Catching a Chance to Visit the Wave

Mar 22, 2015

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Less than two years ago, if someone had asked me what The Wave was, I would have mentally gone through my personal wave-o-pedia and answered something like this.
The Wave is the ballpark phenomenon of spectators rising to their feet and throwing up their arms in an orderly and progressive flow…
the unique 90 degree hand movement made by parade participants.
the curl on Superman’s forehead.
the enthusiastic, but sad, gesture Nixon made just before leaving on Marine 1 for the last time.
the legendary tsunami that might have flooded and buried Atlantis.
the name of a Bose sound system.
the fifth member of a collection of conceptual forces that include The Big One. The Last Straw, The Apocalypse and The Cloud.

No, not that wave!
No, not that wave!

There would have been others, but there would not have been A GEOLOGIC PHENOMENON ON THE UTAH/ARIZONA BORDER THAT FEATURES WIND AND WATER CARVED SANDSTONE FORMATIONS IN COLORFUL, RHYTHMIC, UNDULATING AND BREATHTAKING PATTERNS. No sirree, that would not have been on my list. But it is now.

The Wave
Yes, this kind of wave

The Wave first grabbed our attention as we planned a trip to Arizona and Utah for the fall of 2013. It sounded excitingly interesting and somewhat improbable. But we filed it away for future and further study. As is often the case in life, once something new has been encountered or learned, it seems to spontaneously and eerily pop up regularly from that point on. The Wave certainly did for us. It would show up in a travel magazine, in a photo gallery, in a conversation and on the internet. It was as though The Wave was stalking us.

We took this as a positive omen and decided we needed to go. But, easier said than done. Access to the Wave is controlled by The Bureau of Land Management and only 20 permits are allowed a day. There are 7 billion residents on our planet, so there are going to be a lot of earthlings that will never see The Wave. We were undeterred and started our planning anyway. The permits are distributed via two lottery systems. Ten permits are chosen in advance online and the other ten are done on location the day before usage. We studied the calendar for the dates that fit our lives best and also for the dates (in Vegas vernacular) with the loosest slots. The summer months were ruled out due to the possibility of extreme heat. We also avoided the prime spring and fall months as the odds are often very high against being selected. So, December, January and February lined up best for us.

We first applied for the online lottery for January of this year. On October 1, we were advised that we had not been selected. Bummer. We then decided to double down. We would apply for dates in February and also book a trip to the area to try the onsite process. We scheduled a 5 day trip using a total of 10,000 Spirit Airline miles to cover our two roundtrip flights from Houston to Las Vegas. We were even able to score a nice room at the SLS in Vegas for literally just dollars out of pocket thanks to a $100 of an Orbtiz hotel reservation Cyber Monday deal. Even if we failed on both lottery tries to visit The Eave, we knew there were plenty of other attractions in the area to capture our interest and stay within our budget.

November 1, the date of the next online lottery, finally came around and the BLM e-mail hit my inbox. I waited till my wife was home to open it. We were holding our breath as the e-mail opened. The first word we saw was CONGRATULATIONS! We immediately screamed with joy and broke into the “Happy Dance” and Pharrrell William’s song started playing in our minds.

BECAUSE I’M HAPPY
CLAP ALONG
IF YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPINESS IS TO YOU
BECAUSE I’M HAPPY
CLAP ALONG
IF YOU FEEL LIKE THAT’S WHAT YOU WANNA DO
We were happy. We were going to The Wave. Clap along.

Of course, getting the winning lottery ticket just meant we got to go, it didn’t mean we knew what we were doing.  The next step was actually planning for the 6-7 mile unmarked hike in the desert, and that will come in Part 2 of this adventure.

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