Sunday, November 24, 2019

Lowell Observatory

Two weeks after I made that drive to New Mexico to go to the open house at the Very Large Array, I traveled to Flagstaff with a friend to visit Lowell Observatory.  All the years I've lived in Arizona, I had never visited this famous site.

We took a tour of the site located on Mars Hill just west of downtown Flagstaff Arizona.  Our guide was one of the graduate students who have been working at the site.  

The observatory's founder, Percival Lowell is buried at the observatory in this rather elaborate mausoleum.  He loved working at the observatory so it seems a perfect fit for him to rest there.

One of my favorite things to see was the Clark Telescope.  This is the one that Lowell himself used to observe Mars and Venus.  

In fact, off to one side is the platform and the "dining-room chair" that Lowell used while observing the planets.

You can see a photo of Lowell sitting in the chair in front of the telescope here.  Our guide told us the chair really was one of his dining-room chairs.  

Lowell Observatory is also where the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh.  Our small tour group was given a presentation about how the discovery was made inside the Rotunda Museum.  Hanging from the ceiling in the museum is the Saturn Lamp, a stained glass marvel created by the Los Angeles Light Company.

We also had an opportunity to look at the sun through this solar telescope that was set up by one of the astronomers working at Lowell.  Looking closely I could see the movement of fire and gas around the edges of the sun.  That was a treat.

At the end of the tour we got to see the museum where they had Percival Lowells rather snazzy car on display along with one of the telescopes he carried with him on travels around the world.  

I'll leave you with this wonderful quote by one of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams.  It's perfect Douglas Adams logic (and irony).  One of the buildings at the observatory was surrounded by these quotes from Stephen Hawking, Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke, Rene' Descartes and even Dom Perignon.  They represent a variety of thoughts from authors, scientists and philosophers all relating to discovery.  After all, "Doubt is the key to Wisdom" (Rene Descartes)

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Unique Beauty of Venice

I've been thinking a lot about Venice this week since its plight has been in the news.  In case you haven't heard, they are seeing the worst flooding in 50 years.  Water is 6.14 feet above sea level which is the second highest level ever recorded in the city.

I'm am so thankful that I was able to visit the beautiful city without having to experience even a little bit of water in the streets. 

So I am dedicating this post to the city I got explore and to enjoy to the fullest.  It's a beautiful place with significant historical value that is being seriously threatened by the effects of climate change which have exacerbated the all ready well-documented evidence that the city is gradually sinking.

It has been stated that St. Mark's Basilica has sustained serious damage.  It's sad to think of such a beautiful building being damaged so significantly. 

When I was there, I enjoyed all the narrow waterways and the equally narrow side streets.  These places are so picturesque and gave me a respite from the main streets that were at times crowded with tourists like myself.

Right now, with the flood waters rising, these wonderful gondolas are not taking passengers on the magical rides that everyone loves so much.

I'm hoping that the people of Venice are safe and that they will once again recover from this latest setback.  My experience in this wonderful city was perfect in every way.  I enjoyed the unique beauty of the city as well as the arts and crafts produced there.  Here's hoping things can be done to preserve this place for generations to come.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Salt River Canyon

The state of Arizona is full of some of the most beautiful mountains, deserts and canyons in the country.  With the Grand Canyon being the star of them all, sometimes the smaller canyons are forgotten.  When I drove to New Mexico last month, I had forgotten that my route would take me right through Salt River Canyon.  The Grand Canyon is so vast that there is no way to cross it.  Route US 60 takes you right through the Salt River Canyon, descending to the bottom, crossing the river and climbing back up the other side.

When the road started twisting and turning into hairpin curves, it was a bit of a surprise until I remembered being here before.  Canyons offer an opportunity to see the rainbow layers of rock and sediment that make up the mountains.

At the bottom of the canyon is a rest area where I stopped to get a closer look at the steel arch bridge that spans the river (seen in the top photo) and to see the water below.

Trails run down to the water's edge and I saw that some people had ventured down there to get a closer look.  Being late in the year, the water was low.  During the spring, it runs much heavier forming rapids in this area.

After crossing the bridge and climbing up the other side, I stopped again at an overlook to get a better look at the canyon below.  This viewpoint looked a little like a mini-Grand Canyon.

Looking further to the north, I found a break in the canyon walls.  I liked the look of that notch in the mountain and thought it would be fun to hike in that area and explore it more.  I'm so glad I stopped to take in the scenery around me.  Places like this make me appreciate the beautiful state I live in.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

An Arizona Mining Town

When I drove to New Mexico a few weeks ago, I stopped in Globe Arizona for lunch and to take a look a few of the historic buildings that I had read about.  The city of Globe was founded in 1875 as a mining camp and mining has played an important role in the city ever since.  Copper is mined near here and the city has one of the few remaining copper smelters in the U.S.

Above is the original Gila County Court House.  Globe is the county seat for Gila County.  Today this building houses the Cobra Valley Center for the Arts.

Another historic building is the Holy Angels Church.  Built in 1918, this church is still active today.

I see a few holy angels were looking down on me as I took these photos.

Another wonderful old building is the former Gila Valley Bank and Trust Building.  This 1909 building is clad in glazed terra cotta and is noted as the first building in Arizona to used that type of cladding.

It no longer has bank facilities inside.  I peeked through the doors and found that the building now houses a barber shop.  I found that to be a rather sad state of affairs.

If Globe were a bigger town, I could picture all kinds of interesting uses for this finely detailed building.

I'm not sure what the purpose of this concrete teepee is.  It sits in a park just north of the church above.  It looks so good against that gorgeous sky, I had to include it with the historic buildings too.