Thursday, May 31, 2012

Solar Eclipse

On Sunday, May 20th, St. George experienced a rather remarkable astronomical phenomenon: an annular solar eclipse. For those who may not know, an annular eclipse differs from a total eclipse in that the moon's diameter appears smaller than the sun as it passes in front, causing the sun to look like an annulus, or ring.

I was amazed by the sheer quantity of people watching the eclipse. Even though an eclipse may not be high-speed, high-tech entertainment, it's encouraging to realize that as a society we still hold some reverence for the majesty of the sun and skies. While the City of St. George passed out thousands of solar glasses, they were all gone by the time we tried to get a pair.
Fortunately, we came prepared with our own low-tech solution: a couple of index cards.
If you prick a hole in the top card, you can see the shadow of the moon passing in front of the sun.
Jason's camera also took some cool shots of the eclipse.
Getting closer...
A ring of solar light. It was pretty amazing to see how the surrounding landscape suddenly appeared much dimmer. Even more strange was to watch the day grow brighter as the eclipse passed, even as dusk fell.
Since the eclipse lasted over four minutes, some people nearby were willing to share their glasses so we could get a better view.
Because after all, one can get tired of index cards.
This astronomical wonder has not reached the United States in 18 years, nor will it happen again until a full eclipse comes in August 2017. (We'll have to drive all the way to Idaho if we want to see it.)

The kids enjoy themselves from the red rocks of Pioneer Park. Brooklyn:
And the sure sign of an over-tired two year-old.
Is anybody paying attention to me?
Guess it's time to pack up and head home.
But hey, hold onto those nifty solar glasses--the transit of Venus is right around the corner--June 6th, 2012.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Staycation: Part 2

Early Friday morning our family embarks on our annual Memorial Day camping trip. This year's destination? Moab. Hooray!

While some might not consider it as high of a priority as, say, remembering to pack the tent, I absolutely refuse to leave until I've posted the photos from our last trip to Moab. So without further delay, I present March's Staycation photos, part two. Please, don't hate.

Antelope Canyon, just outside Page, Arizona.

Antelope Canyon was one of a very few times in my life where the photographs supersede the actual experience. Don't get me wrong, the canyon itself was breathtakingly stunning--obviously. Even an amateur with a cheap camera could get incredible photos--which was rather the problem. The tour was so focused on showing us how to get the best shots that it detracted from the wonder of the canyon in its stillness. As Antelope Canyon is a major source of tourism for the Navajo Nation, guided tours are required, to the tune of $35 a person. Should you choose to visit lower Antelope Canyon, it'll cost you another $30--ouch! Despite the price, these beautiful canyons are still very popular, as you can see by all the shuttles waiting at the front entrance. Yet since the canyon's only a quarter of a mile long, the place gets quite crowded.
Am I glad we splurged? Absolutely. Am I likely to splurge again soon? Probably not. And just so you know, out of all the photos Jason took, the image he likes best is this shot of the power plant, taken from the truck bed on our way there.
Monument Valley
Crossing the border.
Featured in films from "Cars" to "Forrest Gump," Monument Valley is certainly worth the trip.
Mexican Hat--can you spot the sombrero?
Burning off some calories after too much time sitting in the car.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's SuperJason!
Far from the reach of high-speed internet, there remain a few places on earth where life just moves slow.
The Slickrock Trail, Moab, Utah

My experience on the slickrock trail deserves a post of its own, should I ever work up the nerve. Suffice it to say that it was the scariest thing I have ever done. Talk about swallowing your fear! While I would never dare recommend it to anyone save an extreme skilled mountain biker, at the same time I'm glad that Jason and I had the chance to ride.

Arches National Park
Our beautiful campsite in Devils Garden.
They're not kidding when they call the Fiery Furnace a labyrinth. I'm not certain that we ever really found our way in, although at least we didn't get lost coming out.

The best view in the park.
We caught Delicate Arch at sunset, flaming red from the evening rays.

Life is good.
I love how the cryptobionic soil mirrors the contour of Arches in miniature.
Landscape arch.
Partition arch.
Navajo arch.
Double O arch. (Look closely--you can see the two arches stacked right on top of one another.)
Private arch.

Hard to believe such walls are real.
Taking in the magnificence from atop a rock fin.
Jason naturally felt inclined to leap.
And again.
Can anyone say Michael Jordan?
For Kara, the moment was more meditative.
Only one thing could possibly enhance such a delightful staycation.
Ice cream.
Thanks once more, Mom and Dad, for taking such great care of the kids while we were off gallivanting around. Can't wait to share Moab with you--soon!