My first evening of the Texas Star Party I ran into my first fellow AAVSOer, Brad Walter. Brad and I had met before in Big Bear a couple years ago, but I didn’t recognize him right away with his safari gear and hat on. As it turned out, Brad was also camped on the middle field just yards from where my telescope was set up. After dinner I was finishing setting up for the night and began packing the tools and cases back into my car when Brad came over and told me I wasn’t done setting up yet. “What do you mean?” I asked him.
“Do you have any more of those spikes?”
“You need to use them and some of that rope you have to tie down your telescope.”
Brad explained that even though my telescope was pretty darn heavy, the winds here in the Davis Mountains could be pretty fierce at times, and he advised me to tie down the three legs of the tripod to guard against the telescope blowing over!
He wasn’t kidding.
Clouds socked us in Tuesday night, and I decided to call it and get some sleep around midnight. Overnight, the star party was hit by, what could best be described as, a hurricane without the rain. Lightning flashed and heavy winds, with violent gusts shook the cabin until just before dawn.
When I walked out into the bright Texas sunlight Wednesday morning there were signs of destruction and chaos everywhere. Some of the smaller tents from the night before just weren’t there any more. Many shade canopies were dangling from ropes or wrapped around cars, and tent poles stood or lay on the ground with no canvas attached to them. You could tell which way the wind had come from because every Dobsonian telescope at the star party was facing in the opposite direction, having been turned in the night like a hundred weathervanes. And sadly, there were a few telescopes that had toppled in the storm.
Mine wasn’t one of them. It stood there unscathed, securely nailed to the ground. Brad had saved my telescope and my trip from disaster. I sent him a heart-felt thank you card the day after I got back from TSP.
(This is an excerpt from Texas In My Rear View Mirror. The full story will apear in the next newsletter .)