Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Last Rock-Geek Post of this Trip!

March 26, 2017

Our visit to Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument took us to a singular place on earth: the mountains where dolomite rock was turned into super-hard agate rock by silica ash particles from a volcanic eruption in Yellowstone 280 million years ago!! Nowhere else on earth has this occurred in a similar fashion, and it is eye-poppingly gorgeous. Have a look.

The public can only access these ancient quarries, which have been mined by indigenous peoples for at least 13,000 years, by getting in on a once-weekly 2-hour tour given by volunteers and rangers. There are over 700 quarry digs done by paleo Indians, antelope canyon Indians, Apache and Comanche Indians across the eras.  The site is VERY remote, and visitors CANNOT keep any of the fantastic rocks to be seen. But just knowing/seeing such beauty is a pretty cool thing, in and of itself. We’re happy campers.

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On the way home to our MoHo, we saw many Swainson’s Hawks. They are as ubiquitous here as our Red-Tailed Hawks are at home. Big, burly and super-swoopy. Gorgeous raptors.

Heaven for Hikers, Bikers and Birders beneath the Spanish Skirts

March 26, 2017

Ok, first, “Spanish Skirts” is a reference to the conical, flared rock and soil formations at the bottom of the Palo Duro Canyon (alluvial fans). Easy to visualize what is meant when you actually see them, right?

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We had another wonderful 8.4-mile hike on the GSL Trail today. Since I have been ITCHING to get down into the intense red earth, I was delighted to discover that the entire path ran on soft red clay. Such a treat for the eyes to get up close and ogle the rock formations, and since the earthen path was so soft, it was like hiking on foam rubber!

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GSL is a multi-use trail, so we had ample opportunities to cross paths with bikers, joggers, birders and other hikers. Since we have hiked 7 of the last 8 days, it was a relief to have the entire trail running mostly on level ground and not at elevation. Time for a rest from the climbing! We’ve clocked nearly 50 miles, much of it with substantial climbs in elevation.

The Palo Duro Canyon runs much further than the borders of the park. We wanted to drive somewhere that was not on park property, to stop at road cuts and collect interesting rocks.

Ranger Jeff pointed us in the direction of Farm Road 207, so we took off after lunch for prospecting. Got a lovely cross-section of specimens, including dark red claystone and satin spar gypsum. Yay!! Our granddaughter is gonna love them, to say nothing of our rock-hounding friends!

Grand Canyon of Texas

March 26, 2017

Several months ago, Palo Duro State Park was plunked into the itinerary with no clear idea of the majesty on display here. It was just a convenient TX state park on the way to Amarillo. Turns out it is one of the best hiking parks in the state, a rainbow of many-colored rocks on display across 250 million years of erosion. Ochre, burgundy, verdigris green, carrot orange, deep chestnut brown, lavender, burnt umber, charcoal black, and smoky white rocks and packed earth delight the eyes. The canyon is composed of claystone, gypsum, mudstone, sand, silt and caliche (a calcium carbonate rock), with tumbled quartz, selenite, celestite, malachite and agates thrown in for good measure. No rock-harvesting allowed, though, and it’s a good thing. The beauty is left for viewing by generations to come.

We hiked about seven miles today through the Rock Garden Trail, at the rim and deep down through the canyon. Can’t get enough of the views, and we have to admit, late afternoon is our favorite time for views, when the light is golden and the shadows are long. Unforgettable. But once again, the WINDS blowing in west Texas are crazy!! The memories of grit in our teeth will stay with us forever.

Finally, Guadelupe Mountains National Park!

March 26, 2017

The stalling and delays have gone on long enough! We pulled out of El Paso today and barreled eastward across the Chihuahuan desert to Guadelupe Mtns NP, which by now has neither snow nor sub-freezing temperatures. And since the furnace is now fixed, we don’t have to worry as much about the nights being cold.

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The first hike, to a destination called the Devil’s Hall, was an exhilarating and slightly hazardous 4-mile scramble through boulder-strewn washes and up into a limestone slot canyon – simply magnificent.

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The second hike had been anticipated for weeks: a 2.2-mile hike up to the top of a 1400-foot limestone reef!! The Guadelupe Mountains are part of what was once a large marine reef arc, submerged in a vast inland salt sea some 260 million years ago. The reef was uplifted by tectonic forces about 50 million years ago, the sea dried up and what you now see is a series of limestone and dolomite mountains which encase billions of fossilized animal and plant remnants, life in the former reef.

As we rose through the higher elevations, the path led between the main mountain and a tall piece of not-quite broken-away limestone (as big as a semi-truck on end). What remained between was a curious and luxurious little microclimate: an Eden protected from wind and the worst of the mountain’s weather, it sheltered trees, shrubs, cacti, grasses and ferns. After 150 steps, it was gone and we were back to wind-whipped rock along the arid path.

Every section of the trail reveals a view of fossils that were once either sponges, one-celled marine creatures, clam-like brachiopods, coral and algal remains, fusulinids (shell-housed amoebas), ammonoids (like the multi-chambered nautilus), sea fans and stromatolites (some of the very first intertidal communities to exist) embedded in the rock.

The hike was totally fascinating to both of us…except for the 45-mph winds which nearly blew us off the mountain. Only two other hikers braved the weather, so we nearly had the mountains to ourselves. We hiked to the very top layer, and looked out through a saddle gap to see the hills and valleys around us.

The following two days included two splendid hikes, one of which was a peak experience for us – up to the 8,700 ft.-high Guadelupe Peak. Over the course of seven hours we hiked 8.4 miles with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet, into the stratosphere. This mountain is the highest in Texas, and on a clear day (which we had!) you can see hundreds of miles, south to Mexico, North to White Sands and the Sandia Mountains (snow-covered), east across the vast flatlands of west Texas. We had a picnic lunch on the summit, and were dive-bombed by peregrine falcons hunting for songbirds to eat. Nearly as many fossils to see as on the previous Reef trail, along with huge outcroppings of selenite and calcite. Glorious, and like nowhere else we’ve ever been!

El Paso Conspires to Keep us in Town

March 26, 2017

 

 We wandered west to El Paso as a brief waystation to Carlsbad Caverns and some other New Mexico sites that are warmer than Guadelupe Mountains, which had been reported to be seeing snow and sub-freezing temps (for that, we could be in Michigan!).

But fate took a hand, and we ended up “stuck” here for four days while our Moho furnace was being fixed. Making the most of this delay entailed sightseeing in the city’s historic district,

hiking in the Franklin Mountains State Park,

and taking in the Archaeology and Art Museums downtown. Saw a fascinating National Monument called Chamizal, commemorating a land dispute between the US and Mexico that was settled amicably…after 100 years of conflict over 600 acres of river bottom land.

We also scooted up to Truth or Consequences, NM for their lovely hot springs baths,

and over to White Sands National Monument for a 4.5-mile hike over the sands and alkali flats. White Sands offers sand dune surfing, but we opted for the walk instead. From the sands you can see all the way to the snow covered peak of Sierra Blanca near Ruidoso, NM (20 miles away).

The El Paso Art Museum’s featured an historic grouping of African American artists’ works on paper, which was marvelous.

Then we made a trip to one of the only rock shops in the city, where George bought my Valentine’s Day gift: two beautiful cabochons, one of mookaite jasper and one of sarape jasper. The first is from Australia, the second from Chihuahua, MX. We seriously considered going into Juarez for an afternoon, but called it off as an underprepared jaunt…maybe next time. All in all, we were taken with El Paso, which has the nation’s most beautiful urban freeway, the Transmountain Highway up across the Franklin Mountains on the edge of the urban zone.

Seriously? A full moon NOW?

March 26, 2017

 

Heading up to Fort Davis, TX from the Big Bend area makes sense if you have reservations for starwatching at the McDonald Observatory (a campus of the University of Texas at Austin), which we did. But it seemed very bad luck to get there at the same time the moon reached its full phase. Until we got there.

Upon arriving for McDonald’s “Star Party,” we and over 100 other guests were ushered into a one-hour informative theatre discussion about all things Lunar, which was great fun. A humorously-gifted researcher led the conversation on topics like “Why is it we only see one side – the lit surface with the familiar craters and ‘seas’ — of the moon’s surface, never the Dark Side?” (because the moon is in synchronous orbit with earth and always turns her lit side to us), and “What are the relative ages of the moon’s various ‘seas’ and craters?” (they range from one to four and a half billion years old. This confirms that the moon is almost the same age as the earth, having been formed from a large space object that collided with earth and combined with some of its fragments to form the moon we know). We now know a lot more about the moon’s Seas of Tranquility, Serenity and Crises, and the craters Tycho and Langrenus than before, and why the Apollo Moon Missions landed where they did.

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At 7pm, the crowd went outside for a brief presentation about the constellations in the night sky. The moon had not risen yet, so the clarity of the stars was brilliant and not yet dimmed by lunar light. Even the Milky Way was visible. For those of us who can never find Cassiopeia, Pegasus or Orion up there, we had some mental Aha’s and think we can now find them when we are home on the farm. After the moon rose, we moved on to the telescopes, which number into the dozens at MacDonald. We got to see the Nebula in Orion’s Sword, Venus in her brightest phase, and several open-star clusters whose images are so far away that we were viewing what state they were in, some 1438 years ago (they’re 380 trillion miles away). We skipped the close-up of the moon’s surface, as the line to see it was about 50 people long and the temperature outside had sunk into the high 40’s.

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It’s hard to keep a perspective on how large the cosmos is, but the rate of change is quite like the geologic calendar. Several of the stars visible in the sky have an orange cast, meaning that they are Red Giants (a star in decay, getting ready to explode and disappear). Our own sun will turn into a Red Giant in approx. five billion years. If earth and humans survive that long, we’ll have to find somewhere else in another galaxy to live by then, as our own galaxy will be annihilated by the explosion when the sun goes. So, earth is just about halfway through her life cycle. Fascinating.

Texas Hill Country in the 1800’s

March 7, 2017

Heading inland, what a lovely surprise to come upon a well-preserved frontier settlement town of the 1800’s in Comfort, Texas. This is a small burg, founded as so many were in the Hill Country by German immigrant farmers (in this case — see bronze plaque — the deutsche Freidenker brand of cowboy philosophers).

Comfort’s clapboard homes and limestone business buildings on the old main street remind me of the town my mom grew up in (Clarkston, MI) with its stone buildings and old settlers’ homes next to the millpond. Well worth a visit, and they have an honest-to-goodness pie and gift shop (Miss Giddy’s) that should be your first stop if you love chocolate crème, apple-cranberry or sawdust (YUM!) pies.  Included here are also some shots of old downtown Alpine, which is northwest of Big Bend.

We ventured on to Fredericksburg, also full of pride for its German heritage, with similar lovely turn-of-the-century preserved building stock. This was following a peak experience hiking….

MN is for kids, the 2-legged kind

September 7, 2016

Just finished our 10-day visit to the kids and grandkids in metro Minneapolis. It’s a blur of action, owing to the MN State Fair, our grandson’s first birthday, visits to the Water Park and grand daughter’s first day of full-day pre-school. Of course the wee ones had to get introduced to the concept of camping via campfires, s’mores, sleepovers and lunch at our tiny dinette…they are now sufficiently longing to go along that we should have no trouble getting them comfortable with a week-long trip next summer.

Just a few last comments about our Lake Superior southern shore drive on the way to MN:

The drive to Copper Harbor was lovely, and worth it for the views.

We had to prioritize our few short hours in the Western UP, so drove 90 min up the Keweenaw from Hancock/Houghton….we promise to return to take you in as well, Seaman Mineral Museum, Quincy Mine Tour and Porcupine Mountains!

Copper Harbor was reminiscent of Ely, MN: an outpost peopled by backpackers and outdoors folk, artists and hardy souls. Views were stunning, everything was clean, undeveloped, rustic and still a habitat for wildlife. While motoring back, we came upon the Monks of the Society of St. Joseph nestled in the forest. Their dome gleams like a honeyed onion in the midst of the spruce woods, and there was a line out the door of their little but oh-so-neat, spartan confectionary shop by the side of the road.

If you go, be prepared for their Thimbleberry Jam, a local specialty, as well as their chocolate and caramel truffles, gigantic pumpkin muffins, abbey cakes and cashew brittle. Luscious treats worthy of the finest sweets makers in Paris! All wrapped up by Brother Basil, quite the understated character with a wry smile and twinkling eyes. And don’t forget a tour of the chapel if you come before Vespers at 5pm.

Last stop before MN was the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin — we’d done Bayfield once before, and it was as charming as before. This time we bypassed art shops and restaurants, going straight for the fish market just on the edge of town. Luscious Lake Trout and Whitefish! To be laid into the deep freeze for winter when we get home. We stayed at Legendary Waters RV park across from Madeleine Island, and it was just perfect. Wonderful waterfront walks, the best bathroom/shower setup we’ve seen, and the sunset was intense across the Lake.

In a nutshell then, to Minnesota: we did our usual “arrive at 8am, leave by 2pm” early tour of the fairgrounds — the livestock barns, most of the fave food booths, the dairy exhibit and the slippy-slide. All good, one of the great fairs of the US.

The rest of the trip is a blur. Sweet corn every night with the family. Swimming when weather permitted. Barbecues and a few communal naps, and it was all kids, all the time. Giggly baths, babysitting, sneaking snacks, chowing on birthday cakes, ice cream and s’mores, riding the Lake Harriet Trolley, shopping for school, on and on. What a delight for g-parents and g-children. And the parents were in there someplace, too!

We’ll be home in a day and a half, with about 20 days to prep for the Next Big Adventure. Be well, folks!

March 18, 2012

 

 

Visit www.mergermarket.com

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Aquantia to raise pre-IPO series F, CEO says; could be a target – analyst and exec by Karsten Strauss in New York and Mark Andress in San Francisco
March 12, 2012

Aquantia Corp, the Milpitas, California-based venture capital-backed semiconductor company, will seek to raise capital this year, CEO Faraj Aalaei said. Phil Delansay, vice president of business development, said this is expected to be the final capital raise before the company goes public.

Capital will be raised from among the Northern California company’s current VC investors, as well as new ones, which Aalaei would not name. He would not disclose when in 2012 the raise would take place or how much capital the company is seeking. Money raised would be spent on product and technology development.

Founded in 2004, Aquantia has raised USD 97m to date since 2005, the majority of which has gone toward chip development. It takes USD 20m to USD 25m to develop new chip technology, Aalaei said. Development costs include personnel, tools and components and a two-year process, Delansay said.

An industry analyst said Aquantia is more likely to be acquired than go public, possibly by the end of this year or next year given that revenue from its product is now beginning to ramp up.

The most likely acquirer would be Intel, said the analyst. Aquantia’s 10-G ethernet technology is used in Intel’s Twinville processor for its new server platform Romley, which began shipments this month.

Other potential bidders might include Qualcomm, Emulex and possibly QLogic, though the two may lack the financial capability for a deal, said the analyst. Less likely buyers are Broadcom, which is developing its own 10- G BASE-T capability internally, while Marvell Technology Group has its own 10-G BASE-T technology through its acquisition of Solarflare, an Aquantia competitor.

An industry executive said Aquantia has an exciting product and a capable management team that could take the company public, but he questioned whether there was sufficient investor appetite to support the IPO of a semiconductor company with a single solution. “There’s no reason why they can’t build on the solution that they have,” said the executive, through acquisitions or development of other adjacent technologies. He added that it would likely need access to the capital markets to fund such an expansion in the first place. “It’s a chicken-and- egg situation.”

Likely buyers, said the executive, would include Broadcom, Marvell, Realtek, which has 1-G switches but lacks a 10-G offering, as well as semiconductor companies such as Intel, Texas Instruments or Freescale. An exit could happen in 2012, said the executive, though much depends on how quickly sales of Intel’s Romley server platform ramp up.

Aalaei told this news service last year that the company was on track to be profitable by the end of this year and it would see growth on the back of the release of Romley, aka Sandy Bridge. Romley’s release was delayed from 3Q of last year to this month. “This obviously has impacted our ramp,” Aalaei wrote in an email. Profitability will depend on the slope of the ramp the company will experience this year, he added.

Delansay pointed to Marvell, which went public in June 2000 after generating USD 21.2m the prior year, as an example of a company similar to Aquantia. Both companies had taken advantage of new technology to develop their products and attract clients, he explained.

VC investors include Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Pinnacle Venture Partners, VentureTech Alliance, New Enterprise Associates and LSI. The company also has unidentified strategic investors. It has 80 employees.

Other US semiconductor companies that have gone public recently include MaxLinear, which raised USD 72m in its March 2010 IPO. In the year before, it had generated USD 51.3m in revenue, a USD 20.3m increase over the prior year. It currently shows market cap of about USD 184m.

Aalaei co-founded Centillium Communications and took the semiconductor company from seed to a public offering in 2000. Delansay said Aalaei’s experience will help him guide Aquantia to an IPO as well.

Aquantia is confident that its ethernet data transfer technology–which moves 10 gigabits per second–will push it into the lead in its space. Aalaei said the current data transfer technology is about a year ahead of its main competitor, the much larger Broadcom. Strategic investors have approached the company, said Delansay, but he would not disclose the details of the propositions or who has approached. “We’ve not gone unnoticed in the market.”

Since its founding, Aquantia has developed two generations of chipsets and is developing its third now, said Delansay. Aalaei and Delansay would not divulge details about their development process.

The telecom space has seen a fair amount of consolidation in the past few years, Delansay said without commenting on whether Aquantia could take part. Some smaller firms did not forge deals with the suppliers they’d hoped to and their investors exited, such as in the case of California-based semiconductor company Teranetics, which was acquired in 2010 for USD 35.8m by another player in the space PLX Technology. Also, Sacremento, California’s 40-employee semiconductor company KeyEye Communications went out of business in 2008.

Aquantia’s client stable of about 50 suppliers to the ethernet and internet markets includes some of the largest switch vendors in the market, though Aalaei would not identify them. Their relationships with the more prevalent vendors in the space have drawn interest and business from other vendors as well and the company will be investing in doubling its manufacturing team personnel in 2012 and funding its engineering team to develop Aquantia’s 28 nanometer node technology.