What did you do for thanksgiving? Well we had a star party! After a traditional dinner at home on Thursday for 14 of our closest family members, we headed out in a 31ft, rented motor home. Our first stop was Torry Pines State Beach for sunset and cocktails. Great way to start the next phase of our adventure. As you can see from the pictures, we timed it well. The kids out-raced the waves while the adults roamed the sidewalks with drink in hand. (This was Friday after Thanksgiving.)
|On Saturday, some friends of ours,
the Murphys had scouted ahead and issued specific directions to the Star Party camp site
via v-mail. For those who want to look it up, we made camp at 33d 08' 15"N,
116d 22'58.5"W. Better yet, click the map at left. Now, most people issue
directions something like, "Go to Hollywood and Vine and make a left." But
not Mike... and not for this group. We punched the coordinates into our trusty
computer map and our GPS... we were set! And yes, they were remarkably accurate, I'd
say within 50ft of a direct hit. (Mike claims my mapping program was off)
First on the agenda after parking the motor home was golf at Rams Hill CC. You need to toss out everything you know about Borrego. Rams Hill is closer to Palm Springs in class than it is to the desert community we've come to know through numerous hikes and 4-wheeling off road. Sandy, Wes, Marshall and Gary did our best to get our money's worth... took deep divots, blasted sand from traps, and generally explored all corners of each fairway. (Sorry, scores are secret... national security, you know). After five hours of nervous frustration... er I mean, relaxation we hung up our spikes.
From the links we went back to base camp in Yaqui Wells where the camper was parked -- along with about 30 other star partiers. Vicki, aka the miracle cook, was doing her thing and got all 14 of us fed from the small galley. After libations and dinner we adjourned to the telescopes. Borrego is many miles from nowhere and the 'seeing' was close to perfect! The day before arrival it had rained and the day we departed the skies opened again. Hey, isn't this supposed to be a desert? Anyway, we hit it just about perfect. With the help of a couple of heavy duty scopes we were able to see the rings of Saturn plus one moon, Mars, Jupiter plus four of its moons, and several miscellaneous galaxies and nebulae. "Hey, isn't that a Martian Star Partier looking back at us?"
After sleeping in, recharging our batteries drained from a night of full contact astronomy, we were ready for the last phase of our adventure. This time we would get down and dirty... with dirt bikes. Jason hauled his from Mission Viejo and was game to let us all take a crack (was that a bone breaking?) at it. What a blast! Marshal and I took turns demonstrating that the bike could withstand a couple of 200lb amateurs... no clutch shifting, brake slamming, rock glancing, sand headers, jack knife steering, and other general abuses. However, only Jason was experienced enough to make it to the top of the dune at Ocotillo Wells.
The trip home was uneventful... just like we like it. What'll we do next year... stay tuned!