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Published: January 20th 2014
Sunday, 19 January, 2014
Last night we did go up to the McDonald Observatory for the Star Party, held Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights. We didn’t know quite what to expect or even if they’d be sold out, but we went anyway. It was AMAZING!! We sat outside (it was cold) at their outdoor arena while one of the staff gave us a talk on the night sky above us. He pointed out constellations with a laser pointer and told stories about them, as well as pointing out stars and satellites passing overhead. We saw the Hubble telescope pass by and numerous other satellites. It was just after dusk when the program got started, but as the sky got darker, the stars became more and more crowded in the sky. The Milky Way was the densest I’ve ever seen it. I have never seen so many stars in the sky. What made us feel good, too, was that the speaker admitted he could never really see the pictures in the constellations. He knew where they were and what was supposed to be what body part, but they just didn’t look to him like animals or people. I get that. Then
we got to look through telescopes, not the big ones on the top of the mountain, but big enough. I got to see Jupiter’s stripes (cloud bands) and four of its moons. We are still in awe of the night, so glad we went, and can’t wait to do it again.
We left Fort Davis this morning driving north up highway 118. This was the same road we took last night to the McDonald Observatory. The road is part of the “wildlife loop.” This sounded interesting and we are always up for spotting some wildlife. We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, but it was a pretty drive through the mountains. It was definitely another road less traveled, as we probably didn’t see more than half a dozen vehicles between the observatory and I-10 some 40 miles north. We were literally in the middle of nowhere when a man standing on the side of the road waved us down. There was no car in the ditch, no visible form of transportation around. We stopped and, though he spoke no English, he made it clear he wanted a ride. His lack of English and the fact that he
had a companion who seemed to be hiding in the ditch, made us very leery, so we told him no and went on up the road. This was a very remote area and we had no cell service, so once we reached I-10 and cell coverage, I called 911 to report their whereabouts. The 911 operator promised to notify Border Patrol and that was that, our Adventure for the Day. We thought.
We decided to head to Pancho Villa State Park at Columbus, NM. Kerry, of course, found a road on the map that looked like a short cut. You know how Kerry loves his shortcuts and adventure roads. At the NM Welcome Center he got directions to get to this shortcut road, but we ended up back in El Paso. We finally found our way to the correct road, but it probably took longer and more miles than going the simple way via the interstate. So we made it to Pancho Villa and are settled in for the night. We may or may not pop into Mexico three miles down the road in the morning. I sure would love some good Mexican vanilla extract.
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