Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring Creeps Northward

I will need to keep sharing vacation pictures to remind myself that it was worth it as I work a string of 10-hour days to catch up at work.
The second 12-hour day of the drive home was uneventful. We left Barstow at 5:30 a.m. in order to be home before dark. Another snow storm was predicted over the Siskiyous and we wanted to beat it.
 As we drove north through California's central valley we noted that the almonds trees that had been barren 2.5 weeks before are now in bloom. At one quick stop in the midst of orange groves, the scent filled the air and made me want to stay.

Wild mustard is dotting the fields.

Back at home, while the trees are still bare the daffodils are blooming. Spring will come.

 I just have to remember that through the fog.

Monday, February 22, 2010

But it was supposed to be a desert vacation

Tom's under the weather, so we are just heading home instead of stopping to visit more. Speaking of weather: I should have checked it before we ventured out today. Had I done so, we would have gone south and taken I-10 rather than 40.
We hit snow about 1/2 hour after leaving Albuquerque. Snow which got progressively worse. I stopped for gas about an hour into the trip and we debated turning around. But I didn't want to chicken out, so forged on. As it turns out, we could have doubled back and not lost time. The traffic on the freeway was going about 20 mph, following semis breaking through and making ruts for the rest of us.

We had to pull off an exit one time and clean the ice off the windshield and wipers. Then we (and most everybody else) pulled off at a Pilot truck stop (above). That gave us a chance to pick up some de-icer.

Tom drove from the Pilot though Gallup, to Holbrook, Arizona. I snapped this picture just past the truck stop. We had seen a couple of other accidents (one an upside-down suv in the median) before the stop.  Since I was driving, I couldn't get those shots.

I took over the wheel again in Holbrook for the remainder of the drive. Climbing up from Winslow to Flagstaff things got interesting again.  Above picture was taken while getting gas in Flagstaff.  The next two were taken going down the hill after Flag.  Note blowing snow.
Note also the "Closed" sign on the rest area.  Every one of the rest areas on I-40 in Arizona was closed.  Come to think of it almost every rest area on any road in Arizona was closed.  And the Arizona roads are in horrible shape.  Tom says it's because all of the funds set aside for roads have been spent on buidling roads to new subdivisions in Phoenix which are either empty or full of unsold houses.
Out of the snow and back in California, we are in Barstow tonight.  Another 12 hours of driving tomorrow (fingers crossed) to get home.  In all we lost 2.5 hours of travel time today due to the weather.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'd Rather be Birding

Pictures from the Bosque del Apache, New Mexico.

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Not bad for a "point and shoot" pocket-sized camera.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Real Science

Ok, I admit it: I'm a geek.  Fortunately (for both of us) I married another geek.  Also fortunately, geekiness is cooler now at 57 than it was at 17.
Wait . . .
. . . what?       It's not?      Are you sure?
Well anyway . . . one of the "absolutely had to go" places in New Mexico was the Very Large Array. Remember Contact?  Carl Sagan was my geek hero just as Molly Ivins was my political hero.  Jodie Foster isn't too bad, either.

Except for the VLA, this would be the absolute middle of nowhere.  The Plains of San Augustin, to the west and high above the town of Socorro.  I might mention that it was also Very Large Cold and Very Large Windy.  The dishes were in their "close formation". At other times they may be spread out at a diameter of up to 13 miles.

The diameter of each dish is 25 meters (82 feet).  If pointed straight up, each would be 29 meters (94 feet) tall, and each weighs about 235 tons.
The dishes are moved from place to place on special railroad tracks.
Are they beautiful?  Right up there with windmills.
My souvenir t-shirt:
Maybe it's a shirt that only a former math major could love . . .
But I sure wish I could wear it to work.

Science Fiction

While on vacation, we visited for the first time . . .
 Umm, yeah.

Did we visit the UFO museum?
Of course we did.  See, I even got a little badge to wear.
I didn't take a lot of pictures inside the museum, though I think that Tom got a few more.
But if you click on this picture, you can have a virtual tour of the entire place.
Am I convinced?  No.  I left even more skeptical than I was when I entered.   I am convinced that some sort of debris was found and that there was certainly a US Military/Government cover-up.

And some of the reasons listed for a coverup make sense.  To make the text more clear:
1. “…mass produce the … new technology revealed by the wreckage of the flying discs … Rule 1 for security is that you can’t tell your friends anything without also telling your enemies. Opening the files would give competitors access to the new technology.”
2. “…constant worry would be penetration of the research work by enemy spies and fear that they might discover the mode of propulsion or other new weapons technologies based on their own crashed saucer recoveries before we did… We don’t want them to know we know they know.”
3. “If the public learned that other intelligent life was actually coming to our planet, many of our social institutions would be disrupted…Perhaps most important from a political viewpoint, younger members of society, especially those who grew up with the space program, would push for a new view of ourselves. Instead of thinking…Americans, Canadians, Peruvians, French or Chinese, they would start to think of themselves as earthlings…As idyllic as this sounds, I know of no government that wants its citizens to owe their primary allegiance to the planet instead of to the nation…The biggest fear of anybody in power… is losing that power…National governments do not want their subjects to have a planet wide orientation.”
4. “…religious groups would be…disturbed by any announcement that humans are not alone, even though this is presumed to be true by many Eastern religions…others might have a problem with the theological implications of extraterrestrial life…any advance civilization would investigate biology as well as the physical sciences…understanding genetics…aging…controlling disease…suggestion that their members would live proportionately much longer than earthlings…Religion is a major influence on the lives and behavior of hundreds of millions of earthlings…You can’t just take away an article of faith without replacing it with something else.”
5. “There might well be economic discombobulation brought about by even the mildest announcement of the most peaceful of alien visitations…[could] soon be new methods of energy production, ground transport, air transport, communications, medicine, computers,…but which of the old buggy whip manufacturers would build the new systems and which would fade into oblivion? Uncertainty is the enemy of the stock market.”
6. “The government may know things about the aliens that are truly terrible…very-high-level security clearances and access to such…secrets may well believe that since they know more than the public does, they must make the choices for us ignorant beings…”
The problem for me is that the most credible source was the sheep-farmer who found debris which he took into town several days later. I truly believe that he found unknown (to him) debris and that this was what the government was covering up. But there was no mention of any alien bodies in his account. The person who did have an affidavit displayed about seeing "dead aliens" led me to doubt his recounting of the event. Actually he had two affidavits displayed, written two years apart, and the time-lines and descriptions did not match.
So, what do I think was found outside of Roswell those many years ago?
Before Roswell, we visited the museum at the White Sands Missile range.
Security to get into the area was tight. Park your car outside and walk to the museum and no farther. No cameras.

So here's a picture I nabbed of the missile display from one of the official sites. It is taken far enough away that it does not give a true idea of the size of these suckers.
Who knew that we had devised so may ways of killing each other.  But didn't they give their workers a beautiful vista?
I'm pretty sure that on that July day back in 1947 that they let something fly and that it went Northeast instead of Northwest.
The military sure didn't want to tell our own citizens that they almost took them out.  They do admit to almost taking out Ciudad Juarez when another missile went south instead of north.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saguaro National Park

I'm in the mood for some more warm sunny desert pictures.  Then I have to start folding March invoices.  Enjoy!

Tucson Review

Today we drove the loop through Saguaro National Park in Tucson. More pictures from that later. Tomorrow we'll hit Old Town or do something else touristy. One thing that I will say in a comparison of Tucson vs Phoenix is that Tucson has more interesting and authentic southwest architectural style in housing as opposed to the big boxes which make up the majority of the Phoenix suburbs.
But right now I want to do restaurant reviews.
Lunch: The Blue Willow, suggested from our Arizona tour book. The food was good, once we got it. Tom chose: BLACKENED SALMON CAESAR Pan~Seared Creole Spiced Salmon on a Traditional Caesar Salad with Parmesan Cheese. My meal was GRILLED EGGPLANT SANDWICH Feta Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers, Cucumber, Fresh Spinach, and Tomato. The service was abysmal. We thought that maybe the problem was Tom's Oregon T-Shirt (see recent sports results) but a comment was made on the way out that indicated that they may realize there is a problem with the wait staff.
Dinner: La Parrilla Suiza, suggested by the motel desk clerk.  Wonderful service.  Wonderful food.  We are used to getting Mazatlan/Guadalajara style food at home.  La Parrilla Suiza specializes in foods typical of Mexico City, so we elected to try some of those different dishes.  We also split an order of Tortilla Soup, recommended by the desk clerk :"It got me through my pregnancy."  It was as good as she reported.
Tom had Pechuga Suiza - Breast of chicken and cheese between two flour tortillas, cut and served with lettuce, charro beans and rice.
And I had Platillo Mixto con Bistek - Melted cheese with chorizo and grilled bell peppers, topped with avocado, served with two charbroiled beef tacos, charro beans and rice.

I was in flavor heaven.  Even their webpage is great.  Click on their name above to see it.
Traci: they have 3 locations in Tucson and 3 in the Phoenix area, including one in Mesa.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hopi Katsina Dolls

From the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.
The exhibits were behind glass in a fairly dark room with no flash allowed, but I don't think that the pictures came out too badly.  I only have a small representative sampling from a huge collection.

Tom said that some of them were going to give him nighmares.
Some other clay figurines.

World Hoop Dancing Championship

Sometimes you just fall into things that you didn't even know were going on . . .

Visit the website for more information. Other pictures from the museum will be coming.