I got an email from Keith, a long-ago coworker, and friend, who has posted some travel and car advice on his blog. I think he has some good advice and information so I am sharing it with you.
Our visit to Pie Town has, sadly, come to an end, and Susan and I have not run out of things to jabber about. It was such a peaceful week! The peace and quiet was good for Andy; I have not seen him so relaxed in ages.
Roy beckoned me to the front door saying, “You have more choices to make”. (I have been saying all week that I wanted this one and that one, and the other one.) Here are my additional choices outside for the first time. I think there are five; it could be four. I don’t know how large this makes their clowder.
Susan posed for me next to her hydrangea. It amazes me that she got it to grow and live out here. The winters (and summers) are harsh. She said this is its first season.
Roy joined her. I took several pictures of them, but this one is my favorite, by far.
The silence out here smacks you in the face, or should I say slaps you on the ears. There is no hum of distant traffic or any kind of civilization. The only sounds you hear, other than noises the house makes, are the wind and occasional bird twitter. We did hear two jets fly by once. It is sixteen miles down this road from their house to get to pavement. It took us an hour to get there because I drove slowly over the washboard sections and stopped once or twice to take these photos.
The paved road up to Interstate 40 is a beautiful drive with an enormous lava field and large cliffs and rock formations.
We drove 328 miles to Tucumcari and stopped in an RV park for the night. Our trip plans have changed and we are not going to Big Bend National Park or Carlsbad Caverns. My sister Barbara and brother-in-law Tom have sold their house in Maryland and are moving to Topsail Island in North Carolina. We are going to meet them in NC and help them settle into the new house. We are heading there straight-away.
Susan had asked before we arrived whether we wanted to go to the VLA. Never heard of it. They have an open house for visitors once a month and we were lucky to stay an extra day to see it.
So yeah, we were inside a telescope.
I snatched this chart from the web since my photo did not turn out so well.
I can’t add anything intelligent, so I’ll just share the placards with you.
So, in my estimation, this is where we get some of those fabulous space pictures.
This is a sundial. It tells the time and date. It is also kinda artsy and pretty. You read the plaques embedded into the cement. There are also some farther out in the gravel.
Note the two antennas facing each other. The wooden fence-like railing is the size of the VLA antennas. Numerous signs say not to sit on it.
Andy and I each stood in front of one of the dishes and talked softly to each other. It’s the nerd equivalent of whispering sweet nothin’s.
Today, the telescope array was in its widest arrangement. There are nine antennas on each arm of the “Y”. There are short side spurs along the main track where the mount the antennas.
Here are Roy and Susan in front of the one we could get close to.
Here is another one with my scale model Andy.
This is the same antenna as seen from the balcony of the control building.
This ancient lake bed surrounded by mountains is an ideal place for the Very Large Array. It is flat, so they can move the antennas around on railroad tracks. It is in the middle of nowhere, away from most sources of signals that interfere with the ones from space. We were told to turn off any electronics and even put the cell phones in airplane mode before turning them off. The mountains block stray radio waves from the earth. It is at approximately seven thousand feet and has clearer, cleaner sky than most places. The environment is dry and, therefore, has less water vapor.
This is only, maybe, half of the monitors this fellow in the control room was monitoring. The tour guide talked some and then this man answered questions. The super-computer is behind the glass wall in the background to the right.
Here is the transporter that moves the antennas around.
This photo gives a better idea of how wide it is.
All the antennas were assembled in this building. Now they are repaired here. It reminded me of the similar building at the Kennedy Space Center.
I was pretty sure Roy was coveting that big orange transporter. Then he looked at this and said, “That’s just like mine”. The man has toys.
We stopped in Pie Town on the way home to look at this antenna that is part of the VLBA (Very Long Baseline Array) telescope.
Wow! What a field trip.
Later in the day, Roy announced that the weed whackers were working. I went to see what he was talking about. This area is an open range, meaning livestock wander about at will.
This is the view out Roy and Susan’s kitchen window.
Today, I decided to take a few pictures of the scenery from Roy and Susan’s back deck and yard. I know I could have taken a video, but stills I took.
They have fenced off a back-yard garden to keep the cattle and wild animals out and to keep the feral kittens in.
Susan is making headway with some landscaping. She has a number of vegetables and flowering bushes established in raised beds.
Susan is the weather geek. Those are her wind gauge and rain gauge in the bottom left of the photo.
They have several little log-cabin houses for the outdoor cats.
I zoomed a bit to get the mountain in the distance. I forgot its name already.
This is probably the smallest cornfield ever. We had some for dinner.
Again, I zoomed to get a closer look at the sunset on the distant mountain.
Roy announced, in the morning, that he should get the rest of the mud from between the double back wheels. He had planned to take the wheels off Scamp but then decided he could do it with the wheels on the van if I moved it a foot or two at a time. I did not take any pictures! Neither did I mention yesterday that, when Roy finished, he was soaked and covered with mud.
There is a huge pile of boulders next to Roy and Susan’s driveway. After he finished washing the mud off, he took me for a ride in the Gator to explore the rocks.
Roy had a path through the trees so we did a little sightseeing before we got to the boulder pile. He called this his table rock. It does look like a pedestal table.
And, with Roy serving as my scale model, you can see that it could be used as a table quite well.
The boulder pile is ten or twenty times bigger than I expected at the house. Roy had built a ramp with rocks and dirt to drive partway up. Here is my first view from the top. There are many holes in the rocks with water in them.
We walked on a little farther and I saw the house below us. I wanted to stand on the rock I could see from the house, so we continued on.
Roy and Susan have 175 acres of land, so many of those trees in the distance belong to them. I waved to Andy, who was sitting on the front porch, but he did not show up in the pictures. Those are the Sawtooth Mountains in the background.
The rocks did not look so high from the driveway. I was giddy with excitement from climbing up and seeing the view.
This view is more to the northwest.
This is a bit farther to the northwest.
Roy paused to wait for me as we returned to the Gator, and I took the opportunity to take his picture. King of the boulder hill.
Roy drove down his small road and past his workshop before returning up the driveway to the house. Then he veered off between the trees. He said there were pottery shards in that area as he picked one up and handing it to me. Then another. And another. It seems they are everywhere, but I did not find a single one.
Roy looked under this pile of boulders and said it had a packrat nest in it. The rat had stolen a sock from somewhere.
I found a plastic box to store my pottery shard collection. Here are the best ones. This one is clearly the neck and rim of a pot or jar.
This angle shows the curve better.
I was even more thrilled with these two pieces. The marks are characteristic Anasazi.
Here is my scale model finger, for size.
Roy also found these coiled clay-snake pieces. They are also Anasazi.
I am thrilled with my new treasures and wonder whether I can qualify as an archeologist now, even though Roy found them all. I was on the expedition after all.
I can’t remember when I’ve seen Andy so relaxed. The peace, quiet, and inactivity are doing him good.
I told Roy and Susan they look like the “old folks at home” in their log porch furniture.
It is so pleasant to take a break. We do little else than eat, drink, sleep, and talk. We talk a lot. Oh, we also watch a pack of kittens play.
The only action I recorded today was The Flowbee. Andy wanted me to cut his hair (a task long overdue). Roy offered us the use of The Flowbee so I could cut Andy’s hair indoors. I said I would give it a try. Then Roy brought the shop vac from the garage. I began to get a little nervous.
The haircutting tool attaches to the vacuum cleaner hose and the hair stands out for the cutter to snip the hair the same length all over.
Roy gave a short demonstration and I finished the job. Andy liked it.