Just before Christmas break, I aimlessly sat in my dorm room dreading the impending communication research exam that loomed over the horizon. Studying had ended, not because I had exhausted all undiscovered knowledge, but because my brain was full. In another attempt to relieve the agony, I checked my Facebook for the twentieth time. After checking my event invitations, I realized the Geminids Meteor Shower would occur later that night.
Disappointed of the possibility of missing a unique cosmic opportunity, I checked when Haley’s Comet would make its next appearance for Earth’s curious beings. 2061. Potentially, I could live a lifetime and never see this magnificent spectacle. Suddenly, I threw on my best winter gear and grabbed my truck keys. I wanted to witness the Germinids Meteor Shower on the top of Reddish Knob.
Reddish Knob is the highest point in Northern Virginia, touching the sky at 4300+ feet, and it is the perfect place to preview a cosmic display. The journey to Reddish from JMU is roughly a 30 to 45 minute ride through the rural country. Once you begin your ascent, it is probably a 10-mile trek on a one-lane road.
As I approached the mountain ascent, the temperature hovered at a cozy 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Although the first quarter moon shone brilliantly, the world had been blanketed with a pitch black covering pierced only by my headlights. By the time I had covered three-fourths of the ascent, the temperature had dropped to 5 degrees. Eagerly I rolled down my window to feel this temperature against my bare skin. The window froze shut. I threw my two-wheel drive truck into gear, but the rear tires immediately began spinning out on the icy road.
Fear immediately zapped my body as the prospect of being trapped on top of the mountain settled in. Instantaneously I abandoned all plans of meteor gazing and slowly began to back-up. Finally, after reversing my truck for over a mile down the mountain, I found a portion of the road wide enough to accommodate a three-point turn. So ended my great escape.
Although many people would believe my naïve actions could have resulted in an avoidable accident, I am satisfied I attempted the ascent. This pleasure does not stem from arrogance. We all need to submerse ourselves in moments when our life is our complete and utter responsibility. From these moments our true character bursts through the mask we wear during our monotonous lifestyles. I am certainly not suggesting casually stepping in front of harms way, but to participate in situations that require immediate response.