Sunday, November 19, 2006

Some More Travel Photos---New Mexico

I've never been to the "Great American Southwest," but I've been hoping to get to go there for work sometime soon. My deepest wish came true and I visited the Very Large Array in Socorro, NM in mid-October. You may know the VLA from such movies as Contact, Armageddon, and generally any movie where they show a bunch of big telescopes all turning simultaneously.

Here's some photos from that trip. I had a day off on the tail end of the trip, so I decided to drive around the state for 8 hours. I chose to go toward White Sands National Park / Missle Testing Range. I took a bunch of photos along the way.

Seeing New Mexico left me with the impression that there will be no shortage of available land for humans to populate within the next few centuries. There is so much open land it is nearly incomprehensible. It's also very neat, topologically; tall ranges of mountains are bounded by vast, flat plains and steep rolling hills. It actually looked a lot like Rohan from Lord of the Rings.

Anyway, here's your goddamn pictures.

The Very Large Array itself, pointing to the heavens.
Another angle of the Very Large Array.
A view skyward, from inside one of the dishes in the previous shots. Yes, I stood in the dish. The lack of a natural horizon made it feel like the clouds were stationary and I was whizzing through them.
En route to White Sands, the Town of Truth or Consequences has an interesting history. It was originally named "Hot Springs," but changed its name on a dare made by a 1950's radio show host. The name change has survived several public referendums.
The actual town of Truth or Consequences, viewed from a hill.
Still en route to White Sands; I took this shot white driving. Notice the road bends left. I did not notice that at the time. Driving and shooting is dangerous.
STILL on the way to White Sands. This is one of many endless, flat stretches of road that disappears into a point in the distance. I'd never seen that before. A really cool shot would've been through the power lines on the side, but the weather was uncooperative and I had to pee at this point pretty bad. This is the stretch of road between Las Cruces and Alamogordo.
The sky opened up for a combined total of probably 3 minutes during my entire time at White Sands. It was disappointing, because the whiteness of the sand didn't present itself as eery as it otherwise would, but when the sun did come out, it offered really a neat contrast between the sands and the blue sky peekign through above.

Half of the park was flooded, so I had to walk for two miles through a flooded desert roadway. When the sun popped out, it gave me a few chances to catch some cool reflections. This one looks like an alien planet, or some Buddhist vision of serenity.
Speaking of serenity, White Sands was the quietest place I've ever been in my life. Since the park was flooded, no one (except me) was willing to walk the two miles further up the road. The only noise I heard was the light breeze, and when that died down, and I stopped walking, the only thing I could hear at all was my own breathing. It was an outdoor sensory deprivation chamber. No wonder the aboriginal inhabitants found this land so spiritual.
A F117-A stealth fighter patrolling the area. National parks are known for their surface-to-air capabilities I guess.
I changed filters and out came some shots that looked straight out of an inspirational poster or the game Myst.
Same pic, camera rotated.

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