Valley of Milk
The weirdest weather phenomenon I have ever seen. Driving around the countryside, late afternoon, a hot and extremely humid day. I'm running the air conditioning inside the car all day. I have to run the wipers most of the time because so much condensation forms on the outside of the windshield. But that's normal. The odd bit was how the fog kept forming in every little valley.
This part of the landscape is fairly flat, not more than forty-fifty feet of relief from hill to dale. But this day, in this place, every little valley, the bottom twenty feet or so, is filled with fog, dense, white, almost impenetrable fog. The bright sunlight makes the fog seem denser, harder to see through. Midday, this white milk fills the bottom of every bowl. Someone has poured milk all over the landscape and it has settled evenly into all the little depressions, every dimple a white puddle.
The slopes up and down the hills are gradual, so that, driving, one is in and out of this soup for miles at a time. This slows the drive considerably, because I can't drive more than twenty or so through the fog.
Most of this driving is on real back country roads. At one point I see a traffic light in the distance, over a mile away. But then the road dips into the soup and I can't see it again until I am right on top of it as the road rises out of the little dip we were in. Then, closer to Austin, it is drier, and there is no more fog.
Maybe the is the second weirdest fog I have ever seen. The fog in Pacifica, California, surely takes the cake. Bright sunny day in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, in the mid to late 80s. I decide to drive out to Pacifica to look at the shore there. From the hilltop, I can see that the ocean is fogged in. Well, that's okay, fog is pretty in that area.
But this fog has a sharp edge like I have never seen. This could be the set of some horror movie. The southbound side of the road, on the beach side, is in the fog. The other side of the road is in the sunlight. The inland side is clear. And right over the double yellow line, there is the swirling edge of the fog as I drive through it.
This is crazy. How is it possible for a fluid to have such a defined edge? No, it's not like a straight line or a wall. There is a mixing at the edge. The fog lies on the road, it's a little heavier than the clear air, and moves out of the way as I drive through it. But out the sea-side window, there is just white. No rocky coastline, no Pacific Ocean, no beach. White. Out the driver's window, the town. Out the passenger window, nothing. Where's the Twilight Zone music?
At the end of town, there is a dip down to beach level before the road rises again into the cliff. I stop and go down to the beach edge. I'm completely in the fog now, cannot see where I parked the car. I can hear the surf, but I can't see it. I toss a rock out to where the water should be, and it splashes reassuringly.
After contemplating that for a while, I drive back and forth up and down this road a half dozen times, to make sure that I'm really seeing this. Where is a camera when you need one?