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2018-08-26 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 8 – Los Alamos

Another free day in Pojoaque.  We had a relaxing morning, then headed out to see Los Alamos.

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As most of you know, Los Alamos was the site of the Manhattan Project during World War II, and it continues to be a large research center even today.

In 1942, when FDR decided to consolidate all nuclear research into one, top-secret location, there was no Los Alamos.  There was an exclusive boys boarding “prep” school, The Ranch School, plus a dozen or so homesteaders who farmed these mesas in the summer.  The US government instituted eminent domain proceedings and gave the residents about two months to vacate the premises, with an insistence that the reasons for leaving must be kept secret.  It’s hard to understand what it must have been like to abruptly close a school, and be unable to tell anyone why…

What drew the leaders of the Manhattan Project to this location was the infrastructure of the school itself, which included water supply, electricity, and buildings. Another reason was the geography and the remote location.

Los Alamos is located approximately 35 miles to the northwest of Santa Fe.  The elevation is about 7,320 feet, and total land area is 11.14 square miles, most of which was already owned by the Federal government.

Los Alamos is located on flat mesa tops separated by steep canyons.

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This relative inaccessibility was a key reason for its selection – to help protect the secret activities of the Manhattan Project.

Everything was top secret.  There were no radio broadcasts – the “radio” signals were hard-wired to each house…  Everyone shared the same address – Post Office Box 1663, Santa Fe, NM.  No one could tell their friends and relatives where they were and what they were doing.  It is all very hard for us today to understand what this must have been like…

Today, Los Alamos is a lovely little town.  All the research laboratories have been moved to an adjacent mesa.  Some of the original buildings, mostly from the Ranch School days, still exist, plus some houses used by some of the most prominent members of the community.

This is “The Lodge”, the Ranch School’s Dining Hall.  The newer wings were added after WWII…

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This is a cabin, originally used by the Ranch School founder, Ashley Pond.  It was moved to this site.  It was originally in a remote location, and was used for some early research activities…

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One of the houses used by scientist Bethe has been restored…

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The Guest House was used by prominent visitors.  Today it is the Museum…

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The Ranch School was founded by Ashley Pond in 1917.  The boys of the school built this small lake, and named it Ashley Pond… All the original research labs were built around the pond.  It is the centerpiece of a city park today…

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Los Alamos now has a proper Post Office.  Residents no longer need to share one P.O. Box in Santa Fe…

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We returned to Pojoaque; we had another Fandango, and at 8:00 pm we had a Drivers Meeting to review tomorrow’s drive as we move to Durango, CO, high in the Rocky Mountains

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

2018-08-16 – Traveling East – Day 1

Our departure to rendezvous with the 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan came early today – we rolled out of Redlands at 5:00 am. It has been a busy few months and we are looking forward to two months of un-interrupted Airstreaming.

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Since we moved to Redlands in early May we have been living in the constant chaos of construction and remodeling and rehabbing and repair.  We are finally able to put two cars in the garage, the wine is secure and protected against the ravages of 110 degree temperatures, John’s lift is installed and the automatic opening gate is automaticly opening just fine.  John has a raft of very nice and capable caretakers (more than he needs, according to him…).  But the deck isn’t finished, the construction clutter has not been hauled away, and the garage still needs to be reorganized.  And my workbench and tools need to be cleaned up, sorted through, and alphabetized, organized, and categorized…  But all that can either happen while we are gone or when we return.

We are heading to Albuquerque to meet up with other members of the Airstream Club for the Southwest Adventure Caravan. We will leave from Albuquerque, NM, travel for 6 weeks through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, until we reach our final destination of Albuquerque, NM.  In between, we will see Sante Fe, Moab, Mesa Verde, Zion, Bryce, and many other National Parks and historic and scenic Indian sites.  The grand finale will be the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.

So we are off…

Our first excitement of the day happened as we exited the 10 at Desert center, as we attempted to drive north on Hwy 177 towards Needles:

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Apparently Hwy 177 is closed.  The officer didn’t tell be why it was closed, only that it was going to closed for a long time… Our only choice was to continue east on the 10 to Blythe, where we turned north on Hwy 95.  After checking on the internet we found that Hwy 177 was closed to an accident – an overturned truck carrying many crushed cars…

Not that this area along Hwy 177 doesn’t have interesting features…

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And this convenience has all the essentials:

 

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So onward we go.  The 10 east towards Blythe.  Attention!  All people who think Bend and Eastern Oregon, or Spokane and Eastern Washington, are “deserts”… You are wrong…

THIS is a desert:

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At Blythe we turn north…  Hwy 95 parallels the Colorado River, and it runs through a watershed for the river. Thus the road has many ups and downs as the various washes allow water to make its way to the river.  It must have rained recently, because there was standing water alongside the road and there were road maintenance workers with heavy equipment clearing mud and debris off the road.  But the road was smooth and there was NO traffic, and we had a lovely drive through the Mojave dessert. And the scenery is beautiful…

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As we approached the 40, my GPS led us off Hwy 95 onto a very small road for about 1 1/2 miles.  Just before the on-ramp to the 40 we saw a roadside attraction that begged us to stop.

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We found that we had been travelling on a short portion of “The Mother Road”…

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The maps and descriptions of the area were very interesting.  I had traveled Route 66 along with my family in 1961, when I was 10 years old, from Arcadia to Oklahoma City…

We headed east on the 40.  My GPS tells us our exit, in Williams, AZ, in 156 miles away…  We stopped about halfway there to stretch our legs…

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It’s amazing how green this area is.  We are at about 4,000 feet elevation, and we are going higher.  It really is beautiful, despite the horrible condition of the Arizona roads.

And so we arrived in Williams, AZ, elevation 6,766 ft.  This is another remnant of Route 66, and I’m sure we drove through here in 1961.  Not much has changed,  except that what once was essential services for weary travelers is now very touristy and “nostalgic”.  But is is fun to see an historic place still being active and prosperous…

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We parked The Villa in the local RV park, and walked the town.  We stopped into the Red Raven for a quick and early dinner…

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We even enjoyed a nice bottle of Arizona wine…

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We returned to The Villa.  Despite the threatening skies, it did not rain.  And so an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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