Friday, May 20, 2016
For those who have flown out of Tucson, you might notice also that the F-16s and our plane too took off towards the NW, another rarity! So had another rare chance to cruise around central Tucson as we circled around to head east. We flew right over the UA, so I caught a few pictures of "my" part of campus, which really holds the national headquarters of astronomy and optics within a couple blocks. My workplace, the Mirror Lab is nestled under the east stands of the football stadium. I've included a labeled version to ID some of the more interesting buildings. My 3 workplaces covering the last 40 years are all included in the image (KPNO headquarters, Optical Sciences, and now the Mirror Lab).
I took a lot of images, mostly stereo pairs of objects I knew. We were sitting on the right side, so facing a little up-sun, not ideal, but it was high enough it didn't cause a lot of problems. Moving at 500mph though, it doesn't take long to run out of landmarks for your location reference. We had some nice low clouds that made for interesting 3D images, and took the one at left of the Lordsburg (NM) playa, and another at right a few minutes later of desert near the AZ/NM border. Note that like the SW in general this time of year, there isn't much green - just LOTS of earth tones in browns and greys... Anyway, after these I was mostly lost in the mountains of western New Mexico. I recognized Socorro, but after that, clouds picked up and saw nothing for a couple hours.
Finally we hit a clear spot and didn't know where we were, but were already descending. Finally, a river valley ahead - I thought it might be the Mississippi, but was the very busy commercial waterway, the Illinois. Barges could be seen plying the narrow channels. Another clue to our location were the dozens if not hundreds of huge windmills for electrical generation. The fields were still bare brown, as it has been a cool, wet Spring and the crops are just getting in now. In a week or two they will be a totally different shade! At left is shown some bare fields (showing drainage patterns), windmills and likely a hay or oats field. One farm pretty looks like the next through central Illinois, so was lost again for a while.
Finally we passed a good-sized town and what do you know - it was St Charles, our "Ketelsen East" home town! The Fox River, spillways and the town's three bridges made for an easy ID. Given our distance from downtown, it was likely we were passing directly over our house! We often know the flight path is over our house with the planes passing over every minute or so, and such was likely the case. At left is a shot of town, and of course, all it takes is another a few seconds later to get a stereo pair, shown at right.
Very quickly I was inundated with clues for our location - St Charles East High School (The Fighting Saints!), the DuPage airport and Charlestowne Mall, but just as quickly moved beyond my local territory of knowledge. We flew directly into our runway at O'Hare - no circling the city or going out on the Lake. But once landing, we taxied for what seemed like 20 minutes to get to our gate...
We got picked up by Melinda's buddy Sally Jo, mentioned and pictured just a few posts ago from her Tucson visit last month. Who drove us to another buddy Carolyn, where we park our car in our absence. We treated them both to dinner and finally got home about 10pm...
Sleeping late this morning, I finally got to see our surroundings. The camp doesn't cut our lawn unless we ask, so has been so far untrimmed this year. As a result we have some foot-tall red trillium, and while we missed the dandelions, there are some seed pods left. Shown at right is a 6-frame focus stack of a dandelion seed pod with the 100mm macro, and at right a 4-framer of some trillium, both in our "lawn". It would be nice to document a few more of our "flower yard" inhabitants before borrowing the neighbor's lawn mower and hacking it all off.
So it will be nice to relax here for a bit and enjoy the green shades and flowers about to come into bloom. We've missed most of the tulips, but have both iris and peony in our yard that will bloom soon. And you just never know what will show up to be documented - stay tuned!