Today I didn’t have a very long drive so I was in no hurry. I arrived at my campsite about noon. Tonight we had finger foods and caught up on everyone’s latest news. We don’t have a very large group this time but we do have two new couples. We are happy to have them.
Later this evening I went with Warren and Peggy Hallbauer to the McDonald Observatory for the Star Party. First, we saw a film about the night sky. Then our guide took us outside for a discussion of the moon, seasonal planets and deep sky objects. He used a laser pointer to indicate where they were in the sky. After the talk, we could view some of them through several small public telescopes. There was nothing dry and boring about any of this!
It was quite cold outside on top of the mountain. We wore coats but I was wishing that we had brought blankets to sit on. Those stone seats were C-O-L-D!
This morning Warren, Peggy and I went back to the Observatory for the daytime activities. We saw their introductory video of the McDonald Observatory and live solar viewing program. Again, our guide made it very interesting. After the video she took us on the shuttle bus to two of the research telescopes:
(1) Harlan J Smith telescope, which was constructed in 1966-68 on Mount Locke (6,809 feet). It has a 107-inch)mirror, which was the third largest in the world at the time it was built. The telescope is used every clear night of the year. We were able to go inside this one and to watch how the telescope moved to point to different places in the sky.
(2) Hobby-Eberly telescope, which was constructed on Mount Fowlkes and dedicated in 1997. With its 433-inch mirror, it is one of the world's largest optical telescopes. It is optimized for spectroscopy, the decoding of light from stars and galaxies to study their properties. We couldn’t go inside, so we had to content ourselves with looking through glass. This made it much harder to get good photos.
After our tour we went into Fort Davis to have lunch at the old-fashioned Drug Store. I had a Rueben sandwich, which literally fell apart; so I finished eating it with a fork.
Tonight we had a potluck dinner. We had a very nice variety of dishes. After the meal we had a meeting to discuss plans for our next rally. We decided to go to Lake Texoma on October 1-3 and stay at the Texas Damsite campground. I will help coordinate this one since I volunteered there for over a year in 2008-09.
This morning the sky was clear for the first time since our arrival. The wind has died down, too. When I took my trash to the bin I discovered a recycle bin for paper, plastic and aluminum. I put my old step stool in there even though I wasn’t sure it was made of the kind of plastic that they want. That stool had collapsed three times and I narrowly escaped injury all three times. Last night was the last straw. It supposedly could hold up to 300 pounds but the design was just not up to the challenge.
Tonight we all went to the Indian Lodge to have dinner at the Black Bear Restaurant. They offered an Italian buffet in addition to the regular menu. The food was very good. George took our official photograph in front of the lodge.
Back at the campground, there was a drawing for gifts. All three gifts went to our new members, Corky Hawkinson, Jay and Jacque Forrest and Mike and Armelle Doyle.
And, thus ended another good rally.
Route: I-10 W to Balmorhea => TX 17 S => TX 118 N to state park
Total Miles Driven: 90
Weather Conditions: Cloudy, windy and cool
Road Conditions: Good
RV Park: Davis Mountains State Park
Park Conditions: Beautiful scenery, paved sites with full hook-ups, no club house