An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin

Vacation Planning and Other Stuff

Summer is almost over and that means it is time for me to think about where to take my vacation. Paul sort of leaves the decision up to me where we go since I only get a few more days by this point in the year. I use a few for Tucson and a couple for other things and then what is left we use in October. So over the next few weeks I have to set down and peruse the maps for Southern California and Nevada. Most years it is not too big a problem just go a little further than the year before. We have run out of virgin dry lakes anywhere close. That is not to say that there are not meteorites everywhere randomly scattered across the desert. There are. But, if you have only a few days to hunt it makes sense to maximize your chances by picking a little easier environment. However, this year the choice is complicated by the recent severe flash flooding and wide spread rain on the desert. The whole area has taken quite a lashing from the weather. I donít know what condition the surface of the lakes will be. If they are still muddy we will not be able to get out on them. And if they are dry but covered with new material that has washed in then they May not be the nice sorted surface we always hope for. It would be wonderful to know a little before committing to a direction and a lake. But, we May just have to go and take our chances.

I donít mind hunting the open desert for that matter. My last find was made in a rock pile. It was far from the most hospitable hunting conditions. Every rock was dark brown, every rock was a hot rock and most were magnetic. But, only the one was meteoritic.

This trip it would be great to combine some exploring of old ghost towns with the meteorite hunting. And we will hunt the open desert if we must. Who knows how many more Gold Basin type strewnfields are waiting to be found. They wonít be found unless we hunt the rough desert. Very few falls will have a portion of their area coincidentally on a dry lake. Dry lakes are numerous but cover a very small portion of the total desert area.

Iíll spend some time thinking about how to bring those two favorite activities together. There are many ghost towns Iíve explored over the years. I donít know how much would be left of some of them now. One in the southern corner of Nevada was becoming and RV gathering spot as long ago as twenty-five years. The old mine near it had been reopened as well. Today, I can only image that it is a bustling community of weekenders. The desert is often thought of as a static environment; in fact it is ever changing and active. Old buildings fall and are covered over with sand. Towns disappear with relative haste. Roads wash out and landmarks vanish. The meteorites fare somewhat better. So there is always the hope that we shall find some, even if the ghost towns elude us.

With a little luck the weather will be good. We have waited till fall to avoid the sweltering heat of the summer. But it will still be hot. In the summer if we feel really hearty on a particular day we will spend most of it hunting. We will carry a lot of liquids and walk many miles. But, some days it is just to hot and we will work some in the morning and some in the afternoon and evening. The rest of the day we May just hunker down in the shade, or do some other work or read. October has been a lucky month for us. We will of course report the results in the November Meteorite Links.

I selected three lunar meteorites as Meteorite of the Month candidates. So here is a recently taken photograph of the Moon to go along with that.  Also makes this article not photoless. It was taken in July by Paul and I as we were waiting for Mars to get high enough to image. Digital cameras do a wonderful job on the Moon. Even when full the Moon can be imaged. The built in contrast and light controls bring up the different shades of light and dark that were always impossible with film on a full Moon.