CITY OF ROCKS, JUNE 17, 2017

Location: City of Rocks State Park,   Map

city of rocks table mountain trail closeup 2017 june 17.jpgThis was to be a special day.  We drove to Pegasus Campground and Margo and DotDog went as far as the yellow arrow.

HappyDog and I broke off and headed up the mountain while Margo and DotDog would return to the campground.  HappyDog gets really confused at this times.  Should she go with me or Margo?  Momma One or Momma Two?  Eventually, she returns to me, but I’m always just a wee bit insulted that MY dog thinks about following someone else.

I was making this walk solo on Table Mountain Trail because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone (That pun was for my brother-in-law).  Wasn’t long before we were out of sight of the familiar, and it was a bit creepy.  The trail wasn’t too bad.  Some loose rock.  Mostly it was the slope.

city of rocks table mt trail top 2017 june 17

I was walking to the top of this.

 

city of rocks table mountain trail north 2017 june 17.jpg

City of Rocks campground in the distance.

 

city of rocks table mt trail north up 2017 june 17.jpg

Up, up, up.

city of rocks table mt trails bench 2017 june 17

A much appreciated resting spot.

The heat and going down was what concerned me most.  Had to remember — drink often.  The hike up went without incident and wasn’t long at all before we were at the top.  Down went well too even with a knee that doesn’t like down.  Surprise, there was Margo and DotDog waiting for us at the covered shelter (pink arrow on map).  Margo was concerned that she couldn’t see me in my bright orange shirt.  So odd, because I could see the campground for much of the walk.

Whew.  Good time to relax until the evening.  Then another walk.

city of rocks yucca like maise 2017 june17

Here’s another of what I think is a yucca.

 

city of rocks yucca like maise closeup 2017 june 17

Closeup of the yucca head.

city of rocks barn owl 2017 june 16

A barn owl momma in her nest near the visitor’s center.

 

city of rocks bird house metal 2017 june 17.jpg

How you can tell owls prey on the local birds.

city of rocks barn owl home 2017 june 17.jpg

Barn owl nest area.

city of rocks owl poop 2017 june 17.jpg

Owl urp and poop field.

city of rocks cottontail 2017 june 17

Surely the owls are eating rabbits.  They are everywhere.

We were leaving early the next morning, so we packed what we could.  In the morning all we wanted to do was unhook the utilities, raise the stabilizers, and hook up.

After dusk I hoofed it over to the Star Party at the Gene and Elisabeth Simon Observatory and group campfire.  Such events are held on a regular basis.  Tonight there were a dozen eager visitors in attendance.  For those of you who would like to attend such an event I suggest you arrive before sunset.  Our talented astronomers all had red filters on their flashlights, and they hurried to get car arrivals to turn off their lights.   If you must arrive late, try not to turn the car lights on the group, and point white light flashlights at your feet, not in front of you.  The speaker explained it was so we didn’t lose our night vision.  If you don’t like walking around in the dark — don’t attend. It was the first time I’ve ever listened to a speaker who was nothing more than a vague shape.  I have no idea what the fella looked like.

The speaker turned a green laser toward space and I swear we all went OHHHHH.  I experienced a more than fleeting moment of “Gotta Have”.   Someone asked about the laser and he gave a vague answer.  I knew he was trying to discourage civilians from doing what he was doing.  I noticed he waved it in areas where there were no flashing lights from airplanes.  Here’s an article on Laser Pointer Safety and why numb nuts shouldn’t have one.

The astronomy group had six very large telescopes set up.  I saw the stripes in Jupiter, the ring around Saturn, a comet, and an exploded star.  It was AWESOME.  Almost as awesome as being retired and getting to do the things we couldn’t do because we had a job.

On the way back to the travel trailer, I dutifully had the light pointed down at my feet.  Holy cow! [danced a jig] What is that?  I was staring at it when the park director walked by.  “A harmless bull snake.”  Cool.  Better than a rattlesnake for sure.  He better find a hiding place before the owl comes by.

The party made me want to look up more awesome astronomy photos online.  Astronomy Magazine has photo of the day.  Skyandtelescope.com for photos taken by the public.  Of course you cannot beat NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.  I especially liked this photo and explanation of a missing star.

A long day is finally over.  Tomorrow we head home.  I’m glad.  Definitely tired of the heat and staying indoors.  However, I will return to this place in cooler weather.  That Margo, she sure can pick good places to go.

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