1. 2,400+ miles in. Writing from Hays, KS on our way back from dropping off Eldest Daughter at Benedictine College in Atchison. Kansas, as well as eastern New Mexico, has been getting a lot of summer thunderstorms, so everything has been lush and green. We ended up driving the Old Santa Fe Trail much of the way – didn’t really think about it before hand, but makes sense if you’re going from Santa Fe in the general direction of St. Louis that that’s the road you’d take.
2. While we shall keep the pictures to a minimum, here’s one:
We will use this cute picture as a segue into a discussion of taking the temperature. Turns out that this location, Furnace Creek, out in the flats 190′ below sea level, is where the hottest temperature ever recorded was registered back in 1913. Started googling around, came across the following. Can’t attest to its accuracy – I found no corroborating information.
A few years back, they built a new temperature station at Badwater, which is even lower down. Funny thing: instead of putting the station out in the center of the valley, it’s on one side – the west facing side – up against some cliffs. If you wanted to pick a spot where you’d be likely to set an all time high, this would be it: low down, where the Death Valley inversion layer will trap the heat and near cliffs that will absorb and re-radiate out the heat towards your thermometer.
So, why build a new station in Death Valley, when you have one 20 miles away that’s been in continuous use for decades? Because, according to the link above, nothing is more annoying to the global warming crowd than really old record high temperatures. Or, to put it the other way, record high temperatures are their bread and butter, so that when they fail to happen, it might look bad. Really old record highs suggest that it’s not way hotter now than it used to be. But, alas! 11 years later and still no new record high, even after stacking the deck to get one. Even if this report turns out to be inaccurate, it is an interesting data point that some record highs are really old – 100 years or more.
3. Now writing from Westminster, CO, near Denver, from the living room of a college friend of my wife’s. A delightful thunderstorm is driving temps into the ‘very comfortable’ range, in addition to supplying a nice show.
4. Benedictine College is a pretty school on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. The Benedictines arrived there in 1858. The brothers have an abbey as part of the college. The sisters have a convent a couple miles south. Both ran schools, for men and women respectively. Some years back, they decided to merge into one college. Then, they decided maintaining two physical plants was too much; now, just about everything is conducted in the buildings surrounding the abbey.
Lots and lots of brick, which looks odd to a Californian. Brick is not a good choice where there are earthquakes. One striking thing about the brickwork on the older buildings – much of it looks a bit slapdash, with uneven rows and joints and partial, broken bricks. I’m guessing it was originally plastered over or had some sort of fascia to cover it up, because it runs against the convenient myth that craftsmanship was much better in the old days. While that may be true, it’s also true that poorly made things tend not to last, so that well made things are overrepresented in surviving old things. However it has come about, as the buildings are remodeled and repurposed, there is now plenty of exposed brick and stone work that, while perhaps not first rate to my gimlet eye, is nonetheless beautiful and cool as all heck:
Makes a fellah want to crack open a classic and get at it.
5. Santa Fe’s population has almost doubled from what it was when I first got there in 1976, from 35,000 to almost 68,000. It is a beautiful place, so it is not surprising people want to live there. One has to wonder: how do people make a living there? There’s state and city government, two small colleges, a prison, and? Sure, there are plenty of art galleries, hotels and restaurants, but these more often than not provide low and uncertain wages to most of the people who work in them.
Odd how a place can feel more like home when visited for a day or two than it ever felt when I lived there.
6. Heading up to Wyoming Catholic College tomorrow, then on to Yellowstone and Idaho Falls Friday, Elko, NV Saturday and on home Sunday. 4,200+ miles. The kids have been total troopers so far.