Thanks to the cloudy weather, it’s time for the next installment of “Mari’s Got The Feels”. The last time we had similar weather I wrote an article about the Little Prince. I don’t know what it is about cloudy weather, but it just brings out the absolute sap in me. In preparation for the writing of this, I went down the street to IW Coffee*, grabbed a gluten-free banana nut muffin, came home, turned on the heater, wrapped myself up in blankets, and put on the most sap-tastic hipster bullshit I could find on Spotify (see: most played playlist).

This is my process.

This is the muffin. Yes, that’s it. The one you just read about.

I’m reading The Martian (for the upteenth time) and so space related things have been on my mind lately. I was sitting here at home thinking, “man, it’s been awhile since I’ve looked at some stars. Like really looked and just enjoyed them.” I sent a message to a buddy, just mentioning I wanted to see some stars. Cut to exactly 50 minutes later, we are in the car.

Adventure time! This wasn’t about stars though. I was told that we’d just be cruising up and down 111 for fun, which is also great. Driving is relaxing, and at this time of night, there wouldn’t be much traffic. It was 8pm, so snowbirds had been asleep for hours already. So we’re cruisin’, windows open, letting the cool air in, listening to some pretty decent driving music. Eventually we end up in the outskirts of Palm Springs, on some random dark road out in the middle of the desert with nothing around. Or so I thought. I get out of the car, look around, and holy cow! THE STARS!

Now, I don’t know what your little pleasures in life are, but mine are simple. Extra hot/crispy fries from Del Taco or McDonald’s, discovering a fun new song, brand new Sharpies, and unexpected adventures. This would be categorized as the latter. I’m not talking a major out-of-town adventure, but rather something I didn’t think I’d be doing an hour earlier while I was melted into the couch watching Will & Grace in pajamas.

This view, let me tell you, was spectacular! I enjoyed every second of it. Nothing makes you feel smaller and more insignificant than staring at the stars*.

I’d like to think the stars were watching me as closely as I was watching them.

Oh god, that was cheesy, but totally leaving it.

It was cold so we got back into the car, opened the moonroof and sunroof, and all of a sudden I understood their purposes! Being able to sit in a warm car, with the seats leaning back, while also being able to look at the stars is next level cool! I know that’s like, the whole point, but this was mind blowing last night, mmmk? I busted out the SkyView app to make sense of what it was I was looking at. (Fun fact: A day on Saturn is only about 11 hours. WHAT!? For a fun little activity, head over here.

Having the app handy was pretty neat. It was chock full of fun facts, trajectory information, and neat augmented reality illustrations of the constellations, clearly outlining their locations in the night sky. It sort of took away from the whole isolation/beauty thing, but it was only for a few minutes to settle a debate about a cluster of stars.

After all that, we drove through a train crossing and, in the distance, saw that there was one approaching. Parked nearby (far enough away from the tracks) and got out again. This time to see the train. It came into view slowly, the safety arms came down, lights flashing, the “ding ding ding” bell ringing. Up until this point, I had never seen a local train pass by so closely. Reddit gifs and videos have only shown me that nothing great happens when you get close to a train. But that also comes down to me clicking on some questionable things. This wasn’t one of those incidents. The train started slow, then by the end of it had picked up speed. Even watching a train go by was poetic, in a way. I have no idea who that conductor was, or where he was cruising in from, but he is part of last night’s memories FOR-EV-ER. Forever remembered as the conductor that didn’t wave back. Not that anyone is royally cheesed about it or anything.

It was an unexpectedly fun night. Driving, music, talking, a gazillion stars, a train, and good company.

What are the little things that put a smile on your face? I would love to hear what the Coachella Valley has to say.

Also, thank you for reading these things I write. Casey gets everything from Arby’s love rants, letters to bugs, food related nonsense, and still keeps me around.

Editor’s note: this is true.  Also Arby’s sucks.

*For those of you with gluten probs, IW Coffee has the best gluten free muffins around. They are fantastic. If IW Coffee would like to sponsor my writing sessions with muffins, I am more than up for it. (Currently not sponsored by any type of baked good)

*Alternate sentence that didn’t quite fit the tone of the story, but was thoroughly debated: Staring at the stars really makes me feel like such an insignificant piece of shit.

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