Friday, August 18, 2017

On the Road!

The adventure continues!  My group of 7 Russians (1 adult and 6 kids ages 9-17) were in Flagstaff yesterday, now joined by my buddy Donna who is joining the eclipse road trip, along with primary drivers Margie and me!

We seem to always get a late start - perhaps it's the jet lag suffered by our visitors, but tough to get them out on the road before 9am. The goal of the day (after a big breakfast) was Meteor Crater! It is a cool place - overpriced, sure, but where else are you going to go to see a mile-wide crater carved out by a meteor? We spent a good 4 hours there, mostly 'cause they missed their first chance at a walking tour, but even hanging out there made it a better experience! Of course, the obligatory group shot at left s we drive up to it, with the raised rim of the crater barely visible behind them. A slightly better shot at right as we neared the place. Of course, the dirt from the crater had to go somewhere, and the raised rim is a dead giveaway. If you know what to look for, you can see it for more than 10 miles distance!

Once you step across the rim, the crater takes your breath! It is far enough across there is a little haze visible! At left Polina tries taking a selfie with the crater in the background... It is impossible to get into a single image, and unfortunately, I messed up in my panorama shots (yea, I do that occasionally). Taking an oblique shot like that at right is the best I did yesterday... Of course, with the sun so high in the sky there is a lack of shadows that makes the photos suffer as well.

There is a large public plaza outside the visitor center, and towards the northwest there is a wall with a huge window. Looking at it for an extended time, it looked very much like a painting or photograph that was hanging on the wall. Much like an outside observer gazing at a museum painting, it needed an observer in the scene. I was chatting with a woman passing by and she agreed to be in my photo and ended up with the view at left. The high sun again seemed to add to the pastel colors and lack of shadows (except the "frame" side of the wall facing me). It reminds me of many of my friend Ken Spencer who runs a Picture a Day blog, many from art museums where he includes observers in the artwork, and I get the same feel with this photo here... The view, by the way, shows the San Fransisco Peaks north of Flagstaff at left 40 miles distant.

At right, a distant group shot of our Russian friends, as they examined the Crater through scoped mounted on a platform some distance down from the rim.

We eased on back to Flagstaff and ended up at Lowell Observatory for their evening program. Highlight was expected to be viewing through the recently (well, 2 years ago) renovated mechanics of the nearly 120 year old 60cm (24") refracting telescope. Sure enough, after catching some science demos and meeting a friend which I'll write about in a future post, the Clark Telescope was indeed the highlight. For the first few hours of the evening it was pointed at Saturn and it was a quite inspiring view at what I guessed was about 200X.  The photos here were taken with some lights still on (didn't bother the Saturn viewing), and while it looked dark, recorded well in the 6D with high ISO and 16mm fisheye. The closeup at right shows one of our Russian kids at the eyepiece. We didn't quite close the place down at 10pm closing, but a bunch of tired kids (and adults) got back to the motel about 9:30.

This morning found us pushing north finally, headed towards the upcoming solar eclipse! It's been a while since we checked in on Polina's selfies - lets see where she is today... Monument Valley! Home of many of John Ford's classic westerns, it is a spectacularly beautiful place and a first time visit for me and definitely not the last! The Navajo have built an impressive hotel and visitor center facility there, and I'd love to have the time to sit there all day and watch/record the lighting change over the course of the day!

At right is a shot of Donna and Margie in her truck, that is hauling both kids and gear this week with me.

At left was the group shot - not all seemingly overwhelmingly happy, but at least seemingly swept up with the journey, if not the trip!

Finally we had to move onwards. My friend Melanie, is Navajo, and gave me a few hints of what to look for. One of the kids bought a photo at the gift shop of "Gump Hill", a scene in "Forrest Gump" that shows what appears to be a 10 mile long road terminating with an impressive set of stonework in the background. She said to look for it about 13 miles into Utah. Well, we got there and didn't see it, then finally notice it was behind me - we had just driven through it! Perhaps you recognize it, perhaps not... People were stopping and photographing each other in the middle of the highway - in this photo at right, I chose to photograph them. I noticed the woman's blouse and for all the world looked like she was starring in a slasher movie with a blood-soaked shirt. I even told her that as she walked past me, but then noticed the flower motif. I think she was taken aback at my slasher comment, ignoring the compliment I eventually paid!

We continued up through Utah, skipping Arches National Park because of time, through Moab and ended up in Grand Junction, CO. One more full day of driving to ge to the eclipse path!

1 comment:

Vladimir Lobov said...

Hi, Dean! Thank you very much for detailed description of travelling. And especially for photos! Please, take your photo with our Russian group.