how I spent our morning off…
Once photos were done and the shops opened at around 10, I made the tour of the town’s bookstores (three in downtown Laramie, not bad at all!) and although none of them HAD my books I left bookmarks, and told them about the books, and one shop owner gave me a present of a bookmark neatly wrapped up in its own little giftbox – and they’ll order the books, I’ll send in some signed bookplates when I get home, it’s another foot in another door.
Tried to connect to an unsecured network (called LARIAT Central. Of course it is.) with the laptop but it isn’t giving me much joy although it insists that I am connected – in spite of being connected it is still unable to find or open a single webpage. So this blog entry is going to be posted later.
Scott’s here now with the van to pick me up – lunch at the Library restaurant, where we had dinner the first night. It was memorable for the side order of the Rocky Mountain Oysters which were presented sliced up and deep fried with a small bowl of salsa. There are I believe pictures of some of the outlanders indulging in same, amidst much giggling. I, um, wasn’t so brave…
“My God, it’s full of stars…”
We picked ourselves up – in three separate vehicles – at about 6 PM to go up to the WIRO observatory at Jelm, at 9500 feet (or so, I forget the exact altitude). We drove across Wyoming’s prairie with its wide open skies, and a spectacular thunderstorm off to our left which laced the sky with massive traceries of lightning – there were horses grazing in the fields, under these wide skies, under indescribable light – pure picture postcard. THen we turned off down a short stretch of paved road, and then turned again into gravel road that wound up the mountainside – and soon the obervatory became visible, up there on the mountain top, the classic domed building perched on the ridge, and the excitement began to stir as it grew ever larger and closer.
When we arrived there, it was in time for a truly spectacular sunset, complete with the presence of that thunderstorm we had been pacing on our drive up, or some cousin of it – everyone was out there on the viewpoint snapping away at a sky which was an improbable colour of orange-red fading into purple at the edges – and then it sort of kind of began to rain.
I had pretty nearly given up hope when someone bounced in and said, “We have a hole in the sky.”
We were in business.
Outside, the skies had cleared (hole? that was one big hole…) and if the Milky Way was spectacular down in the Laramie suburbs up here it was breathtaking, sharp, glowing across the night sky. Mike Brotherton had brought along the night vision goggles that we had played with in class the previous day and watching the sky through these was mindboggling. I hit upon the idea of trying to take a shot of the MIlky Way by holding my camera against the goggles and much to my astonishment it actually worked – I have this eerie green-tinged photo of Saturn and the Milky Way which may not be great photography but it is spectacular to the max.
We were treated to more shooting stars, and I just could not get enough of the sky. THere were stars, stars EVERYWHERE, and I think I am seriously in love (and now I want a pair of night vision goggles of my own…)
It was close to 1 AM by the time we arrived back at the residence hall, and all I could really do was fall over. But there you are, that was the day that was.