Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Sunday, 30 October 2005

Sedona: Birthday Ballooning

Sedona, Arizona



222 years ago, in 1783, a chicken, a sheep and a rooster made the first ascent in a hot air balloon. King Louis XVI thought it would be a good idea to use condemned criminals as the first human pilots, but Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis Francois d'Arlandes got him to change his mind and let them try it out. They lit up the disgusting mix of burning straw and stinking manure in an attached burning pot and off they went.


They landed in a French vineyard, and while the farmers were debating whether to immediately surrender or first make a half-hearted pitchfork charge, the two pilots had the wit and foresight to produce bottles of champagne, a tradition which continues unabated to the present day.


Nothing much happened of note for the next 222 years. Then, on 30 October, 2005, a chicken named Phred and his courageous Faithful Companion made a dawn ascent for a 90-minute uncontrolled flight over the cold Sedona, Arizona desert and flew a distance of 8.5 miles.


 I was petrified in terror for the entire flight, but I tried not to show and outward signs of panic for the benefit of the women passengers, who chattered happily during the entire ordeal. The flight was followed with a champagne and strawberry breakfast and an Irish ballooning toast.




The hiking here is good. We're heading on an easy hike six miles up a canyon later this morning and then hitting the Municipal tennis courts in the afternoon before continuing our Halloween journey.



Here are a few Sedona snapshots.




Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Gila Cliff Dwellers National Monument,

Gila Cliff Dwellers National Monument, New Mexico




Today we drove over the Black Range Mountains, ascending and descending on switchback roads. The trees in late October are a spectacular palette of oranges, yellows, reds and greens. The mountains are a mix of Tertiary volcanic stone and Mesozoic sandstone uplifted some four miles.


We set up camp in the Gila National Forest and break out the motorcycle to drive the remaining 20 miles on lonely mountain roads to the Gila Cliff Dweller National Monument. We get there just in time for the last tour and are alone with the guide.



This is the first National Monument and was established in 1914 by Teddy Roosevelt.



The Mogollon Indian cliff dwellers occupied the caves high in the cliffs of a limestone canyon on the banks of a river. The river has ornately sculpted the vertical sandstone walls of the curving canyon and caves. The narrow canyon is decorated in late October with yellow aspens, red ferns and twisted, deformed green junipers.



Trees used in constructions within the caves are dated about 1270 AD, based on their dendrochronology ring patterns. There was a thirty-year drought before that date that leaves a distinctive pattern of small rings like fingerprints in time. The Mogollon used a mix of clay, gypsum and turkey feathers for mortar to build elaborate stone structures in the caves.



They abandoned this place in about 1300 AD for unknown reasons. Several tribes including the Ute claim the Mogollon as ancestors. They may have lived here for defensive reasons or might have regarded this as a sacred place or meeting place. Theories vary. It is a magical place that throbs with power and beauty.
 


Our guide takes us though the caves for about an hour, explaining the purpose of various rooms. As we talk, he explains spiritual animism. He mentions that he has had mystic experiences here. I ask him about them, but he tells me that the park superintendent doesn't like him to talk about these during the regular tour. He offers to explain after we complete the regular tour. Several others then join our tour in progress, so we wait for him to finish with them.

We meet him at the mouth of the largest cave and he tells his story:

I was here before dawn, meditating. I've meditated for many years. Suddenly, as the sun rose, an electric shock of adrenaline ran though me and I jumped to my feet and faced the rising sun.

I found my arms rising in an arc above my head and I saw a decorated pot in the sky.

Then I bent over until my fingers touched the ground and I saw a vision of a basket filled with fruit and food, the symbol of Mother Earth.

I stood up and my hands came together over my stomach and I saw a spear, the symbol of power at the central core my being.

Then my arms rose again in an arc above my head and I again saw the decorated pot with light pouring from it.

He tells us that a voice then spoke to him and said:

You have been given the gift of the Bringing-the-Sun-into-the-Cave Ceremony.

He says that all ancient cave dwellers have this ceremony. He knows this because he read a book about it before receiving this vision.




Monday, 24 October 2005

Mescalero Apaches


White Sands National Monument, New Mexico



We left Ruidoso early today and passed by the Apache Casino on the way out of town. Indians are exempt by treaty from many state laws and tribes can operate casinos and sell cigarettes with no state taxes. These tribes once reckoned descent though women and the men religiously avoided their mother-in-laws.



About 1,700 Mescalero Apaches live on their reservation of 2,000,000 acres. There are 4,000 acres that are suited for agriculture (although Apaches have little inclination to farm) and another 500,000 acres are appropriate for grazing cattle and horses. The 25-mile drive though the reservation was not what you might expect. It is a long climb through the reservation up a winding wooded valley to an elevation of 9,000 feet. There are many small Indian ranches with lush pastures, Hereford cows and painted horses, some of which were on the road. No feathers or warrior bonnets. No marketing of trinkets. Just a quiet Sunday morning drive though lovely woodland and pasture.

The bright yellow (autumn) trees with white bark that we have been seeing are aspens, which grow at elevations above 7,000 feet. The aspen leaves shimmer in the wind like no other tree. They mix everywhere with giant pines. There is no sign of the pine beetle infestations that have killed hundreds of millions of pine trees in Alaska and in most of the rest of the US. Perhaps this pine population is isolated by the desert?

As we left the reservation, we found free municipal tennis courts in the small ski resort of Cloudcroft. I lost 6-2, 6-0. I blame the altitude. Peacocks are often unable to fly at this elevation.

After the tennis game we ride down 4,000 feet to Alamogordo, using the transmission to conserve the brakes, and then on to the 300-square-mile white gypsum dunes of the White Sands National Monument. We tour White Sands on the motorbike and see an Apache dune mouse scurry over the road. The creatures of the desert are nocturnal and most, like the Apache dune mouse, have evolved a pure white colouring to shield them from predators. We shed our shoes and climb the dunes barefoot. As we drive 30 miles at the park's speed limit, we are continuously overtaken and passed by SUVs in a hurry to see the dunes and desert creatures at very high speed.




About 10 million years ago, the Earth's crust began to settle at White Sands along fault lines running north and south. A huge basin was formed between the Sacramento Mountains in the east and the San Andreas mountain range to the west. Melting snow washed sediments into a large lake, which became saturated with gypsum. As the climate warmed, the lake evaporated and this area began to form into the ever-changing white dunes, which are 97% gypsum.

We are settled now in Elephant Butte lake, just North of Truth-Or-Consequences, New Mexico


Sunday, 23 October 2005

Ghost Whispers

Lincoln, New Mexico

A trip to Wal-Mart for gloves and then another bike ride from Ruidoso — seventy miles to the Lincoln County Courthouse. The very small town of Lincoln is where Billy the Kid killed two guards and escaped. Ghosts whisper my fate in my ear as I walk, alone and slowly, up the same stairs as Billy to the room where he was shackled to the floor, awaiting the hangman. I look for bloodstains at the top of the stairs. Large legends for such a tiny place. It's almost unchanged since the 1880s.




This is not the dry, dusty place that one might imagine. It's rolling grassland with mountains and hardwoods that turn brilliant yellow at this time of year. The Kid was perhaps innocent, but was sucked into a feud between two rival shopkeepers. Both stores are still here like time stood still. An Irish immigrant and an English newcomer both wanted to sell cattle and other goods to the soldiers at the nearby Fort Stanton. The fort was established to control the Mescalero Apaches and make the area safe for settlement. Billy worked as a cowboy for the dead Englishman and became embroiled in the cycle of violence. The two large competing stores are still the main buildings in Lincoln, which seems to have a population of about fifty with no services other than the stores that have been made into museums.



I discuss Pat Garrett's book with the museum curator. She says it sucks and recommends Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life.

Near the closed fort, five miles from Lincoln, we find a lonely fenced graveyard with a large anchor. It has graves and crosses for thousands of Merchant Mariners. A sign says 'No metal detecting'.

We will be traveling though the Mescalero Apache Indian reservation on the way to the White Sands National monument, Las Cruces, Truth-or-Consequences, Elephant Butte Lake State park, Gila Cliff Dwellers National Monument and a ghost town named Mogollon. Then into Arizona.


Friday, 21 October 2005

Ruidoso: Billy was Here

Ruidoso, New Mexico

The landscape has changed in seventy miles from high desert to mountainous forest.


Ruidoso is a ski resort that is showing the typical sprawl signs of being too nice a place to live. It has large casinos and a Billy the Kid quarter-horse racing track. No cellular service for the laptop modem for the first time.

We've been paying about $15 a night for state park campgrounds. This is our first time in a private RV campground and the cost is double that. There are a few more amenities like a swimming pool (empty for the season) and cable TV (two channels, one of them in Spanish).



We're getting nine miles per gallon for the RV and 60 miles per gallon on the motorcycle. So far, we've put 2,170 miles on the RV and 150 on the Yamaha 250. We decide to ditch the helmets next time. I rebuild the motorcycle trailer so that we can take the motorbike on and off without removing the bicycles each time.



We ride the Yamaha to the municipal tennis courts and I lose again (six-love both sets). Later, a forty-mile ride up a long bumpy fire trail to a fire tower called Moryeau Lookout, at the 9,600-foot summit. The stone tower was built during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps, whose works tend to endure. As we reach the top of the tower, my companion's cell phone gains service and rings. We can see two hundred miles in every direction. The ride back down is in gathering darkness and my hands are very cold. My companion told me to bring my gloves. Maybe I should listen to her more often.



New Mexico is a no-helmet state. I'd feel very guilty if anything happened to my companion because of an omitted safety measure. I insist on helmets and she grumbles about hers continuously for the first two miles while clinging to my back.

We're getting good pictures, but my laptop is not letting me upload them to my website. I'll try using my alternate picture site later this week.


Thursday, 20 October 2005

The Crossroads

Baxter, New Mexico- 21 October, 2005

We hiked four miles though the New Mexico desert yesterday. The plants are as strange and alien as a coral reef 100 feet down.


 These are scrubby, tough, prickly survivors and desert flowers. On the spaces where nothing grows the sandstone has reformed into many strange gray nodules that look like very small cabbages growing close together.



Later, a 20-mile motorcycle ride to Baxter (population 200) for a shared turkey and avocado sandwich. No vehicles on the road at all either way. Then another swim in Bottomless Lake and Google planning for the next move to Ruidoso. Ruidoso has four tennis courts and will serve as base camp for a motorbike ride up 10,000-foot El Capitan Mountain.


The Crossroads
a place where ghosts
reside to whisper into
the ears of travelers and
interest them in their fate

—Jim Morrison (1943 - 1972





Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Roswell: High Plains Drifting

Roswell, New Mexico

Area 51 turns out to be in Nevada, not Roswell, New Mexico ... what a letdown. On top of that, the largest hurricane ever recorded seems to have drawn a bead on my Florida home with a projected arrival time of 2.00AM on Sunday. I'm only a block from the bay.



On the bright side, we saw a double rainbow in the west this morning and also my first wild porcupine. It was huge but, unfortunately, dead on the Oklahoma roadside shoulder.



Groom, Texas has the largest cross in the western hemisphere. It's about twice as high as the town water tower and is made of pipe and fabric so it can be lighted internally at night. The sign, visible from the interstate, said 'Gift Shop Open'. We were really tempted to stop in the Blessed Mary restaurant.

A little later, another sign said, simply, 'Rattlesnakes. Exit now.'

The high plains of North Texas and New Mexico seem like flatland, but the elevation signs coming into towns show them as being just short of a mile above sea level.

A bottomless lake is outside Roswell, the site of the flying saucer crash. The Air Force pilots I flew with were convinced that the alien bodies were stored at Wright-Patterson Air Base.


The small, bottomless blue lake is spring-fed and ringed by red limestone bluffs. The temperature of the lake felt like about 68°F. We are the only people in the campground.

There are lots of large yellow wasps or hornets flying everywhere. Two got inside. I killed them and disposed of the bodies.

Star viewing conditions are as good as they will ever get. It's now or never for seeing the Milky Way.


Sunday, 16 October 2005

Arkansas: Doubtful Paternity

Mountain Home, Arkansas-

Paul and I install greenboard and concrete backerboard in his main bathroom with the big jacuzzi. He approves of my wine. We fish for striped bass in Lake Norfolk and play more tennis.



The drywall 'mud' guy shows up on Saturday. He is alone because it is the beginning of muzzle-loader hunting season so his helpers have run off hunting. He says his dad, Lee, owns the business... or at least he thinks Lee is his dad, it's hard to tell, he says.


Paul's 87 year old mother-in-law makes blueberry pie or blackberry cobbler every night. She gives us crossword puzzles and old Smithsonian magazines for the road.

The Mountain Home 'senior' centre is located near the municipal swimming pool and tennis courts. They send out shuttle buses to collect the old folks who want to play cards or swim. Paul says the local officials are into reality-based management and don't want them driving anywhere, if possible.

There's an interesting local story about a judges daughter, a murder cover-up and many witnesses who have now met with untimely deaths. Marshall, Arkansas may have the highest rate of unsolved murders per capita in the US.

The local police have an occasional big day of stopping pickup trucks to inspect for seat belt violations. This is always on the front page in advance with news about the war on page five or six.

I replace a burned out RV tail-light bulb and clean, tighten and lubricate the motorcycle chain with WD-40 and molybdenum disulfide. It's time to move on. West on Route 66.

We will spend the next six weeks exploring 'the mother road', Route 66. On 13 October, 1984, the last stretch of the legendary road was decommissioned near Williams, Arizona. It was replaced by Interstate 40. About 85% of the old road is still drivable. Many of the ghost towns along I-40 were killed by the bypasses.

I play the 1965 hit 'Ticket to Ride' by the Beatles on the RV CD player and remember a drive the same year along Route 66 in a TR4-A, painted British racing green, with the same companion. Everything we owned was in the trunk.


Friday, 14 October 2005

Not a Man-Eating Catfish

Mountain Home, Arkansas 


 Paul's new house in the deep Arkansas woods is nearly ready to move into after two years in process. His front porch floor is built of salvaged two-inch thick maple bowling alley lanes. He's done almost all the work himself, but has hired workers to mud the drywall this week so he can move in later this month.



Paul loans us his old red 1977 Dodge Ram pickup truck every day to drive into the Mountain Home municipal tennis courts. We pull up to the empty tennis court parking lot in the thundering Ram and jump out in our tennis whites for two hours of free tennis. Mrs Phred wins 6-1, 6-1 each day. The tennis grandmothers ask us if we live here or are just passing though. We disappoint them.


In the evening we take Paul's ancient pontoon boat, The "Ratty Bastard" out on the huge Norfork lake for dinner and wine. He has outfitted the boat with cheap plastic chairs and tacky Tiki torches all around that he lights after nightfall. I swim in the dark with my old black fins in the middle of the lake. No alligators or sharks for a change, but Paul warns me about Volkswagen-sized man-eating catfish. The water feels about 78 degrees F. There are whole towns under the lake which was created when the TVA dammed the river for hydroelectricity.

We drink two bottles of Paul's excellent home-made Bardolinlo on the lake and Paul goes into an angry 'Bush-the-Deserter' rant. We both laugh and discuss how the world would have been much different with a MacArthur/Patton ticket in '52. Paul is concerned that Bush is packing the Supreme Court with ex-corporate attorneys. He tells me to wake up and smell the money. He says it's not about abortion and Roe vs Wade. He tells me we are seeing the masses being distracted by phoney issues like gay marriage while the powers cook up the next massive wealth transfer scheme.

Mountain Home has the World's largest sales volume Wal-Mart. The product variety and prices are amazing. We buy some turkey-and-chicken-thigh mozzarella-garlic smoked sausage to try for breakfast. They also have an eight-pack of Chinese 90-decibel door and window alarms for $5. These are installed by pealing off a paper backing and simply sticking them on a smooth surface.

Property values here in Mountain Home are 'sky-rocketing' and the population is expected to double from the current 20,000 in the next two years as boomers from California and Florida retire to the area. Property that went for $200 an acre five years ago is up to $5,000 an acre... in Tampa ¼ acre building lots are $250,000 or more, so this still sounds pretty cheap.


Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Woolly Meadows State Park, Arkansas


The campground Woolly Meadows State Park in Arkansas is deserted in October. No tennis courts. I think it's part of the Ozarks. Orion was up and bright at 4:30 AM. At 4:30 in Woolly Meadows, one has time to gather wool.



The central star in Orion's belt is Alnilam.

 



Alnilam is the title of a novel by James Dickey, who also wrote Deliverance. I bought all his old books and poetry on E-bay. The novel is about a blind man and his seeing-eye dog who visit a WWII training centre to learn about his son who was killed in a flying training accident. The son has so much charisma that he has established a military conspiracy that... but wait... I'm spoiling the plot...

There is a passage in the book about seeing the cannons on a German fighter wink at a flight instructor head-on and it becomes his insight like a diamond to the brain... later this 'diamond to the brain' insight concept was stolen and put in the mouth of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.

Now it's later in the day and I'm parked in a heavily wooded clearing in Mountain Home, Arkansas in the backyard of a very old friend. We met just after we both got back from Viet Nam... He likes to make wine too... I'm anxious to share my Sauvignon Blanc with him and see what he's brewed up. When he moved here five years ago from Tampa, I drove a diesel truck with some of his household goods 1,040 miles to help him move his family.

Mountain Home is ethnically very homogeneous. There are no black families at all and no synagogues. There is a Mexican restaurant 20 miles away in Flippin, but that's about it. This is the home of President Clinton's Whitewater land development scandal. They have a law here in Arkansas that if a couple gets divorced they can still be brother and sister. Everyone waves at us as they drive past.




Pressed into Service by a Balloonist

Page, Arizona


 This morning, Tom and Maggie, balloonists from Gallup, New Mexico, asked me to serve as a crew member on their balloon. I assisted with assembling the gondola and unfurling and inflating their balloon. Apparently, their crew failed to show. I followed them into the cold desert, helped them out and then left after his lift-off. The sky is filled with colorful balloons.

  

Later we drive to Zion National Park three hours northwest of Lake Powell. The shuttle service is closed down for the winter season and they opened the scenic roads to private vehicles so we take the motorbike up to the scenic road to the head of Zion Canyon.


It's a spectacular park, formed from Navaho sandstone. The fall foliage makes it even more wonderful. This is a good time to visit the Southwest. The elevation in the park runs from 3,600 to 8,700 feet. One mountain has a pine tree growing on its shoulder.



Night sky viewing conditions are excellent. Venus is up in the evening. It comes around every six years. By spring it will be a morning star again. A huge shooting star leaves a 4 AM fiery trail.


Zion Canyon was named by the Mormon settlers. It means place of safety or refuge. We hear on the radio in the evening that a Mormon judge is in danger of being disbarred for polygamy. The commentator is upset that he is being prosecuted for practicing his religion. There is a municipal tennis court just outside the park. Mrs. Phred won again, 6-2, 6-0. The cold weather is making my shoulder act up again.



Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Katrina Recovery


Disaster Crews in the Roosevelt State Park, Central Mississippi

These pictures were taken on the bayous 100 miles south of New Orleans.


We continue our journey from our stop in north Florida. We take gently rolling wooded secondary roads between nowhere and no place. When we arrive, the Mississippi lake campground is nearly empty except for the disaster relief crews.
 
The crews commute from the Mississippi Gulf coast which has been demolished for the first quarter mile inland. There are many uprooted trees here 100 nearly miles north.


Firewood is plentiful since so many trees have fallen.


The disaster crews pull in around 7 PM. The soft southern American voices make me expect drunken fishermen, but their heavy trucks help us understand the nature of their business here and their lights go out almost immediately. They fall quiet quickly and are gone before 5 AM to work again on the clean-up.


This place has free tennis courts and a large lake for fishing and swimming surrounded by tall hardwood and pines. Like Nero, a little ashamed of our good fortune, we burn some branches and cook halibut in the darkness to serve with the chilled home-made Sauvignon Blanc from our wine cellar.


Tennis this morning and then back on the road looking for Bigfoot, the Skunk Ape, or maybe just a WWII Japanese Imperial Army straggler. Scores are 6-0, 6-1 in favour of Mrs Phred.




Sunday, 9 October 2005

Falling Waters State Park Florida

Falling Waters State Park, Florida, 9 Oct 2005
3 AM


Retirement? So Soon? Birth, elementary school, middle school, high school, university, marriage, Viet Nam, children, graduate school, work, grandchildren and retirement. It all goes by in an eye blink.





The little Yamaha 250 CC motorcycle has been serviced (chain tightened, new plugs and an expensive replacement rear-view mirror) and I'm bolting it on the back of my retirement recreational vehicle (RV) and heading out with my faithful companion of 40 years to the southwest corner of the United States for the months of October and November.




Along the way we will meet many strange characters: a snake-breeder, hurricane disaster recovery workers, Navaho Indians, museum curators, ugly bikers, Arizona balloonists, antelopes, a blue-eyed Mormon, black ravens, artists and mystics.

There are many amazing national parks in Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. We've seen a few, but this is an exciting chance see more while I'm still perhaps competent to drive. The Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Roswell, Page/Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, Lincoln and Billy the Kid, Ruidoso, Mescalaro Apaches, Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Bandilier National Monument, Santa Fe and other places and people of the southwest high plains.

I have a wireless cellular modem for my laptop and plan to write daily journals. Who knows... I may be inspired to write an blog two from a mountaintop in the West. I have a digital camera and hope to upload a few pictures as we go.

Mrs Phred is responsible for packing food, spices, games, camping equipment, books, clothing, recreational items, first aid supplies, maps, cooking utensils and toiletries. I'm in charge of maintenance supplies.

Tools brought along include:

A copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A large, adjustable open-end wrench. A packet of 50 pairs of disposable latex gloves for use while dumping the waste tanks. A carpenter's hammer. Electric drill and drill bits. Fuse tester. Jumper cables. Multi-meter. Chisels. Carpenter's level. Sets of both metric and standard wrenches (socket, box and open-end). Two spray cans of WD-40. Chain lube (The chain should be cleaned, tightened and lubricated every two tanks of gas. Cleaning a motorcycle chain with WD-40 is a little controversial but it's easier than packing a gallon of diesel fuel). Electric air pump. Battery charger. A tube-patching kit. Feeler gauge. Test lamp. Allen wrench set. Oil-filter wrench. Hacksaw. Assorted screwdivers. Inverter. Flashlights. Spare AA and C batteries, plumber's snake and plunger. A small aircraft mechanic's mirror on a stick-and-swivel for looking into awkward places. Standard and truck-size air pressure gauges. A 100-foot extension cord. Cleaning rags, bucket and a scrub brush on a pole. Electrical and duct tape. Jumper cables. Superglue. All this takes two large tool kits and weighs about 150 pounds.

Spare parts:

Wood screws. Motorcycle sparkplugs. Metal screws. RV taillight bulbs. Bailing wire. Oil and oil filters for the RV. Light bulbs for the RV interior. Extra air filter, oil and sparkplugs for the RV generator. Replacement engine serpentine belts. Spare 12-volt deep-cycle marine battery. Bicycle tubes. Tube patching kit. Tire puncture repair tools. Brake and transmission fluids. Chrome polish and automotive wax.

After the obligatory and very touching retirement ceremony, we depart at 4.00am on 8 October. In the ceremony, I get a walking cane with an attached rear-view mirror and a squeeze-bulb bicycle horn, some gasoline debit cards and a dive trip for two to La Paguera, Puerto Rico.

It's 3 AM. I'm in Falling Waters. My laptop celluar modem has three bars this morning. A good omen. I can blog until the sun comes up.

Falling Waters is a place in Florida off Interstate 10 between Pensacola and Tallahassee. A small park but very beautiful.

Falling Waters contains the tallest waterfall in Florida. A stream plunges 73 feet down a sinkhole into the mouth of a cave and disappears into the cave to return to the aquifer. It's just a trickle at this time of year, but the lake is still warm.

Florida is mainly limestone, honey-combed with underground caves carved by water. Sometimes these collapse and swallow a house or a highway or drink a lake.

Last night, the park ranger showed us some strange insects and many snakes... he has over 300 snakes in his house and is breeding corn snakes for special colours. He reminded me of Gregor Mendel gone mad. He claims he can sell his specially-bred albino corn snakes for $1,500 each. On eBay?

Rose early, hoping to see the Navigator's Triangle overhead and the Milky Way cutting through it. No light pollution, clear air and the moon-set early in the PM. Perfect conditions... except that the clouds blew in overnight. This is a nice place. We will stay an extra day and try out the motorcycle on the North Florida back country roads.

There's always tomorrow... Deneb, Vega and Altair will wait.