This post isn’t going to be what you think. I’ll not give descriptions of the kaleidoscope manifesting upon the rocks of the American Southwest when Apollo makes his descent. Maybe later.
This post is something else. It’s to express an appreciation for the end of a day that I’ve never known until the past couple of years. Hear me out.
Now, yes, knuckle-head tourists say the Southwest “is a dry heat” for the sake of dismissing its sting. And, yes, 95 in Kanab, Utah generally is more pleasant than 95 in Houston, Texas. However, give the sun time. After a couple minutes to an hour, depending on how sensitive you’ve become, that sun can feel like a knife on your skin. It hurts; it bites; it stings. You crave shade – far more than you would in a humid place.
The higher elevations of the Southwest, especially on the Colorado Plateau, yield a lower density of air molecules which makes the solar radiation more intense, that is, there are less air molecules blocking that radiation. Then factor in much lower humidity. There are also less water molecules blocking solar radiation. These two factors mean the sun can hurt. It means that dry heat can be hell like that humid heat. Trust me, I lived in Houston and South Texas so I know all kinds of heat.
But then the sun sets. Then shadows fall. Then that radiation not hitting your skin makes the air seem ten times cooler. All the world instantly becomes better. Plus, no longer is the sting to feel productive upon me. My mind relaxes.
I especially think about this while camping at 8,000′. Yes the temperature is pleasant, but I avoid that sun like the plague. I search for shadows all day long.
But not after those last rays hide behind canyon walls whose tops still glow a golden coral that makes you realize you are in a special spot in God’s Creation. Seriously, God took his time in making the Colorado Plateau. Sunsets here are heavenly. Other places, well, not so much.