New Mexico Vacation
July 11 - 17, 2016


Earlier this year Bonnie and I purchased a new car.  We plan to take frequent driving trips around the U.S. and Canada with the new toy, rather than taking the rare fly or cruise vacation.  This trip was actually our first of two trips to New Mexico in 2016.  Click here to see our second New Mexico vacation, which also included Mesa Verde, Colorado.

New Mexico is a beautiful state with many tourist attractions.  For this trip we visited  Santa Fe,  the Rio Grande Gorge BridgeWhite SandsCarlsbad CavernsRoswell and the Very Large Array near Socorro, NM.  We drove our car from our Tucson home throughout all of these stops in NM, then back to Tucson in six days for a total of 1,970 miles.  Note that there was no rain during our trip, but the temperatures fluctuated wildly from a low of 48o in Taos to a high of 111o in White Sands!

The following 96 photographs represent the best of the many pictures that were taken by Bonnie and I . . . enjoy!

(Click on small pictures to enlarge!)


Santa Fe

Bonnie had a couple of friends from her time in San Diego - Al and Gay Hill.  They had moved to Santa Fe many years ago, so we decided to visit them while in town.  

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This is their house - a Spanish mission style.

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Gay, Al & Bonnie
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This is a telephoto shot taken off their back deck.  Most of the houses in the Hill's neighborhood were of a similar style and all were on nice size lots for privacy and quiet.

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Downtown Santa Fe.  Most of the stores were art galleries, usually expensive!
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The Plaza.
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The obelisk.

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This plaque was on the obelisk.  The word which was removed was "savage".

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Santa Fe art.
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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Driving to the bridge took us through Taos.  As we drove through the town, we realized the surroundings looked about the same as Santa Fe, both of which used Spanish mission-style architecture and sold expensive art in the many galleries.  Because of this, we decided to not stop in Taos for sightseeing.

The bridge is 600 feet long and 565 feet above the water level, making it one of the highest bridges in the U.S.  It is also one of the most visited tourist attractions in the region.

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We stood at the center of the bridge to take the rest of these pictures. . .
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. . . Every time a truck passed over the bridge it would sway back and forth - spooky!

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This picture was taken with a very long telephoto lens.  Are these pronghorn sheep?

 

White Sands

White sands is about 16 miles west of Alamogordo.  The first mile or so driving into the park was on concrete.  But then the paved road ended and we actually drove on packed white sand.  Unfortunately this part of the road was a severe "washboard" and we weren't able to drive faster than 3 MPH.  Because of this we only drove another mile into the park, then turned around.  Pictures were difficult to take because of the intense glare from the white sand and most of the pictures were discarded because they were badly overexposed.  In spite of the bad road, the problems taking pictures and the high temperature (111o), we actually did enjoy this part of our trip!  :)

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On our way to White Sands, we stopped north of Alamogordo at the home of the largest pistachio in the world!  :)  The pistachios tasted wonderful - highly recommended.

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That's a big nut, the pistachio is fairly large also!  :)
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Carlsbad Caverns

This was the part of the trip we enjoyed most!  We've both been to many caverns throughout the U.S. but this was by far the most spectacular!  To get to the caverns from ground level, we rode an elevator 755' down into the earth, about 200' more than the height of the Washington Monument!  Once in the caverns, we took the 1-1/4 mile self-guided tour.   If that doesn't seem like much, there are so many different formations that it took us hours to see everything.  A tripod would have been useful for picture taking, but since we didn't have one all the photos are taken handheld in available light (no flash) which resulted in some of the pictures being a little fuzzy. In any event, if you're ever in southern New Mexico, be sure to see these caverns - highly recommended.

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Roswell

Since we were near Roswell, we decided it might be fun to take in the UFO sights, since Roswell (and Area 51) are know as the UFO capitols of the U.S.  While in Roswell, we had read that the Patricia Lubben Bassett Art Education Center in Roswell had a planetarium, which we decided to see.  Unfortunately the planetarium was closed while being modernized, but we did visit the Art Center itself.

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If you're ever in Roswell, be sure to take in the UFO Museum, you'll enjoy it.
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While I was watching this display, one of the alien's heads slowly turned and looked at me . . . very creepy!

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This is "Paul".  If that doesn't mean anything to you, see the movie by the same name!  :)
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This scene was used in a movie . . .

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. . . as was this one.
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Bonnie's new best friend!  :)
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Take a good look at the enlarged photo of this painting.  It is spectacular!

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Old west rifles . . .
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. . . and six-guns.
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Very Large Array

After seeing "Contact" in the late 1990's, Bonnie and I decided that some day we'd like to visit the Very Large Array (VLA) - we finally got our chance!  Note that there are a total of 28 radio telescope dishes at the VLA, One is always getting maintenance while the other 27 are laid out in a "Y" formation and are usually operational.  Each dish weighs 230 tons and they are moved around on a rail system.

The dishes are placed in a number of different configurations.  When we visited the VLA the dishes were in their "B" configuration which meant that they were widely spaced as you can see from most of the below pictures.  The tightest and easiest to photograph configuration is the "D", which is scheduled to be in place early 2017 . . . we may go back and take more pictures!  :)

We were amazed to hear that these telescopes see everything that can be seen by the strongest optical telescope, but they do it 24/7 with increased accuracy and at much greater distances!  Note that Socorro lies directly on Interstate 25, the major north/south road in NM.  The VLA is located 50 miles west of Socorro on route 64.  If you're ever passing Socorro, you might turn west and check out the VLA, the trip will be worth it!

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Ten telescopes showing in this photo.  The dishes are so widely spaced that ten was the best that we could capture.

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Ten in this one also.
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Eight.
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This is the 28th telescope which is undergoing maintenance.
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This is the machine which is used to transport the telescopes from one location to another.


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The telescope control operator.
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You may use any of the above pictures for any purpose and may do so without giving me credit.  Note that these pictures have been downsized for those with slow connection speeds.  If you'd like copies of the original JPG pictures, send me an E-mail telling me which pictures you want and I'll be happy to send the original pictures to you at no charge!


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