Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Am I Seeing Things?

Have you ever seen a mirage? Remember the old western movies where people stranded in the desert believed they saw water only to discover it was actually more sand? Or when you’re driving on the open road on a particularly hot day and you see shimmering water on the road ahead? Those of us in the Southwest are used to road shimmer. That’s not exactly what I mean. This is about an astonishing experience Hero and I had a few years ago. When I mentioned it to a friend, she suggested I share.

View of the Caprock from Hwy. 84.
There are numerous windmill farms along the
Caprock because the wind usually blows here.
Hero and I were driving between Snyder and Post, Texas on Highway 84 toward Lubbock. On the left is a raised bed for the railroad tracks to prevent the tracks from being washed out in the occasional flood. (See my old 1998 short romance, BE MY GUEST, in which the heroine’s car is washed off this highway.) On the right are ranchlands and farms. Technically the terrain is rolling prairie, but most people think of it as flat as a pancake, which is why it floods in a heavy rain. Other than a few creeks and a wide branch of the Brazos River with almost no water in it under the highway, there’s nowhere for the rushing rainwater to go. The land changes just past Post when you drive up onto the Caprock and then you’re on the high plains, dubbed the llano estacado, or staked plain, by early Spanish explorers. Oh, it still looks flat, but you’re at a higher altitude on the Caprock.

Minus the tall trees, this is the mirage we saw.
Isn't it gorgeous?

Only a few months before, Hero and I had driven to Estes Park, Colorado to attend a meeting. Loved that place! Sigh. But, back to this drive from Snyder to Lubbock. We left Snyder pointed toward Post, when there appeared a huge mirage in front of us that exactly mirrored the mountains we’d seen on the way to Estes Park. And I mean exactly! The mirage was so clear that we could see individual boulders, crags, the tree line, and snowcapped peaks. The mountains looked as if we would drive right up to them if we remained on Highway 84. Incredible! If we hadn’t seen it, you could not have convinced either of us it could happen. As we drove, it remained perfect for at least fifteen minutes. Gradually, the edges began to soften, then the image faded and gently evaporated. Once again, nothing to look at but rolling prairie and blue skies.

We wondered what a first-time traveler on that highway thought. Imagine his or her surprise. In the two photos above, you can see the vast difference between the real landscape and the mirage. By the way, I owe an Australian author whose name I’ve forgotten an apology. She wrote a romance long ago about a hero who saw the heroine in a mirage. I thought it was a crazy story line, which just proves that nothing is impossible.

Have your ever seen a mirage like this or had an incredible experience while traveling? I’d love to hear about it if you have.


Susan Macatee said...

Nope, never have! How cool!!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Gorgeous photos. I've not seen a mirage of this capacity. What an experience.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Yes, it was amazing. I'll never forget it nor will my husband.

Carol Ann said...

Wow, I've never seen anything like that! I've seen road shimmer, and water, but never mountains. How awesome!!!