Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Los Alamos

Nick and I spent the day in Los Alamos, walking around a bit then visiting the Bradbury Science Museum, yesterday.  The place is fascinating on a couple of levels: it didn't exist before 1943, and it was built on land taken over by the federal government "in support of the war effort."  The name was taken from the boys boarding school which was taken over as housing for the initial workers.  There is an eighteen minute film describing its construction that has some spooky elements to it.

The beginning flashes to Hitler reviewing troops interspersed with the exodus of German Jewish scientists to the USA.  Following that it describes the initiation of the Manhattan project and the need to isolate and congregate all the important scientists in one location to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas.  Los Alamos was built as the isolated place where that could happen.  Security was so tight that the resident's driver's licenses had numbers not names, the address a PO box in Santa Fe; even birth certificates listed the PO box at the home of record.  Residents traveled under assumed names, when they traveled at all.  The focal point in Santa Fe was a civilian woman, owner of the PO box and the only link to the outside world.  A very strange beginning to what now seems like a fairly normal place.

Today we drove up to Taos and explored the town, which is now mostly boutiques and restaurants designed to keep tourists happy.  I was able to locate the terrific place Carol and I stayed when we were here however many years ago and photographed it to send to her.  We walked over to Kit Carson's home and museum but it was closed.  Neat thing: the guy who gave us that news was sitting under a sun shelter weaving baskets.  We turned to leave but he called us back and told us to go see Taos Pueblo and while he was talking he wove two "magic wands" out of red willow and gave us each one.

Before driving to the Pueblo we went to the Rio Grande Gorge and stood on the bridge watching rafters in the rapids several hundred feet below.  A few miles past the bridge we stopped at Earthship, a self-sustaining community off the power grid, and learned how the houses are built how water is gathered processed conserved and reused several times.  Much of the tour was a sales pitch to invest in the place but it was still really interesting.

Taos Pueblo is again tourist focused but the old adobe is fascinating to see.  We walked around for about an hour before wending our way back to Santa Fe by various back roads.  After an early dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe we came back and rested for a bit then went to the gym for a workout.  We are now chillin' in the room.  Tomorrow is an early and long day.

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