Writing Retreat 2021, Day Zero

Star Trails in the haze

It’s that time of year again: the 2021 edi­tion of my writ­ing retreat has begun. I booked my time at the cab­in to coin­cide with the new moon, to make for some bet­ter astropho­tog­ra­phy oppor­tu­ni­ties, and then found out lat­er that, coin­ci­den­tal­ly, I’d also be up here for the peak of the Per­seid mete­or show­er.

Yes­ter­day, around sup­per­time, Kath­leen and I came up to the cab­in with my gear packed between two cars (it prob­a­bly would’ve fit into one, but my bike fits waaaay bet­ter in our new­er vehi­cle and I pre­fer the old­er car for astropho­tog­ra­phy, since its lights don’t turn on every time I open the door). We unloaded into the cab­in, unpacked what need­ed unpack­ing, and then went for a walk. Our friends E&K were up at their place, along with their daugh­ter, so we had a chat on their deck till dusk, when the mos­qui­toes assert­ed their dom­i­nance. Kath­leen head­ed home, and I unpacked some more of my stuff.

The day had been smoky/hazy, the sun vary­ing between orange and red, so I was­n’t hold­ing out much hope for any good pho­tos. But around mid­night, after watch­ing some TV on my lap­top, I stepped out­side and saw a cou­ple bright stars, despite the bright­ly-lit cab­ins. I loaded up my cam­era and tri­pod, then drove about 10 min­utes out of town. On the side of Hwy 16A I cap­tured about 15 min­utes of pho­tos, which you can see above.

There was still a haze in the air, and a weird phe­nom­e­non, one I don’t think I’ve ever seen before: The sky kept flick­er­ing. It was like cloud light­ning, but with­out clouds. I don’t know if I was see­ing head­lights on the near­by Hwy 16 reflect­ed by shift­ing smoke par­ti­cles, or if there was a thun­der­storm just beyond the north­ern hori­zon, or what. It was weird, cool, and a lit­tle unsettling.

Then I came back to base and fell into my bed.


I almost for­got to set down the goals for this year’s retreat. Here goes:

  • Get “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse” into at least a 2nd-draft state, some­thing that I can send out to beta read­ers. (PS, want to beta read a sto­ry for me?)
  • Chrono­log­i­cal frame­work for “Praise the Torch When ‘Tis Burned”, and at least 1st drafts for all the scenes. Also con­sid­er how it’s going to be chopped up later.
  • Work on a grant appli­ca­tion for “Palimpses­ts”.
  • Astropho­tog­ra­phy: Dark sky shots of the Milky Way; star trails; Per­sei­ds; and, should the oppor­tu­ni­ty arise, the aurora.
  • Bik­ing as much as I can/dare, con­sid­er­ing the heat; aim­ing to break last year’s 60km.
  • Kayak­ing at least a few times, since it’s fun and I have access to a kayak.

Series: Writing Retreat 2021

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2021, Day Zero; Writ­ing Retreat, Day One; Writ­ing Retreat, day 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2021, day 3; Writ­ing Retreat 2021, day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2021, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2021, day 6.

Inter­est­ed in prints of my pho­tos? Let me know, and we can work some­thing out.