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Friday, February 15, 2013

••◊ Weekend adventure summary

Mom came into town this last weekend, which meant I was playing Southern California tour guide.  The theme for this trip quickly became related to the skies, space, and flight.  I'm not sure why, but sometimes things just work out a certain way.  Our first stop was high on top of Palomar Mountain at the Cal Tech observatory.  The pictures you're seeing below are of their premier Hale 200" telescope.  Visitors are freely allowed in the building up into a glass enclosed viewing room.  You'll have to forgive the window reflections since I didn't have a drape to cover the camera and glass.  There are actually three telescopes on site.  The 18" telescope was used to map the entire northern sky in the first half of the 1900's.  Talk about eye strain!  There is also a 36" telescope on site that is still used. 

Back in the day before CCD sensors and remote computer control astronomers would have to sit in the top carriage of the telescope and view the skies at night.  It gets cold up there.  Their solution for frost bite was to use a 24V powered flight suit to keep themselves from freezing.  Again, sorry about the picture quality.  These were taken in front of reflective glass. 

Also, the telescope is kept at average night time temperature all the time, more than likely to avoid mechanical expansion and contraction in the system.  So the viewing room was very, very cold.  Hopefully they have solar, otherwise their AC bill would be astronomical (pun intended)!

After visiting the observatory we headed back down to Mother's, which is a vegan restaurant perched at 5000'. My mom, being a vegetarian was excited to try out this long time favorite of the local sport bikers, hikers, and tourists.  The restaurant was **supposed** to be open Thurs-Sun, however after a second look I found a sign on the window that simply said "Closed Thursday February 7th."  Of all days...  My mom has waited years to go there and they close on the ONE day we're there.  After lunch at Dudley's and avoiding the massive temptation of the Julian Pie Company we headed home.

The next day we braved the vicious Los Angeles traffic to venture up to the California Science Center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour.  What an inspirational thing to see this tribute to the pioneering spirit of America.  The science center was filled with little munchkins running around and their teachers doing their best impression of a cat herder.  However when you FINALLY found the entrance to the Endeavour building (it took a while) things suddenly became a lot quieter.  Maybe it was the building acoustics.  Maybe it was just people in awe...or a combination of the two.

The blue pedestals you see in the second photography below are actually earthquake rollers.  If an earthquake does happen the Space Shuttle will simply roll from side to side until it comes to a natural stop.

My mom, being raised in a traditional German way, liked the orderliness of individually labelled ceramic underbelly tiles.  Every single one has a part number.


Yadda, yadda, yadda...we did some other stuff in between. Then on Sunday we visited the La Jolla Glider Port.  I figured this was a good place to wrap up a vacation.  It's a calming experience - i.e. the anti Los Angeles.  You hear the ocean and not much more, with the occasional exception of a whistle when a glider is coming in for a landing and doesn't want to tackle any earth-bound folks. 

At one point the wind died, so the gliders had to land on the beach below.  Let me tell you, it's a hell of a climb back up to the glider port on treacherous stairs.  I was winded by the top and I do aerobic exercise all the time!

One thing you need to be aware of while going to the glider port is that the beach below is "naturalist" tolerant.  In the far distance of the first photo below there is actually a naturalist walking toward me.  Not to worry, he's just a blur.  Have to keep my blog safe for work.

Hopefully I'll have more technical stuff after this weekend. I'm going into Video Gear to do more lighting tests. Hopefully we come back with some good stuff to share.

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