Rancho Europa, 2083 Lazy Z Road, Nederland CO 80466
Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues,
We're wishing you a festive holiday season and an excellent new year. Last year, we prepared a year's-end letter and posted it here on our website (it has an especially great collection of photos), but we mainly neglected to tell anybody that it was there. To make room for this year's letter (posted at www.ranchoeuropa.com), we've moved last year's into the background but you can find it here.
This year has been one of transitions plus a lot of travel for us. We joined Clark's mother in Durham, N.C., early in the year to celebrate her 100th birthday. Ginette and Mitch have let it be known that a new member of the family will be emerging in May. Clark has continued to slowly cut back on his paid work schedule (sequestration cuts at NASA foster this trend) and Y has acquired a new hybrid SUV she has named "Valentino" -- our first new auto purchase in more than a decade. More than 11 inches of rain in a September storm filled our gauge, but we were fortunately above most of the flood damage. We were, however, largely cut-off from Boulder and Denver for about a month by washed-out highways.
After the two of us had a wonderful Valentine's dinner in Breckenridge, Clark had an email notice from a colleague and thereafter surfed the internet into the night to learn more about the remarkable airburst over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk caused by a 20-meter asteroid striking at more than 40,000 mph. With 1,600 people going to hospital, this was the first asteroid impact disaster in recorded human history. Clark helped organize scientific sessions on the event at an April conference in Flagstaff and at the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. A reviewer of many Chelyabinsk papers in Nature and Science magazines and two programs on PBS's NOVA, Clark also published his own perspective in the Nov. 29th issue of Science. Meanwhile, Y especially continues to promote the B612 Foundation's privately funded Sentinel mission, scheduled for a 2018 launch of an infrared telescope into a Venus-like orbit with the goal of finding more than 90% of near-Earth asteroids larger than 140 meters diameter (it will find countless smaller ones, too). Sentinel will provide warning of any future impact, enabling deflection of the asteroid or at least evacuation of ground-zero.
The MESSENGER mission orbiting Mercury gained renewed funding so that it can examine the innermost planet in ever sharper detail prior to its inevitable mission-ending crash into Mercury's north polar regions in spring 2015. Most recently, Clark participated in efforts for MESSENGER's cameras to take images of comets ISON and Encke.
On the neighborhood front, Y and Clark continue to testify and work behind-the-scenes preparing to respond to the expected final Environmental Impact Statement early next year concerning the Colorado-River-depleting expansion of nearby Gross Reservoir to water Denver's bluegrass lawns (see info elsewhere on this website). Fortunately, the Boulder County Commissioners denied the egregious deal offered by Denver Water (described in our last year's letter).
Our travels since last Christmas took us to Puerto Vallarta, Breckenridge, The Woodlands TX, North Carolina, Flagstaff, Vail, Cleveland, the Big Island (Hawaii), Crested Butte/Ouray/Telluride CO, Beaver Creek CO, Barbados, and San Francisco. In addition, Clark took business trips to Maryland and Madrid. Most memorable were (1) a strenuous hike across recent lava flows to watch molten lava pour into the Pacific Ocean and (2) a remarkable film festival in Telluride. In Telluride we had early viewings of some fine movies, recently opening (or soon to open) nationwide, including All is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Tim's Vermeer, Particle Fever, and Blue is the Warmest Color. We were able to watch in-person interviews of people like Robert Redford, the Coen Brothers, Bruce Dern, Penn and Teller, T Bone Burnett, and physicist David Kaplan. On our way to Telluride, we had a hair-raising drive over spectacular Ophir Pass in Y's "Valentino". Our recent vacation in crowded Barbados was a reminder that "you can't go home again." While we enjoyed some delectable cuisine, we were unable to find the off-shore rock Y remembered from a much earlier trip...and we had a series of bad airline events, many in the awful Miami airport, but also an unscheduled landing in San Juan with emergency vehicles lining the runway.
We had some heart-warming meetings with friends, but we missed others, and still others have been suffering or have left our planet forever. We have been generally healthy ourselves. We remain concerned about our dysfunctional national government, widespread public ignorance of science (e.g. concerning climate change), and continuing violence in distant lands. Yet we remain hopeful that the better side of humanity will prevail. We ourselves will continue to expand our horizons next year, including prospective trips to China, Finland, and maybe Morocco.
Once again, please look back on our last year's letter and photos. And have a safe and loving 2014.
With cosmic hugs for all,
Clark, Y (LMC), and Rocko Chapman
Multiple whales blowing off Puerto Vallarta, late Dec. 2012.
Rocko being himself.
Young elk at Rancho Europa, spring.
Clark's mother, Mary, with cake, on April 3, 2013, her 100th birthday, North Carolina.
Mary Chapman plays drum with Ralph, Clark's brother, at the piano.
On the rim of Meteor Crater, Arizona (April event of the B612 Foundation).
Plaza de Espana, Madrid, May.
Y in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, June.
Concert at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Molten lava meets the sea, Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, July.
Rancho Europa sunset: Dying thunderstorm, hummingbird, and nearly full moon.
Paradise Divide, northwest of Crested Butte, Colorado, August.
Rainbow in front of Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado, August.
Bruce Dern (lead of current movie "Nebraska") at Telluride Film Festival, Labor Day.
Oscar Isaac (right: star of current movie "Inside Llewyn Davis") joins Chris Thile (behind mike) and Punch Brothers at Town Park during Telluride Film Festival.
Gray jay steals Y's lunch at lodge on slopes of Beaver Creek, Colorado, September.
Sylvan Lake State Park, Colorado, September.
Looking toward Ten Mile Range from hiking trail near Shrine Pass, Colorado, September.
Rocks offshore, Bathsheba, east coast of Barbados, November.
Old sugar mill at St. Nicholas Abbey, Barbados.
"Tidation" dessert at The Tides, west coast of Barbados.
Y snorkeling off the west coast of Barbados.
Clark and Y on catamaran off west coast of Barbados.