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

Fall Creek View

from abandoned railroad bridge

Fall Creek meanders through the esker fields of the Malloryville Preserve. Here is the view from an abandoned railroad bridge. A major watercourse of the Finger Lakes, throughout the 19th century Fall Creek provided water power for local industry: grain grinding mills, cooperage and furniture. Here the stream bed is wide, flow slow and pacific for a mirrored surface, the effect broken by a single drop from an overhanging tree or, maybe, a fin’s flash.

Pam and I visited Malloryville last weekend to enjoy a “socially distanced” walk with family.

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Click Me for another Malloryville post, “Formed By Water.”

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.


Click me for another Superstition Wilderness Episode

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.

Baboquivari Peak

Approaching Kitt Peak

The Contreras fire threatening Kitt Peak last month brought to mind a spring visit of mine to the National Observatory.

From downtown Tucson get onto Interstate 10, heading “east” toward El Paso. East in quotations as the road only turns east after the fork for Interstate 19, headed south past San Xavier del Bac mission and Nogales at the Mexican border. A few miles down I19, well before the mission, a turnoff for Arizona route 86, a road you’ll follow the better part of 36 miles, passing the Tucson Mountains on the right. Most days, the Mayall Telescope of Kitt Peak shines bright white ahead, as it did the right after dawn on Wednesday, April 20, 2005.

At some point R86 enters the 4,453.307 square mile extent Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation, you pass the town Three Points where Arizona route 286 heads south to Sasabe and the Mexican border. The next turn south is the Kitt Peak access road, Arizona route 386. On that Wednesday I was so early the gate to the peak was locked, so I pulled off the road and waited. It is a lonely place on the route for migrants from Mexico. I wandered off the road, into a wash (dry, sandy stream bed), to relieve myself, where junk from migrants was scattered around. Back in the car a helicopter approached with a black SUV. A big guy got out, walking by into the wash: the border patrol.

Here is a photograph from that day of Baboquivari Peak taken from Kitt Peak’

Baboquivari Peak is the most sacred place to the Tohono O’odham people. It is the center of the Tohono O’odham cosmology and the home of the creator, I’itoi. According to tribal legend, he resides in a cave below the base of the mountain. This mountain is regarded by the O’odham nation as the navel of the world – a place where the earth opened, and the people emerged after the great flood. Baboquivari Peak is also sometimes referred to as I’Itoi Mountain. In the native O’odham language, it is referred to as Waw Kiwulik, meaning “narrow about the middle”. The O’odham people believe that he watches over their people to this day. — Wikipedia

Baboquivari Peak was mentioned in the journals of Jesuit missionary Padre Kino, who made many expeditions into this region of the Sonoran Desert, beginning in 1699, establishing Spanish Missions in the area. — Wikipedia

Kitt Peak is in the sacred precinct of Baboquivari, the land just below the peak is the “Gardens of the Sacred Tohono O’odham Spirit I’itoi.” The month of my visit, the O’odham nation brought legal suit against Kitt Peak to halt construction of new telescopes in the garden. The issue was settled out of court.

About the header photograph: From the bottom clockwise. Birds by Anmelia Juan of Geawuk (Kitt Peak 1972) – I purchased this from the Kitt Peak gift shop during my first visit; Turtle by Olvera and Simon Valenquela (Saguaro National Monument 2005); Stars by Simon Valenzuela for his daughter Pasquala Valenquela 16th Birthday (2018). Simon is of the Pascua Yaqui tribe who Learned basketmaking from his wife’s family.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Space Shuttle Prototypes, Mock-ups and other Models

a lotta high tech concrete

Here are some thoughts on various physical representations of the iconic Space Shuttle we encountered during our travels.

Vision

Dr. Maxime “Max” Faget joined NASA in 1958, where he headed the group that designed America’s first manned spacecraft, the Mercury capsule. In 1969, Dr. Faget was the director of engineering and development at NASA. On April 1, 1969, Dr. Max Faget tossed this balsa wood toy toward his team of engineers hard at work landing a man on the moon. During this time Dr. Faget’s team also began creating a revolutionary space vehicle for NASA. “We’re going to build America’s next spacecraft. And it’s going to launch like a spacecraft. It’s going to land like a plane.” –text from Kennedy Space Center display, see following.

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Mock-up on fire

The Space Shuttle life size model still in use for fire training at Station #2 at the Shuttle Landing Facility.

Two Inspirations

April 29, 2016 – Almost five years after NASA’s last space shuttle landed in Florida, an orbiter returned to the runway at the Kennedy Space Center. The model orbiter “Inspiration” was rolled out to Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility on Wednesday (April 27), where it will be rebuilt into a traveling exhibit. The full-scale mockup was previously on display at the now-former location of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville. LVX System, which acquired the 122-foot-long (37 meter) shuttle replica from NASA, moved the Inspiration from the Hall to a work yard in January. The company, which has an agreement with NASA to study visual light communication for deep space missions, intends to use the space shuttle as a vehicle for both educational outreach and marketing. “Over the past four months, work has been done to bolster the shuttle’s structure and aesthetics in preparation for the move this week, an LVX spokesperson said.” – from the “Collect Space” web site

The “Inspiration” model of my photograph, from our 2018 Shuttle Landing Facility visit, is a second Space Shuttle mock-up built by Kennedy Space Center carpenters from a rocket booster body.

Happy Birthday

Three birthday cakes Pam Wills created with input from grandson Kayvon. He helped to decorate the cakes. Featured is the Cape Canaveral lighthouse with launch sites, Kennedy Space Center launch site 39A with the shuttle and rockets. Foreground, in partial view is a tableau of the 1969 moon landing.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Mercury 7 Pre-Launch Facilities

Hosting Astronaut ZZZZZZZ’s and much more

Here is the sixth in a series of photographs centered on the early history of space flight on Cape Canaveral mostly taken during a tour organized by the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. “Google” the foundation for details of future tours. Here we explore pre-launch support for the Mercury program, including the first USA Orbital Launch of John Glenn from Launch Complexe 14 (LC 14).

Overview

Leaving LC 1 – 4 (see Post WWII Launch Complexes”), our bus turned onto Central Control Road passing construction on Launch Complex 36 (LC36). In 2015 Blue Origin (Amazon money) leased LC36 where it planned to launch the “New Glenn” vehicle after 2020. I snapped the churned-up sand and construction equipment, not interesting at all IMHO.

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Corner of Central Control and ICBM Roads. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The “New Glenn” was named in homage to John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth in 1962. We turned right onto to ICBM Road, headed generally north, following a string of launch complexes along the Altantic shore toward Launch Complex 14 (LC14). A dissapointment was not stopping to walk the Mercury 7 Memorial at the corner of ICBM Road and LC14. Our bus stopped briefly enough for the following snap. It is a memorial because John Glenn, the surviving member of Mercury 7, passed away December 8, 2016 at the age of 95.

Mercury 7 Memorial, just off ICBM Road

I will cover at length the Mercury-Atlas vehicle that powered John Glenn into orbit February 20, 1962. The tie-in between ICBM road and this series of launch complexes is the early space missions were on re-purposed Intercontinental Ballistic Missles (thus, ICBM). “Atlas” is the name of the ICBM used for Colonel Glenn’s 1962 flight. Click on the following image to find labled pushpins for the corner of Central Control and ICBM Roads (upper right), the road to LC14 and Mercury 7 Memorial.

You will also find a pushpin for the Skid Strip, bottom just to right of center. The earliest cruise missle tests (see “Cruise Missles” and Post WWII Launch Complexes” ) included navigation to a landing on non-wheeled “skids.” The strip was maintained in support of the manned and later missions when cargo planes delivered the early space capsules, landing, not skidding hopefully, for transfer to a Pre-Launch facility, Hangar S.

Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 14 and Pre-Launch Support: Hangar S and the Skid Strip

Hangar S is seen below as we passed later in the tour. Built 1957 by the military the 61,300 square feet were acquired by NASA in 1959. The early space capsules were tested here in an vacume chamber to ensure the vehicle supported an breathable atmosphere for the occupants.

The first American space voyager was Ham, a chimpanzee. Ham lived in a residential area on the second floor of Hangar S. For a period of time the Mercury 7 shared the spartan second floor quarters. “The Right Stuff” (a 1984 film from a Tom Wolfe book) included scenes from this episode of the program.

Constructed in 1957, Hangar S served for pre-flight processing from Mercury through the final flight of the Space Shuttle. This is where the Mercury 7 astronauts were first quartered on the second floor and later, is where they stayed prior to flight. The Lunar Orbiter was prepared here.

Comfortable Quarters

In short order arrangements were made for more comfortable quarters, just off the ocean in Cocoa Beach. It was a new hotel given over entirely to the Mercury 7. Pam and I stayed there in 2018 while taking this tour, it is the La Quinta across from the International Palms. We recommend it a clean, comfortable, reasonably price and a great story to share afterwards. The Atlantic Ocean is a five minute walk.

La Quinta Inn was the home of the Mercury 7 Astronauts, 1275 N Atlantic Avenue Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931

I learned from the tour how the hotel was donated to the Mercury 7 by a private individual. They owned the hotel. Here is a very informative sign just off the La Quinta lobby with their names. Each first mission, as named by the astronaut, is listed.

La Quinta Inn was the home of the Mercury 7 Astronauts, 1275 N Atlantic Avenue Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931
View of the hotel built for and first owned by the Marcury 7 astronauts. They lived here in the early days of the USA space program.

Blastoff!!

Next post will feature images of LC14 from 2018.

Launch of Friendship 7, the first American manned orbital space flight. Astronaut John Glenn aboard, the Mercury-Atlas rocket is launched from Pad 14. Public Domain Photograph by NASA.

ClickMe for the next post in this series, “Launch Complex 14 Today.”

ClickMe for the first post in this series, “Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.”

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words John Glenn, Launch Complex 14, Mercury-Atlas, Launch Complex 36. Plus a “google” on “Hangar S History” that found an excellent page hosted on the NASA site. Cover photo of Friendship 7 Launch my be found on Flickr in “NASA on the Commons” photostream.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Shuttle Landing Facility

a lotta high tech concrete

We left our Cocoa Beach hotel in the pre-dawn hours of February 6, 2018, with our tickets in hand for the first launch of Space X’s “Falcon Heavy”, our reward for arriving early was a spot on the third bus.

Tooling Around

On the way to our final destination, the Apollo-Saturn V center, we were privileged to visit the Shuttle Landing Facility. Here are a few snapshots from the bus.

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Preparing for the Worst

A Smooth Landing

Aside from holding the record for world’s longest runway, the surface itself exceptionally engineered, consisting of an extremely high-friction concrete strip designed to maximize the braking ability of the Space Shuttle at its high landing speed, with a paving thickness of 16.0 inches (40.6 cm) at the center. It uses a grooved design to provide drainage and further increase the coefficient of friction. The original groove design was found to actually provide too much friction for the rubber used in the Shuttle’s tires, causing failures during several landings. This issue was resolved by grinding down the pavement, reducing the depth of the grooves significantly

Atlantis plaque on the access pathway along the Shuttle Landing Facility. It reads “STS-135 Atlantis Final Landing 7/21/2011. Nose Gear Whell Stop – RWY 15 – 11,361 Feet. Missions Flown- 33 ; Days in Space – 307 ; Miles Flown – 125 Million

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words “STS-107” as well as the official web site for Kennedy Space Center Fire Department.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Columbia STS-107

Painful Memories

We left our Cocoa Beach hotel in the pre-dawn hours of February 6, 2018 with our tickets in hand for the first launch of Space X’s “Falcon Heavy, our reward for arriving early was a spot on the third bus to the Apollo-Saturn V center. At 4 miles from Launch Complex 39a this is the prime location for “VIP” viewing.

The Columbia Disaster

We were privileged to visit the Shuttle Landing Facility on the way, this hangar on the SLF access road was pointed out by the guide. Here was where the remains of Space Shuttle Columbia were collected after the disaster.

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STS-107 was the 113th flight of the Space Shuttle program, and the 28th and final flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 16, 2003 and during its 15 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds in orbit conducted a multitude of international scientific experiments. It was also the 88th post-Challenger disaster mission. An in-flight break up during reentry into the atmosphere on February 1 killed all seven crew members and disintegrated Columbia. — wikipedia

Immediately after the disaster, NASA convened the Columbia accident Investigation Board to determine the cause of the disintegration. The source of the failure was determined to have been caused by a piece of foam that broke off during launch and damaged the thermal protection system (reinforced carbon-carbon panels and thermal protection tiles) on the leading edge of the orbiter’s left wing. During re-entry the damaged wing slowly overheated and came apart, eventually leading to loss of control and disintegration of the vehicle. The cockpit window frame is now exhibited in a memorial inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis Pavilion at the Kennedy Space Center. — wikipedia

The damage to the thermal protection system on the wing was similar to that Atlantis had sustained in 1988 during STS-27, the second mission after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. However, the damage on STS-27 occurred at a spot that had more robust metal (a thin steel plate near the landing gear), and that mission survived the re-entry. — wikipedia

Sources of information for this post: I used information from the Wikipedia site for the key words “STS-107.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Island Shrine

part of the Irish landscape

A roadside shrine on Cottage Road, Inishmore. The faith brought by the saints has deep roots here.

A large crucifix set with wet stone walls with cut flowers. The walls are the native limestone.

It is a spring (early June) afternoon and there are fern and wildflowers. The white flowers are Greater Burnet saxifrage (Scientific Name: Pimpinella major).

Click Me for Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

The existing dry stone wall was interrupted by the shrine. In the distance are dry stone walls around fields, a stone shed, feeding horses and the sea, being Galway Bay, storm clouds with distant rain.

Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

References: search google “Wet Stone”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved