Sunday, July 20, 2014

Looking Up!

Last week was all about hot weather, delicious new recipes, editing sermon texts, and planning for our next vacation. It's just been in the upper 90's, but with a few rainstorms came some humidity, and we haven't been going out quite as much. It's left us to get more creative at home. This week, our new favorite recipes have been chicken fajitas, mango salsa with tortilla chips, sweet & sour chicken, strawberry cream cheese cobbler, and bbq chicken calzones. All homemade and super scrumptious. I've also stayed busy with a new project helping our pastor. He's converting his sermon audio to text, and while the program is efficient, it isn't perfect, so I'm listening through his messages while editing the text and adding punctuation. It's great because English was always my favorite subject in school, and I'm enjoying getting a lesson out of the work too!

Oh, what about the planning for our next vacation? You'll have to wait and find out. ;) For now, here's what we did yesterday, in our attempt to avoid being in the heat and still see something new and exciting!

This morning, we headed 50 miles West on Highway 86 to Kitt Peak National Observatory. In the above photo, we are facing West toward the peak as well as the Coyote Mountains.

Beginning the 12 mile drive up the mountain. It was a beautiful day - hot temps, but the sky was gorgeous. In the center of the above photo, you can kind of make out a small white object on one of the peaks - that's one of the many buildings at the top!

Looking North as we're driving up, loving the scenery!

See it now? We're getting closer!

Facing West, toward other peaks that seem to be getting shorter! ;)

Almost there - See that very defined peak in the background, that looks kind of like a finger pointing? That's Baboquivari Peak. It's a sacred mountain to the Tohono O'odham Nation, and is also known to be the "best back county rock climbing in AZ". In other news, there have been jaguar sightings there. :)

One mile left, and now we're looking East toward the observatory. Even if only for the drive, this would have been worth it! It was scenic and totally safe (as opposed to many other mountain roads we've taken) and we were met with much cooler temps at the top (6,875 feet above sea level).

We spent some time in the visitor's center learning about the observatory and how it came to be. I loved touring it with Curtis and hearing his perspective of it all. Being an astronomy student, he knows a lot about this stuff, so we opted to do a self guided tour and enjoy all the sights together.

The first sight we enjoyed - the mosaic and cool looking sculpture thing above it!

At the top, there are several different telescopes you can enter and check out. While they have guided tours 3 times a day, you can still manage to do it all on your own, as there are signs that let you know what you're looking at. All the telescopes are spread out across the peak yet still in walking distance, and with the cooler temperature and a nice breeze we were really able to enjoy the walk.

Facing North

Here's an awesome telescope that even Curtis hadn't seen before - a solar telescope! More pictures of the inside later on!

Inside the first telescope that we visited - it's a 2.1 meter optical telescope. Curtis did a great job explaining all the different parts and how it works.

McMath Pierce Solar Telescope - looking up from (almost) underneath it.

There's a tiny Curtis walking to the door!

On the inside - looking up that long slanted part!

There's the sky!

And looking back down. This one was so cool!

After that, we took a longer walk to one that was further away and much bigger. On the way, we spotted this flower, a raven, and I almost stepped on a tiny mouse and freaked out!

Looking up at the 4 meter Mayall optical telescope. We think the wall was made of concrete…it was crazy!

Panorama from the lookout inside the telescope. We're facing South, toward most of the other telescopes, buildings, and the visitor's center.

Looking down on all those cool little domes, with Baboquivari in the distance. (Again facing South!)

We could see all our favorite peaks from the top! Above, the tallest, pointiest peak in the distance is Mt. Wrightson.

Here in the far distance are the Catalina Mountains, and Tucson Mountain Park is right in front of that, with the Coyote Mountains being in the front.

In the above picture you can see a very hazy Picacho Peak - which is 45 miles North of Tucson!

Facing North, thinking about how cool the cloud's shadows look on the ground. :)

Okay, now we're actually checking out the actual 4 meter telescope! Much bigger than the first. :)

After finishing up there, we snagged the letterboxes hidden around there, and headed home. We wrapped up this wonderful day with skyping with my family, Snicker salad for dinner (salad is good for you), and got ice cream - because when you get a coupon for ice cream, it's a sign that you're supposed to have it!

No comments:

Post a Comment