Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lowell Observatory and the Grand Canyon

We have been staying in Flagstaff for two reasons. First, we have an overheating issue with the rig, and found a mechanic here that has received ALL 5-star ratings on Yelp.  He is a Yelp God.  He thinks he knows what the problem might be, but could not get the rig in for two days.  We decided to wait.  Second, it is very, very hot now, and Flagstaff is relatively cooler at ~7000 feet.  So here's what we did for those two days.

Day 1: We toured Lowell Observatory, named for Percival Lowell who founded the observatory and famously declared in 1909 that Mars had canals, leading to speculation that intelligent civilizations were on Mars.  Lowell Observatory is also where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. Based on gravitational tugs,  Lowell had previously predicted that a planet, dubbed "Planet X," should be there, but died before he could find it.  Tombaugh used a "blink" technique to locate it -- multiple photographs over  a period of time are stacked, and flipped back and forth rapidly.  Stars stay in the same place, but planets or other moving objects will appear to move from one position to another, causing the object to blink.

Percival Lowell's Mausoleum

Lowells Hand Drawn Mars Globe

Where Pluto Was Discovered

We also did some H-Alpha solar observing

We finished the trip with a couple of beers at the Mother Road Brewery, on the original Route 66 in Flagstaff:

Mother Road Brewery
John have a brew


Day 2: we took the train from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon. These are the same tracks that have been taking visitors, such as Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, John Muir, and Clark Gable there since 1901.  The day started with a cowboy skit, followed by the two and a half hour trip to the rim.  Along the way, we were served pastries, fruit, yogurt, and Bloody Marys.
Grand Canyon

On the train

John relaxing on the train
After getting off the train, John and I lunched at El Tovar, one of the great Fred Harvey establishments.  Our table seating was lucky -- it was accompanied by a view of the canyon!  After lunch, we walked along the rim for a while and took in the sights before boarding the train for the return trip.

Along the way we saw what appeared to be very short telephone poles running along the track, some of which had wires strung between them.  It turns out these were old telegraph wires.  When a wire broke, someone was sent out from Williams on horseback to fix it, and the height of the wires was set very low so a man could reach them while standing on the back of his horse (apparently women were never sent out to fix telegraph wires).

Telegraph Poles

Later on the return trip, the cowboys from the skit "robbed" our train.  They came riding along side, "forced" the train to stop, and "robbed" us all of spare change (aka, "tips"). We were told to put dollar bills for them on our person, such as tucked in a hat, or under a watch.  The robbery happened just as we were served champagne to celebrate the trip. One of our neighbors on the train tucked her money in her cleavage, and the robbers had no fear of retrieving it there!  When asked if he was hesitant to take it, he said, "Hey, this ain't my first robbery!"

The Bandits Approach the Train

Take My Money... Please!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hope you are able to get that overheating issue taken care of soon Zoe. But if you have to be stranded anywhere for a few days, Flagstaff isn't a bad place. Take care!