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The Webfooted Astronomer - March 2001

 

The Messier Experience

By Judy Schroeder

THE Messier Marathon at Kah-nee-ta could be considered the high point of observing for the year, at least as far as creature comforts are concerned. Warm rooms, comfortable beds, hot showers, gourmet dining, no dishes to wash, and real bathrooms (at least at the Lodge). After this event, it's back to pit toilets, bringing your own water, and cold sleeping bags. Each year, Portland's Rose City Astronomers host the Messier Marathon at Kah-Nee-Ta in Central Oregon's high desert. This year's marathon will be held March 23-25.

Here are a few ideas for making the most of your viewing trip to Kah-Nee-Ta. First, let's talk about the Lodge. Rooms are smoking or non-smoking, 1 or 2 beds (your choice), showers only. The rooms have a table and lamp, desk, drawers, TV, VCR, radio, small coffee maker, cups, and hair dryer. I take extra pre-measured coffee packets (Maxwell House) since housekeeping just provides one packet of coffee, sugar, etc. each day. Before going viewing, I make a couple pots of coffee to put in our thermos for the cold evening ahead.

Food at the Lodge is incredibly delicious, but pricey. There are two restaurants in Warm Springs, which is about 10 miles from Kah-nee-ta resort. For Karl and I, breakfast at the Lodge is enough food to last us through until dinner time. Or bring a cooler with breakfast and lunch stuff, and treat yourself to dinner at the Lodge.

It's worth a trip into Warm Springs to tour the Museum. This is a very well-done set of displays about life in the high desert country of Oregon before the settlers arrived. The Museum has picnic tables, walking trails and a small gift shop. There is an admission charge.

Back at Kah-nee-ta, there is a heated swimming pool, hiking and biking trails, a huge fireplace, and a casino. The gift shop features clothing, jewelry, huckleberry jam, music CDs and collectibles.

The first year Karl and I went down there, we had incredible weather warm and pleasant. Several couples from Rose City went there for a mini-vacation; the wives enjoyed the pool and played cards at night while their husbands went stargazing. Since the room rate for two is the same as for a single, SAS members may want to take along their non-starry eyed spouses. Extra persons are $15 apiece, to a total of four per room, which brings the price down to about $25 per night each. So round up some friends, call Kah-nee-ta for reservations, and gas up the vehicle!

Karl and I travel South on I-5 and take Highway 26 to Warm Springs. This is about a 6-hour trip.

Call Kah-Nee-Ta direct at 1-800-554-4786 to make your reservation, mentioning you are with the Rose City Astronomer's (RCA) star party. RCA has reserved a number of rooms at the special rates that will be held until March 1, so make your reservations as soon as possible.

See the following Web sites for more information:

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