Going to the dark places

NASA has released some spectacular composite images recently. From the Suomi NPP satellite, these images show the world at night.  While you can view the whole world, I’ve so far been staring at my home country – the USA.  It’s the dark spots that I stare at though. Those dark spots pull me in, make me dream, help me reminisce about trips past and trips to come. For, it’s those dark spots that I wish my travels to take me. The feeling is a nostalgic longing; to borrow a wonderful Portuguese word: saudade.

Stare with me for a moment, at the Great Basin of the West. If you can find San Francisco, head east to the largest void and that pear-shaped darkness of horst and graben, and you’ll land where my imagination often takes me . It’s the home of the White Mountains, Mono Lake, Death Valley, Christmas Valley, Steens Mountains, Alvord Desert, Ruby Mountains, the Black Rock Desert,  Owens Valley, and the Sierra Nevada range. There, every mountain range has  corresponding, enveloping valleys creating steep, rugged islands of rock,  flora and fauna in an ocean of sage brush, playa, and alkaline lakes that ripple across the region.

It’s a place of continental  U.S. extremes – oldest living trees (bristle-cone pines), highest peaks (Mt Whitney), lowest elevations and hottest temperatures (Death Valley). It’s a place, that on this image, is mostly dark and a place full of adventure possibilities.  Roads to bicycle, trails to hike, places to camp, photo opportunities, and perhaps a little bouldering peppered in too. So endless are those possibilities that I know I can’t visit them all in this lifetime, yet I wish to since what I’ve sampled makes my heart beat. Hence the saudades.

And that’s just one region of the United States. That world map really overwhelms me! Where in the world are you staring?

NOTE: Thanks to Oregon Expat for introducing me to the word “saudades” and for all of her wonderful posts about the world. If you are interested in the cosmos, I find her blog a great source of info – it’s where I found this imagery.  And, if you are interested in what life as an expat is like, do a little armchair travel along with her as she explores life in Portugal. 

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6 thoughts on “Going to the dark places

  1. Beautiful. I’m staring at the east where the lights are so timeless that sometimes, they never shut off even when everyone shut their eyes, the lights stay on, just in case one peaks one eye open to view the most busiest streets turn vacant and calm and quiet… well quiet enough to think and still see the lights in their dim reverie. That’s where I’m staring. Thanks for the inspiration to write that and for the lovely image from NASA.

  2. When I see photos like that, I feel so lucky I live in the west, even though being in a city, it doesn’t always feel like I’m so close to those dark spaces.

    Thanks for turning me on to the term “saudade.” I definitely have a use for it!

    • HA! I lived in Corvallis for 5 years drove through Eddyville many times on the way to Newport. Was out that way recently too, and was surprised to see a new bridge and highway realignment just west? of Eddyville. Sadly, I’ve never stopped there to view the stars. I love dark places for star watching – great call.

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