We got a slow start on the 20th, since we thought we only had 30 miles to ride to McDonald Observatory. Thankfully it turned out to be closer to 25 miles because in addition to the 2,000 feet we had to climb (to about 6,500) there was a fierce headwind (guessing at least 20 mph, but who knows).
They weren’t home, so we spent nearly an hour sitting in the shade. Once their little dogs got tired of barking at us, it was pretty peaceful. I noticed Dave was covered in sweated out salt.
I could write forever about our short stay at the observatory, but I’ll just give the highlights. John & Deb are both well educated, well rounded people with a plethora of intellectual interest. Almost immediately John started in on why he’s disillusioned with astronomy and science in general, explaining why stars twinkle to illustrate the point. He really scienced the hell out of us. I’ll put in a couple of pics of his science hair… He’s legit.
We got an awesome tour of the 107″ telescope that normal tourist don’t get. The thing is massive. We walked around the outside on the catwalk where I snapped a few pics of the sun going down. The view of the surrounding mountains, canyons and desert was surreal. Pictures don’t do it justice.
Then we ran into Mike, an astronomer from Austria. He was observing on the telescope that night. He set it for the moon and let me hold down the button that moved the dome and telescope into position. We walked down a few flights of stairs to an eye piece and looked at the moon, something that John had never fine before. The whole experience was pretty awe inspiring.
Lots of stuff happened after that: we slept, descended 1,500 feet in 4 miles, I had a bangin’ sandwich in Fort Davis, we met Ray (http://biketouringtips.com/) and rode through empty desert to Alpine where we are now spending a second night after a rest day.
Tomorrow were headed to Sanderson via Marathon a day before they close part of our route for the Big Bend Open Road Race (http://bborr.com/).