New Feature on the Barefoot Dog
Before launching into our latest adventure, I’d like to direct your attention to a new feature recently added to the Barefoot Dog. In the menu bar at the top of each page is a link titled Our Journey. Clicking this link will display an interactive map showing everywhere we’ve camped and the routes we drove to get there. You can zoom in and out, pan and hover over each pin to see the name of the campground or GPS coordinates (for boondocking sites) of where we’ve stayed. Clicking on a pin will tell you more about that particulate location.
Monday, April 6 – Los Alamos
Today we’re towing the Airstream 68 miles up the road to Los Alamos, NM. We’ve been staying at the Army Corp of Engineers campground at Cochiti Lake. As expected, it was full of campers over Easter weekend but it was mostly empty when we left this morning. As retired full-timers, we now look forward to Mondays and dread the weekends.
There are no campgrounds in Los Alamos so we’re staying at the RV parking lot at the White Rock Visitors Center, a few miles south of Los Alamos. For $20 you get a parking space and 50 AMP service. They also have a dump station and potable water. It seems a little high to me but Trixie and Eddie will appreciate the small off-leash dog park.
We pull into the White Rock RV parking lot and choose a spot. It’s a lot nicer than I expected and there’re only 3 other campers here. Setting up only takes a few minutes. Since we’re camping in a parking space, there’s no need to get out the chairs, mat, table, grill, etc. With nothing else to do, we head over to Los Alamos to preview the sights.
Los Alamos museums are a bargain!
We stop in the Bradbury Science Museum. It’s almost closing time but since admission is free we go in anyway. A friendly volunteer that looks to be in his 60’s asks us to sign in. We tell him we’re coming back tomorrow so we spend most of our time chatting about what else there is to do in Los Alamos. I ask him if he watches the TV series Manhattan. It’s a drama set in the backdrop of Los Alamos during 1943. He knows the show well. I mention that the Los Alamos of today looks nothing like the town depicted in the show. Turns out that all the buildings built by the government for the Manhattan project have been torn down. He also tells us a bunch of retired folks who worked on the Manhattan project back in the ’40s meet at the pizza joint next door to watch the show. Even though it’s a fictional drama with a few references to historic characters, they love pointing out all the inaccuracies.
Tuesday, April 7 – Back to Los Alamos
Camping in a parking lot is not much fun so we down a quick breakfast of cereal and head back to Los Alamos. We spend a few more hours at the Bradbury Science Museum. The Los Alamos National Lab has diversified into fields of research beyond nuclear weapons and the museum exhibits reflects this. With our breakfast long gone, we grab T&E from the truck and head over to Ruby K’s for lunch.
The Los Alamos Historical Museum is also free so we head there next. The Historical Museum concentrates on the ancient and recent history of the Los Alamos area. Many of the exhibits focus on the former Los Alamos Ranch School founded in 1917. It closed in 1942 after it and all the surrounding land was acquired by the US Government for the Manhattan project. The museum is housed in the infirmary built for the Ranch School in 1918. Unlike the structures built specifically for the Manhattan project, most of the Ranch School structures are still standing, many of which are located along a street named Bathtub Row. It got its name during the Manhattan project since they were the only houses in Los Alamos to have bathtubs.
Thursday, April 9th – Jemez Springs and Prairie Dogs
Today we’re headed to the Vista Linda National Forest Service (NFS) Campground in Jemez Springs. All other NFS campgrounds and forest roads leading to dispersed camping areas are closed until May 1. This makes sense due to all the snow we see on our way. We only have a 50 mile drive today so we stop in the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a 13.7-mile wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains. As we get out of the truck, we see prairie dogs darting all about. T&E see them too and our walk turns into a fruitless game of whack-a-mole. A prairie dog pops up here, squeaks when it sees T&E, T&E rush over, the prairie dog disappears into its den while another repeats the process elsewhere.by