Posted December 1, 2021 in Adventure Journals by Jim Markel
Chris Q. sent us a wonderful very original Adventure Journal last year, which we published here. Since then there’s been a few wildfires in California that changed the clear blue skies of San Fransico, where Chris resides. With his ready-to-rock Maximum Utility Travel Tote (M.U.T.T. for short) in hand, packed with his camera’s, Chris set off to investigate what appeared to an abduction to Mars. Did he get abducted? Let’s find out.
Not exactly… Let’s start from the beginning. This is the usual midday view from my neighborhood in San Francisco.
Coit Tower, San Francisco.
Now we’ll jump back to last summer. People living in Northern California really could have used space suits! Not only was COVID-19 blowing around everywhere, massive wildfires were creating crazy high levels of pollution. So high that the air quality readings were blowing away (ha ha) the levels reported in New Delhi and Beijing, usually the two most polluted cities in the world.
Going outside was like standing downwind from a gigantic smoky campfire with a big helping of virus infested moss thrown on top. Ugh.
One night I had been up late, doomscrolling around the web, when I decided to skip turning on my alarm. I felt like letting the late morning sunlight that comes through my bedroom windows wake me up. Nighty night!
Usual view of Alcatrez from my home.
The next thing I knew, I woke up feeling hungry but the room was dark. Why would I want something to eat at 5 AM? I turned over to look at the clock and it said 12:50 PM. What?
Totally confused, I walked over to the window and looked outside. All the streetlights were on. No bird noises. Everything was bathed in an eerie red glow. The sun was nowhere to be seen and the sky was ORANGE. Unless this was the weirdest promotion ever for the SF Giants (and how the heck would they pull off dyeing the entire sky?), something was wrong. Very wrong.
Had I been abducted by Martians and transported to their planet? I know I live in San Francisco but even that sounds far fetched!
Hmm, everything on my street looks the same as yesterday. My phone is working. Must still be on Earth, then. What to do? Oh yeah, I live in the epicenter of social media and Big Internet. Gotta get some PICTURES ("Pics Or It Didn’t Happen", right?)!
I threw on some clothes, grabbed my M.U.T.T., and ran outside.
When I’m not using the M.U.T.T. as an airplane carry-on, I use it as a camera bag. All the inside and outside pockets make it great for both uses. Armed with my camera, lenses, batteries, cable release, and folding tripod that live in my M.U.T.T., I raced around to get some time exposure shots.
Good thing my kit was ready for action because the crazy conditions were gone by mid afternoon.
Neither of the red photos has been enhanced or manipulated – this is really how things looked.
Prison on the Red Planet?
So, with the help of my trusty M.U.T.T., I can say IT DID HAPPEN! Just not in another part of our solar system.
~ Chris Q.
Holy smokes… and that’s for real! We get our share of smokey summers here in Montana these days, but I’ve yet to see anything as weird as that. Perhaps it had something to do with light reflecting off the ocean and mixing with the smoke? Amazing story, amazing pictures, as usual from Chris. For that Chris wins our 2nd Place Prize of a Chica – Chico Mini Messenger Bag in Red – to match his scary story! Thanks so much for your journal entry in our Summer Adventure Journal Contest. Hope to see you next year without the red smoke and haze!
Cheers, Jim Markel CEO