July 1997, Mr Peck sensed that he'd been working too hard, so he went on a hike
over the High Route of the Swiss Alps with Mr Charles
Berman. But when that was over, he STILL felt he'd
been working too hard, so he went to England and rode a bicycle around under highway
overpasses near Heathrow Airport and collected number 3 daughter Marlowe Tyson
Peck and flew to New Mexico, USA, to visit number 1 daughter Alison Beth Peck
and imbibe science and culture.
was before demented ashcroftian airport security personnel, in their permanent
Orwellian search for the ARCHVILLAIN Osama bin Goldstein, made flying in or out
of the USA really unpleasant.
and Alison Peck, and Alison's friend Tim Canty, pose before the VLA (Very Large
Array) of the NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory), in the Plains of St
Augustine some miles west of Socorro, New Mexico.
and Tim, with Mr Peck, on the Plains of St Augustine. Alison was a PhD candidate
in radio astronomy and astrophysics at New Mexico Tech in Socorro at the time. Update: she is now, in 2002, at the Mauna Kea Harvard/Smithsonian observatory in Hawaii (and in 2008, at the Atacama Large Millimetre Array in Chile)(and in 2014, at the NRAO HQ in Charlottesville, Virginia)(and in 2017, back in Hawaii at the Gemini telescope).
Tim, Marlowe, and Alison,
with NRAO looming.
of these big items can be moved in and out on three 9-mile railroad tracks in
order to increase the resolution or area viewed in the farthest heavens, but,
though featured in the Jody Foster film Contact,
they have not yet noticed any engaging alien intelligences
who will guide Earthlings to a better future.
somebody better do it soon.
and Alison viewing a radio telescope Gathering of the Clans.
of Pecks on the front balcony of the NRAO VLA control room in New Mexico.
Alison's and Tim's
house in Socorro, New Mexico, extremely attractive to many people, albeit to some
people who live in Switzerland, extremely . . . dry.
miles westward and desertward, Mr Peck marched up South Baldy mountain (3289 meters)
in the Magdalena Mountains west of Socorro, New Mexico, to meet his party at the
top, and learnt a new lesson in dry air and dehydration!
Three Pecks pose before
the Faraday lightning cage at the Langmuir lightning research laboratory on top
of South Baldy Mountain.
candidates sit in the cage below that deck, shoot rockets with wires attached
up into thunderclouds, and view the lightning charging down the wires, secure
in their faith that Michael Faraday's theory about lightning routing itself all
round the cage instead of right through it is not just another proto-scientific
theory like phlogiston and the creation of the earth in 5,600 B.C. If they're
right, they get their PhDs.
admirable patience, Alison explains to her still incredulous Dad how the Faraday
cage is supposed to work, when it's on form.
Alison, and her Dad with her mates from the University, on South Baldy.
Rumsfeldian and StarWarsian this may look, it's actually just well-intended lightning
research stuff on South Baldy.
some days in and about Socorro, a gaggle of Pecks headed east. As follows.
auto looming in the background, Marlowe and Alison Peck cross a lava flow in New
Mexico . . .
. . and view "petroglyphs". Petroglyphs, or rock carvings, were left
here by ancient people, for some good reason probably, but it's hard to see that
they got anything out of it. Perhaps it was a hobby.
and Alison toast marshmallows at dusk somewhere in the empty deserty sort of central
in New Mexico deserts, waiting for coyotes, wolves, scorpions, rattlesnakes, federales,
and possibly wild boars to come poking about outside the tent.
and Marlowe Peck, at White Sands, playing about amidst a lot of . . . white sand.
White sand to the horizon.
Awesome sight!!! Give the capitalists another 25 years and
most of the world may well look very like this.
lost my shoe. It's out there somewhere. Help me look for it."
and her Ramsar COP6 Brisbane Australia stuffed koala bear
who proceed in an orderly fashion and keep their place in line will now be treated
to views of a few more ethnic and cultural sites in New Mexico, namely Bandelier
pueblo and a village fête in Socorro.
and Marlowe Peck at Bandelier National Monument, in northwestern New Mexico (USA),
where long ago people used to live up in those little holes in the cliffs. Until
they got tired of that, and moved to Las Vegas, where the jobs are. And the heartbreaks.
Mr Peck is not just posing for a tourist photo with daughter Alison. He's casting
an investor's eye all about, thinking "Theme Park". If Disney can take
over Paris, why not ancient cliff dwellings?
Patient Alison. Tolerant.
Peck emulates ancient pueblo dwellers, irritated that our forefathers (or somebody's forefathers) couldn't
do any better than a fairly shaky ladder.
enters somebody's bedroom without knocking, but the occupants are long
gone, and there's nobody here now but rattlesnakes
and scorpions and Dads with cameras.
Socorro, a village fête in progress
The blue sugar-candy
tongue may not be an authentic New Mexican tradition, so we don't need to
pretend we find this "fascinating" in the name of cultural diversity.
A blue tongue is a just blue tongue.
bye, New Mexico. This is, in fact, Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA). Marlowe
safely deposited in Vermont (USA), Señor Peck relaxes in Harvard Square
or thereabouts with friends Paul Miller and Charles Berman, and then, finally,
goes back to work in Switzerland, alas.
of 1997 was not a bad summer, all round, for those of us who benefit from humane
European holiday opportunities. Prior to the foregoing trip to New Mexico, USA,
harmless Mr Peck was privileged to be able to run all round the High Route of
the Swiss Alps, in late June 1997, and that's here.
on the photo.}