Saturday night adventure

by Bob Baldwin

Over the years I've run into imagers that speak of Chews Ridge. Saturday we closed the shop at two and I got on the road about four thirty. An easy drive down 101 past the Coe turnoff and past San Juan Batista (Fremont Peak turn off). I was headed west. Seaside, Monterey and then a left turn into the Carmel valley. I had a California map (not enough detail) I took the longest road possible and got lucky, it ended up going to the same place I would have gone to if I had stayed on the Camel valley road. The sun was getting low as I went by Tassahara Hot Springs. The road suddenly turned to dirt and up the hill I went.

Several miles slow going and a steady climb, suddenly I came to a ranch. It seemed like this was the place I had been looking for all the time. Past the corral and in front of a big barn, a young woman standing on an old battery and leaning as far as she could working under the hood of a Chevy truck. I pulled up slowly put on a smile and hopped out of my car.

Hello I'm Bob. Hi I'm Jessie. Soon I knew this was the place and I asked if it would be all right to stay and do some astronomy? Sure but you will have to clear it with my grandpa after all it's his ranch. He lives about a half mile down that road. Just then a small pickup was coming out of the drive with Grandpa behind the wheel. A half hour of history and small talk. He was fine with whatever I needed. Set up your stuff were you like, there is a toilet in that building there and you can get water from the hose over there to flush it.

I set up and waited for a few stars to pop out so I could get a polar alignment. The word traveled fast and a couple of neighbor women showed up. They had scopes at home and they might get them and come back for awhile. Well I guess they found other plans because I was alone the rest of the night.

I broke my glasses just as it got dark and it got very dark. Soon I was wishing I had done a little more prep during twilight It was really getting dark. The night was beautiful warm and no wind. I sat for hours watching bands of scud going past the milky way. I used my 7x50's most of the time and turned in about 1 am. A great night under the sky I will go back again next year. Probably in June.