Late Nights

May 22, 2013

Milky Way rises over Wukoki.

Milky Way rises over Wukoki.

Wednesday, May 22

Had a pretty successful night Monday, getting a nice shot of the Wukoki ruin with the Milky Way rising behind it. This seemed to be the right combination of moonlight on the ruin and celestial object in the sky behing. The moon is very bright now so it washes out some of the stars unless it is low on the horizon. So I’m out at moonset, which was 2:39 am Tuesday morning (Monday night) and 3:17 am last night (this morning). It’s funny how it takes forever for the moon (or sun) to cross the sky, then as soon as it gets near the horizon seems to speed up. I race around trying to find the right angle in the dark for the type of pictures I’m trying to get before the moon disappears.

Tuesday Rene Westbrook, the artist-in-residence coordinator at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon took me on a ‘field trip’ to Grand Falls and Leupp. She lives in Flagstaff so I met her at the Flagstaff National Monuments headquarters there, the administrative office for Wupatki and the other area parks. The drive took us northwest of Flagstaff from the forest of the mountains back to the high desert and eventually onto the Navajo Reservation. Leupp is a very small town on the road east, it was the site of a Justice Department detention center for Japanese immigrants arrested and held by the FBI during World War II. Most of these were Issei, first generation men, usually head of families and some ‘community leaders’ as defined by the FBI. They were separated from their families who were held in 10 concentration camps scattered across the country. We didn’t see any sign of the center or any marker. We did see an abandoned building, possibly a community center, next to what looked like a pueblo ruin. The larger building was covered in graffiti, inside and out. A big “OBAMA” graffiti greeted us as we drove up.

More amazing landscape was seen at Grand Falls, except for the falls. The water that Rene had seen a month ago had dried up, so no cascading falls. Lot of volcanic cinders and giant lava balls could be seen in the surrounding area, all from the Sunset Crater volcano many miles to the west.

Back at the apartment we watched another colorful sunset as the last rays of the sun lit up the Painted Desert seen from the front porch.

Abandoned building in Leupp.

Abandoned building in Leupp.

Center of the Milky Way.

Center of the Milky Way.

 

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