Well, not quite, but, thanks to the kindness of my fellow amateurs who've had me visit their clubs and star parties as a speaker over the last couple of years, I've covered quite a few miles back and forth across the good, ol' USA. I'd never been to the Pacific Northwest, though, not until Ray, Herb and Paula York invited me up for their yearly shindig, "The Anacortes Telescope and Wild Bird 2006 Optics and Imaging Expo," that is.
What can I say other than "a good time was had by all"? I know I
had one, starting out Friday night when I finally got to try some of that justly famous Seattle-area microbrewery output. Yeah, it was a little
different from the Dixie Beer your Uncle usually favors, but right
good I'd say. Certainly didn't have a problem downing a few
The big show was on Saturday, 30 September, and big it was with, in addition to your Silly Old Uncle, presentations from good (and very knowledgeable) folks from Takahashi, SBIG, Meade, and more. While I felt like small potatos in such illustrious company, the large audience who'd flooded the AT&WB premises were very kind during my (as usual) rambling presentations, which included, "The Past, Present, and Future of the SCT," "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Deep Sky Video," and "Urban Astronomy."
One of the greatest things for me, living down here in our Astro-dealer deprived wilderness, was the opportunity to look at and fondle the latest beaufiful astro-stuff. In addition to a big, new RCX from the Meadesters, I was able to check out the beautiful scopes from Tak. You know, everytime I get a look at those lustrous mounts and OTAs I start thinkin: "Yowza! That's for me!" Course, a few days later I come back to reality with "Too rich for my blood," again. So it goes. Sigh.
Fondling scopes is cool, but using 'em on the sky is even better. Alas, 'twas not to be. The only down note Saturday was that, in typical Seattle fashion, I'm told, we went from clear, crisp, beautiful weather to damp, cloudy, and downright chilly in just a few hours. A li'l star party had been planned in conjunction with the local club, but that was quickly scotched as wave after wave of clouds poured in off the Pacific.
Nevertheless, between the special deals on gear (amazing), giveaways (many), and free bar-b-que (lots), nobody left in a snit, that's fer dang sure. There's no denying that Washington is a long, long way from Possum Swamp, and that the plane rides are punishing what with today's pack-em-in-like-sardines airlines. But, dernit, it was worth it...I had such a great time that I'll go back anytime I'm invited (or figger out a way to invite myself