Posts Tagged ‘light’

One extreme to another

24th February 2011 by Helen
Light Pollution over Las Vegas - from 40 miles away

Light Pollution over Las Vegas - from 40 miles away

We called in at the Las Vegas Land Rover Dealership for a chat before heading off towards our next destination, Death Valley.

We passed through a smaller gambling town, Pahrump, before reaching the tiny village of Shoshone on the edge of Death Valley.

It was late, there were no campsites around, and so we ended up going from one extreme to another – hotel last night, cab sleep tonight. 

We think we are about 50 miles from Las Vegas, but sitting here in the dark, looking up at the stars in the sky, we can see a half moon of light on the horizon ahead of us.  The light pollution from Las Vegas is lighting up the night sky in the distance.

Campsite – Shoshone

Distance travelled – 125 miles

Stars in the Night Sky

12th February 2011 by Helen

One of the differences we have experienced on our travels has been to actually see the night sky.  England has so much light pollution and clouds it’s not often you get to see a clear starlit sky at night.  Right through Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the Russian Far East, and now in the US, the huge open spaces of country means a lack of light pollution has given us the chance to see some startlingly clear starlit skies.  Here in Flagstaff is based the Lowell Observatory and so we took a chance to take an educational walk around their exhibition here and a peek through the telescope.  We were told that we were looking at the ‘birthplace’ of new stars in the sky when we looked through the telescope.  The exhibition was informative and the pictures amazing, but I’m afraid much of it still went ‘over my head’ and I’m resigned to just admiring rather than understanding astronomy.

Camping in the forest

31st December 2010 by Helen

[29th December]  Not long after we got up this morning a US Department of Agriculture Forestry Officer (not sure if I’ve got his title right there) stopped to speak to us.  Clint McCaffrey was a lovely man.  He told us a little about his unusual family and we told him what we were doing and why.  He explained that the particular rest area where we had stopped is on Forestry land and run by the Forestry department.  Unfortunately the campsite at that rest area had already closed for the winter but he gave us directions to another one that remains open all winter, a few miles back the way we had come, near a town called Superior.  After cooking breakfast we headed off, found Superior, bought some supplies, found the campsite (called Trout Creek campground), found some wood, got a nice fire going in the fire pit and cooked dinner (on the petrol stove), before settling down to an early night for a change.  While putting the tent up, horror of horrors, after all the kerfuffle with USDA in Seattle, we discovered some dried grass seed and mud on our ground tent!  Brought all the way from Mongolia!!  Oops (we dealt with it appropriately of course).

[30th December]  Next day we pottered around the campsite for a bit but it was very cold.  Nothing much seemed to be working.  It’s too cold for batteries to work, pens are not writing either, frost is forming on the inside of the tent (we watched it rise up the side of the tent even as we sat with the stove on keeping ‘warm’), batteries are not working, and everything else is frozen or freezing.

[31st December]  Waking this morning Paul found the petrol stove wouldn’t light, the only water we have that is not frozen is in the thermos flask, and even that is already forming ice crystals, and, as before, nothing else much was working either.  There was no point in staying any longer.  In fact, if anything, it was dangerous.  Sure, we’d been warm enough in our nice warm arctic sleeping bags during the night but with the stove playing up and now having to defrost all our water we were not going to get anything much else done other than survival.  It was no contest.  We both agreed it was time to move on.  After a short walk in the forest, we made one last feeble fire (to burn our rubbish) before getting Landy’s engine started.  Mind you, that was a job and a half.  With our cooking oil solidifying in its bottle it wasn’t hard to imagine the effect of the cold on the oil in the engine.  With the thermometer not working we had no idea what the temperature was but didn’t think it was quite cold enough for the diesel to be waxing.  The starter motor had been playing up for a while and continued to do so.  The batteries were already depleted, purely due to the cold, and Paul was wary of wasting what precious little power they had left.  Paul took off the front of the air intake and handed me a can of fly spray.  As he cranked the engine, I listened for when it fired and simultaneously sprayed the fly spray straight into the air intake.  The trick worked.  The butane in the spray did its trick and Landy’s engine fired up, held on and kept running.  We were both relieved not to be facing a seven mile walk back to Superior.

And so it was, both reluctantly and thankfully, we were back on the road again.  Wondering this time what the new year would bring.