Answer: 3638 and 15

Los Alamos, NM —  Question:  How many miles and days did Bob have to drive before he reliably remembered to latch the refrigerator door?

Honestly, it’s not that hard, but then neither is remembering to put down the toilet seat.  I’m proud to say that I’ve now gone three days without dumping the refrigerator contents.   I’m not saying it won’t happen again, it’s just that I’m probably now trained about as well as a guy can be trained.

The last time I was in Santa Fe was 40 years ago.  I guess it’s reasonable to expect things to change, but I’m sorry to see what’s happened to the place.  If you haven’t been there recently, imagine Seattle’s University Village in adobe.  Santa Fe used to be a quaint, quiet, rustic place.   Now it’s filled with upscale shops and clogged with traffic jams during all daylight hours.  The population is supposed to be less than 70,000 people yet the town sports Mercedes, Lexus, and BMW dealers.  I was looking forward to spending time in Santa Fe, but once there I couldn’t wait to get out.   I did have a really nice Mexican food dinner at Tortilla Flats.  In fact I have to say that the chile rellenos were the best I’ve ever had.  Unfortunately it’s not a chain restaurant, you’d have to got to Santa Fe to give them a try.

I did do one touristy thing while in Santa Fe.  I went to the Loretto Chapel, home of the “mysterious staircase”.  This particular attraction appeals to the engineer, and sometimes woodworker in me.  You can read more about the interesting history of this staircase on the Loretto Chapel web site.   These next two pictures were actually taken using my cell phone as the battery in my Canon gave out.  I used the cell phone’s high-dynamic range option for the first picture.  The stained glass windows were very bright relative to the lighting in the chapel. Not bad for a cheap smart phone.  Good job Blu!

Loretto Chapel
Loretto Chapel

The staircase is supported in part, in the middle, by a wall anchor that goes into the stone column on the far right in the picture above.  I think I read that that’s a more recent modification.

Loretto Chapel Staircase
Loretto Chapel Staircase

I left Santa Fe in the morning bound for Los Alamos. The scenery on the drive up was absolutely stunning in the morning light.

Near Los Alamos
Near Los Alamos

I had toured the Los Alamos National Labs as a high school student.  At the time I remember seeing fusion experiments and some work on solar power.  You can’t get close to the labs now, but the Bradbury museum was nice.  It’s free, and run by the labs.  It’s not that big, but it still took a while to go through.  They have replicas of Fat Man and Little Boy, as well as some of the original equipment used in the 40’s to develop the first atomic bomb.   The Hallicrafter radio and scope below were used to measure the pressure waves to determine yields in atomic test blasts.

Radio and Oscilloscope
Radio and Oscilloscope

The library and bowling alley that were in Los Alamos when I visited in the 70’s are all gone, or are remodeled beyond recognition.   One of the buildings that survived through the years is Fuller Lodge, the main building from the original boys school that was shut down in 1943 to make way for the labs.  It has had some additions.   When I wandered inside I found a US citizenship ceremony underway.  It was fun imagining people like Oppenheimer, Feynman and others in this room.

Fuller Lodge Interior

I hadn’t expected to be able to visit “The Black Hole“, a rather unique surplus parts store run by “Atomic Ed” Grothus until his death in 2009.   The shop eventually closed.  I wasn’t even going to try and find the place except that the gentleman at the visitor’s center thought that it had been re-opened.   Re-opened?  Yes!!  Well… it was closed.  All that’s left to buy are shelves according to the guy that was there.  Bummer.

LosAlamosBlackHoleLeaving Los Alamos I went to the Bandelier National Monument.  Unfortunately there were thunderstorms and quite a bit of rain while I was there.  No one left the protection of the visitors center, which is right below some of the Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings.  If the weather had cooperated I could have climbed up to these ruins.  If you click to enlarge, and then look closely at the picture below, you can see doorways in the rocks.

Bandelier Pueblo Cliff Dwellings
Bandelier Pueblo Cliff Dwellings

The Los Alamos area is one place I may have to return to and spend a bit more time.  The natural beauty of this place is amazing.  The picture at the top of this post was taken from the White Rock Lookout Park.  You’re looking at the Rio Grand River and Valley.

Tonight I’m in Blanca, CO.

Miles traveled today: 213
Total Miles Traveled: 4169
Average Miles per day: 245

5 thoughts on “Answer: 3638 and 15”

  1. Well, I thought you meant Blanco, NM. Maybe it’s something like what the Car Talk guys said: There’s a Springfield (Blanco) in every state.

    Man, what a pure grid plan for Blanca, CO! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so consistent. Looks like grand ambition (and bulldozing the entire grid) eventually petered out. The parts that got built did mostly get driven by the Google team, though.

  2. My dad worked at Hanford in the late 40’s – early 50’s. Sometimes he would take business trips to Los Alamos, and when there he stayed at Fuller Lodge. His recollection was that the rooms were pretty spartan – no surprise, I guess, since it was modeled on the Boy Scouts.

    1. I bet your dad has some great stories, Allison. I think when I visited Los Alamos in the mid 70’s that it probably hadn’t changed much from when your dad was there. It’s changed now — I had coffee at Starbucks while I was waiting for the museum to open.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *