Sunday, August 16, 2015

the perseids: a campout

camping beds
The Perseids meteor shower is visible in the U.S. every August and every August we aim to go out and watch meteors. Some years we manage to schlep ourselves out to a dark sky while others we throw in the towel due to light pollution or a full moon.
waiting for the show
This year, there would be a new moon  which meant dark skies! After making sure there would be little or no cloud coverage, we took advantage of geography and headed out to Carrizo National Monument which is only two hours away. We even brought the nephew a-go-go along for the ride and found ourselves to be the only folks in the campsite.
early morning meteor watching
We drove into the campsite around 8pm and set up our sleeping area first. Since we were the only folks around we took the first site with a view of the open sky in the direction of where Perseus would rise (no tent, just sleeping rolls). The mister set up his telescope while the nephew wandered around in search of bullet casings and the like. I checked out the bathroom situation which was not good. Thank goodness for the pstyle!
first photo of the day
The sun was setting and we were sticking to red bulbed headlamps and flashlights to help our night vision. There were still active critters bounding and flying around. We heard coyotes howl and a great horned owl serenaded us all night long.
the nephew does not want to wake up
As we prepared for the evening we began to get a glimpse of the show. No fireballs but nice bright shooting stars with starry dusty tails. Better than fireworks!
Through the telescope we got to see Saturn and two of its moons, the Trifid Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula. It was also dark enough to clearly see the Milky Way. Truly beautiful. We went to sleep around 10pm and would wake up every other hour or so to watch the sky. We lost count of all the activity, it was very cool. We even saw them in the morning with the sunrise. Really cool!
We didn't pack much but I did bake some brownies and packed some milk and apples so we had a perfect camp out breakfast. The other junk food (popcorn, potato chips, and chocolate) didn't get consumed as we were too busy watching the sky.
they sound like rain
The campsite is pretty barren but they have planted cottonwood trees here and there and they are on an irrigation system (which woke us up around 4am, it was quite a startle). I think they will offer some really pretty shade when they get larger. On the plus side, when the wind travels through the leaves it sounds like rain.
playing early bird
We were up and on our way back through the park by 6:30 in the morning. We could hear meadowlarks and burrowing owls and quail. It was warming up but still cool enough to wander around.
on the road again
I may not be the best morning person but I love when I manage to be a morning person. Especially when I am outside and all around me is nature. Swoon!
pretty cirrus clouds
We took the nephew to Selby Ranch where we wandered and took in the old barn, rusty truck, and weeds. The sky was a tremendous shade of blue.
it was dry, dry, dry
Evidence of the drought was everywhere. Here, the ground would crack with each step. So many textures and layers to see.
made a new friend
The mister and the nephew were way ahead of me (hello pokey camera person) and managed to spook this gorgeous barn owl. The old barn at the ranch has been dilapidated and falling down for ages. Recently it was rebuilt in parts and the old windows were meshed in. The owl probably entered the barn from a hole near the roof. It took a few flights around the interior before it found the hole and flew out to meet the sky.
This old rusty truck has been here for ages. The nephew spent some time exploring it and the area around it. I, of course, took photos.
obligatory self portrait
While leaving the barn I finally felt awake. What a difference from that first pic of me to this, right? I was still groggy from the lack of sleep. Spent more time watching the sky than sleeping...oh and the bats! There were bats that kept swooping right across our faces. They worked better than bug spray! If you ever get the chance to sleep outside under the stars without a tent, go for it! I'm glad we did it. We need another camp pad though, my old hips are killing me but still, it was gorgeous! There are a few more pics to follow...check 'em out.
walking into the sunrise
oodles of birds
the path to soda lake
and four miles of dirt road to the camp site

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