Sierra Grace, Mars Rock

Mars RocksSierra Grace visited the JPL Open House with Grandpa Steve and Grandma Anne on Sunday. When she got home I asked what was her favorite thing? My 6-year-old answered, “Playing a Mars rock.”

At the Open House, people could watch 700-pound robots glide under artificial stars in JPL’s Robodome, learn how spacecraft are prepared for their journeys in special clean rooms, and get an up-close view of full-scale models of Mars rovers. Nobody got closer than Sierra!

Sierra and other kids were invited to lay on the floor and pretend to be Mars rocks while a model rover drove over their backs showing how well the real ones handle the uneven terrain — no matter how ticklish the rocks may be.

[Thanks to Grandpa Steve for the photo!]

Burning City

I was at Corflu on Sunday morning when a TV newscast flashed the headline “Southern California Fires.” I was shocked to learn the fire was in the hills above Sierra Madre, a few miles from my home. It hasn’t impacted my family yet, as we live in an adjacent town, several miles from the evacuation zone.

I don’t expect we will be threatened, though it is an ominous sight. When I got my 6-year-old, Sierra Grace, up for school this morning she told me she was worried yesterday when she was able to see the red glow from the flames on the other side of the hills while standing in our front yard.

Ten years ago Diana and I did live in Sierra Madre, near downtown, a location used in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (scroll to the bottom of linked page.)

The part of Sierra Madre most vulnerable to fires is Sierra Madre Canyon, which extends into the hills. There are many homes perched beside the arroyo. Marty Cantor once lived there.

Sierra Madre is a gateway community to the Angeles National Forest: a great deal of city and county firefighting equipment is stationed in town, and there is a Forest Service camp at the bottom of the hill by the I-210. They roll it all during the Fourth of July parade.

Almost 600 firefighters from across the state have joined in fighting this fire, which is suspected to be the work of an arsonist.