Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Flagstaff Con Day 7: The Best Preserved Meteor Crater

Some people look down on the idea of doing "touristy" things, and it's probably true that many attractions out there are a waste of your time and money. However, I've had a pretty good track record with tourist attractions, with the House on the Rock being one of the most spectacular examples. Have I written about that experience before? I should do that sometime, even though I haven't been there in a year.

Anyway, Meteor Crater is a tourist spot, through and through. That said, it was an ideal place to bring a group of EarthBound fans.

On the last full day of the convention we all loaded up into vehicles and headed into the desert. Meteor Crater is the landing site of a large meteor that hit the Earth who-knows-when, some 50,000 years ago or so. It's really quite a sight, and you learn quite a bit about it during the brief guided tour of the rim.

In short: the crater was widely believed to be volcanic in origin, particularly since it's basically surrounded by extinct volcanoes, some of which were active as recently as 1,000 years ago (refer to yesterday's blog post). However, a guy named Barringer was convinced that it was caused by a meteorite, so he leased the land to mine it for iron since that's what most meteorites are made of.

His plan was unsuccessful, partially because he assumed that the meteorite must be buried under the crater. There are still remnants of the old mine shafts at the bottom of the crater that date back to around 1903. The guy basically lost his fortune searching in vain for the meteorite.

The US government investigated the site several times, each time declaring the site a volcanic crater. As a result, the government never purchased the site, and ownership eventually passed completely to Barringer's family. Then in the 60s, after astronomical sciences had developed considerably, a geologist finally confirmed Barringer's suspicions about the crater. As more scientist took an interest, they discovered that the meteor that caused the crater was not in the crater at all--the meteor hit the ground at an angle and speed that caused most of the iron to vaporize instantly. Fragments of the meteor were found in nearby Canyon Diablo, and many of those fragments are now in museums around the world.

The crater is still owned by the Barringers, who operate the museum on the rim, where they give tours, show poorly animated movies, and operate an overpriced Subway.

On the way back from the crater, some of us stopped by an Indian casino to take the Dollar Challenge, which is pretty much the only way I would enter a casino to gamble. The Dollar Challenge is as follows:
  1. Go to a casino with friends. You each have only one dollar to spend there.
  2. Gamble with that dollar.
  3. Whoever leaves with the most money from that dollar wins.
At some point I had a pretty good lead, having turned that $1.00 into $2.50. However, I got greedy and ended up with a bust. Reid won by leaving with 10 cents since everyone else went bust. The current leader of the Dollar Challenge, as far as I know, is Camille, who once entered with a buck and left with $20.

Anyway, it was a good final day. That night we began packing and cleaning a bit in preparation for leaving the next day.

No comments:

Post a Comment