Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Few Miles Behind Us!

Day 3, and while I sometimes feel like tearing out my hair, our Russian buddies are here and we're on the road! Margie and I caravanned partway to LA on Monday to make the pickup at LAX (Los Angeles airport) a little easier. I'm not a fan of big-city driving, but LA was a challenge... Happily just using the map app on my iPhone, we found our way to LAX, and even on time! The poor part of the plan, was that it was near impossible to meet your party coming out of the international customs section. Sergey and his charges evidently came out while my back was turned and we ended up losing about 40 minutes because we had no way to connect... A serious defect in my opinion! Unfortunately with that delay, we got dumped onto LA streets right at 4:30pm, and it was stop-and-go driving for about 3 hours to get to the east side of town. Man - not fun at all! And unfortunately, while I'm driving for large sections of the day, not much chance to take photos!

Anyway, today found us just getting on the road and figuring that we could get thru Joshua Tree National Park as we worked our way to Flagstaff. In addition, it would give me a chance to surprise my friend Marker, who used to be our liaison ranger at the Grand Canyon Star Party, and just this year transferred to Joshua Tree. She ended up surprising me by being gone! She is on a 2 week break, and now that I think about it, mentioned taking time off for the eclipse to travel east. Oh well, I tried! Our Russian children are very well behaved and the six of them paid good attention at the visitor center before we headed out for some exploring. Group shots are obligatory, so that the folks at home can check in to make sure everything is ok! At left we are still in the visitor center, at right atop a rock...

Joshua Tree is an interesting place! The trees themselves are unusual, and the concentration of them in this one place is quite amazing! The geology too is unique, with large very flat plains, then these huge bolder assemblages sticking out of the ground. Someday when Marker's and my paths meet again, she'll have to do a brain dump on me to tell me all about it! The Park is also far enough from Los Angeles that they are promoting astronomy, holding a star party over Veteran's day weekend this November.

BTW, this boulder at the left of this image at right is called "the skull" from the "eye sockets" peering over the rocks in front of it...

Another obligatory group shot as we were actually leaving the park out the NE entrance. After that, we hit the road in earnest, getting about 450 miles in today - pretty good considering the late start and the hours at Joshua Tree. Heading north out of the park, we took a ranger's advice and took the "Amboy" road up to and through that near-ghost town. Located on old historic Route 66 there were some interesting salt flats, mining operations, as well as a singular volcano cinder cone - called Amboy Crater. Lots of interesting stuff over part of the country I've never seen before!

Of course, being the observant astronomers we are, even documented the shadow of the Earth rising into the east ahead of us. We're in Flagstaff tonight, perhaps Meteor Crater and Lowell Observatory tomorrow?