Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Odometer 25877 miles

Trip meter 141 miles

November 27, 2012

Today we uprooted from Ajo and rambled down highway 86 east toward Tucson. We stopped in the small town of Why, Arizona to take a picture of this cute sign:

Our goal for today was to tour the Kitt Peak National Observatory and then to skirt up the west side of Tucson and get set up in a park on the North side of town, in preparation for an excursion to Biosphere2 north and east of Tucson tomorrow.

80 or so miles from Ajo we got our first glimpse of Kitt Peak, and Joan snapped this photo from the windshield as we drove along. Kitt Peak is just right of the fog line on the road. Before the photo was down sized for the blog you could actually see the observatory

There is a 12 mile road from Hwy 86 up to the top of Kitt Peak, and the elevation gain is from desert floor to a lofty 6,875 feet. Even though the road to the top is a very good paved road, we had no intentions of taking the motorhome up, so we pulled into a gravel lot off Hwy 86 and parked the MH to uncouple and take the Honda to the top. I should mention that, as usual, we got off to a lazy start this morning. By the time we had showers, ate breakfast, checked and replied to e-mails, and got everything stowed and the car hooked up- we pulled out of Shadow Ridge RV park at 11:30 AM. Hey- we're retired! We actually intended to get going in time to arrive for the last guided tour of Kitt Peak at 1:30 PM- and that was now in jeopardy as we had 90 miles to cover in just under 2 hours, including the parking and unhooking the Honda, and driving the winding road to the top. As it turned out even though we were late getting there we were able to join the group as they left the visitor's center. It's a good thing we were able to join the tour, as the tour guide was very informative, and entertaining and it made our day. This next photo helps to indicate how huge the main observatory is. There are 10 large hexahedrons that anchor the structure, and our guide said they are over 100 feet tall. While being trucked up the mountain these structures occasionally had to be lifted off the truck and craned around the tighter corners in the road.
The peak is on tribal lands of the Tohono O'odham Nation. It is leased by the National Science Foundation and run by an association of universities. Kitt Peak is the largest and most diverse gathering of astronomical instruments in the world. It is available to science and research groups and now houses 24 optical and two radio telescopes
This last observatory is a strange one- Built in 1962, it is still the largest unobstructed solar telescope in the world with a focal length of 82 meters. Most of that nearly 250 feet of focal length is dug into a shaft in the mountain!
In publishing this blog, I have re-sized the photos I include to make the blog load up more quickly on your browser. Please let me know if the resolution is too low and I can make them a little more dense.

I am pleased to say that the dividers we put in our cabinets in Ajo, worked very well. When we arrived here in Tucson this evening- nothing tumbled out as we opened the cabinet door- better than that- in stayed where we put it! Progress!

I am also pleased that I am gaining a little more control over the page layout in this blog. The whole thing is done in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and to even get a paragraph break, one has to enter in the proper HTML symbol. My earlier posts were all run together, because I was seeing spaces and paragraphs in my draft and they did not stay that way when I hit the publish button to send it to the web.

The iPad that Joan and I purchased last June has been proving indispensible. The photos taken today were all taken with the iPad, and I am able to publish this blog tonight only because I can "tether" my laptop to the iPad to get onto the internet, as we often do when there is no wifi available at the park we stay in.

Good night all-

Jeff and Joan

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