Chasing the Milky Way

A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise
A morning filled with 400 billion suns
The rising of the Milky Way

Carl Sagan

Recently my dad decided to sell my daughter his faithful little blueberry of a car. Mom and dad are moving to Tennessee next year so they were thinking of things they could downsize and one of those was to become a one car family. At least for the time being. My daughter and I flew to Colorado for a very brief visit, to buy the car, and drive it back to Tennessee. My sister, Kim (The Adventures of Milling About) called to see if we would like to go try to take some pictures of the Milky Way. I am always up for that type of photography adventure so I packed my good camera and jumped on the plane. As luck would have it, my niece was home for the weekend so she and my daughter were able so spend some time writing together and freezing together while we looked at the stars.

Cousins back lit by a field of windmills and the Pawnee Buttes

A couple of years ago my family was at my grandparents farm in October for fall break in the middle of Michigan, kind of between the thumb and forefinger if you know what I mean. The area they lived in was surrounded by Amish farms and a lot of open space. Looking at the stars on the farm was a spectacular sight. One night we sat out and were amazed by all we could see until we saw something that kept glinting in one particular spot. It wasn’t the space station because that moves pretty quickly through orbit. I really like scary movies and story lines with aliens so we googled it then and discovered it was a Chinese satellite that had an erratic wobble just sitting there, rotating, and glinting in the light! No aliens. Side note: I just looked this up and apparently the satellite reentered the atmosphere April 2nd, 2018 over the South Pacific!

There is a Milky Way in there somewhere…no aliens just a bad picture of me.

Anyway, back to our Colorado adventure. My sister picked us up at mom and dad’s and we headed out into the wilderness. I have been to Estes Park and have hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park. When I think of Colorado I think mountains. I don’t think tiny back roads and plains but that was where our destination led us. As we headed out there was cloud cover but we could still see the moon so we were hoping the clouds would blow over. Before we hit the back roads, where we knew there would be no restrooms, we stopped at a Maverick services station. You guys!! Their slogan is “Adventure’s First Stop”! I know people in Texas love their Buck-ee’s but we were enthralled….by a service station! It was a hiker’s dream with murals on the walls. My niece is an artist so she seriously thought about trying to go in the men’s room to see the murals in there as well. So many adventurer details! Just in case we didn’t get to see the actual Milky Way we did buy a Milky Way to ease any disappointment that might crop up.

Maverick Women’s room

We probably would have checked out the men’s room if we weren’t itching to get to our destination and set up our tripods. Back in the car we went and made our way to the Pawnee Buttes Trailhead. On our drive out we saw a few cars but it was late enough that people were likely settled in for the night. The girls spent a lot of the drive talking in thick southern accents and wondering if we were going to be harmed in the wilderness. There may have been banjo sounds. Hopefully our giggling didn’t annoy anyone too much.

Blurry Windmill

We set up camp next to an old windmill and cow pond. Unfortunately for us the cloud cover did not go away so we tried to get as many fun shots as we could. Those included very dark shots of the windmill, attempts with a flashlight and remote to get shots of the four of us together, and some attempts at making us look ghostly..the last may have turned out the best.

Ghostly girls on the prairie
Ghostly sisters

It was really pitch black at the trailhead. We managed to walk through many cow patties without realizing it until we shone our flashlights around. I don’t get to spend much time with my sisters so this was a really fun trip to take with this one. Let me tell you, this sister of mine is as stubborn as all get out and when she gets an idea on her head she grabs on and doesn’t let go. I really admire her for that! She and my brother in law just sold their house and bought an RV to live in full time. Make sure you go check out her blog as well: The Adventures of Milling About.

Milky Way!

While we were a tiny bit disappointed to not see the actual Milky Way, we did see the Milky Way we brought, along with a raccoon, about 7 rabbits, a porcupine, a pronghorn, and an owl. This just gives us the chance to try again the next time we are out there for a visit!

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