Doug & Lou’s Exceptional Adventure : Flagstaff, AZ

Before heading north from Sedona to come up to Flagstaff we stopped at the ‘V BAR V’ Ranch, National Historic Monument. Apparently there were petroglyphs to be seen. Well, I have seen petroglyphs before, but to use my famous husband’s words…. “these rock paintings blew my socks off”.

Petroglyphs were so very clear and visible

Our docent, George, was a retired doctor who had spent much of his retirement learning more about the different tribes and their rock paintings. To be honest, if Doug and I had taken the 1/2 mile hike to this site, we would have looked at the incredible clarity of the images and marvelled at how old they were and what the story on the rocks might have told, but then we would have left a few minutes later. George, however, was a fountain of knowledge and pointed out the different forms and what they meant. He also showed us how at certain times of the year the sun’s rays would intersect the circles. These circles acted as a calendar, warning of the monsoon times and telling when the planting season had arrived.

George….our new best friend

George told us that around 2:30 the sun’s rays would start to appear so we waited and listened to him for over an hour.

and magically….around 2:15 the sunbeam appeared …. note the placement of the 2 rocks which give the sun its pathway…on March 21 the beam will cut through that circle with the bullseye
full view

A very, very interesting stop on our journey.

…..And then we were off to Flagstaff. We took Highway 17 which is 4 lanes all the way…thankfully! There was another route that would have been more scenic, but it was a narrow road with a lot of scary switchbacks, so dear Hubby deferred to me on this one! Thanks Doug!

Brrr….we are a long way up. Those mountains are the San Franciscan Mountains and are the largest peaks in Arizona

It is a big climb from Sedona to Flagstaff. We are now sitting at 7500 ft elevation, and there is snow in our campground.

Yesterday (Saturday) we visited the Lowell Observatory. Doug has volunteered to tell you about it….but I am the one with the photos!

Well, Percy or, as folks who didn’t know him well called him, Percival Lowell had a good bit of money. You can google his family, brothers etc. They also had lots of money but generally were not very nice people. Might explain why Percy headed west.

Lowell had a great interest in Astronomy and the rage at that time, 1890s, was to study Mars. Many people believed they had seen signs of life on Mars. PL thought if he could get to clearer skies and higher elevation he would be able to get better images -and he did.

But can you imagine dragging all the telescopes and construction materials to build an observatory in the middle of nowhere which Arizona was. Arizona was not even a state yet. Not until 1912. He built in 1894! He was very, very successful in many ways which I will spell out later but considered himself to be a failure and died of a stroke, in 1916 at 61 years of age,that was believed to have been brought on by his humiliation over Mars.

Percy refined and refined his telescopes to get better and better, more magnified pictures of Mars and the universe. He announced to the world that he had seen a series of canals and some oases on Mars. The ‘Red Planet’ looked like the dry red desert of Arizona and he was led to believe that a desperate civilization on Mars was in dire need of help. Soon other Astronomers with better scopes saw the dead planet we see today and Percy was made a laughing stock of the scientific community and died a broken man.

What can Lowell take credit for? Well lots. The odd orbit of Neptune had been recorded and explained by the enormous gravitational pull of Saturn and Jupiter. Lowell did not believe that was correct. A missing phantom planet would explain Neps wobble. Others soon agreed but unfortunately Pluto was not found until 1930, fourteen years after his death. But Pluto was found here in Flagstaff at Lowell Observatory by a colleague of Percy’s. The P & L in Pluto stand for Percival Lowell.

That isn’t all. ( Enough Doug, enough ! !) Percy had a big part in the realization that the universe is always expanding and his work played a part in using infrared colour in telescopes, vastly improving our view of the uni-v and his work connects to the discovery of ‘dark matter’ in 1966. ALL of this happened here in Flagstaff. So good going Percy! Excellent museum too.

okay….my turn again….thanks for the science lesson, Doug!!

After our visit we went to Black Bart’s Steakhouse for dinner. I found it on Google maps and although the building is very old and located in an RV Park, the food was excellent. There were about 14 wait staff who were also music students at the nearby University of Northern Arizona. They took turns entertaining through the dinner hours which made for an interesting couple of hours. Then back to camp for the night! ( We met a young lady from UNA at the museum the next day and she said: “ Bart’s is overrated. They get these kids who think they can sing because they were in some high school play and they sing the song over and over.” Sounds about right to me. Well, I’m more of a realist than Lovely Louise. Some have called me cynical. Who?)

Today we went to the Museum of Northern Arizona. A beautiful building that houses a very in depth look at the evolution of Native life in this area. There is also a geology display and an Audubon Paleontology display will be opened next week. Oh, and there is a book store AND a gift shop! We spent about an hour in the book store and came out with about 15 pounds of books!! Yes, we buy them buy the pound now!!!!! It should give us good traction on these snowy mountain roads! (So we won’t slide off those 3000 ft drop offs. It’s for you dear. This was an excellent museum founded by a philanthropist in 1935. Great stuff.)

Museum of Northern Arizona

We are staying in a KOA, but I think we are leaving tomorrow to go East to see a few sights before we go North again to see the Grand Canyon. You will be as surprised as I am at what we do next! (Louise’s life has been a blessing…everyday is like a surprise bouquet of roses for my sweetheart. The fact that she tunes me out couldn’t explain her lack of knowing where we are headed!)

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