Tag Archives: Arizona

History of the World in Granite

History of the World in Granite
History of the world In Granite


History of the World in Granite
Coming west out of Yuma one crosses into the State of California where there is a long stretch of nothing for many, beautiful open space for others, and the great southwestern desert for me. About 8 miles later there is the off ramp for Felicity,

However there appears to be nothing, give one lone gas station. One turns down the frontage road on the north side and the next thing you see is the site of the History of the World in Granite.

History of the World in Granite - Photo by Fernando Castillo

What could this be one might ask? There is a rusty spiral staircase standing alone. There is a chapel on the hill in the distance. As you turn in the drive way there is an honor system three dollar donation. You can visit this museum anytime, if it is ‘open’ or not.

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Lowell Observatory of Flagstaff Arizona

We came into Flagstaff and were so excited about our possibilities, especially the Lowell Observatory. We wanted a nice dinner and a movie. Sounded simple enough. We checked into our motel conveniently located directly across from the Northern Arizona University and right on the old Route 66. Sounds to me like no problem in locating something nice, very nice. We looked up the best rated Indian dinner in Flagstaff and came up with the Dehli Palace.

This sounded perfect, especially since Anet had just returned from a 3 week pilgrimage in India. The Dehli Palace came through with a fabulous meal and we have returned on several trips to or thru Flagstaff. Now it was hard to find the first time as the street number meant you had to pick the correct shopping center, and that took two tries and a lot of go back to go forward to the correct driveway.

Pluto Discovered at Lowell Observatory

Anyway we figured there would be a choice of movie houses in Flagstaff, but that was not to be. There was only one, with eleven screens, and none of the movies tickled our fancy. So we fished a bit and found that the Lowell Observatory was only 3 miles away. Incredible we thought to find an observatory in downtown Flagstaff.

The Lowell Observatory is just up the hill a bit on the Northern Arizona University campus and was open till ten on this night. Additionally there were lectures on Pluto, this year marking the 95th anniversary of its discovery. The night we were there the Pluto Dome was open for tours. It seem  that Pluto’s presence was theorized for some time, but finally spotted by a hard working man right here at the Lowell Observatory. Wow! We got to see the actual telescope and observatory the he used for the discovery. needless to say the staff at the Lowell still think Pluto is a planet and I wholeheartedly agree.

Now the discovery of Pluto was done not by looking at the stars, but by taking photographs and comparing subsequent photos to see how things moved. The stars would cycle in a known pattern, however a planet, like Pluto, would move differently. We go to see copies of the pictures that verified the existence of Pluto, then called Planet X. February 18, 1930 was the day of discovery. Venetia Burney was the 11 year old girl who suggested the name Pluto. Pluto referenced the name of the Roman God of the underworld who could make himself invisible. Additionally Pluto started with the initials P L that were the initials of Percival Lowell who had predicted the existence of Planet X. And so the name was adopted.

Incredible Scientific Talks at Lowell Observatory

The lecture we heard was by an astrophysicist who was so excited, and I believe highly caffeinated. She spoke at over 300 words a minute (estimated)  with occasional gusts even faster. Some of it we got but a lot went into interstellar space never to be heard again.

We toured outside a bit and were given a wonderful look at Saturn through a freestanding telescope on the patio. It is always exciting to find such a friendly energetic staff.

The small museum display of the Pluto discovery revealed many details for me. Pluto will always be a planet for me, no matter what the astronomers decide. The displays and lectures will vary, so call ahead or check the web to get the latest most up to date information.

Meteor Crater – Winslow Arizona

It seems that Tourists and Explorers have a penchant for large holes in the ground and Meteor Crater qualifies. Just 26 miles outside of Winslow, Arizona if you are traveling west on Interstate 40, or 44 miles out of Flagstaff if you are traveling east on Interstate 40, Meteor Crater is a natural phenomena that is not to be missed.

Meteor Crater Panorama - by Charley Carlin - For Stupid Vacations
Meteor Crater Panorama

Meteor Crater – Formerly Canyon Diablo Crater

Whether you are interested in astronomical events and ancient history, or even US History, Meteor Crater has a bit of each in the Visitor Center. The perspective on how a large rock can cause such a change to the landscape is worth some thought.

<center>Meteor Crater by Charles Carlin for Stupid Vacations</center>
Meteor Crater over a mile across

No amount of brochures, pictures or videos can give the perspective that looking over the Meteor Crater edge can give. The magnitude and force of a meteor to make a crater of this size is truly mind boggling. Yes it is a drive off the interstate, but not that far. Yes there is a charge, and its worth it. The view from the observation deck is expansive and for me breathtaking to think about the time between impact and the formation of a crater that has lasted tens of thousands of years. Truly incredible. Yes in summer it is hot as hades to be outside.  One does not have a choice where the meteor fell 50,000 years ago. The place sat undiscovered and misunderstood for so long. The history inside and the movie explain the current understanding and are eye openers for most. This is a must do one kind of a trip.
Enjoy, I did, and more than I might have speculated beforehand.

P.S. For a full lowdown on the history and the elongated arguments about whether it was a volcanic or impact creation is in Wikipedia for those who desire a deeper story revealing the claims made by scientists over the decades concerning the creation of meteor crater.

P.P.S. Be sure to see Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff  for an astronomical good time.

Musical Instrument Museum – Scottsdale – Phoenix

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is a Wow! Wow! Wow! No matter how prepared you could be this place is mind expanding. It is Overwhelming and beyond belief! If you are ever in the Phoenix / Scottsdale area this is a must see. Allow yourself most of the day and you will be glad you did! – Now for the story – As always I check yelp and see what museums are in a given area (OK at meal time I look for restaurants too). I love to find museums of all sizes and types, and especially like little odd museums, but that is for another time and rating. So I find this Musical Instrument Museum and figure that I can go look at a few fiddles, flutes, accordions and guitars.

Musical Instrument Museum – 10 Stars

Well this museum is so first class I would give it ten stars, really TEN stars. The quality of the presentations and the breadth of the offerings is completely beyond comprehension. After a few hours I was sure my brain would explode! Anet’s jaw was on the floor from the the first display on. Really! But enough about us.

The museum is impressive from the outside, and the patio for the entrance is very inviting. With you entrance ticket, you will receive a headset and  power pack. Pick a region of earth and start. You can walk up to a monitor and it will start playing the music of the country, people, area, or type depending on which hall you are transiting.

The Displays are spacious and have representative instrument for a given, culture or country, and videos with music to bring it all to you. The videos and music are only a couple of minutes long and give wonderful examples of contemporary and / or historical music. Stroll and listen and look and be impressed.
There is so much you could never take in it all in a day! So plan to come again.
I would recommend come early, have lunch in their restaurant, and return to listen and look more.
Oh, and on the restaurant, it is too cool! Fresh, local, tasty, incredible 5 star eating experience in a cafeteria like setting. The food was wonderful too!
So that should be enough bait to get you on a plane to Phoenix and up to the museum. A first class must see museum.

Voted a Top Ten Museum in the United States.

Pima Air and Space Museum

The Pima Air and Space Museum located in Phoenix Arizona

Pima Air and Space Museum - Tucson Arizona
The Bumble Bee

is ginormous.With over 300 planes on over 120 acres, come early and get the two day pass if you can! There is just so much to see and experience. There are huge hangers filled with planes and history and displays that overflow until your brain explodes. There is one very large hanger devoted to aerospace and all the trappings. Unbelievable. I don’t think anyone can see it in the day so if you don’t have time for the two day pass put it in you plans to come back again as it is an overwhelming quantity of planes. On your first trip Continue reading Pima Air and Space Museum

Titan Missile Museum

At the Titan Missile Museum
Titan Missile Warhead

The Titan Missile Museum is in the desert just outside of Sahurita, Arizona. Beneath the cactus lies the only remaining Titan Missile silo in the US with a missile in the upright position. During the Cold War, this was a part of the nuclear deterrent system, as it was called. The site contains a Titan Missile in the upright position and the full control system used to govern the process of nuclear missile launch. Before you get to the tour Continue reading Titan Missile Museum