It was to be the end of the world: December 31, 1999.
Leading up to the dawn of the current millennium, there were years of concern about the world’s infrastructure grinding to a halt. The power grid, airlines, bank computers — all suspect because when computer memory was expensive in the early days of computing, programmers cut a corner to save disk space.
They almost universally used “84” or “99” to signify the years 1984, 1999, etc. And leaving out the “19” set technology up to think that "00" was 1900 instead of the year 2000. This was a problem.
People built bomb shelters, stocked up on food and ammo. Society was going to crumble. I went to the desert.
The Cabeza Prieta is an inhospitable desert that abuts the US-Mexico border, plus an Air Force bombing range
; complete with a few old tanks to climb around.
My friends and I thought it would be a great place to spend the end of the world. On our way out, we realized... is anyone even wearing a watch?
Here’s the thing — time is completely created by humans. And we were headed to the desert because nature didn’t care whether it was one year or the next. New Years be damned.
Camping in the desert the night of the millennium, we were blessed with a typical desert sky, and a million stars.
The name of the game was, do I still see civilization flying high? Airplanes; satellites. “I see one.” Finally, we figured it had to be around midnight, and counted down to pop the champagne.
The next morning I went on the most glorious walk amongst the saguaro cacti (you know, the ones from the cartoons), all alone surrounded by a nature that didn’t care.
When we trekked out, we met a team of black jeeps complete with big water cans, sand ladders, tall antennas.
And people wearing goggles and bandannas.
Are we going Mad Max here? Is civilization still functioning? Tell me these people aren’t fleeing to the desert.
”Just keep going…” We had to walk by. Closer, closer... we’re finally right on top of them, and the masked bandit raised his hand to say...
“Happy New Year!”
Here’s to a new decade or two, full of life’s many adventures.