Tuesday, August 5, 2008 A

"Bumpy and Spirally Road to Adventure"

We bade our goodbye to Williams after one last big breakfast and headed down 1-40 to go to the arboretum. Too late I saw the sign to veer off to the right for I-40. I found ourselves driving overhead the road we were supposed to be on. So we stopped in Flagstaff at a convenience store for a convenient pee and to buy a map. The clerk looked reasonably intelligent, maybe he'd know how to find S. Woody Mountain Rd. He didn't, but his older co-worker did. Between Julia and I, we were able to follow her directions and the arboretum road via route 66. The road started off fine, but soon turned to 'washboard' road. It was terrible driving on it. Julia was petrified, but we'd invested so much time already, I figured we'd press on. Four miles later, we arrived, and we each checked the tired. No apparent damage done, we headed to the quaint entrance house.

The lady there said she'd been driving that awful road for six years now. Six years! This is a disgrace. I know this arboretum could be able to grow and make improvements if only they had a paved way in. It would increase the visitors greatly, and thereby increase the revenue. Still, it was a tranquil place to walk. As we are not yet accustomed to the elevation, we took frequent sitting breaks. It was nice to just sit, take in the scenery and smell the cool pine scented air.

"A SAFE HAVEN" for the "Little Colorado spinedace"

After that adventure, we went back to Flagstaff and found the historic section. A lovely pizza place beaconed, Alpine Pizza. It's been there some thirty years and for some thirty years its patrons have been carving their little messages into the thick wooden furniture,. For example, "Kami (heart) Shayla", an artfully sculpted skull, and many names and dates. It's not often you get to 'read' the furniture. The pizza was delicious, too. The clerk/waiter told us how to find Bookmans. Again, combining what each of us heard, we got the total directions, but not before I'd driven several miles in the opposite direction. Time to consult the map, with its infuriatingly tiny text. After that, we found it easily.

This being a university town, they had an interesting Egyptology section, with more than the usual stuff. I got several books, with items I want to scan, including a larger section of Thutmosis III's tomb featuring Set. Wikipedia has Set by himself, all in that innovative linear technique, but this image places him in context. Another winged BA with KA arms awaits scanning. Also, I found a Middle Egyptian dictionary by Faulkner. Done in 1961, it's much later research than Budge's. I was hesitant to buy it, as it cost 35$ even used, but Julia encouraged me. I remembered how I was timid to lay out money for the Budge dictionary set and how often I consult them.

Julia found a Greek dictionary and another book on archaeology, which I'll look at later, reconstructing portraits from mummies and skeletons.

A TCBY was nearby. We hadn't been to one in ages, and they've really upgraded their product line. I got a 'Mocha Chiller', made of the frozen yogurt.

Then it was time to find the motel and check in. Two stories in some areas, reachable only by thin metal stairways. I begged the clerk for a first floor room on account of the arthritic knees. We got a nice little room with a pitched roof. The necessity for the pitch is the frequent winter snows. But now, the weather is nice.

After getting settled in, it was quarter to four. Perhaps we could make it to the Lowell Observatory. The Google map said we could make it to the observatory in six minutes. I figured we could do it in fifteen. Both the maps were almost useless, but signs were posted once we got in the general area, and we followed them. A scary spirally road led around the mountain up to the observatory. I took it real slow, glad it wasn't full of impatient speeders.

We arrived just in time for the last lecture of the day at 4:15pm. The young man was a lively and concise speaker. It was fun learning about Lowell and his unique telescope. It was a rustic project, soldered together by a crew who boasted they could make anything, and they did. You gotta love the frying pan lens cap, the bicycle chain turning device, and the row of 1954 Chevy tires around the rim of the ceiling, upon which the ceiling rotates to the proper location of what ever you want to view.

You can see the bicycle chain, but at least it moves under electronic control now, rather than a rope and brute force

The tires are an upgrade, too, over small iron wheels. Also, the viewing perch is a sturdy steel one. Lowell's wooden perch, complete with a folding chair, sat off to the side for comparison.

After explaining all that, he led us to the museum, where he showed the difficult process of how Pluto was located using lengthy exposure on glass photography at different times, and noting the object that moved. An eleven year old girl named Pluto, evidence by a telegram they'd framed. Its symbol PL preserves Percival Lowell's initials. The lecture quickly ended, and we went to the gift shop. I encouraged Julia to get a new star program, as she's been using ten year old freeware.

But we opted out of returning for the evening program and stayed in for some TV watching and lively conversation. We've been having a great time!

Now today, we'll go to the Northern Arizona Museum for dinosaur skellies and then to the University art museums and maybe the library as well.

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