13-Aug-1999 -- Astronomers predicted that August 12
would be a good night to watch the annual
Perseid meteor shower,
so we planned a trip northeast from Phoenix to A) watch the meteors
from a dark spot away from city lights, and B) visit the confluence at
The meteors put on a good show, especially just before dawn, and
earlier in the evening we were treated to a truly spectacular,
magnitude -8 Iridium flare!
The next morning (after a short nap!) we set out for the confluence.
We drove to within about a half mile of the spot, and expected from our
maps to have an easy hike. Maybe a third of the way there, however, we
saw (photo #3) that the confluence was in a fairly steep canyon guarded
near the rim by a dense barrier of Mexican manzanita bushes (photo #4).
So our easy half-mile hike turned into an hour-long battle with the
native vegitation, which included scrub oak, juniper, pines, the
dreaded manzanita, and even a few prickly pear cactus.
We first thought the target was at the bottom of the canyon (photo #5)
where just a trickle of water was still flowing from rains a few days
before. But the GPS readings were wandering around and we eventually
realized we were still a few hundred feet away from the confluence.
The numbers finally settled down in a grove of pine trees (photo #1)
where a grasshopper (photo #2) had already located the confluence
without any help from the GPS (inset).
Photo #6 is a shot I took on June 14, 1999 looking towards the southeast
from an airliner window on the same trip from Phoenix to Boulder
that netted the visit to 40N 105W. I knew from the terrain that
we were in the general vicinity of 34N 111W, and was lucky enough
to catch it just before it slipped under the wing of the plane.
The area shown extends for about two miles from left to right.