Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

Brilliant, colorful sunset behind leaf-less trees in winter

Throughout the month of January, WordPress is sending participating bloggers a writing prompt each day. It’s a way to find some creative inspiration and perhaps make connections with other bloggers. My entries in this blogging challenge will appear here under the tag #bloganuary.

I live on top of a hill, but there are too many trees to the west of my house to afford a clear view of the western horizon. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy an early evening color display some days–there are times when I am drawn to my back door by a brilliant orange-red sky-fire that shines through a break in the trees and lights up the whole west side of my house. We fare a bit worse for sunrises, as there are even more obstructions to the east.

But the nearest place where we can watch the sorts of spectacular sunrises that seem to be quite common in our state is the south end of the dam at Clinton Lake, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir, about a 15-minute drive from our house. The dam runs roughly north and south, about 1.75 miles end-to-end. As you approach from the north, the road curves and descends between trees on either side, finally breaking into the open at the dam itself, and it’s a straight line almost 2 miles from there to the other end. Just before you reach the south end of the dam, the shoulder on the left side of the road is wide enough for several cars to park on the left side of the road. It’s the perfect spot because there is a clear view nearly all the way to the western end of the lake.

Don’t just look at the sunset through the window of your car as you drive by–stop, park, and get out of your car and let the broad expanse of the sky surround you as you face the western horizon.

A sunset is a fleeting thing. The luminous, fluorescent colors that radiate across the sky are constantly changing as the sun drops slowly past the horizon. I’ve seen some beautiful sunset photographs and I’ve seen some beautiful sunset paintings, but none can adequately capture the quality and brilliance of the light, the hues and tints of solar color as it filters through the earth’s atmosphere at a tangent and then disappears.

And I’m not sure I have mentioned this, but the sunsets in Kansas are like no other sunsets I’ve ever seen anywhere else.

[Photo: Doug Heacock, 12/13/2012]

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