Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Send In The Clouds: Cedar Mesa

Monsoon season thunderhead, Cedar Mesa.
The monsoon season's thunderhead clouds had been building all afternoon in southeast Utah's San Juan County (the largest and least populated county in Utah). I was driving east to Blanding to buy groceries.

I had been driving down Cedar Mesa, then over Comb Ridge, past the Cheese And Raisins Hills, lost in thought. Relaxed. Trying to remember if I'd seen a good brand of coffee on the shelves of the little grocery store in Blanding.

I glanced to my left, and the brilliance of the massive elongated thunderhead cloud in the early evening light snapped me out of my lame thoughts. Massively pulling over to the weed choked shoulder of Highway 95 (no traffic to worry about out here) I jumped out, camera in hand. The blues, the grays, the whites; the sunbeams radiating outward above.

No wonder I live here.

So, back toward Blanding. Nice small town. Squeaky clean Mormon town. "The Gateway To Adventure", the welcoming billboard proclaims. Mountains nearby, canyons, too. Clean air and water. Canyon country.

Hwy. 95 intersects with US 191 a few miles south of town. So what? So more opportunity to view the surrounding skies. And on this evening it was teasing me further still.

A prime southeast Utah thunderhead downpour, from Blanding.
I had to turn left onto the street that led to the athletic fields. Because I knew there was a clear view to the west from there, toward distant Cedar Mesa from where I'd just come, the Bears Ears buttes, and--these few minutes only--yet another thunderstorm cloud, rain pouring straight down to make it look like a heavenly version of a nuclear bomb mushroom cloud. Heaven raining on Earth, and on the high desert, to boot. The way it should be.

I didn't linger long in the grocery store. Though it was payday and my larder back home was looking pitifully meager.

Because I wanted to head back home, back toward the sunset and whatever those brilliant blue, white and black monster clouds might bring at sunset.

Sunset thunderhead, Cedar Mesa.
After slipping back down through the red rock cut in Comb Ridge and starting the climb back up onto Cedar Mesa, I had what I'd been hoping for. Lightning flashing to the south. I pulled over and got out to photograph. On this lonely stretch of highway, not a single vehicle passed by as I savored the clouds glowing with sunset on the west side, and blue-black shadow on the east.

Photo location: San Juan County, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

No comments:

Post a Comment