Saturday, September 27, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0119 - Arizona State University ISTB 4, Gallery of Scientific Exploration, Tempe, Maricopa County, Arizona

As you enter ISTB 4 (Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4) at Arizona State University (ASU), the first thing that you notice on the right side of the lobby is a Triceratops dinosaur skull. With a few million years in-between, on the left side of the lobby is a full-size replica of the Mars Curiosity Rover that is 9.5 feet long, 9 feet wide and over 7 feet tall. The Curiosity Rover on Mars weighs about 2,000 pounds and includes 180 pounds of scientific equipment, while the full-size replica at ASU weighs only about 450 pounds.

The first floor of ISTB 4 is dedicated to “visualizing science,” which focuses on exhibits to “explore earth and space sciences through digital media, public lectures, visible laboratories, and interactive displays.” Throughout the Gallery of Scientific Exploration, to help explain scientific knowledge, there are various kiosk-style interactive exhibits with large-format, high-definition monitors that display video information from earth-observing satellites and robotic probes of other worlds. “Magic Planet” is a popular exhibit that uses a six-foot diameter sphere with internal digital video projectors to present global information from NASA, NOAA, and other sources about the Earth, Moon, Sun and Planets.

Also located on the first floor is the Marston Exploration Theater that presents documentary movies with earth and space science themes. The auditorium is also used for public lectures on various scientific subjects. A list of public events can be found on their website: SESE.ASU.EDU/Marston.

The second floor of ISTB 4 contains the Center for Meteorite Studies and glass-walled lab modules where you can observe students and faculty at work on various scientific projects. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints and staff limitations, the public Meteorite Identification Program has been suspended and the University will no longer accept meteorite specimens sent for identification. However, meteorite samples from the ASU World-renowned collection are on display where visitors can touch real meteorites and find out where meteorites come from.

Now if I could only remember everything that I learned on my visit to ISTB 4!

Friday, September 19, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0118 - Arizona Historical Society, Tempe, Maricopa County, Arizona

The First Arizona Territorial Legislature realized it was important to preserve a record of their activities, so on November 7, 1864 the Legislature passed an Act that created the Arizona Historical Society (AHS) as a means for documenting and preserving “all facts relating to the history of this Territory.” Today, the AHS’s mission is to “Collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate the history of Arizona and the West.” Since 1864 over three million objects have been cataloged and preserved at various locations throughout the State. Although all of the museums contain a variety of artifacts, there are four main sites that contain specific information.
Yuma contains territorial era items, which includes agriculture, military, railroad, steamboats, irrigation and the Yuma Prison.
Tucson contains southern Arizona and borderlands items, maps, genealogy, ranching, politics, mining, law, and grass roots organizations.
Tempe contains 20th century items, architectural drawings, TV news reels, aviation, banking, healthcare, non-profit organizations, arts/culture, and photographs.

Flagstaff contains northern Arizona and the Colorado Plateau, lumber industry, local organizations, and Indian records.

Since I was in Tempe, I decided to visit the Tempe Museum at Papago Park. Although I did not go into any of the research rooms, it was interesting just to view the historical exhibits in the main museum building.

The transportation section of the museum includes items relating to Route 66, old automobiles, a U-Haul trailer, and a three-axle six-wheel1920/1935/1956/1990 vehicle that you don’t see too often.

The military section of the museum includes an old horse-drawn cannon, a WW II Jeep, an AT-6 aircraft, and a metal section from the USS Arizona.

A replication of early Arizona small town main street includes Bob’s Big Boy, Valley National Bank, Fox Theater, retail items of the era,  and who could ever forget Wallace & Ladmo. I remember when our kids were growing up, on their birthday they always wanted to go to the Wallace & Ladmo Show so that they could get a Ladmo Bag. 

On March 28, 1906, the Bureau of Reclamation’s first hydroelectric power plant was established at Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River. This was the Nation’s first multi-purpose reclamation project that combined electricity generation, water for irrigation, and a lake for recreation. One of the first generators used at the dam is now on display in the museum courtyard.

Now I have to put the other three AHS museums on my bucket list!

Friday, September 12, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0117 - United Cup Soccer Tournament, Rancho Capistrano, Orange County, Caliornia

When I found out that my granddaughter’s soccer team was playing in the 14th Annual United Cup Soccer Tournament at Rancho Capistrano, I decided it was time for a trip to California.

After winning the first game (2-1), we went into San Juan Capistrano for lunch and toured the old Mission (see last week’s RonnieAdventre #0116). After lunch, the afternoon game ended in a tie (0-0), so we decided to celebrate by going to Kobe Steak House for dinner in the evening.  (If you have never been to Kobe's, or a similar restaurant, the acrobatic cooks prepare your meal in front of you while putting on a show of culinary skills that you do not want to try at home.)

The next morning’s game also ended in a tie (0-0) and then, unfortunately, in the afternoon the team from, of all places – LAS VEGAS, bumped my granddaughter’s team out of the tournament! We decided to celebrate anyway and went to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour for dinner and some treats.

For those of you old enough to remember Farrell’s from the 1970s, this is the same chain, but under new management. After some legal disputes that were resolved in 2009, the chain has started to expand again using Bob Farrell’s original concept of ice cream parlors of 100 years ago with waiters in pin-striped vests, old fashioned ties, and cane hats.

The soccer tournament was held at the Rancho Capistrano, which is a 170-acre ranch just outside of San Juan Capistrano and is now a retreat facility for the Saddleback Church. The Church acquired the property as a donation from the owners of Hobby Lobby. Between games I had the opportunity to walk around the facilities and take some pictures, which I have included below.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

RonnieAdventure #0116 - Mission San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Mission San Juan Capistrano is probably best known of all the California Missions because of its rich history. The mission's Serra's Chapel was founded on All Saints' Day November 1, 1776 and now has the distinction of being the oldest building in California still in use.

However, after about 20 years of service the Serra's Chapel was considered to be too small; so in 1797 "The Great Stone Church" was constructed in the shape of a cross, being 180 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 50-foot high walls with a 120-foot campanile. This was the only chapel in all of Alta California not constructed out of adobe.

Stones were quarried from beds up to six miles away and transported to the site by ox carts. To support the stone walls, the foundation was seven feet thick. The sanctuary floors were made from diamond-shaped tiles, and brick-lined niches along the walls displayed statues of various saints. At the completion of construction, "The Great Stone Church" was the "most magnificent building in all of California." The campanile could be seen from 10 miles away and the bells could be heard from slightly over that distance.

However, in 1812, a large earthquake caused the bulk of the building to collapse, so services were moved back to the Serra's Chapel. "The Great Stone Church" was never reconstructed and the ruins have been compared to those of Greece and Rome, referred to as the "Alhambra of America," "American Acropolis," and the "Melrose Abbey of the West."

Through various movies, artist, and music, the Mission is famous for the annual "Return of the Swallows," which is observed every March 19 on Saint Joseph's Day. The American Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) spends its winters in Goya, Argentina and then makes the 6,000 mile journey to the American Southwest in springtime. After raising their young, the Swallows leave for Argentina on St. John's Day, October 23. While in-flight, the Swallows travel up to 600 miles a day.