I always wanted to go to Devils Tower. Partly it was Close Encounters - “This means something. This is important” - and partly it was my quest to see all of the interesting rocks in America. We were driving through on our big road trip and camped at the KOA campground at the base of the park. Every night at dusk they play close encounters on a big screen at the campground. We hiked up to this vantage point that has a good long view of the tower in the later part of the day and met a guy that was setting up to do some astrophotography that night. We got to chatting and he invited me to come back for a great view of the milky way starting at 11pm that night. I drove back up and got one of the best shows I’ve ever seen from the sky.

It was absolutely pitch black outside other than the faint light cast from the outer arm of our galaxy, and I could in no way see the other people I was with. Somewhere midway through the night when after mentioning some detail of my life, one of the other photographers inquiringly said my name only to realize that this was someone I knew. Strange that even while looking at the galaxy, the more cosmic thing that happened that night was bumping into someone I knew in the geographic middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and spent the evening talking to them before realizing it was them.

Shu, Christine, David Wade and Samantha said thanks.

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Paul Cloutier

Have an RV, travel a lot, love strange places with oddball history.

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