|Fri, 05 May: Cinco de Mayo greetings to all...
In honor of Cinco de Mayo we thought we'd so something appropriate. So, we went to Mexico, well, New Mexico!
We spent a very restful nite at the Willcox AZ Elks Lodge. Despite being a short distance from a busy Southern Pacific main line the trains didn't bother us as Willcox has a no whistle ordinance. So they made rumbly noises but no honking.
We were up early and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast. After getting the coach ready for travel we checked Carpe Dinkum's brakes and lites. Since we didn't unhitch the car that was all we needed to do.
Bob rolled wheels at 0845 and we headed east on I 10BL four or so miles till we merged back with I 10 itself. We were about forty miles from the New Mexico border so within the hour we finally got our coach and car out of Arizona. We entered Arizona 02 Aug of last year, which means they've been in the state for 270 days (about nine months). We, of course, were out of the country for five of those months visiting Austrasia, but our vehicles were becoming Arizonians. Today we disabused them of that.
A short distance east of the state line we crossed the Continental Divide, which means were east of something or other. We switched drivers at a nice rest stop between Lordsburg and Deming. This rest stop allows overnite parking and even has a separate area that would be perfect for that.
Sandi took us into Deming where we left the Interstate for NM 26, a nice two lane road that runs northeast from Deming to Hatch. That cuts the corner and precludes going to Las Cruces. At mile marker 10 on NM 26 we pulled into a closed truck scale for lunch. It was a lazy one, almost an hour. We are getting sooooo into this retirement thing.
Another thirty some miles on NM 26 got us to Hatch, one of our favorite towns simply for the fact that they grow Hatch Chilies. We didn't stop (this time!) but picked up I 25 north. Another driver swap and Bob took us in the final leg to the small town of San Antonio NM.
We are boondocking at a city park adjacent to the fire station. It is a huge level lot with nothing (and nobody) around. Driving into New Mexico moved us from MST to MDT, so we "lost" an hour. So, when we finally called it quits for the day it was after four local time. That's getting close to Happy Hour! Nevertheless, today's run was a long-for-us 279 miles with an overall fuel economy slightly north of 8 mpg.
We plan to stay here two days while we use this as a base for visiting the Very Large Array. More about the VLA anon...
Sat, 06 May: As planned, today we drove the car to the Very Large Array (VLA) Radio Telescope". This has been a minor "bucket list" item and the time was NOw!
The VLA is one of the world's largest radio telescope that consists of 27 huge dish antennae that are interconnected simulating one gargantuan dish. Each dish is 25 meters (83') in diameter and weighs 230 tons. They can be arranged along an inverted "Y" pattern to simulate an antenna up to 22 miles in diameter. Special transporters move each dish along 43 miles of railroad track to create a configuration that performs each task. Today they were all clustered fairly close together so we could see all 27 of them.
The data are fed from each dish using fiber optic lines to a central control room where a special purpose computer crunches the numbers and creates the desired results. The control room is staffed 24/7 and controls the dish positioning as dictated by the scientist/astronomer.
We took a tour that included a visit to the control room and view of the computer room. We were then left to our own devices and were able to wander around and even stand under one of the giant dishes. It was well worth the 61 mile drive (each way) and we encourage you to view the pix we've posted.
We are now back at the coach riding out a very windy afternoon. The temp is in the eighties, but the wind is keeping it reasonably comfy. At this altitude (4,000'+) it cools down very nicely and should be in the fifties overnite (we ran the heat this morning).
Tomorrow morning we'll drive eighty-some miles to the Albuquerque Elks Lodge where we hope to score one of their sites.