The Sunrise That Almost Didn’t Happen

Alright, you know that headline is just to grab your attention, right?  But here’s how the day went down for us.


Each year, Jenni and I like to make a special effort to catch a sunrise somewhere other than our own yard.  Sure, we do that some while traveling in Wanda the van because all you have to do is slide open the door and, boom, you’re there.  But this tradition goes back to before we had Wanda. 


The week before time changes in the Fall is a great time for this.  Usually, the time for sunrise has gradually moved to around 8 AM.    This alone is typically enough motivation to get me up out of bed in time to catch the morning rays.  We typically go to some nearby location to get a different perspective on the sunrise.  This year we settled on Pretty Place at Camp Greenville YMCA.  It’s only a 30-minute drive (40 in Wanda) so it is very doable.


The evening before, I calculated the travel time, factored in the forecasted sunrise time, and settled on a “leave no later than” time of 6:25 AM.  (I like to arrive about an hour before sunrise to enjoy the dark sky changing colors.) Based on those calculations I set the alarm on my bedside clock for 5:45 AM.  


Now I must admit I am quite out of practice when it comes to setting my alarm.  I’ve only had to do it a handful of times in the two years since I retired.  But I was careful to get my AM and PM lights correct.  I selected a radio station that wasn’t likely to fade out and I tested the volume.  We were all set.  (I did notice that the light beside ‘Alarm’ seemed to fade in and out.)


Yep.  You know where this is going.


At 6:21 AM Jenni rolled over and said “Babe, did you set your alarm?”.  At that point it was ALL HANDS ON DECK!  Picture Kevin’s family scrambling in the movie Home Alone with a touch of the atmosphere you might get on a sinking ship.  Luckily we had made some plans the night before so clothes were laid out, the camera was packed, and food was ready to transfer to the van.  After the coffee perked we were pretty much ready to bolt for the door—all in about 15-20 minutes had elapsed.


As we were approaching Pretty Place the sky already had an orange glow.  There were two vehicles ahead of us on the winding, mountain road.  The first was probably going to Pretty Place for the first time ever as they seemed overly cautious and a little lost.  The second was trying to help them get there sooner by riding their bumper and shining their bright lights around the leader.  There was nothing we could do but follow.


We made it into the outdoor chapel, which is perched on the edge of a cliff, with about 25 minutes to spare before the official sunrise.  Now begins a very frustrating time for us.  There is usually a young lady, or two dozen, who likes to pop up from her seat and stand in a manner that makes her the center of attention.  There is usually hair tossing and selfies involved.  She usually lingers several minutes.  It is a beautiful place and I encourage everyone to see a sunrise from this vantage point at least once, but don’t expect photos without people unless you’re good at photo shopping.  I have a friend who sells an ICONIC photo of a sunrise from there without any people visible.  We’ve discussed that those days are probably over.


About five minutes after sunrise I was walking up the side steps so I could go around to the other side of the chapel; you know, so I didn’t interfere with anyone else’s photos.  As I was doing this, I looked towards the parking lot and saw at least two vehicles arriving for the sunrise that had just occurred.  I felt bad for them.


Maybe there IS a need for alarm clock training in this world.

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