our NEW web site, coming in 2006!
(it will be: www.ranchoeuropa.com)
Meanwhile, visit our memorial page for Esmeraldo who left us after 17 years.
Suggestions for Visitors to Rancho Europa, including directions to our ranch, motels and other accommodations, restaurants, suggested activities in the area, recommended hikes from our ranch, and more distant trailheads reachable by car.
Late October 1999
Early in the trip, we (along with Al Harris) visited Paolo Farinella, who is waiting (with cell phone) in an apartment in Bergamo for a heart transplant. Paolo seemed in excellent spirits, and better physical shape than we had imagined. Following the DPS meeting, we participated (along with Enzo and Giana Zappala, also Al Harris and Anne Marie Malotki) as Ted Bowell presented an asteroid to the wine-growing town of Barolo, southeast of Torino. Elaborate ceremonies at the Barolo castle included balloons floating skyward, ribbon-cutting by a Miss Italy runner-up, speechmaking, thirty different varieties of open Barolo wines, and a fine dinner at the Marchesi di Barolo winery.
A photo gallery from our Italian trip, taken with our new 1.3 Megapixel digital camera, contains 64 of our best pictures, from lunch with Paolo to wine-tasting in the Roero and Barolo districts.
Early Autumn 1999
This summer we had an awesome trip to South Africa. With our central expenses supported by the Barringer Crater Company (for Clark's invited lecture, at the Meteoritical Society meeting in Johannesburg, on asteroidal cratering and NEAR's investigations of Eros), we were able to add on a personal safari to two private game reserves near Kruger National Park as well as several days in-and-around Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope (including Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned). While the social situation in S.A. looks, to an outside visitor, quite untenable (with razor wire, bars, or electric fences guarding every house and business near Joburg, for example), the mood of people we spoke with was constructively optimistic and hopeful. The animals were in plentiful variety and abundance, including unexpected whales, baboons, and penguins near Cape Town. Prices were cheap and other tourists were few (it is "winter" so most visitors wait for the hot, humid, malarial-mosquito-dominated weather to visit: their loss, our gain).
Soon we will post some pictures (with references to others) at this spot.
Ginette is beginning her graduate program in Urban Planning at M.I.T. after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Middlebury College in May. Lynda is trying to record Clark's "Impact" exhibit at the Univ. of Colorado Museum (on camera, videocam, and digital camera) before it disappears in the middle of September. Esmeraldo is doing fine, but occasionally can't contain himself when a small animal or bird comes within a few inches of his nose as he sits by our open screen door. He survived our month-long absence in S.A. and Ithaca but then had to have a couple of teeth extracted by "Paws on Wheels". Lynda's mother, Betty, and her friend Lee have been in Michigan lately, but will soon visit us at Rancho Europa.
And we're not worrying (at least not much) by Y2K. We are looking forward to NEAR's rendezvous with Eros on Valentine's Day in February 2000. Clark has been named the 1999 winner of the Carl Sagan Medal of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. SwRI's Boulder Office (the Department of Space Studies) will celebrate its 5th anniversary early this month with a big bash; dignitaries from San Antonio will be here, to be followed a couple of weeks later by the other space scientists from San Antonio. The MESSENGER mission to Mercury was approved this summer (Clark is a member of the Science Team, also serving has liaison with the Public Outreach part of the Project), but the absurd politics between the Congress and the White House is currently threatening to kill off much of planetary research, including MESSENGER. These inside-the-beltway know-it-alls should hang their collective heads in shame.
Since our previous entry, the Winiger Ridge burn has actually happened, taking out a lot of underbrush and some trees. LYnda was invited by the U.S. Forest Service to take part in the fire mitigation by filming it, including interviewing firefighting personnel. Although there was a frightening "escape" of the fire a few days later, most of the Forest Service's intentions and promises were fulfilled. The chances for a wildfire in the area are a bit reduced and the health of a square mile of forest is somewhat improved. From early November through New Year's we had frequent visitations by elk at the ranch. More unusual, a bobcat appeared several times, once coming up onto our deck right outside our front door!
The greatest excitement and worry was occasioned by the failure of NEAR's motor to fire on December 20th, resulting in a premature fly-by of Eros a few days later as well as a year's delay (until next February) for it to go into orbit around Eros. So we spent the holidays living out of the Columbia (MD) Sheraton hotel.
Clark suffered a very painful episode of shoulder distress in early January, diagnosed (after a 2 a.m. emergency trip to the hospital and two MRI's) as tendonitis. That was one reason, as well as lack of snow, for minimal skiing this winter. But at least we now own our own ski equipment, so we're ready for next winter. On the up side, Clark was named the 1999 winner of the Sagan Medal (for public communication of planetary science) to be awarded by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society at its October meeting in Padua, Italy. In the meantime, Clark will be giving an invited lecture, sponsored by the Barringer Crater Company, at the Johannesburg meeting of the Meteoritical Society.
LYnda has been actively branching into the arenas of horticulture, agriculture, and ranching. Her favorite bull is "Ranger". The herd spent the winter on the grounds of 94-year-old Edith Scates, one of the original settlers of the Magnolia area. The CGC (Cowgirl Club) was established as a "thank you" to Edith for establishing a conservation easement on her land to protect it for future generations. LYnda is also planning for the Capriano Family (mountain bluebirds) to occupy their recently erected bluebird home and she is establishing a naturally colorful landscape for Rancho Europa.
Esmeraldo remains a contented, pampered, and usually good feline. He marvelled at the arrival, for a couple of weeks about the end of January, of "Rocky" the raccoon. Fortunately (from Clark's point-of-view) or sadly (from LYnda's) Rocky decided to go elsewhere. Esmeraldo is none the worse (or better).
Older News from Previous Years
Today (October 4th) we had our first snow flurry since June at Rancho Europa. It's been a very hectic but enjoyable summer. We had a lovely, wet and green summer, a dry September with late-blooming garden flowers tended by Lynda, and now gorgeous golden aspen dotting the mountain sides. We took a lengthy, 4,200-mile, auto trip to New Mexico, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, then boarded a plane for meetings in Paris and Dublin. We had a succession of visitors in August, including nephew Greg, both Clark's and Lynda's mothers, the NEAR MSI/NIS team, and Ginette on her way back to her senior year at Middlebury. We enjoyed visiting our friends Sam and Jan in the Twin Cities to celebrate Lynda's birthday last month, including an in-costume "Last Dinner on the Titanic" extravaganza. Esmeraldo has just had his check-up by the vet and is in good health. Here at the ranch, Clark and Lynda have been making 3-times-daily weather observations for the Forest Service, as the USFS plans a two-mile-long prescribed burn along the south side of Winiger Ridge, beginning about a quarter mile east of the ranch. As the Boulder office of SwRI grows, Clark's work has gotten especially busy -- Galileo continues its post-prime-mission studies of Europa, NEAR approaches its January rendezvous with Eros, and Clark has been busily occupied with his unfunded work on the asteroid impact (including his testimony in May to the Congressional Science Committee) in the wake of the unfortunate March asteroid scare and the two summer blockbuster movies "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact".
We've now been in Rancho Europa for one whole year (and married to each other for five whole years!). We've seen a mountain lion walking past our dining room window. We had a 3.5 foot snowstormn while Clark was in Houston the third week of March, but since then, temperatures have been mild (even in the 70's down in Boulder) so all the snow melted. Clark attended the 50th wedding anniversary of Tom and Margaret Nickerson (Tom was Clark's father's best friend in high school!); other 1-year anniversaries have been happening for friends like David and Wendee (who are now grandparents, too) and Ted and Anne-Marie. The major distraction, of late, has been the false report of a possible asteroid impact 30 years hence. If you'd like all the gory details of what went wrong, check out Clark's Case Study .
After a warm New Year's, and a snowy early January, it's been a mild and snowless winter. We took a Valentine's Day hike across our mostly snowless neighborhood (though the Winiger Gulch Road was packed with crusty snow) and had a wonderful picnic lunch, perched on a rock, with the temperature about 50. The snow forecast for the next day, a California El Nino storm that hadn't fallen apart against the Sierra Nevada or even the Rockies, finally did fizzle before getting here. Clark's office is expanding, we've hosted visitors and expect some more, Esmeraldo remains a well-pampered feline, and Mazzee is still for sale. Ginette has been in Madrid and has returned to Paris. Here at the ranch, the Christmas season has receded and the days are getting noticeably longer. We haven't had elk on the ranch, recently, but they've been grazing a few miles away.
It's been a hectic end-of-year and our Holiday Season card (see below [removed Oct. 1998]) has been delayed in the process (we managed to get some into the mail a few days before Christmas). But for everyone else, consider the reproductions below to be meant for you. We have no holiday year-end letter this time...this collection of "news" from throughout the year says it all. It's been a wonderful year in many ways and a tragic year in others. We hope that the roller coaster is over and that 1998 will be a more consistently good year for all of our colleagues, friends, and family.
We stayed on in Hawaii after the "Grand Finale" meeting of the nominal-mission Galileo orbital science team. We spent our first week ever (rather than trading) at our 1% floating timeshare condo near Poipu on Kauai. Immediately after returning to Rancho Europa, we had a pre-Christmas visit from Ginette, just returned from Costa Rica and looking forward to her spring junior-year semester in Paris. She and Clark tried out skiing at nearby Eldora (20 min. drive) and liked it. Having travelled a lot, Clark and Lynda are planning a relaxing stay-at-home with Esmeraldo (and a chance to get some work done) during the holiday period.
On a recent weekend, a snowstorm created unbelievable havoc at Denver Airport (continuing mismanagement of the airport, not the weather, was the primary cause). It also caused national news. However, at the Ranch, the storm was simply beautiful, creating a winter wonderland. The extremely light, fluffy powder piled up to 38 inches. But it was so insubstantial that our RAV-4 simply drove right through it! After the sun came out, the snow vanished almost immediately -- except on north facing slopes. This past week, temperatures have been near 70 down in Boulder. Even at the ranch, it's been mild enough for us to have a couple of breakfasts out on our deck! (More snow is forecast for tonight.)
The big news here is that the herd of elk arrived Thursday evening. Clark's headlights caught about twenty large animals, some with impressive antlers, about 50 feet from our house. They stayed much of the night, then descended onto the meadow below by sunrise. We haven't seen them since.
Family-related matters (and other people, too): Mother Betty is currently in Costa Rica. So is Ginette. Both are there for several weeks, although their reasons are unrelated and they may fail to meet up with each other. Last month, Clark visited Ginette in D.C.; they walked through Old Alexandria, to the Jefferson and FDR memorials, and saw the new National Airport. While he was in D.C. (main purpose was a National Academy task group meeting on biological back-contamination of the Earth from comets, asteroids, and planetary satellites), Lynda attended the Gene Shoemaker "celebration of life" in Flagstaff. We are both pleased by news that our friend, David, is recovering well from recent surgery. The sad news is the unexpected death of Martin Goland, a fascinating gentleman who has been head of Southwest Research Institute for decades.
Speaking of Clark's work, he has moved several hundred feet down the hall to a slightly larger office with a wonderful view of the Flatirons.
LYnda and friends put out a small smoldering forest fire near the trail to a lovely waterfalls in our neighborhood. And she had a ten-yards-distant eye-to-eye contact with a bear, in broad daylight, right next to our house. Oh, the rural mountain life!
Ginette stayed for a while on her way to American University, where she is spending the fall semester during her Junior-Year-Away from the chilly Middlebury College campus. Already she's seen President Clinton give a talk at her (temporarily) new college. In November, her A.U. class will spend three weeks in Costa Rica. Next spring, she has her spring semester at Middlebury's Paris campus.
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous imaging/spectroscopy team met at our ranch August 28th and 29th. A reception was held for early arrivees at the Southwest Research Institute Boulder offices during late afternoon on the 27th. Our living room easily accommodated the dozen Team members and associates who came. The weather cooperated for breakfasts-on-the-deck, wonderful lunches prepared by Lynda, and the Friday afternoon hike to James Peak Lake in search of Mathilde analogs (we've posted some pictures). Jeremy Veverka helped videotape parts of the meeting. We had a convivial Team dinner Thursday evening at the Gold Hill Inn.
Flowers are blooming beautifully all around the ranch, thanks to seeds brought by friends during our ranch-warming in May. It's fine summer weather at the ranch, temperature in the upper 70's. Thanks to an unusually wet August, the landscape is still mostly green and nearby streams are still running. All too soon, however, we'll be expecting the cool winds of autumn and maybe some early-season snow. But we're prepared for access: we have a new Rav-4 automobile, the first for either of us in twelve years. Our '85 Toy, a little the worse for wear and nearing 200,000 miles, will be our second car. Mazzie is now decommissioned and living in our barn, well- protected (evidently) from the bear that scratched at every door of the barn last week.
We went to see John Fogerty at the Fox Theatre last week. A truly fine, intimate performance by one of rock's legendary superstars -- we were among the few hundred crammed into the small venue. By the way, Esmeraldo is fine. We call him our "P.C." (= Pampered Cat).
We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Gene Shoemaker a few weeks ago and our hearts go out to Carolyn Shoemaker, who was injured in the automobile accident; she has been released from the hospital and is on the mend in Alice Springs, last we heard. Clark had just spent a long lunch with Gene and Carolyn three weeks before the accident, while the Shoemakers were guests at APL during NEAR's fly-by of the C-type asteroid Mathilde. A USGS tribute to Gene with photographs, biographies, and news about Carolyn also contains links to other information, including a Lowell Observatory web site about Gene. Like no one else, Gene taught us that our planet leads a precarious existence in a dynamic cosmos. Clark will always treasure memories of his introduction to the Outback, where Gene died, during the three-week crater tour led by Gene and Carolyn in 1990. Lynda and Clark recall wonderful dinners with Gene and Carolyn in Gubbio, Italy, several years ago and on the river Seine (along with David and Wendee Levy) during the Shoemaker-Levy 9 conference in Paris last summer. (UPDATE, MID-SEPT.: Carolyn has grown well enough to be travelling in late September to a "wake" for Gene in Grand Junction, Colorado. She will miss a Cratering Symposium that Clark has organized at the same time in Flagstaff, as part of the Galileo Imaging Team meeting.)
Summer is beautiful at the ranch. We often have breakfast out on our deck watching the innumerable species of birds feed at our seed tray. It often gets chillier and rains (or hails) in the afternoon; at least we don't have the tornados that are down on the plains. Thanks to everyone for the seeds. They are helping to augment our already fine natural wild flower display. Our guest suite is ready for family and friends -- schedule your visit soon (rule: no longer than 1 week!).
We are in our ranch! Our house in Tucson closed on March 12th. By the end of March, we had moved into our ranch house (for detail, see news from March below). Ginette visited us two days later, then we all went off for spring-break skiing at Copper Mountain and Beaver Creek (where we watched the Arizona Wildcats on the tube win the national championship). Anyway, we've struggled a bit with getting a new septic leaching field installed, periodic water outages (we have to learn about dealing with a well), and 3 feet of snow from a late spring storm a few days ago, while Clark was returning from Vienna. But mainly we've enjoyed hiking around the adjacent National Forest and down to Gross Reservoir, and the magnificent views from our front windows and deck. We're having our Open House (actually Open Ranch) on May 17th, 1 pm to 9 pm, and all family and friends are invited [hope you enjoyed it, or sorry you missed it].
News from mid-March 1997:
Our house has sold. Or so we've been told. The money from closing should be wired to us today, or maybe tomorrow. It's less than we wanted, but it contributes an essential ingredient for our next step -- which happens all too soon. It is our 10-acre ranch in the mountains. We're planning to move out of our South Boulder apartment and into our ranch before the end of the month! At the end of Lazy Z Road, half an hour's drive southwest of Clark's office, the ranch-house faces the sun...and glorious mountain scenery. From the back of the parcel, which abuts Roosevelt National Forest, we can look out toward the white-capped peaks of the Continental Divide. From our front door, we can walk down the closed-off road, into a canyon, which descends to a large reservoir. Our lands are mostly on a hillside -- some pasture, some evergreen forests. The house itself is not so large, but it has a vaulted ceiling and expansive windows looking out on the scenery. It is fronted by a large open-air deck. The guest quarters are in a separate part of the house, with a separate entrance from the deck. Near to the house is our pole-barn, with stalls for four horses.
Lazy Z is a County Road. Although it is dirt, it connects to another scenic thoroughfare -- part paved, part dirt -- called Magnolia Road. Magnolia is steep where it joins Boulder Canyon Road, but there is a longer, more level route to our ranch via the town of Nederland. And there's a third way out (Coal Creek Canyon) that provides a shorter route to Golden and Denver than going via downtown Boulder.
All of the above is keeping us very busy. Beyond that, there is all the wonderful new data from Europa, pending trips, Ginette's visit at the end of the month (we're all going skiing), and just keeping our busy lives together. Fortunately, the winter seems to be on the run, with highs in the 60's and 70's this week. No doubt there will be a few last gasps from the north, but we're glad that a winter in Boulder has been so much more tolerable than we had expected. It will be a bit snowier and colder at our ranch, which is at 8000 ft. above sea level and only 5 miles from the Eldora Ski Resort. But the lee side of the Divide is evidently well protected from what most people imagine a Colorado winter to be like. So we'll have winds to endure, and probably we must get a four-wheel drive vehicle before November, but otherwise our new neighborhood looks just fine!
The snow is flying again in Boulder after a surprisingly mild mid-winter. Temperatures were in the 60's and 70's around New Year and again at the end of January. But there's been plenty of snow in the high country, and Ginette is enjoying her long- delayed high school graduation present -- skiing at Wolf Creek -- amid tons of snow. Our big news, although we still keep our fingers crossed, is that our house may have been sold. We're not thrilled about the price, but closing is set for March 12th. We may finally begin to search for a house in our new city and settle down.
Watch your tube in the next weeks for fact and fiction about cosmic impacts. Already, the New Yorker had a feature article in late January about the impact hazard (quoting Clark, and featuring Teller and Sagan -- Clark, by the way, wrote an appreciation for Carl Sagan in the March issue of Sky & Telescope). Nova's "Doomsday Asteroid" on NOVA has already been rebroadcast in early February, featuring Clark and Gene Shoemaker. In the next days and weeks, there will be NBC Dateline Friday, a multiply-repeated documentary on the Discovery Channel, a Fox-TV special on Valentine's Day (featuring Clark at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago), a fictionalized miniseries "Asteroid!" on NBC mid-month (with an implausible plot), and a National Geographic special on the impact hazard in late February on NBC. And don't forget to look east before dawn at Comet Hale- Bopp, which is growing steadily more impressive.
The winter snows and frosty mornings have arrived in Boulder, but they are ephemeral. We drove, with clanking chains, returning from our vacation week at Breckenridge over the Continental Divide (actually through the Eisenhower Tunnel) only to find Boulder still more frigid (single digits mid-day) and snowier (8 inches) than the Rockies resort we had left. But three days later, we were again in upper-70's summer-like weather. As Thanksgiving approaches, we've been through another wintry weekend but the sun shines again and the snow is subliming into the dry, leeward skies.
We skied three times on the nearly-empty slopes at Breckenridge, for wonderful early- season rates -- $17 for a full day on the slopes, $10 for equipment. Clark took a mid- vacation break to attend the Europa Oceans meeting and a week later he went again to rainy southern California to welcome in Galileo's mysterious Callisto pictures. We've both been winterizing our cars, pampering Esmeraldo, and monitoring the slow movement of real estate in Tucson (wanna house? Check out our updated WWW page on the house, our new realtor, and our lowest-ever asking price). A visit to Tucson (for scientific purposes and to visit friends) revealed unsatisfactory behavior on the part of our erstwhile "sitter" so he is, mercifully, outta there.
Back in the Boulder office, Clark's life has been hectic, working on an apparent flood (though actually a trickle) of Galileo data, Discovery and observing proposals, introducing his new student helpers to the wonders of the Galilean satellites, giving talks, hosting visitors, and participating in Southwest's top-level advisory committee on internal research. Not to mention flying off to Chicago to be interviewed by Fox TV on the cold, windy shore of Lake Michigan next to the Adler Planetarium (prepare yourselves for an onslaught of TV documentaries on the cosmic impact hazard during ratings week next February, and for some big-time movies on the same theme later next year -- 1997 will be the "Year of the Comet [or asteroid]" whatever Hale-Bopp eventually does). LYnda has already strung up Christmas lights (first in our apartment complex) and is preparing a creative Christmas card for us. That's it for now, but we'll leave in our recent autumnal and late-summer musings, which follow.
It is now a wonderful Indian Summer in Boulder and the High Country with temperatures in the 80's, although the nights are cool and getting longer. We already had our first snowfall a couple weeks ago, a temporary taste of what is coming. We've been having fun with "Cambino," LYnda's new videocam. Yesterday, we took a hike up to Isabelle glacier above 12,000 feet, and walked past some gorgeous lakes in the high country. Probably it was our last hike near the Divide until next summer...autumn is in the air.
Earlier, we had a wonderful month-long trip to Europe (Paris, Versailles, Birmingham U.K., and Berlin) during July. August was spent catching up on everything that piled up, plus running a NEAR meeting at Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort on the west side of the Continental Divide (see maps in "Posted Information" referenced on Clark's home page). More recently we camped overnight in Dinosaur National Park and visited Lynda's mother. Esmeraldo had his teeth cleaned, has a new ID tattoo, and is on a diet (which he doesn't like: he wants to weigh 17 pounds ALWAYS). Ginette visited us in Boulder on her way back to school at Middlebury College where she has finally selected a major: polisci.
Our main hope is that our house in Tucson will sell sooner rather than later (all our friends say it is "lovely") but people just aren't coming through. Even an ad in the national New York Times failed to produce an offer. So send your friends to our WWW page on the house. Once it's sold, we can get serious about finding a house here. Not that our apartment is all bad (deer ran past the window a few weeks ago, and ducks regularly wait for Lynda at the back door -- she has a way with ducks [called bread crumbs]). Visit again when we've had time to create something more here.
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