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White Sands Missile Range

2019-03-20 – Airstream Caravans Travel – Day 8 – Las Cruces to Carlsbad, NM

We headed east today; the destination is Carlsbad, NM, in the far southwest corner of the State.  The mountains east of Las Cruces have one section with these amazing crags…

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Just over the mountain we stopped at White Sands Missile Range.  This is where all the testing of missiles and rockets has been done since WWII.  We started at the museum… They have lots of exhibits, like you would expect.  The history of the area was interesting, as was the story of how the US Government temporarily “borrowed” the land (3,200 square miles – almost three times the area of Rhode Island…) from the owners during WWII; after the war they didn’t give it back, buying it via eminent domain.  The owners were not pleased…

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This is a Red-Tailed Hawk (stuffed) on exhibit…

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This is a Red-Tailed Hawk (wood) in my living room, hand-carved by my father about 30 years ago…

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Across from the museum is a small building containing a restored V-2 missile…

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The Germans developed the V-2 as a terrorizing weapon during WWII and used it against England.  They spent more on these weapons than the US spent on the Manhattan Project.  After the war the US brought back all the V-2 rockets and various rocket parts to the US (mainly so the Russians couldn’t get them).   They sent it all here, filling 300 railroad cars.  The US also brought back all the German rocket scientists they could.  The V-2 formed the basis of the early days of space research, setting the stage for our manned and unmanned voyages into space.  This rocket in this building was used for research many times and has now been restored…

In the missile yard are MANY rockets of all sizes and shapes…

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Amazingly, rockets are a lot like trees – seen one, seen them all…

So we rolled out east again.  Soon we entered the Lincoln National Forest and ascended over 4,600 feet to a summit of 8,600 feet…  In this photo we are looking back west towards the white sands…

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Tunnels are always fun…

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Once we descended the mountain we were in a desolate plain that went on for miles and miles.  As is our custom, we stopped to stretch our legs and to keep our Apple watches happy…

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We checked into the KOA about 20 miles north of the city of Carlsbad.  The trees in the park are full of noisy birds…

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The park was basic but good.  They even prepared BBQ dinners on-site and delivered them to the Villa at the appointed hour.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

And, as is our custom, we present the some of the McAnoy children (and one neighbor…)

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2019-03-17 – Airstream Caravans Travel – Day 5 – Las Cruces and Alamogordo, NM

This Sunday morning we started walking at 7:30 am in 35 degree temperatures.  There is a nice United Methodist church about 1/2 mile from here.  However we wonder at the wisdom of holding a church service at 8:00 am… It was a beautiful church, but only 50 people were in attendance. I was reassured that their later two services were better attended… ( a total of about 300+ people each Sunday…)

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While walking back to the Villa we passed the Railroad Museum.  We may need to return here in a day or two…

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We packed a lunch and pointed the truck towards Alamogordo… The road to Alamogordo is named the “Bataan March Memorial Highway”.  White Sands Missile range was closed today while they do an re-enactment of the Bataan Death March – without the disease, torture, bugs, humidity, starvation, and death… This is an annual event since 2002.  Hundreds of people (maybe thousands) were walking along the highway and on the roads in the missile range…

We continued on to Alamogordo, to the New Mexico Space History Museum, which includes the International Hall of Fame, along with a Planetarium…

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We walked around the outdoor exhibits…

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This is a memorial for the astronauts who died in the Apollo 1 fire and the two Space Shuttle crashes…

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They also have here the grave site of HAM, the first space chimp, who flew into space in 1961, and died in 1983…

Inside were four floors of exhibits of space exploration:  early astronomers, rockets, the cold war space race, all the manned space missions, and on and on… Some of it was esoteric technology and other exhibits were current events for us… Lots of hands-on exhibits for kids, too.

Also outside was an acceleration/deceleration track, where various devices were tested for both going fast and stopping from going fast.  I’m no mathematician (they said there would be no math in retirement…), but one rocket used on the track accelerated from 0 to mach 1.3 in 4.2 seconds.  I think that is even faster than a Tesla…

From the hill at the museum we could see the White Sands National Monument… It isn’t really clear in the photo, but these white sand dunes extend for 275 miles…

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White Sands National Monument was our next destination for the day… There are 150,000 acres of, well, white sand…

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I dressed as the invisible pedestrian.  You can almost see me in this photo…

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We returned to the Villa, had lovely happy hours and dinner…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

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