Venus will have an interesting month. Today and tomorrow (January 8-9), it’s going to be closer to Earth than any planet has been in a century.
🔹It’ll be just 0.266 Astronomical Units or 24.7 million miles away, according to Space.com.
🔹It’ll then appear in the pre-dawn sky later in the month, brightening significantly. You’ll be able to see Venus and the crescent moon together in the pre-dawn sky on January 29-30. They won’t be on top of each other, but they should make a nice tableau in conjunction with Mars, which will be even closer to the moon than Venus.
All Month: Mars is Back
Mars is coming back into view for us earthlings. It passed out of view behind the sun and is just returning. The red planet will continue to get brighter and rise in the sky over the coming months.
The moon will cross the asterism over a series of nights, as it does each month through the winter, providing a great opportunity to watch the movement of the sky across nights.
🔹The winter hexagon will sit high in the southeastern sky.
🔹If you’re under exceptionally dark skies, the Milky Way cuts through the winter hexagon as well.
🔹The moon hits the western side of the hexagon on January 13 and will trek across it until the night of January 16.
January 17: Full Wolf Moon
The full moon alights on January 17. It’s often called the Wolf Moon and its arrival means you’re going to have some light interference if you’re trying to go out stargazing.
Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites are waived for current Military Service-members and their dependents,Veterans and Gold Star Families.
They now have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing, camping, and much more.
Are you eligible?
For purposes of this program, a Veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of valid (unexpired) identification:
Veterans designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card
Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.
The America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (Interagency Pass) Program
The Interagency Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Current Military Service-members must show a valid (unexpired) Department of Defense ID. Dependents of current Service-members must show a valid (unexpired) DD Form 1173 AD or DEC.
The annual Military Pass has been expanded to include Veterans and Gold Star Family members. Other free or discounted passes, including some lifetime passes, are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older.
How to get your Interagency Pass
Interagency Passes can be obtained in person while visiting a participating site. Visit Places to Get Interagency Passes for a searchable list and be sure to contact the site before you go, to make sure they are open and have passes in stock. In addition, Military passes, as well as those for seniors and persons with permanent disabilities, are available online through the USGS Online Store.
We traveled through enchanting Sedona a few weeks ago, although we couldn’t stay long. It’s only been a few years since I was there, but mercy has it grown…almost to the point that Sedona’s popularity could be a possible burden.
Traffic congestion was considerable and all shops, restaurants and parking areas were full. We will be back, but probably not in the peak of summer. Most likely we will try again in the fall.
The first sign of autumn isn’t always the changing of the leaves; sometimes it’s the changing of the kegs. When the air turns crisp and pint glasses are raised in celebration, it can only mean that Oktoberfest has arrived.
Ales on Rails is Verde Canyon Railroad’s way of toasting this German tradition, providing a rollicking farewell to summer beginning Tuesday, September 14 and running through Sunday, October 31, 2021.
Sample a wide range of local Arizona breweries, proudly showcased on the depot patio, these are richly crafted local beers ranging from the lightest pilsners to the hoppiest IPAs and deepest stouts the Copper State has to offer.
Now in its 19th year, the very popular Ales on Rails season always sells out in advance and may be reserved to include a Verde Canyon Railroad logo beer glass with four beer-tasting tickets, a made-to-order lunch from the Copper Spike Cafe and a large selection of fine Arizona-brewed craft beers for only $125 per person.
The party begins on the depot patio from 10:30am -12:45 p.m., with beer tasting on tap prior to the train’s 1:00 p.m. departure.
The fun continues as favorite beers of the day will also be available canned for purchase aboard the train, to enjoy while marveling at the vibrant Verde Canyon scenery.
Echoing the celebration of amber brews are the brilliant bronze and gold colors vividly on display throughout Mother Nature’s masterpiece during the Fall Colors Tour, with autumn foliage ranging from chartreuse to ginger, and vermillion to violet for a wide range strikingly seasonal hues.
If you mixed all four seasons together and skimmed off the very best, you would create autumn.
Radiant colors and mild temperatures with a hint of briskness in the air charges Verde Canyon with a fresh energy. Residents of the Verde Canyon, as well as visitors, feel the seasonal change.
Wildlife sightings increase as deer, Javelina, coyote and other species grow more active. Amidst the fall finery, a chorus of wings adds a touch of music, as migratory birds return to the sanctuary between the canyon walls.
The Verde Canyon’s resident Bald Eagles are joined by these migrating visitors, adding to the population, and the train’s connection with these noble birds.
The train is a proud sponsor of Arizona-based rescue Liberty Wildlife, who share scheduled Raptors at the Rails programs with depot guests, featuring hawks, owls, falcons and vultures from their education program at the depot, and a bald eagle riding the train each month.
As October draws to a finale, the Verde Canyon’s low whistling winds are perhaps ghostly whispers of ancient Sinaguan cliff-dwellers or of miners’ spirits restlessly roaming from nearby famed “Ghost City” Jerome’s abandoned copper mine shafts.
It’s not the destination, it has always been the journey
No matter what your plans might be for the spookiest night of the year, spend part of your day aboard the Haunted Halloween Express on Sunday, October 31st.
In addition to the blazing colors of fall and the smooth, cool flow of artisanal beer, train staff will be in Halloween disguises ranging from mild to wild, and there will be a costume contest for passengers, with fun prizes and plenty of candy making for ghoulish good fun for the whole family.
Leave the confines of city life in favor of high-spirited fun and an unforgettable journey around every bend and over every bridge as the train winds through its beautiful and historic red-rock riparian canyon home this autumn. Surrounded by the colors of the season, the flavors of Arizona, the curves of the Verde River, a trip aboard the train inspires wonder and fills cameras.
The Verde Canyon Railroad depot is in Clarkdale, Arizona, 25 minutes southwest of Sedona and two hours north of Phoenix. For reservations book online at VerdeCanyonRR.com or call 800-293-7245.
Tonight, as Halley’s Comet speeds through our solar system, it leaves a trail that stays around long after it’s gone. Earth’s orbit runs through the dust and debris left behind which crashes into Earth’s atmosphere as a meteor shower.
Twice a year, Earth plows through the debris of this famous comet which we don’t get to see but every 76 years.
In 2021, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower lasts from April 19 through May 28, with the peak—tonight. NASA pinpoints it to be a stunning display in the night sky.
This time around is considered a relatively good night to hunt for Eta Aquarid meteors, with Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office indicating we could see as many as 40 meteors per hour under dark skies.
While it pales in comparison to what is expected from the Perseids and the Geminids showers, we will get to view the Eta Aquarids in the warmer spring weather.
Eta Aquarid meteors tend to be faint and fast, which makes finding dark skies crucially important if we want to see as many meteors as possible. It’s important to leave the far-reaching light pollution of cities to really get a good view. As mentioned, these meteors, which will be spectacularly burning up in our eastern sky, are remnants from Halley’s Comet or Comet 1P Halley. Many of us actually saw the comet back in 1986, making it a once-in-a-lifetime event. It won’t be back until July 2061.
Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office told CleverJourneys that the meteors will be competing with “a last-quarter moon. So, you want to start observing around 2 am and go to dawn,”
“The Eta Aquarids are very faint,” Cooke explained. “They require a good dark sky. They’re kind of an out in the boondocks country meteor shower.”
Pick a location with a clear view along the horizon. Try to avoid trees and buildings that block some of the sky from view, because this shower has a radiant low in the sky.
Eta Aquarid can be spotted inside the constellation Aquarius in the eastern sky. Though, we don’t want to stare directly at the radiant, it’s wise to take in as much of the sky as possible. The meteors are moving away from the radiant, and the more sky we can see, the more meteors we’ll spot. For this reason, we should also avoid using binoculars.
“A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard; Why aren’t we like the wise old bird?”
My maternal great-grandmother, Chickasaw-Choctaw Margaret Delitha Morgan taught me this wise owl quote in the early 1960s.
I had no clue what an “oak” was and it’s the one word in the saying that I didn’t grasp right away. Over 35 years later, I took a week long course (and follow up classes) to become certified in Neurolinguistics Programming (NLP)…a wise old owl perhaps.
The summary below is from my notes in one of the classes. It’s been updated to provide up-to-date information.
Learning to develop and trust our intuitive intelligence is more important now than ever.
According to a recent UCLA study, we are exposed to a tsunami of information that amounts to over 174 newspapers full of data per day. That is more than 5 times the amount of information we were exposed to just 20 years ago. Included in this deluge of data are countless opinions, endless streams of expert advice and a myriad of gurus and guides telling us what we should be doing in order to live our best lives.
Besides the Word of God, the reality is that the only guidance system we need to assist us in living our best life is the wisdom held within our natural intuitive intelligence. When properly developed, it can and will lead us to the choices, ideas and innovations that will guide us towards what is truly in our best interest and help us create the highest good in our lives.
Intuition is a subtle language, so understanding the various ways it communicates makes having a deep and meaningful relationship with it rewarding, reliable and much more fun.
Intuition operates in our body and nervous system on levels that range from basic, binary, survival-based communications to complete conversations that are elegant, sophisticated, and evolved.
Level 1: Gut Instinct
Attributes: safety, security, and survival.
We have all heard of this level of intuition, and most of us can recall a time when we have recognized it or felt its presence in our lives. Gut instinct may be the best known and most mainstream interpretation of intuition, but it is only a small part of the entire intelligence system.
We should not depend on it alone to guide us to our highest potential or outcome. Gut instinct is simple, basic, and binary, which means it communicates through the feeling of opposites and uses impressions such as yes or no, stop or go, safe or unsafe, to convey its message.
When your gut instinct is operating, it will answer such questions as: “Is this choice/person/relationship in my best interest? Can I thrive in this environment? Will this situation meet my deepest needs?”
Level 2: Heart-Based Intelligence
Attributes: courage, compassion, and communication.
The intelligence in the heart encourages us to adopt the practice of courage, compassion, and care and use them to communicate and connect with all other life forms in our environment.
It guides us to what is appropriate to say or do in moments of need and allows us to connect and communicate in often unspoken ways and to bond with people, animals, and places in ways that cannot be described by words or rational thought.
This center of wisdom prompts us to ask the questions, such as: “Is my life filled with beauty? Do I love what I do? How can I discover my joy? What would I do if I were not afraid? Am I bringing the best of myself to my life and the world?”
Level 3: Visionary Power
Attributes: imagination, visionary certainty, and creative possibility.
The third level of intuitive intelligence is found in the mystical and often misunderstood power of extrasensory perception (ESP), expanded spiritual vision, lucid dreaming and other elevated psychic events. This is the level of intuition where extraordinary solutions, alternate ways of doing things, and groundbreaking new ideas are commonplace.
When this center of wisdom is active it guides us to ask questions such as: “What do I see as a solution or possibility? Is there something I am overlooking? What dreams do I have for my future that I haven’t given myself permission to make into reality?”
Level 4: The Connection to Universal Wisdom
Attributes: Universal awareness and unity consciousness
The fourth level of intuitive intelligence is the most nonphysical of the group. This intelligence is often activated during deep meditation or advanced awareness practices, and it is sometimes reported after near-death experiences or times of great stress or trauma.
The highest level of intuition that humans can reach while in physical form is the one that allows us to access the realm of all things and to become consciously aware of our connection to and ability to create with the intelligence that is the source of our reality.
When we are aligned with this level of intelligence, we recognize that all things in life are valuable and appropriate and that we have the power within us to change and heal our lives if we so choose.
Here there are no questions. There is only consciousness.
As you become familiar with these levels of communication, your rapport with this natural form of intelligence will grow, evolve and expand and it will not matter what the rest of the world is telling you to do. With the direct guidance of your own wisdom you will be able to navigate any situation with a sense of joy, ease and great satisfaction.
Many of the questions and concerns RVers, motorcyclists, and campers have are solved with mutual respect, courtesy and common sense.
Here are the “Seven C’s of Camping:”
1. Care – We will care how we camp by being considerate of others.
2. Caution – We will use caution in the use of camping equipment both on the road and at the campsite. We will handle fire and flammable fuels so as not to endanger others or ourselves. We will improve our camping skills, knowing the right way is the safest way.
3. Courtesy – We will practice politeness because it enhances the camping experience. We will respect the privacy of others, control our children and leash our dogs.
4. Cleanliness – We will be clean in our camping habits and teach our children the importance of cleanliness. We will pick up litter no matter who left it and be proud of the campsites we leave behind.
5. Cooperation – We will observe the letter and spirit of camping regulations and rules established to protect our enjoyment of the outdoors. We will work cooperatively with others to make it better for everyone.
6. Conservation – We will protect the environment in which we enjoy camping and help those whose job it is to guard and wisely manage our country’s natural resources. We will endeavor to leave a better outdoors for those who follow us.
Travel deep into the heart of the Texas Panhandle and you’ll find a true natural wonder. Canyon walls gleaming orange in bright sunshine, otherworldly rock formations, and scenic trails lined with mesquite and juniper trees await at Palo Duro Canyon.
About 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, and with a depth of roughly 800 feet, Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the country. Formed over millions of years, the canyon is a majestic showcase of nature’s power. Descend into its depths and you’ll see vibrant layers of rock in the canyon walls that tell a story 250 million years in the making.
I first traveled to Palo Duro while RVing with two sons, ages 8 and 9, in 2005. They were enchanted and loved the remoteness. Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs was their favorite on this particular trip, but Palo Duro Canyon was a highly rated second place.
I suppose some people naturally compare it to the Grand Canyon. If you’ve been there, how can you measure any place against the Grand Canyon? To do so may disappoint. For their young eyes–who had never been to Arizona–Palo Duro was spectacular and offered a spirit of adventure.
We only stayed two nights, but could have easily stayed more. My journalism professor at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State), Jeff Henderson, told me about a show there back in the late 1970s. It remained on my bucket list for 30 years before I was able to experience it.
We enjoyed a great Chuck Wagon meal prior to the event just outside the entry of the Pioneer Ampitheater.
It’s beautifully carved out of and nestled into a natural basin in the state park. Summer 2021 the spectacular TEXAS OUTDOOR MUSICAL Palo Duro Canyon comes alive once again for the 55th season of the Official Play of the State of Texas.
It reminded me of a Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Broadway musical type play but set against an authentic tapestry of history. The show’s fictional characters bring to life the stories, struggles and triumphs of the settlers of the Texas Panhandle in the 1800’s. Song and dance abound – and a generous helping of good ol’ Texas humor too – with spellbinding lighting, special effects and fireworks.
For a dad with his two sons, one of the best ways we experienced the canyon was by tying on hiking shoes and exploring the CCC Trail, one of more than 30 miles of trails.
If a strenuous, yet rewarding, hike is what you’re after, traverse either the Upper Comanche or the Lower Comanche trails. The former takes you across a river and deep through Comanche territory to an overlook halfway up the canyon wall. The latter meanders beneath Fortress Cliff and past spring-fed streams and Rocky Mountain junipers. Meanwhile, the Juniper/Cliffside trail offers a more easygoing stroll past percolation caves carved by moving water over time.
A favorite for many visitors (it was the middle of June, hot, so we elected not to try it–almost 6 mile round trip) to Palo Duro Canyon hike to the Lighthouse, the park’s iconic rock formation. If you decide to trek to Lighthouse trail to see it for yourself, make sure to bring plenty of water.
Of course, there are other ways to uncover Palo Duro Canyon’s many wonders. Ride horseback on the canyon floor on a guided tour with Old West Stables or find your way along many of the trails on your mountain bike.
The canyon’s lush landscapes and variety of terrain makes it a veritable hotspot for birdwatching. Golden-fronted woodpeckers are among the many birds you can see throughout the year, while summer welcomes such colorful species as painted buntings and Bullock’s orioles.
Keep a keen eye and you may even see bobcats, coyotes, and wild turkeys, as well as members of the official State Longhorn Herd (descendants of cattle brought by the Spanish in the 1500s).
“If you take any further measures to threaten females’ sports and privacy in Texas, or any Texans’ freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety, I will stop you.“–Ken Paxton
The complete letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent to the current resident of the White House this week is presented in it’s entirety.
Joseph R. Biden The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden:
Of all the radical and unconstitutional executive orders you handed down on Inauguration Day, Executive Order 13988 may be the most insidious.
The order purports to combat discrimination based on “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.” In reality, it sacrifices women’s and girls’ sports, safety, and privacy on the altar of radical “transgender” ideology.
Indeed, the fruits of that ideology are already destroying women’s and girls’ sports around the country. None of this is fair for women and girls.
Throughout American history, patriotic women have fought tirelessly for their rights and freedoms. As a result, our laws rightly recognize that women have distinct but equal rights based on biological differences.
It is unfair for your Administration to denigrate that progress in order to satisfy fringe elements of your party. Your order rests upon the United States Supreme Court’s aberrant Bostock v. Clayton County decision of 2020—just the latest iteration in a long line of activist, anti-constitutional Supreme Court opinions like Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), Roe v. Wade (1973), Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Bostock held that “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes so-called gender identity and sexual orientation.
As Justice Alito noted forcefully in his dissent, that conclusion is indisputably wrong and preposterous. But worse, your executive order does precisely what Justice Alito warned would happen, and which you and your liberal allies disingenuously promised would not: By claiming that Bostock extends to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Fair Housing Act, section 412 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and women’s and girls’ sports, your order “threaten[s] freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety.” At its core, the order is a new and disturbing weapon of discrimination against females.
You have taken a drastic and unacceptable step toward eviscerating the concept of biological sex in American law. You and your progressive allies will not put men and boys in our women’s and girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, or sports teams. And I’ll work just as hard in defense of efforts in Texas and elsewhere to pass laws protecting women and girls.
Girls and women have a right to privacy—away from boys and men. Girls and women have a right to compete with their peers—away from boys and men. If you take any further measures to threaten females’ sports and privacy in Texas, or any Texans’ freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety, I will stop you.
For Liberty and Justice in Texas,
Biden’s unconstitutional Executive Orders have been battered in social media Memes not controlled by Liberal censorship. Here are samples of recent popular ones dealing with gender and sexual orientation:
Returning only twice since the 1970s, I first learned about hiking up the highest location in my state from my Texas State University Journalism (then Southwest Texas State University) professor, David Yates, in 1977.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
He published, for a .90 to $1.50, an 11 1/2″×14 3/4″ newspaper, Cedar Rock, for poets and writers that was circulated and purchased in bookstores across the nation, but especially in the Southwest. I was fortunate to have a poem, articles and photos occasionally included.
Yates enthusiastically wrote and mentioned his hikes up Guadalupe Peak in Cedar Rock and in class.
During a long weekend, I joined Mr. Yates and others on a caravan trip from San Marcos to the El Paso area for one of his hikes up the 8,751 foot peak.
I learned that Guadalupe Peak is much more than the Lone Star State’s highest point. Guadalupe Mountains National Park has since become the destination for one of the state’s most epic hikes.
The Guadalupe Peak Trail ascends about 3,000 feet for more than eight miles round trip. The complete journey took us almost eight hours passing pine and fir trees. I saw my first ever madrone tree as we trekked through breathtaking high desert terrain.
Reaching the peak, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of miles of the surrounding desert and mountains, a vista that can’t be beat.
That shared journey is a wonderful memory, especially watching Mr. Yates’ quiet enthusiasm as he pulled out a journal. Away from the other hikers, he sat high above Texas alone and began writing.
An entrance fee of $10 per person (16 years of age and older) is required; entrance fees/passes permit 1-7 consecutive days of use in this national park.
Holders of the Annual, Senior, Military, 4th grade and Access Pass can bring in 3 adults free of charge under their pass. Any pass must be displayed in a vehicle while in the national park.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park Annual Pass – $35.00
This pass is valid for entrance into Guadalupe Mountains National Park for one year from the month of purchase. The pass admits up to four adults in a private vehicle and is non-transferable; visitors under 16 years of age are free. You can purchase this pass at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.
Pine Springs Visitor Center is the park’s main visitor center and headquarters. Visitors can pay entrance and camping fees, tour the museum, purchase items from the park bookstore, pick up brochures, maps, and obtain backpacking permits here.
There is no gasoline available in the park. If you are traveling from (El Paso) Texas, Dell City is the closest town with amenities such as gasoline, diesel, food, and ice. When traveling from New Mexico, Whites City is the last place that offers gas, diesel, food and ice.
We’re not kidding. No gas is available for 35 miles in either direction from the visitor center. Plan accordingly.
Campgrounds offer primitive dry camping for both tents and RVs. Other than restrooms and potable water, there are no other amenities. There are no lodges in the park.
Meghan Murphy announced 2 1/2 years ago she was suing Twitter for permanently banning her account after she tweeted, “women aren’t men” and other declarations referring to scientific facts about biological differences between women and men.
She filed the lawsuit in February 2019. In the YouTube video announcing it, the Canadian journalist and feminist spelled out a policy that would reveal the Big Tech censorship that severely threatens the Freedom of Speech and Expression in America.
“Twitter has begun silencing individuals and political views they don’t want heard,” Murphy said in November 2018.
This month, the liberal far left court of appeals in California ruled that Twitter was right to ban her account.
“I’m not allowed to say that men aren’t women or ask questions about the notion of transgenderism at all anymore?” she tweeted. “That a multi-billion dollar company is censoring basic facts and silencing people who ask questions about this dogma is insane.”
Her account was locked permanently a few days later when she referred to a transgender female by a male pronoun.
The legal battle between tech and social media giants and their censored users often come down to the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230.
It provides the former with broad, almost impenetrable protections, while disenfranchising the latter’s free speech.
Despite the fact that the US Supreme Court observed Congress had promotion of free exchange of information and ideas over the internet in mind when it created Section 230, liberal courts are interpreting this law differently.
The greedy power of Big Tech allows these giants to do what they want–get it both ways–by hiding behind the legislation’s protections from legal liability for user-generated content, while not being obligated, or willing to protect free speech.
The 1st District Court of Appeal threw out Murphy’s lawsuit, seeing merit in Twitter’s argument that it had the right to censor information it sees as unacceptable, and is, essentially, not really in the business of being a free speech platform.
Murphy’s lawsuit attempted to make a point of Twitter previously marketing itself as precisely that, and even promising “not to actively monitor or censor user content.”
A second argument was that Twitter’s business practice was unfair because it gave itself the right to suspend or ban accounts “at any time, for any, or no reason.”
But as usual, this leftist California court took Twitter’s side.