacular. We finally left Duluth a bit before midnight and later arrived at a deserted Palisade Head. Keeping a safe distance from the cliff, we set out sleeping bags and a telescope, got ourselves comfortable and watched the cosmic show. No one bothered to keep count of how many meteors they saw, but I would say one hundred in the first hour (1:00, way before they peaked) would be a fair estimate. It was absolutely beautiful, and one of the most incredible nights of my life. At times we would see five meteors light up the sky in just as many seconds. We would see huge, blue and orange tails streaking half way across our vision. Some tails would linger a few minutes after the meteor had done its thing. Some meteors would shoot behind clouds and backlight them. The experience was so surreal.

Mark brought his telescope and trained it on Jupiter and Saturn. We could see two distinct bands around Jupiter and the rings around Saturn were clear and distinct. They looked fake, like white cardboard cutouts on black felt.

The weather was incredible, a balmy 50 degrees or so and no significant cloud cover. Nate Bahls was stunned by our luck. We actually planned something, did it, and everything cooperated. As the meteors were peaking around 4:00 we broke out the Wooch! cheese sandwiches. Take a huge bite of bread, a bite of cheese, and chew for five minutes.

I slept like a baby ‘neathe the stars last night and it was outta sight.

Finally curled up in my Slumberjack at 5:00 and woke at 7:00 to watch the sunrise over the Lake. Josh dropped his keys down a 25 foot crack and Luke used a fishing lure duct taped to a bunch of rope to fish it out. We drove home, the entire world asleep except for the occasional hunting party and repentant sinner.

It was one of the coolest experiences ever, but my writing skills are too limited to fully reflect that. I think Mark summed it up perfectly when he said, “Another testament to why Wooch! kicks ass.”