After years of hearing StarDate on NPR, I knew that the McDonald Observatory was a worthy destination on my Hemicentennial (50th Birthday) Celebration roadtrip. I decided to leave Seattle and drive to various astronomy-related sites ending with a visit to the McDonald Observatory (and my son who was living in Marfa). I started in Seattle and drove to The Griffith observatory in L.A., Kitt Peak Observatory in Tucson, the VLA in Soccoro, NM, and finally to the McDonald in Ft. Davis.
Loving astronomy as a Seattleite (avg 226 cloudy days per year) is perhaps the most frustrating hobby in the universe, so my time looking at the dark skies of West Texas was a quasi- religious experience for me. My son from Marfa and I came to a star party and got to see the Jovian moons and other deep-sky objects we couldn't see with our binoculars. I think that day was one of my "perfect days," starting with a horse ride at the Prude Ranch. Then a lunch at the StarDate Cafe watching the hummingbirds, then a thorough visit at the visitor's center, dinner in Ft. Davis, then back to the observatory for the Star Party.
The next night we put our star smarts to use at the end of a road (field) in Marfa complete with fireflies, crickets, the train, and the Summer Triangle right overhead.
Now my son can point out the stars to his boys and think about the moons of Jupiter. Life just gets better, doesn't it?