On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

So, that SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch was something else. Can you imagine – it all worked, and this electric car, space suit, and David Bowie music, will be speeding around the Sun, intersecting Mars’s orbit, and otherwise being around for millions-to-billions of years. It beggars the mind.

This is real, folks – this really did happen, and this is a real picture from space. Just…wow – a piece of our current reality is now practically timeless, for our descendants or aliens to discover. Tears streamed down from my face as I watched the launch, separation, return, and payload, all with my wife on the phone as she watched on her work computer. We cheered and gasped and ooh’d and ah’d.

Mid-event, I remembered that when the Moon landing happened (before I was conceived), my dad was working on the North Slope in Alaska, and had planned months ahead to have the time off. He was in a hotel in Anchorage, and my mom was visiting her folks in Oklahoma and they spent many hours over the days and, mostly, nights: on the phone, each watching those amazing events on their small screens in low-res, flickering, rounded-screen B&W television. It was nice to experience my own take on that, though a bit less exciting because people weren’t involved, but it was amazing in HD and available through Wi-Fi or mobile data. I hope we get more footage from the Tesla and Starman as they travel.

Charlie Pierce was right, it is magic that we can hold something in our hand, at home or office or out and about, on top of a mountain or on the water or waiting for someone, and see live video and images from space or elsewhere on this planet. We truly live in amazing times.

I remember first feeling that way while I watched the Hong Kong turnover on a handheld portable TV my mom bought me in Japan earlier that year. It wasn’t awesome, but I sat outside for my planned lunch break in Arlington, Virginia, smoking my Dunhills and watching history unfold, live, while I was outdoors and with birds wandering around the grounds near me and with the sun shining bright. Seeing the Falcon Heavy launch was like that – on my tablet. It really was exciting, nice to see something I’ve been getting excited about for months succeed. It feels like things are different now in the “space game”, some trajectories have been changed, and that’s exciting!

No matter who succeeds, I hope we soon see a day when we again point up at the another planetary body in the sky with people on it, even if they’re just visiting.  It looks like that might be sorta soon – China’s exciting efforts to the Moon, our renewed national program looking at the Moon and Mars, Europe, Russia, India, and numerous private initiatives – there’s a bunch of neat, exciting things happening. There’s even a space mining syndicate – no joke – that’s planning on sending robotic mining ships to nearby asteroids to mine huge amounts of high-grade ores. That kind of resource creation – outside of Earth’s gravity – would mean other planets could be colonized much easier than if we had to lift all that metal and stuff off the planet!

And don’t get me started with Elon Musk with his space launch, solar power, power storage, electric tech, electric vehicles, crewed space tech, mining/tunnel boring tech, etc. companies and initiatives, it’s not like they all go together to make for making an off-world colony in a decade or two or anything.

Really, it’s been too long and we need to renew our optimistic vision of the future to get through this nastiness and inspire us to grow through our new challenges of climate change, resource depletion, and falling into terrible, comfortable tribalism.

I will post more on Space as so many exciting and interesting things are happening, and good news is in need. I’m thankful Adam was here to post Tuesday’s landmark event. If you get a chance, do watch the Falcon Heavy launch and separations and returning to launch pad of the twin rockets (their synchronized landing was amaze-balls). It sounds like the central rocket ran out of fuel and so missed the autonomous drone ship and pancaked into the water 100m away. It showered the ship with shrapnel, so we’ll find out more details about what happened and if there’s footage of the whole event, as soon as they can share that information.

SpaceX is well known for embracing failure and learning what went wrong, and then improving, so this is actually good, not bad. Their footage of explosions and other failures are amusing, and encouraging – failure is part of the plan and they measure everything so well that they almost learn more from failure than from success. They are not afraid to show failure because it improves them.

My theory is that they’ll figure out that it was a fuel issue – as in, Falcon-9/Heavy engines get their extra oomph from super-cold fuel, and the longer the fuel sits in the rocket before takeoff, the warmer it gets and the less dense it is. I think some is even vented, so there’s less in the tanks the longer they sit before takeoff. Since the launch was near the end of the launch window, the fuel was comparatively warm, and the center core had an extra minute or so of burn after the first two disengaged. Ergo, not enough fuel for the last 5-10 seconds of landing and so it missed the drone ship and hit the water HARD.

It seemed to me that, after landing, the two successful cores vented fuel/fuel vapor once they were settled and so, since they had enough fuel to power just a small puff, it’s quite possible that the central core didn’t have quite enough fuel to stick the landing. I’m thankful they use drone ships for these landings and nothing manned, let me tell you!

In light of this amazing progress, something fun and celebratory is in need. Again, apologies for running this so late, but it always errored out previously. Majorx4’s fix works well, so many thanks to him.

Today, pictures from valued commenter brendancalling.

My lovely girlfriend and I are in Mexico City for Independence Day. If you’ve never visited CDMX, you are missing out. So much history. So much art. So much FOOD.

El Castillo de Chapultepec

Taken on 2017-09-14

Ciudad de México

El Castillo de Chapultepec was home to Emperor Maximilian and was later a military school where child cadets fought the invading US Army. Spoiler: the kids lost.


Taken on 2017-09-14

Pulque is a low alcohol drink made from mezcal, but fermented not distilled. These are flavored with guayaba, papaya, and melón.

At the Frida Kahlo House

Taken on 2017-09-15

No explanation necessary other than that my girlfriend is a LOT prettier than me and I am a VERY lucky grizzled old bastard.

May your love be as interesting as Frida & Diego’s! ;)

Thank you so much brendancalling, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

59 replies
  1. 1
    Betty Cracker says:

    I’ve been to Mexico, but never Mexico City. Will have to remedy that someday — and try the pulque after visiting the Kahlo house! Nice photos!

    Regarding the Falcon Heavy launch, I was also impressed with the simultaneous landing of the two boosters:

    Truly amaze-balls.

  2. 2
    Ben Cisco says:

    I would like very much to visit to Mexico someday. Looks like an interesting place.

    RE: SpaceX – wow. It leaves me with feelings similar to those I had as a child during the Apollo missions. One year on Halloween, my brother and I wore astronaut costumes (sans gloves) and couldn’t figure out how everybody knew who we were. Ah, the naiveté of youth.

  3. 3
    JGabriel says:

    Alain @ Top:

    So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note …

    Y’all are way more optimistic than me. My first thought on rising most mornings is, “What fresh hell is today gonna bring?”

  4. 4
    Cermet says:

    His mars ideas are utter garbage (his total lack of radiation protection is simply stupid (OK, NASA is no better) and the less said about a one-way mission the better) – his ‘heavy’ booster quickly becomes a mid- end booster if one wants or it or most of its parts to land again (which, while that aspect is brilliant engineering by his staff far too costly to justify the terrible loss in lift capability.) Designing a low cost engine would have been a far and away better goal to make space cheaper. Overall, the company’s approach is interesting and has merit but the hype is over-the-top at this stage of development.

  5. 5

    @Betty Cracker: Here’s* closer view.

    *I think that’s the first booster that they successfully landed on a ship, so they put it outside the SpaceX production facility in Hawthorne.

  6. 6
    NotMax says:

    Imagine the astonishment come the day when another shot of the car is taken and there will have appeared a ticket tucked under the windshield wiper.

  7. 7
    JGabriel says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Regarding the Falcon Heavy launch, I was also impressed with the simultaneous landing of the two boosters …

    Wow. Way cooler than watching two suns set over Tatooine … because this is REAL.

  8. 8

    @Cermet: Engineering without hype is a dead product.

  9. 9

    @NotMax: Those Glendale Parking enforcement folk…

  10. 10

    @Betty Cracker: I fully expected a couple of Vulcans to step out and proclaim, “Live long and prosper.” Then they’d say, “Take us to your leader,” and we’d go, “Um…”

  11. 11
    Just one more canuck says:

    @Mustang Bobby: Angela Merkel? Justin Trudeau?

  12. 12
    Quinerly says:


  13. 13
    raven says:

    Nice pics! Friends of mine are moving to Texcoco, north of Mexico City, may have to visit.

  14. 14
    evodevo says:

    @JGabriel: Yes. This. Ever since Nov.2016 …luckily my real life is not so messy as this country’s right now lol
    Oh, and after a year in space, that car is gonna be a dinged mess

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Amir Khalid says:

    And whoever did the dinging will be long gone by the time Elon finds out.

  17. 17

    @Betty Cracker: I saw it from the train(Green Line), and was like what’s that. Then I got closer and could see what it was. I was going to see the Beach Boys Childhood Home monument(it was covered by the 105 freeway).

  18. 18
    Cermet says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: True – I will add that it is a very good rocket and a step in the right direction as long as one realizes no one will pay for a return flight so that feature is a “we did it” check box (and very impressive but useless. My criticisms entail the over-the-top hype on that useless feature.) It is still a very expensive rocket system (might get down to $1000/lbs.) Putting his car into space when so many worthy science projects sit on the ground was a real bummer. But I see that his ego out-weighs his interest in doing good work.

  19. 19
    opiejeanne says:

    @Betty Cracker: My kids took dance lessons from a woman who was a stickler for “cleaning”: fixing timing that was slightly off, making sure that in groups everyone was exactly with everyone else and she was very very good at getting kids to get it right.

    She could not have done better than this perfectly coordinated dual landing.

  20. 20

    @Cermet: Yes, but you do understand that this was the first test of this particular system and there was a high probability that it would go boom on the launchpad(remember Vanguard?), so putting somebody else’s hard work on there wouldn’t have made a whole lot of sense. And why not advertise a bit? Anyway as Ruckus said yesterday, it was probably a crusher car anyway.

  21. 21
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    There’s so much México beyond the coasts to explore – it’s a big country with great food, nice people and good hospitality.

    I really want to go to Jalisco to do a tequila tour – sounds like a blast.

  22. 22
    Schlemazel says:

    Musk is a conman who is great at self promotion. Whatever his successes might be he always leaves me with the uneasy feeling he is going to end up damaging a lot of people.

    I envision something like Segway only a lot larger & much more expensive for investors.

  23. 23
    raven says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Right by my sis’s house!

  24. 24
    agoqthe_bago says:

    @Schlemazel: Just curious, what part of recovering used boosters for the second time is a con?

  25. 25
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for the pictures 😄

    Those rockets landing was very cool indeed.

  26. 26
    MomSense says:

    Lovely photos from Mexico. It looks warm there.

    I don’t know why but I have this very strong feeling that Elon Musk will set in motion the end of human kind.

  27. 27
    Applejinx says:

    @Schlemazel: God forbid people get hyped about solar power, electric cars, space travel… I get that offworld colonization technically means Musk, Bezos and Gates sitting in a space hut on Mars, but quite a bit of Musk’s stuff hypes things that are direct action against climate change here on Earth.

    You would prefer Kochs maybe?

  28. 28
    J R in WV says:


    I don’t know why but I have this very strong feeling that Elon Musk will set in motion the end of human kind.

    My money would be on Peter Thiel, after discovering a method for staving off his own aging, the rest of us discover that it requires a couple of million people to keep a billionaire alive forever, so we all wind up medical slaves to the billionaires, who own everything and won’t give us food unless we give them our blood.

    Elon seems like a good guy with some common sense.

  29. 29
    James B Franks says:

    @Cermet: The usual payload for the first launch of a new rocket is either a steel or concrete block. Why not have fun with it?

  30. 30
    James B Franks says:

    The center stage did not run out of fuel, it ran out of ignition fluid. It was supposed to do a 3 engine landing burn but only 1 ignited.

  31. 31
    Spanky says:


    Imagine the astonishment come the day when another shot of the car is taken and there will have appeared a ticket tucked under the windshield wiper.

    I was thinking there would be a quite different-looking passenger.

  32. 32
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    @evodevo: Now I’m imagining a car with huge meteor holes and dents in it, and several notes in alien script tucked under the windshield wipers with contact coordinates for the nearest insurance agency on Alpha Centauri.

    Since the Universe is most likely more Douglas Adams flavored than not, the vehicle would probably also have a collection of tickets for moving violations, and the space equivalent of a Denver Boot on the tires.

    Shoot, see I’m already too slow.

  33. 33
    laura says:

    Maybe, in the future, we’ll get to see a picture of Poco, eating a slice of prickly pear cheesecake in a dusty old western town watching a rocket launch on someone’s iPhone watch and sweeping his flaggy tail. Until then, this dreamer will keep on dreaming of that fine day.

  34. 34
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:


    With you guys on solar and electric, but human space travel via chemical lift is an expensive waste and dead end. Anything needed that is in space can be discovered and recovered robotically at this point, and NASA (and others) have done a great job of exploration via machine.

    Don’t get me started on the nonfeasibility of Terran life on alien world, given atmospheric composition, fungal spores, bacteria, viruses, pollen, allergic reactions, and all the choking death I envision. Space exploration for humanity is going to have to involve uploaded consciousness and pusher/tractor tech, if possible at all. Our bodies are destined to remain in Sol’s gravity well.

  35. 35
    Gin & Tonic says:

    My son’s GF is from Mexico City, and he’s been there a few times already and loves it. I’m thinking if the gods smile right, maybe we get to go there for a wedding.

  36. 36
    Matt says:

    I think space travel has great possibilities for fixing the world’s problems – we’ve just got to figure out how to get all the billionaires into the craft before they start asking questions about the return trip. ;)

  37. 37
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:


    Ark B.

    Just tell the billionaires that the FTL will whisk them instantly to their fully appointed, spacious planet full of servants once orbit is achieved.

    Don’t equip it with anything but a few sparkly displays and no heat shield….

  38. 38
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @J R in WV: So you’re saying that Peter Thiel is Voldemort and is using the Philosopher’s Stone?

  39. 39
    jimmiraybob says:

    I hope that everyone here realizes that the REAL future of space travel is going to center on the development of low-cost, coal-powered fuel reactors. And rubber bands.

  40. 40


    Putting his car into space when so many worthy science projects sit on the ground was a real bummer.

    You do realize that the goal of the launch wasn’t to put a car into space.

  41. 41
    Amir Khalid says:

    There was a very real chance that the launch vehicle, which was after all being tested for the first time, would go kablooey on the launch pad, payload and all. If you were a scientist, and that happened to a research project that you’d put a ton of hard-to-find grant money and years of work into, you would haz a big sad.

  42. 42
    Citizen_X says:

    In other news, and in perfect symmetry, the flat-Earth rocket idiot tried to launch yesterday and failed.

  43. 43
    But her emails!!! says:


    Putting his car into space when so many worthy science projects sit on the ground was a real bummer. But I see that his ego out-weighs his interest in doing good work.

    This is a strange complaint given that Musk pegged the chance of the rocket blowing up on the launch pad at about 50%. Any worthy science package would have been subject to that same risk. I’m assuming that if such a package had been included and the rocket had blown up, the same charge of egoism would have been levied at Musk for risking such a valuable science package given the high risk of failure.

  44. 44
    Captain C says:

    @Just One More Canuck:

    So you’re saying that Peter Thiel is Voldemort and is using the Philosopher’s Stone?

    Unicorn blood, or possibly the blood from horses with plastic horns glued to their heads (easier to obtain). If the latter, Thiel probably hasn’t noticed the difference as he’s too busy congratulating himself for what he thinks is his immortality.

  45. 45
    smintheus says:

    We’re cheering because some clown damaged the atmosphere further just to insert a useless piece of junk into space as an advertising gimmick?

  46. 46
    Jager says:

    @NotMax: Or “keyed”

  47. 47
    low-tech cyclist says:


    Y’all are way more optimistic than me. My first thought on rising most mornings is, “What fresh hell is today gonna bring?”

    You get fresh hell? You lucky bastard! We always get someone’s crappy leftover hell from two or three days ago!

  48. 48
    gvg says:

    i was 5 about to turn 6 and watched the moon landing from a bar in Scotland. It was interesting even then to realize the whole world was watching not just the US. My parents grew up poor and saved their pennies for a tour of Europe. We camped across 13 countries for 6 weeks but dad actually worked for NASA and so he planned in when to watch.
    Dad’s memories of NASA are a mixture of pride and cynicism. He thinks he was the last person to leave the cape as it closed to investigate the apollo 1 fire. he had a dental appointment midafternoon and saw the gate closing behind him. then he heard on the radio what had happened. He says they lied to the public that the astronauts died instantly and felt no pain when the whole base had heard recordings of the screams. He was predicting the same thing about the Challenger and it turned out he was right. Musk is doing it unmanned. I am actually thinking private companies without governmental immunity from most lawsuits might turn out safer. Of course we are at a different point in tech too so the choices are better bets.

  49. 49
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:

    With you guys on solar and electric, but human space travel via chemical lift is an expensive waste and dead end. Anything needed that is in space can be discovered and recovered robotically at this point, and NASA (and others) have done a great job of exploration via machine.

    Yeppers. Space is for robots.

    Robots don’t need food and water. Robots don’t need an airtight compartment, replenished with tanks of compressed oxygen, to stay alive. Robots don’t need to be shielded from cosmic radiation. Robots can endure and be functional under a much wider range of temperatures than humans can. And so forth.

    We humans are robustly designed for this planet. We can survive in an incredibly wide variety of earthly circumstances. Long before the first recorded history, our human ancestors had established permanent settlements in some of the most inhospitable corners of the world. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

    But in the vacuum of space, we’re suddenly exceedingly fragile and in need of huge resources to protect us and supply our bodily needs. What sort of weight multiple does it add to the payload of even a short space mission if it has a human aboard, rather than a robotic experiment? How much extra fuel does it take to lift our protective cocoon into space? How many hundreds of well-designed experiments can we set free from Earth’s gravity for the cost of one manned mission?

    I’m no rocket scientist, but the multiple has to be huge.

    Maybe someday, we’ll find a relatively low-cost way to safely lift people off the planet. It won’t be soon. And in the meantime, space is for robots.

  50. 50
    No Drought No More says:

    A golden opportunity to immortalize and exploit a canine for filthy lucre was missed when the decision was made to strap in a test-rocket dummy for the flight instead of a dog. Of course, the chosen one would necessarily have been from a breed noted for its low canine IQ (as such things are measured among dogs, that is). A sheep dog, for example, would possess the sense to refuse the honor, as would a basset hound…

  51. 51

    With this car, we will create the first traffic jam on Mars.


  52. 52
    The Other Bob says:


    As an FYI – That is water vapor coming out of the back of that rocket.

  53. 53
    Gravenstone says:

    @James B Franks: This explanation got me curious. Looks like they use a stabilized borane as ignition fluid. For those interested, there’s a fascinating older book about the research that went into that class of chemicals for use in rocketry, The Green Flame.

    This is of particular interest to me because my place of employment started from an emphasis on borane chemistry and I’ve handled all manner of pyrophorics over the years as a result.

  54. 54
    Aleta says:

    Thanks for brendancalling’s excellent photos of love and Mexico City.

  55. 55
    smintheus says:

    @The Other Bob: There’s no such thing as a rocket that does not damage the atmosphere.

  56. 56
    Gravenstone says:

    @The Other Bob: Any time you have open flames (like rocket exhaust), you will generate nitrogen oxides due to the interaction with the atmosphere (ca. 78% nitrogen). Those compounds being produced are what has the deleterious effect on the atmosphere (forms smog, breaks down ozone, interacts with moisture to form acids). So Smintheus is not entirely wrong, but the scale involved is trivial compared to all the other sources of ignition throughout the world (internal combustion engines, anyone?).

  57. 57
    Aleta says:

    @low-tech cyclist: Ah, leftover hell. You put it well.

  58. 58
    frosty says:

    We were in Fernandina Beach yesterday so I walked out to see if I could see the launch from North Florida, since BC said she could see them from across the state. Sadly, no, didn’t see anything. I’ll have to watch the video when I get wifi again.

  59. 59
    James B Franks says:

    @Gravenstone: You are braver than I am. I’ve read about all those lovely chemicals… I’ll stick with high voltage electronics instead.

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