Pine Mountain Observatory

October 16-17, 1982

This weekender offered nothing more strenuous than one chilly night’s camping and a stroll around Lava Butte, but the crisp fall weather, the congeniality of our participants and the multitude of tourist traps around Bend went far to enhance this outing.

The way this cookie crumbled, five of us, all women, met in Eugene and rendezvoused with seven other people at Pine Mountain. But not before we had stopped at the Heritage Restaurant in Sisters. Having regaled ourselves in sisterly fashion, we went on to contemplate our geological heritage with a stop at Lava Lands Visitor Center. It was closed but we chose to nose about. We simply climbed the barricade and ambled along the Lava Butte trails in the dusk.

Now, cold weather is something which hampers a camper. Considering that we only had thirteen people, it was interesting to note their diversity of method. We had campers in cars, and campers in tents, and campers in campers. Speaking tentatively, the people who slept on the ground stayed about as warm as the car campers and the camper campers, in spite of the fact that Mother Nature frosted everyone’s domicile Saturday night, and that without partiality.

Having taken ample time to camp, we set out to sample examples. Around 7:15 we reported to the observatory where astronomer Dan Krause demonstrated the 24" telescope and fielded questions from us, such as, “Where do you guys go to the bathroom?” and “Have you ever been shot at during hunting season?” Sorry . . . I made that up. Presently Dr. Kemp appeared — you’ve all heard of Dr. Kemp — you know, the guy who wears sandals without socks in the dead of winter. Well, we all have our quirks; if I didn’t have any I wouldn’t be writing this report. Anyway, Dr. Kemp appeared and for the next few hours we observed from the sidelines as the two men acquainted us with various research projects. It so happened that both were in a jubilant mood; their findings pertaining to an eclipse of the star “SS 433” promise to be a real breakthrough in the field.

Around 10:00 p.m., I awake from my stupor . . . I was either falling asleep or slowly freezing to death, I’m not sure which . . . anyway, as I awoke from my stupor I looked around the observatory and noticed that my Remedial Astronomy class had slipped away one by one. I set off in hot pursuit, but alas, the scent was cold. In fact, it was so cold it sent shivers up my spine. So when I located the bunch of them huddled around the campfire, you can bet that I gave them the cold shoulder. Then my other shoulder. Then my hands. Then my backside.

As we stood there turning ourselves like so many rotisseries, I was horrified to see everybody turning in to bed around 10:30. “The chickens!” I grumbled to myself. There was nothing left to do but to wing it alone.

Back up the hill I trudged in a self-righteous Quest for Knowledge. Now, lest you guess that the quest was in jest, I will divest myself of the rest. When I arrived at the observatory where the 24" telescope is housed, I saw that things weren’t looking up. A light in the refractory telescope wasn’t working. You might say that the entire piece of equipment was refractory. The two astronomers managed to fix it, but while they were thus being robbed of time, a cloud stole over. With the telescope fixed, we repaired to the house to watch an old movie over a glass of wine. Now, don’t give me that garbage. I was simply observing OBSIDIAN LEADERSHIP PROTOCOL. Anyway, by midnight the cloud had moved farther and the blackout was complete. Back outside I went.

Sunday was cold but wonderfully clear. Subsequently, we cleared out. My fine lineup of Pine Mountaineers consisted of Fran Gnose, Aileen Lynam, Anne Montgomery, Al and Mike Niems, Don and Barbara Payne, Gene Thaxton, Merle and Doris Traudt, Carol Waddell, and Jemeatta Wallace. Only one culprit could have. written this report: leader Karen Houglum


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