NCAR in Thriving Boulder

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is a working  laboratory sponsored by the National Science Foundation.  Its mission is to study climate and the Earth’s atmosphere and share what it learns in a museum.  This facility in a beautiful setting is mentioned in the official Denver Visitors Guide as one of the best  free things to do in the area.  It’s #4 and described as a weather-themed museum.  That it is.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is in the Rocky Mountain foothills above the dynamic city of Boulder near the Flatirons.  Boulder, 27 miles northwest of Denver, is the home of the major campus of the University of Colorado.  Those who take public transportation from Denver’s Union Station will be downtown when they arrive in Boulder and will need some way to get to Table Mesa Drive and NCAR.

The setting was very important to its designer, the renowned I. M. Pei, who was born in China and is now 101 years old.   Pei, whose most familiar design is probably the Louvre pyramid, always planned for NCAR to be here and called the road up to it  his “Grand Gesture”.  The building was described as futuristic when it opened in the 1960s and is still impressive.

This museum about climate and weather is geared to a young audience so everything is easy to understand,  However, a lot of it is frightening.  It’s sponsors view climate change as well underway and clearly state that we need to reduce and stabilize the amount of carbon in our atmosphere RIGHT NOW with renewable energy, carbon capture, etc.  It has charts, photos, and posted info meant to scare.   For example, “High in the Andes Mountains, glaciers are retreating rapidly and may be largely gone by midcentury”.  One photo shows how the Arctic village of Kivalina is dealing with a rising ocean.

The fun is in the weather section with a cloud creating bowl the most popular exhibit with children.  I also loved seeing the enormous hail ball on the back of a Honda that reminded me of the freak storm that formed in Antartica and damaged the town of Broken Hill, Australia, last November.  If our weather that Sunday had been better, Ruth, Tom, and I would have taken the Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail, the only interpretative hike in North America devoted to weather.

NCAR is reason enough to go to Boulder, but we also really enjoyed the busy Pearl Street Mall.

Hank

About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road is...today's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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