So how does darting work? (See The Beginning for background.) Well, I go to dartonmap.net and draw a box around Utah and throw. If the dart lands in the little unavoidable bit of Wyoming that comes with drawing a rectangle around Utah, I throw again. Other than that, no do-overs are allowed. Not for me. It doesn’t matter if I land in an alpine location in January. I just get as close as I can. That’s the adventure for me. If I can’t get close, though, I don’t sweat it. Sometimes it’s raining on a dirt road and you’re in your mom’s low-riding Camry with two nervous nieces in the back seat. So you don’t go the last mile. No big deal.
But sometimes you can get to the exact latitude and longitude—and that’s always my goal. I like that precision and that bizarreness. Why drive out on a deserted road 10 miles due west of Cedar City and walk 250 paces north? Because of the damn dart. Under no other circumstances would I be on this road, on this blessed BLM land. And that’s the rush for me.
In search of these random locations, I’ve wandered into other people’s cow pastures; poked around what felt like dangerously close to Dugway Proving Grounds (where I felt sure I would get cancer just from walking in the dirt, because who knows what they do on the other side of those fences); slid off the muddy Historical Transcontinental Railroad Grade with three kids in the back seat (see Camry above); stood surrounded by sky and nothing and bright orange wildflowers in the far western reaches of Utah’s share of the Great Basin; and tried and tried to get up the eastern face of the Oquirrh Mountains with absolutely no success because that dear range has been so utterly ravaged by private interests.
Precision darting might not be for you. You may be a landmark-based darter: you throw the dart and find the closest interesting thing to it. I do that too. I want to get to know the area. But since the dart is the impetus, I guess I want to pay my respects to its exact landing site too.
You might believe only in physical darts and maps and think I’m too fancy with my virtual dart and map. That’s okay too. My only concern with physical darting is that I’m sure I would do one of two things: 1) Try to make the dart land in southern Utah every single time or 2) Always throw it smack in the middle like I couldn’t help but try to make a bull’s-eye. Hello, Richfield. Again. And again. (I love you, but not quite that much.)
So I guess I would say you should dart how you want to. But I recommend absolute surrender. The dart is magic. I promise it is.
Once I said “The dart has never landed north of Salt Lake.” The next time I threw it, it landed on the shores of Bear Lake in northeastern Utah.
Once the dart landed on the center line of an annular eclipse of the sun (that’s the spectacular ring-of-fire style of eclipse).
Once I was desperately broke, and the dart knew and landed right by a place I already had to go that month so I could kill two birds with one stone.
Besides being clairvoyant, the dart just straight up rocks. It took me on a free hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Gods (Monument Valley’s little sidekick to the north).
It introduced me to the Sun Tunnels, a land art installation in middle of nowhere northwestern Utah. (Go! Go on the solstice, which is what the installation was made for.)
It surprised me with world-class art in tiny Delta, Utah. (At the Topaz Museum, which houses a stunning collection of work by Japanese-American artists who were imprisoned in the area during World War II.)
It has shown me panel after panel of petroglyphs and pictographs, including the spectacular 3,000-year-old Head of Sinbad panel near Green River.
Seriously, folks. Surrender to it.
So, if I can keep any momentum up, my plan is this: I will write at random about the dart trips I have taken the past five years and also about the new trips I go on. And I really want to feature some guest posts too, especially from darters who live in states other than Utah or countries other than the USA. I’d love to hear from darters in all fifty states and all around the world. Leave a comment if you are interested in posting, and we can figure it out.