During my final year at Occidental College, I was invited by my academic advisor to go camping in Yosemite with a group of other Exercise Science classmates. Since I had never gone camping before, I was a bit nervous about the prospect of answering the call of certain excretory processes by squatting in the woods, as well as the idea of sleeping in a sleeping bag on the cold forest floor in a tent. It turned out that my concerns were unfounded, because my advisor chose a campsite at Upper Pines, very close to restrooms and showers, and the sleeping bag which I borrowed was incredibly cozy, comfortable and warm.
We went on our camping trip in April of 1992, and though we were rewarded with relatively sunny but brisk days, the evenings were quite chilly, and we also experienced sudden torrential downpours during a couple of very random points during our trip. The landscape was ostensibly breathtaking, and the hikes we went on were strenuous and fun. We also had a great time cracking jokes while eating breakfasts and dinners back at the campsite. On one particular morning, we were all eating our breakfasts, when a sudden heavy downpour of rain befell us. Instead of us running for cover, every single one of us remained seated at the picnic table and continued to eat, allowing the raindrops to fall upon us.
The shower abated quickly, so we were able to go hiking that day, albeit on more level terrain so as to avoid slipping down any embankments. We returned to the campsite shortly before dusk, and prepared dinner. Once we finished dinner, a classmate and I decided to take a walk around the nearby area. We became so engrossed in chatter that at one point, we found ourselves on a paved road, but it was completely empty. My classmate said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we just decided to lie right on the asphalt and look up at the stars?”, to which I replied, “Let’s go for it.” She and I then proceeded to lie down on the asphalt, which wasn’t too uncomfortable since we were wearing parkas, and we turned our attention to the sky.
In all my years on the planet, there have only been a handful of times during which I was able to see such a shocking display of stars, and that night was one of those times. We were absolutely blown away by the massive collection of stars in that inky black sky, and saw constellations we had only learned about in textbooks. It was mesmerizing and magical. We enjoyed the moment, which lasted a good ten minutes, until the headlights of a pickup truck startled us and made us rise from the pavement!