Yesterday I resolved to have an adventure. You know, more of an adventure than driving across the country to a city where I know no one. A real adventure. This was actually code for, I’m going for a drive today, and I’m not going to do any work whatsoever. I have a week to finish my deadlines, and that will be plenty. You see, I have a tiny tendency to stop EVERYTHING when I have any kind of deadline, and since this journey is very much an effort to figure out how to have balance in life (among other things, of course), I decided I must practice. I’ve been practicing other things. Like shopping. We’ll get to that later.
The day started with a run, but that was predictable, followed by breakfast at Tia Sophia’s near the Plaza. It’s a fantastic little homegrown Santa Fe place, and I was encouraged to give it a try by Alex, who is in my running group. He’s the blurry person in the picture and also, sort of, my waiter. I gave him the task of ordering for me. He did me well, but you won’t find it on the menu; I think it was a special, and I have no idea what it was called, but it was basically a little of everything on the menu: black bean enchiladas, Christmas-style obviously, with an over-easy egg over the top (genius!), beans, posole and green chile stew. Also the only good sopapilla I have had so far in Santa Fe, and the word good hardly does it justice.
So, with my stomach crazy full and Alex’s advice on where to drive (the choices were Madrid or Los Alamos; Alex advised me to chase the bomb), I hit the highway. First stop, as soon as I hit Los Alamos, was the Bradbury Science Museum, a free and truly very well-done museum. It’s run by the government and definitely has the distinct undertone of key messaging, but still, a great effort has obviously been made to create an engaging, thoughtful approach to the often dry and UNengaging topic of complex scientific research. I especially loved this:
Throughout the museum’s history exhibit, these photos and stories tell about the lives of the people who worked on “The Hill,” as residents called Los Alamos at the time. They’re not just who-what-when kinds of blurbs, either. These are the stories of the lives of the largely 20-something staff of the bomb builders. Mostly they had no idea what they were working on until after bomb was dropped. They spent their weekdays working, their weekeends hiking and skiing, and their nights, it seems, partying a pretty good bit. There are some great stories on these walls. I’m sorry I didn’t buy the book. But I definitely want credit for the restraint I showed.
I also saw a short movie about the bomb building a life on The Hill called “The Town That Never Was.” Parts of it made me giggle. I think that was incorrect because no one else laughed, and yet … I’m just odd that way. And also completely incapable of holding in laughter.
Another museum highlight: I now understand why the bombs were called Little Boy and Fat Man. Seems as though it should have been obvious to me long ago, I know.
There was even a section of the exhibit – clearly marked as NOT being designed or endorsed by the museum – for open, public debate:
After the museum, I intended to drive to the Jemez Mountain springs, passing Valles Caldera, one of the world’s largest calderas, on the way. Well, it got late, and I didn’t make it to the springs (A very wise person later pointed out to me that perahps I didn’t want to soak in potentially uranium-filled springs anyway. Good point.). But I did see the Caldera:
That’s part of it – only a tiny part – in the distance.
Valle Grande is a a huge and – I can’t believe I’m saying this about a field, but it’s true – stunning field that makes up part of the caldera. A tiny part. It’s very big, people. Very. I know this because when I got to the National Preserve Guest Information Center I stupidly asked, Is this the caldera? And that’s when I was told exactly how big it was. I guess I was thinking I would drive to some overlook where you’d be able to see the whole thing. Incorrect, my dear. But the lady was very sweet and sold me a cup of tea. So there. Oh, but look what I discovered! You may not be able to SEE the whole thing at once, but they DO have a MARATHON around it!
And this last picture, this is for my Mom … Mom, this is the north fork of the Jemez River. See what they call a river HERE?
And finally, I’ll tell you more about today tomorrow, but I do have to tell you one thing: I bought my FIRST pair of cowboy boots today. Delightfully worn, old beautiful USED ones. I bought them at Kowboyz (I know, I would be sad about the spelling if these people weren’t so TOTALLY delightful.) in Santa Fe’s newly hip Railyard District, and the ladies who worked there were, as I’ve heard said so many times in the South, a HOOT. They even gave me a discount once they heard I’m a starving writer and should in no way be spending my money on boots, used or otherwise. Lovely, lovely, laughing, joyful women. Go and tell them hi if you’re ever in town. They’ll make you smile.
And so shall my boots.