Thursday, April 18, 2019

Enjoying Spring!

This time of year is often pretty good around here.  It has been windy this year but reasonably warm.  When we haven't been out spraying weeds in our yard we've gotten out and about a bit.

Week before last we visited Death Valley National Park.  The park is absolutely huge and we'd never seen the other side; specifically over by Panamint Springs.  We decided to just drive over and check out the roads.  With the over-62 senior pass it is free to visit so why not?  I was surprised by the number of visitors though I guess I shouldn't have been.  Even in early April the high was going to be 97F (36C) so waiting until later would make it a bit warm.  We ended up taking no photos worth sharing but we did discover that the roads are excellent and wouldn't be a problem at all if we were towing our trailer.  I'm not a huge fan of high and windy roads but this was just fine even if there were places that we were happy they had installed a guard rail.

Then last week we took a bus tour on the Nevada National Security Site.  This is where the majority of our nuclear weapons testing was done back in the day.  Today the site is used for a variety of things where security, space and even nuclear debris is useful.  (They train police and fire fighters on dealing with accidents that include a nuclear component; like the stuff your dentist uses to xray your teeth.)  Public tours are available but they are few and far between, like once a month.  If you are interested in visiting you should sign up around a year in advance!  Really, all remaining tours being offered in 2019 are full.  They are pretty rigorous about security and two of the things you can't bring are cameras and cellphones.  You also need to pass a paperwork security check but after all that you get a 250 mile bus ride.

Anyway, I managed to get onto a board that is supposed to advice the site management on how local people think they are doing.  I've been on the board for several years and we usually get a special tour about once a year.  This year we went to a part of the site I've never visited before where some of the larger underground tests were conducted.  One of the concerns with underground testing is that the ground water can be contaminated with nuclear debris.  The Dept. of Energy has drilled many wells around the test areas to test the ground water.  There are also wells on other federal land outside the site.  Happily the ground water doesn't move a lot out here and testing has shown that the water has traveled off the site but won't reach private lands for several hundred years by which time the radiation danger will be well past.  (The primary traveling nuclide is Trinium which has a half-life of 12+ years; it isn't something that has a half-life of 500 years or anything.)

Finally I drove into Las Vegas the other day to buy a couple things.  On the way there and back I go past Red Rock Canyon which is really quite a beautifully impressive place.  There were zillions of tourists!  There is a sign where people like to stop and take selfies with the sign.  This time a tour bus had stopped there!  Anyway, the rock is really very beautiful and a real attraction for rock climbers.  This photo is from 2010.

On the way home I stopped to get a couple photos of the cactus.  They are having their moment and have lovely blooms.

So we haven't been just sitting around home but have gotten a few miles on the car if nothing else.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a good one.