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A Darker Shade Of Black

by Crystal Coons
Jul 2, 2003

When someone says, "It's pitch black out!", they're usually referring to the sky at night. When you look up at the night sky, it gives the illusion of being the blackest shade of black. It all changes on a little stretch of road between Sedona and Oak Creek Village.

We made the drive last weekend, winding through the trees, leaving the glow of the city behind us, heading back to the less populated village. Being a passenger in the car, you can't help but look up at the sky and stare at the stars you wouldn't normally see in the city. Even with the glow of the city lights, the stars shine brighter here than in the outskirts of Phoenix. You are enveloped in the beauty of it all, when out of nowhere comes a shape, a huge monstrous shape, a darker shade of black against the night sky.

The mountains.

And year after year, visit after visit, they get me every time. When I think I'm just staring out at the black sky, with the glittering twinkling white stars screaming in contrast, it surprises me to see a black mountain seemingly pop out of nowhere. When it's that time of night, when you're tired and all you want to do is stargaze, your eyes begin to play tricks on you. Signs warning you to watch out of animals put you on guard. You start to look for animals, and sometimes see things that aren't there.

The night we spent searching for hotels to stay at, we drove on a dark highway, and as usual, I was staring out the window, taking in all the natural beauty of the world around me. A world that almost seemed different to the one I live everyday, metropolitan, urban. In the median, stood a wolf. A big, beautiful, strong wolf, with piercing blue eyes, staring right into me.

It was probably the most beautiful and commanding animal I've ever seen. Or did I? My husband was unaware of the wolf, standing in the grassy median. When I mentioned it to him, he questioned whether I was sure I saw it. I was almost positive, but not completely.

There have been instances in the past where I was positive I was witnessing wildlife on the side of the freeway, and it turned out to be nothing more than a figment of my imagination, or some debris on the side of the road. Yet, the image of that wolf is burned into my mind.

That's the magic of road trips out of your normal surroundings, you never know what to expect. Animals that might or might not be there, and mountains that seem to be a darker shade of black.

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