Rambling Images

Three Summer Hikes

“Out in the meadow, I picked a wild sunflower, and as I looked into its golden heart, such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept.  I wanted Mother, with her gentle voice and quiet firmness; I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes; I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers.”

from “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist, Writings from the Ozarks” edited by Stephen W. Hines”

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Cornell Plantations

Click photograph for a larger view.

Taughannock Falls

Buttermilk Falls, upper

A quiet moment……

Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Behind the Stories of Gold

Macro work on Peter’s Trail

Marled and rose quartz outcroppings such as this appear throughout the Superstitions. The stories are of soldiers and prospectors who return from the wilderness with hoards of gold nuggets picked from quartz.

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Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Peter’s Mesa Sunrise/Sunset

Can You Find the Eye of the Needle?

I was a member of an expedition to Peter’s Mesa March 2008, a place central to Superstition Wilderness treasure legends. This is a sunset view, looking south, southwest. Light raking across the desolation and Miner’s Needle creates a fascinating spectacle. Ancient volcanism, apparent throughout the Superstition Wilderness, is here seen in the texture, form and type of rock as well as the mineral deposits. Miner’s Needle, like Weaver’s Needle (not seen in this view), are eroded volcanic summits. Look closely for the “eye” of Miner’s Needle, easier seen in the cropped heading photograph. To this day, hopeful prospectors search for gold nuggets.

There is one form of volcanism present today as an eerie rumble or hiss, similar to an enormous distant jet engine heard now and then during our two days on the mesa, louder and closer than an overhead plane could produce. The view includes many notable Sonoran Desert plants. Many young Saguaro cactus are in the form of green poles. Catching the dramatic light, on the ridge is a tall single flower of an Agave, known as the “Century Plant” it flowers once in a long life and dies.

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Peters Mesa is named after “Old Pete” Gottfried Petrasch, father of Hermann and Rhiney Petrasch. Old Pete worked for Jim Bark for awhile in the 1890s doing odd jobs. Irregular employment gave Pete and Sons time to s searched for the Lost Dutchman Mine in the years following the death of the source of the legend, the “Dutchman” Jacob Waltz. The Petrasches were one of the first groups to search for the mine, and gold in general. They covered almost the entire Superstition range in their combined searches.

On our first day on the mesa, we came across the remains of one of these camps, on the top of Squaw Canyon, a deplorable junk pile discarded by searchers, presumably disappointed, too lazy to cart it out. That March, we were lucky to find the remnants of winter rains in the form of a meager trickle at the bottom of a shallow draw off Peter’s Mesa trail up from La Barge canyon. We had a good time of it until the trip was cut short by a storm front and torrential rains. We were back in Apache Junction before they hit.


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Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse

Introduction of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse

Here is the first in a series of photographs centered on the early history of space flight on Cape Canaveral. All were taken during a tour organized by the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. Google the foundation for details of future tours. Here we enjoy several views of the lighthouse with historical and maritime background.

Daymark

The lighthouse is in the background (to the left of diving osprey) of this photograph from a previous posting, “Dive!!.” The structure exists to warn ships of dangerous, shallow shoals that begin 13.5 miles from the cape. The visible pattern of the tower, called daymark, identifies it as the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse. From here it is a little more than 10 miles distant, so its daymark is visible to alert observers from beyond the most distant shoals on a clear day.

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Lighthouse Daymark from 10.1 miles

The daymark for this lighthouse is black and white stripes of a specific width, it is unique and visible long distances depending on the weather. The black lantern room (top of tower) is also a daymark element. At night, the light is identified by the frequency of flashes.

Photograph by Pam Wills from her Samsung Galaxy

Brief History

The historical sign is a good beginning. I love to photograph these details.
There is a story behind this monument, the top plaque duplicates much of the sign text given above. Here is the text from the side plaque: “Composed of bricks from the Original Cape Lighthouse. Built by Eagle Scout Kenneth Wyse, Troop 705 (in the year) 2002.”

Lighthouse Portrait

The angle of the first lighthouse photograph is very appealing, though this one is superior for documentary purposes. The structure is two shells. The exterior shell is cast-iron panels, each numbered for disassembly/reassembly in the event the structure must be moved. Inside is a shell of fired clay bricks with an air space between shells. As is captioned in the preceeding photograph, the monument is constructed of bricks from the first installation. The lighthouse was moved in the 19th century due to changing shoreline.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope – 3

Adaptive optics

These views within the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure were captured during a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005. By way of orientation, the observation room we visited is near the location labeled “4” on the model of the following photograph or the “Observation Room” of the drawing.

We learned each of the sets of mirrors is considered a separate telescope. The first step in designing the new solar telescope was to determine the optimal image scale. Working on the spectra of the solar granules, on the physical structure of the sunspots and their associated magnetic fields, requires a considerable image size. Past experience has shown that the optimal image of the sun should be approximately 0.91 meters. The highlight of our visit to the Main Observation room was meeting with the technician operating the recently developed low-cost adaptive optics system.

Tip-tilt correction and low order wavefront correction is available with a number of portable optical benches.  These are primarily used with the Main spectrograph and the Solar Stellar spectrograph on the Main telescope, but due to their compact mounting they could be used with other telescopes and instruments in the facility.

This configuration uses a rapidly deformable mirror to correct distortions introduced by the turbulent atmosphere. Using sensors to measure the degree of image distortion, the adaptive optics system adjusts the shape of the mirror accordingly and converts a blurred image into a clear one. The following image demonstrates the correction. “Low-cost” = $25,000 in 2003 US dollars. Under references is a link to a full description of the device by the creator.

A main area of ​​study in the observatory is the structure of sunspots, which are relatively cold, dark spots on the surface of the Sun created by intense magnetic activity.

Some of the most important discoveries made at McMath-Pierce include the detection of water vapor in the Sun, the measurement of kilogauss magnetic fields (thousands of times stronger than those on Earth) outside sunspots and the detection of a natural maser (like a laser, but with a microwave instead of visible light) in the Martian atmosphere.

Over the years and technological advances, the National Solar Observatory has moved its headquarters from Tucson to Boulder, Colorado. The organization abandoned its solar telescopes at Kitt Peak and in New Mexico for a larger instrument in Hawaii, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on the island of Maui, which began operating in 1919.

References:
Wikipedia “McMath–Pierce solar telescope”

“Low Cost Adaptive Solar Optics” by Christopoher Kellar

Insights into the architectural design.

National Solar Observatory website..

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A Rocky End to a Perfect Day

A visit to a wilderness horse camp

….continued from the chapter “Superstition Galleries”

Nugget and Colorado had eaten their fill of the rich early spring grass of the apple orchard, The Searcher pulled together the pair for the return to Pine Creek. Perched on Colorado, the lead held by The Searcher, I listened as he shared survival facts remembered from Peter Bigfoot’s desert survival course. The Reavis Mountain School of Self Reliance, founded 1979, is along same Reavis Gap Trail (#117) we traversed. After descending to Pine Creek and up to Reavis Gap (where I first met The Searcher), it descends to meet Campaign Creek where the survival school is located.

He pointed out on the many flowering Century Plant stalks along the trail. “These are great to roast when young, just as the stalk starts to bud from the center, before it starts to lengthen.” By the time the stalk flowers, as in the following photograph, it is quite tough.

Agave flower spike against the dawn in the nameless canyon west of Two Bar Mountain, Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.

At the base of boulders, shaded from the sun, the ridgeline fern takes hold. Surviving on seasonal water seepage, it dries out during dry spells to later revive and reproduce via spores. As I recall, the dry or fresh form is useful as an analgesic.

An absolute necessity for bushwacking (walking off the path), a pair of rattlesnake proof boots were worn on every expedition. These rose to mid-calf with a layer of lexan, the same as used for bullet proof glass.

Swept from the Saddle

We passed the time in this way, me holding on to the saddle horn bouncing and shifting as Colorado negotiated the rough and steep path down to Pine Creek where the vegetation changed from very sparse to the thick growth you saw in my post “A Peaceful Day at Pine Creek”.
On the east side of Pine Creek a trail, unmarked on the maps, follows the creek bed uphill north towards Mound Mountain. In 50 feet or so we passed the side trail to my campsite, our destination was The Searcher’s campsite. I was not paying near enough attention to the surroundings when I looked up to see an Arizona Oak limb headed to my chest. With no time or space to negotiate the obstacle I was left to grab hold and hang on to be swept from the saddle. The branch held my bulk for, at most, a second before giving way.

In bending flexibly before breaking the live Oak wood and centuries of soil underneath the trees softened my fall enough so I was badly shaken and unhurt. Falling a foot or so in any direction would have resulted in serious injury or instant death. Colorado stopped, looking briefly back as I slowly came to my feet. After taking account and letting the circumstance wash over me, I got up and proceeded slowly while we both contemplated my miraculous survival.

Bear Shelter

I now took up the rear as in a few hundred yards the valley wall rose on both sides of the Creek to form a short, narrow pass. The walls fell away just as quickly, the valley floor leveled out and we came to The Searcher’s camp. The bear shelter stood out right away. This was a ten foot high teepee of 4 – 6 inch diameter tree trunks tied with rope, within was a hammock . The three foot wide opening left only one unprotected side while he slept, offering some protection from the all too common roaming bears, most commonly from September to November when mazanita fruit ripens.

Well stocked in every respect, for a wilderness camp. In the following years of roaming the wilderness the camps of other horse people were similar in this way: stoves, comfortable cots, radios, pots and pans all fit into panniers. As a noun pannier is seldom used in the singular because there are always two, one on each side of the horse for balance. I sat on the wide top of one enjoying a cold beer pulled from a bed of ice.

We discussed the benefits and drawback of horses for exploration. I required a gallon and a half of water daily and in the desert wilderness provided for storage of three days, 4 and a half gallons. At 8 pounds each, that is 36 pounds!! Starting out, my pack weighted 90 pounds with a camera and tripod.

There are benefits to having a mode of transport that thinks for itself and drawbacks. Each individual has its own personality and horses do try to get away with what they can. It is wise to limit your dependence on a horse until you know each other well. In retrospect, I was “out on a limb” riding Colorado modified by being led by someone the horse knew well.

It was soon time for me to head back to camp. We set the agenda for the next day, an early start for the hike out. Colorado was to be fully loaded so my riding was not an option, just as well. It was possible to lighten my pack to almost nothing and I looked forward to that.

I took some time before dinner to set up the tripod for a self-portrait on my last full day in Pine Creek. The view is northeast from the Arizona Trail near my camp, the ridge overlooks Reavis Gap. I did a version of the view with and without me.

Click any photograph for a larger image.

Click me for the next post in this series, “End of the Beginning.”

Here is a gallery of the same photos. It is fun to flip back and forth with me disappearing from the scene.

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Click me for the first post of this series.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope – 2

The Mirrors

These views within the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure were captured during a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005. By way of orientation, think of yourself at the location labeled “4” on this model. This is the only large telescope where humans can view the interior and visually experience the light paths “bouncing” between the mirrors.

McMath–Pierce solar telescope has three heliostats mounted on a 110-foot tower adjacent to a slanted enclosure. The 2.03-meter heliostat feeds a 1.61-meter primary mirror, there are 1.07-meter and 0.91-meter primary mirrors fed by a pair of 0.81-meter heliostats. Here we are inside the slanted enclosure, looking up the shaft to the tower mounted heliostats, readily identified as the three circles, the largest at center (3.51 feet in diameter). The smaller (2.66 feet) heliostats named “East” (on left) and “West.”

Built in 1962, the building was designed by American architect Myron Goldsmith and Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan. It was the largest solar telescope and the largest unobstructed aperture telescope in the world. It is named after the astronomers Robert Raynolds McMath and Keith Pierce. Painted white to reflect sunlight to reduce heat accumulation, the enclosure is water cooled to prevent convection currents through the column of air within the slanted enclosure, keeping the air as still as possible along the light path between the mirrors.

In the three photographs following, we face the underground portion of the slanted shaft and (what looks to be) the 0.91 meter (2.99 feet) primary concave mirror. I say that because in some of the photographs a beam of light, to the left of the mirror, can be seen travelling further underground, presumably to the largest primary mirror. As there is only one such light beam, I conclude the west heliostat is inactive.

Here we looking up the slanted enclosure. Look carefully at the first photograph, below, to see reflections on the glass partition. The observation platform was separated from the light paths to maintain the stillness of the air column. The two mirrors of the first photograph are the third mirror, reflecting concentrated sunlight from the 0.91 and 1.61-meter primary mirrors into the observatory rooms. The mirror for the 1.07-meter primary is out of sight in foreground, I believe this set of three mirrors (West heliostats, primary and third) was out of service.

The second photograph, on right, is a close up of the third mirror for the largest primary. A foreshortened, perfectly round light disk is clearly visible.

Here we are inside the slanted enclosure, facing the underground portion of the slanted shaft and (what looks to be) the 0.91-meter primary concave mirror. In the lower right corner is the reverse side of the third mirror for the largest primary mirror, the 1.61-meter.

Reference: Wikipedia “McMath–Pierce solar telescope”
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Arizona Connections

A Span of 32 Years

Life for me changed September 1971 with my matriculation at the University of Arizona. The next five years (4 for a BS degree and 1 year dietetics internship) were busy with study and supporting myself leaving minimal time for travel. Then came 27 years of work and family until in my 49th year of life, with the graduation of my son, Sean, from college planned for January 2003, I anticipated having time and resources to see more of the world. The Arizona postings here flowed the outcomes of this decision that spanned the years 2003 through my Mother breaking her hip just before New Years Day 2009.

Click the links for previous Arizona postings related to the post text.

November 2003 saw our first Arizona tour. Sean was scheduled to be home from USS Observation Island. He served as an engineering officer working for Maersk contracted by the US Navy to operate the ship. We flew into Phoenix and headed north for a tour of the Mogollon Rim onto Winslow, the Painted Desert, Canyon del Chelly, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon South Rim, the western edge of the Painted Desert north of Flagstaff to finish up at University of Arizona Homecoming.

Homecoming 2003

My 2003 homecoming schedule including a meeting with the head of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, Dr. Houtkooper. We talked of ways to re-connect with the University, leading to an invitation to serve on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Alumni Board of Directors beginning November 2005. From then until November 2008 I flew to Tucson two to three times a year for planning and educational meetings: planning fund raising activities, learning how CALS benefits and connects with the people of Arizona.

These baskets from our home are reminders of my original Arizona connection and of one story of re-connection. The larger, birds, design is from my student years from a first trip to Kitt Peak. It was a gift to my parents and for decades was in their china cabinet, I’d see it each holiday visit and recall driving desert with friends, the road up the mountain, seeing the newly constructed Mayall Telescope building loom over us, the smells and views of the Sonora desert.

Meeting Native American Artists

Working for the CAL Alumni Board the first time, November 2005, I had an idea to approach Native American artists for donations of their work for student scholarships. My first outing to meet artists was to an event at the Saguaro National Monument, west of Tucson, where I met Olvera and Simon Valenzuela. They were a happy couple devoted to continuing a tradition of basket weaving. Olvera was the youngest active weaver from generations of Tohono O’odham women. Her husband, Simon, a Pascua Yaqui, learned weaving from Olvera and her family. I purchased the turtle basket, upper left, and obtained contact information.

Click either photograph for a larger view.
From the bottom clockwise. Birds by Anmelia Juan of Geawuk (Kitt Peak 1972), Turtle by Olvera and Simon Valenquela (Sqguaro National Monument 2005) Stars by Simon Valenzuela for hsi daughter Pasquala Valenquela 16th Birthday (2018). Simon is of the Pascua Yaqui tribe who Learned basketmaking from his wife’s family.

I phoned them the last week of January, hoping to discuss a donation for that November. Simon answered, we talked and I learned he was in mourning for Olvera who passed away the previous week at 33 years of age, leaving her daughters Uneek and Pascuela. I did not bring up the donation and kept in touch. I felt sympathy for Simon’s situation because, twenty one years before, Sean’s mother deserted us and I raise him alone.

Olvera Valenzuela Memorial Scholarship

Over the course of months, communicating with Arizona contacts, I came to the conclusion donations by Native American artists was not a sustainable model for financing donations. The individuals were not prosperous enough and there were too few of them. Instead, during the travels documented here, I made contacts. In the Chiricahua National Monument I met Linda Kelly the owner of Triangle T Ranch who donated stays there. The Searcher had a side farrier (care of horses feet) and donated services.

With the permission of Simon and family we started the Olvera Valenzuela Memorial Scholarship. The application is an essay on the subject: “A Proposal for Native American Cultural Conservation.”  The qualified applicants are Native Americans enrolled at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) in a course of study leading to a baccalaureate. The designation “Native American” is defined for the purposes of these criteria as being a documented member of a North American tribe. It was an annual award of $500 to the successful applicant. To start I contributed $1,000 to fund it for two years.

Over the next year, Simon and I contacted potential donors, but were unsuccessful in funding the scholarship beyond two years. In the meantime, when I visited Tucson for CALS board meetings Simon and I would do outings with his daughters. Here is one from the 2006 University of Arizona Homecoming football game. This is after the game, a win for the team, with the field covered in celebrating fans.

The third basket of the photograph, a stars design, was raffled to fun Pascuala’s sixteen birthday celebration in 2018 and I won!!!!

Cheers!!

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope – 1

The Exterior

These views of the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure are the preliminary to a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005.

On the tower are three heliostats, plane (flat) mirrors mounted on computer-controlled platforms to follow the sun across the sky to direct sunlight to primary mirrors underground, beneath the base of the slanted shaft

Built in 1962, the building was designed by American architect Myron Goldsmith and Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan. It was the largest solar telescope and the largest unobstructed aperture telescope in the world. It is named after the astronomers Robert Raynolds McMath and Keith Pierce.

Inside the McMath–Pierce solar telescope is this keyed model of the observatory. Our docent for the morning tour stands alongside.

Reference: Wikipedia “McMath–Pierce solar telescope”
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Kitt Peak from below

Rocks of a complex origin

“When George J. Roskruge created the official map of Pima County in 1893, he named the range after James Quinlin, who had opened a stagecoach station in the nearby town of Quinlin in 1884.” — Wikipedia article for “Quinlan Mountains.”

Kitt Peak is the highest point of the Quinlan Mountains, one of a series of ranges starting near the border with Mexico, the Baboquivari Mountains. Pan Tak pass separates Coyote Mountains from the Quinlans. Farther north there is even the Roskruge Mountains and a range named for a silver mine, the Silver Bells. Roskruge originally named “Kit’s Peak” for his sister, Phillippa, married to William F. Kitt. The peak was renamed to Kitt Peak William’s request.

Here we see a dramatic view of Quinlan Ridge with Kitt Peak observatories, taken from the access road Arizona Routh 386. The instruments I recognize are, from left to right, McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope (second in line) and, on the end, Mayall Telescope.

And more views as I progressed toward the top.

The dramatic peaks are hypothesized to be igneous intrusions into metamorphic rock, these are called “Sky Islands” for the environments supported on them, radically different from surrounding lowlands. Kitt Peak is known for the stands of Manzanita Bushes

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved