STDNT DRVR and Sundogs.

photo credit: Todd Paris

I very nearly crashed about ten thousand times on the way to pretty school this morning.

And it wasn’t the icy roads.  (Luckily now it’s cold.  Sharp, choking, daggers to every exposed bodily orifice cold.  So most of the ice has evaporated into puffs of smoke that dance around on the pavement like the broil of the witch’s stew spewing out of the cauldron onto the dance floor; or was that just at my middle school?)

Anyway, the reason I was a traffic hazard: twin towers of rainbow light shooting from the tree line straight up into the sky.  There were multiple towers at various points on the horizon.  They ranged from a hundred to about  ten thousand feet high.  (And, while I myself wondered and re-wondered about a hundred times if I’d taken a hit, or a pill, or anything; to the best of my knowledge, I hadn’t.)

So, I’m trying to figure out if I’m about to have a seizure or witness the second coming, driving about 5 miles per hour with my face pressed against the windshield.  Which, BTW, no one in Fairbanks really seems to appreciate as indicated by the deafening (remember the h.s. physics lesson on sound and cold air density? Not just a theory my friends.) chorus of honking and finger dancing errupting from my fellow commuters.  Which, is why I would really appreciate the personalized plate “STDNT DRVR” and a clapboard sign on top of my car that says the same.  Or maybe just vanity plates: “SORRY!” held in place with a “student driver” license-plate-frame-holder-majig.  As of now, I’m making do with this posted in the back window:

Anyway, I start to worry, “Am I the only one who sees these things?”

I’m practicing saying, “I see vertical rainbows.” Like Cole in 6th sense says, “I see dead people,” when my phone rings and I get a chance to try my line out.

“I see vertical rainbows.”


“I can’t talk. I’m busy trying to figure out these rainbow spotlight things shooting straight up into the sky.”

And Mitch says, “Wow.  When I got to work this morning I saw an upside down rainbow shooting out of the hospital roof.”


No response.

While I am trying to convince him he better confess all his sins and make peace because this could be it; I see a car roll right over, like 360 degrees around, and then keep on driving.

“Oh my God, a car just rolled right over and kept on driving.”

“Ya.  A patient’s head just fell off and they just kept on walking down the hall.   And then really tall; perfectly straight; twin-towers of double rainbows rainbows started shooting right out of the guy’s neck.”

It was too late for me to take pictures of the car rolling over and continuing on like nothing happened.

But, I started taking pictures of the rainbow bright things with my phone (because taking photos while driving with my actual camera would really give the people of fairbanks something to flip out about).  And so far, the rainbows have not started to evaporate from the digital files, see?

Do you see it?


Time to pay for all that industrial pollution?

Before I sent the photos to “Inside Edition,” I decided to google.

Turns out, these shooting ROY G BIVs are portals into the other world.  And they are more commonly known as “sundogs.”  Or, a phenomenon created by the refraction of sunrays when they hit the ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere on a really, really, really cold day.  Like today:

And this was the high point of the last few days on the sun-drenched beaches of Fairbanks.

From another world,



9 responses to “STDNT DRVR and Sundogs.

  1. I always wondered about those. Every time I asked my husband, he used too many big words to explain them and I zoned out. Now, “sundogs” I can handle!

  2. Ghee (new name)

    ..very interesting. Just think if you were still in Hawaii, you’d just be seeing those plain old, boring rainbows everywhere you look & not these “cool” ones shooting straight out of the earth….the never ending wonders of the frozen tundra.

    • The never ending wonders of the frozen tundra …. I’d give it all back in one hot second to be back in the place where the rainbows bend! It is currently so cold my body hurts.

  3. Amazing……you have a wonderful sense of adventure…..and the sundogs….pretty amazing too…..but the temperature….Good Lord Katie!

    • I know. It’s just plain pain. ON the other hand, your wind blown profile pic on FB transports me. Thank you for posting that pic T! I love it. (I’d tell you so on FB, but I can’t flip through FB pics very well on this internet connection).

  4. GD, Can I buy you a vowel? I am so glad that you included the pics of the sun dogs. I was afraid that you were experiencing another sign of hypothermia–psychotic delusions and hallucinations. Now I wish I had worked a little harder in physics class. love, GF.

    • you can buy me a vowel, but I’d prefer a plane ticket. It is SOOO cold! I am sure I AM experiencing psychotic delusions and hallucinations — and this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak ….

  5. I loved this! I was imagining all the wonders they could be! What an adventure you live in! Though I know you’d trade it in a second to be in some warmth! I just loved this post and you my friend!

  6. I actually saw one of these driving home from college on a very cold day. I always wondered what it was, thanks for shedding some rainbow-colored light!