Friday, March 27, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0145 - Creech Air Force Base, Clark County, Nevada

Following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the Indian Springs Auxiliary Airfield was constructed as a training camp for aerial gunnery training. When the Airfield first opened there were no facilities in the area, so air crews were housed in a "tent city" until barracks could be constructed in 1942. Then, after the war, the facility was deactivated.

Due to the facility's  remote location, and proximity to the Nevada Test Site, in 1948 the facility was reactivated as the Indian Springs Air Force Base for weapons systems and aircraft research and testing. Since that time the Base has been used for testing some of the most advanced aircraft and air weapons systems in the world, support of the nuclear testing programs at the Nevada Test Site, high altitude balloon search and retrieval, new gunnery and rocketry systems, and testing of experimental aircraft.

In 1956, the "Thunderbirds" moved to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas and the Indian Springs facility became their primary air demonstration practice site. General Wilbur L. Creech was the original commander and a pilot of the "Skyblazers" aerial demonstration team, which later became the "Thunderbirds;" thus, in 2005, the Indian Springs facility was renamed "Creech Air Force Base" in honor of General Creech.

In 1996 a remotely piloted  RQ-1 Predator aircraft was first flown at the Indian Springs facility and was instrumental in transformed the Base into a world-wide operations center for remotely piloted aircraft. Then, in 2001 a Predator was used for the first successful firing of a Hellfire missile from a remotely piloted aircraft and that successful firing changed air warfare forever. 

As I occasionally drive by Creech AFB, I am amazed at the new construction and expansion of the Base facilities over the last ten years. Today, the Base continues to serve as the demonstration training site for the "Thunderbirds," but it is also the home base for remotely piloted aircraft systems that fly missions around the world.  From outside of the security fence, you can often watch remotely piloted aircraft doing touch-and-go landings and other aerial maneuvers. Bring a lunch and have an enjoyable afternoon watching the remotely piloted aircraft as they circle the base!

(Web Picture - Photographer Unknown)

 (Web Picture - Photographer Unknown)

 (Web Picture - Photographer Unknown)

 (General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.)

 (General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.)

 (General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.)

 (General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0144 - The Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Clark County, Nevada

Cactus Springs is not much more than a wide spot in the road, but set back several hundred yards from the road is The Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet. The Temple was construed in 1993 "founded on the principles of peace, goddess spirituality & the gift economy. "

Some people incorrectly refer to the structure as The Woman's Temple because the Temple is dedicated to Sekhmet and it was constructed primarily by women laborers. Apparently, the building has no foundation and the walls are made from straw bales, covered with stucco. The dome is made of seven interlocking copper hoops and there are four ceramic turrets on top of the walls There are no doors, roof, or windows in the Temple, but there are four wall openings - one facing each direction.  

Sekhmet is an ancient Egyptian goddess that has a lion's head and a woman's body, which is just the opposite of the Sphinx that has a man's head and a lion's body. Surrounding Sekhmet on the other walls in the Temple are goddesses from many other cultures. Information provided by the Temple's builder indicates that "Sekhmet is the goddess of four thousand names, of which only a few hundred are known to normal humans."


 Mother of the World

 Our Lady of Guadalupe

All Goddesses Are One Goddess

Friday, March 13, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0143 - Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nye County, Nevada

Saturday, March 7, 2015, was the open house for the new Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge visitor center, located in Nye County, Nevada, near the California/Nevada State Line. There are no paved roads in the Refuge, so a high clearance vehicle is recommended when visiting this area.

The new Visitor Center contains a variety of exhibits, an entertainment center with a movie about the Refuge, and a small gift shop. Crystal Springs is located behind the visitor center and is reached by a series of interconnected boardwalks that form a 0.9 mile loop trail. 

Water from the spring is considered to be "fossil water" because it entered the ground thousands of years ago and is just now being forced to the earth's surface. Once water leaves the spring, it flows along a small stream until it reaches Chrystal Reservoir, several miles away. The Refuge has constructed boardwalks that follow the stream for a short distance before returning to the visitor center. There are viewing areas along the boardwalks where small pupfish can be observed darting in-and-out of the moss that forms in the spring and along the stream banks. There are also many trees that line the stream banks and a number of the trees contain large clusters of mistletoe, which will eventually kill the tree.

Longstreet Spring and Cabin and Rogers Spring are located a few miles north of the visitor center, but well worth the extra drive. Near the parking lot there is a large chalky white rock that some people say looks like a poodle's head. You decide!

Following the boardwalk a short distance from the parking lot brings you to Jack Longstreet's cabin. Jack was a prospector, gunman, and horse breeder that lived near the spring from 1894 to 1899. Jack had a number of notches carved in his pistol grips and he would often tell people that there was only one notch that he regretted.

Rogers Spring is just a short distance up the road from Longstreet Spring, but there are no improvements at Rogers Spring. 

(Longstreet Spring)

(Rogers Spring)

Crystal Reservoir and Point of Rocks are located a few miles south of the visitor center. Only non-motorized boats are allowed on Crystal Reservoir, but since the reservoir water level is so low there are few boats that ever use the facility.

Native Americans lived in this area for hundreds of years and grew corn, beans, and squash by irrigating their fields from the many springs. By following the boardwalks at Point of Rocks, it is possible to view holes in the rocks that the Native Americans used for grinding their crops. We also noted a number of Nevada Side-Blotched Lizards while we were following the boardwalks.  

People typically associate Death Valley National Park with California, but Devils Hole, a detached unit of the Park, is located on the north side of Ash Meadows in Nevada. To protect the dwindling number of pupfish, the site was added to Death Valley National Monument in 1952 because it was the nearest Federal facility. 

In 1984, the Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the 26 species of endemic plants and animals that are found around the springs, including three other endangered fish (two of them pupfish) and seven threatened plants. The Refuge now encompasses over 23,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert uplands. 

Devils Hole contains the only naturally occurring population of the endangered Devils Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis). The pupfish are isolated in a water-filled cavern (Devils Hole) that has a constant temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit and the cavern is known to be over 500 feet deep; however, the pupfish stay within the top 100 feet of the water-filled cavern. The pupfish count varies from season-to-season; but on the day we visited the site, the pupfish count was 103. 

The Park Service has now constructed a viewing bridge over the Hole so that visitors can look down on the site. 

From Devils Hole it is possible to leave the Refuge and continue north and east along the west side of the Spring Mountains until you arrive at State Route 160, which connects to US Highway 95, and then back to Las Vegas.

Friday, March 6, 2015

RonnieAdventures #0142 - Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, San Bernardino County, California

When having a backyard barbecue, it is probably not a good idea to bring up the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (the largest of its kind in the world) as a topic of conversation because you are undoubtedly going to offend someone at the party. 

The Ivanpah 392 megawatt concentrated solar thermal plant was constructed on 3,500 acres of land using 173,500 heliostats (twin mirrors) designed to focus sunlight on three receiver towers that generate steam to drive steam turbines that generate electricity. To increase efficiency of the units and extend operating hours, the receiving units are equipped with supplemental gas-fired boilers that pre-heat the circulating water in the morning and add supplemental energy to keep the water hotter for a longer period of time in the late afternoon. 

Supporters of the project say that the plant when fully functional will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually and supply supplemental energy to over 100,000 homes. As an economic benefit, construction of the facility provided over 1,000 temporary jobs and 86 permanent jobs. Total economic benefits is estimated to be $3 billion. The total amount of ground disturbance is very small when considering the total project area.

Those that oppose the project say that this is just "another bungled government investment in clean energy." (The facility cost $2.18 billion to construct, which was backed with a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee.) Energy produced to date has been far below the anticipated generating capacity, which has been blamed on everything from a poor choice of locations to unusually poor weather conditions. The solar receivers (focus point of the mirrors) produce a high-temperature flux field around the towers; thus, any birds or insects that accidentally fly into the flux field are incinerated. Opponents also point out that the plant is using 60 percent more natural gas than anticipated to fire the supplemental boilers.

Investors in the project announced that they have "shelved" plans to build any additional similar projects. 

 (Source: Google Earth)

 (Source: Google Earth)

(Source: Google Earth)

 (Receiver - not in service)

(Heliostat Mirrors)