Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Marvelous Night for a Moondance

There's a beauty in moving water that draws me back again and again, but here in central Arizona -- where the monsoon rains have passed by our parched little Prescott from July 4th until this very day -- it's a tough commodity to come by. So I've tried to make my peace with the water we do have, pooled in a handful of small lakes around the region, some natural, most not.

Of course, if you saw Watson Lake, which twists and turns through granite reefs and monoliths like someone flooded the valley floor of Joshua Tree National Park, you'd swat me for my bellyaching. It's a stunning place to hike, climb, or sprawl as naked as you dare across a sun-warmed rock and get a pretty good idea of the high point of a lizard's life. It's a beautiful place, and one that's earned a well-justified spot front page & above the fold on pretty much all of Prescott's tourist literature. But the best way to enjoy it is afloat, in a canoe or kayak, poking in and out of the coves and crannies formed by the granite passages.

I'm going to let you in on a secret (both of you -- I know full well just how vast my readership really is): the real time to paddle Watson is at night, a couple of days before the full moon. By going three or so days early, you get an earlier moonrise that gives you plenty of time to explore in the lunar glow without worrying about Jim or one of the other hard-working Parks & Rec folks locking the front gate with you on the other side at closing time.

Usually at sundown the wind disappears, painting the sky above and below your boat, as another one of Arizona's monotonously spectacular sunsets splashes across both the skyline and the reflected ripples at your bow. It's a night for kayak tag, hide & seek among the outcrops, or just drifting aimlessly sprawled across your back deck, watching the stars spin through time and space.

The moon is waxing & next week ought to be another for the photo album; care to dance?