Monthly Archives: April 2015

Atomic Bombs and Prairie Dogs

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Eddie and Trixie discover Prairie Dogs for the first time while in northern New Mexico.

Trixie and Eddie discover Prairie Dogs for the first time while in northern New Mexico.

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

Over looking the Rio Grande River from White Rock NM. J. Robert Oppenheimer spent his youth hiking and camping in these mountains and was instrumental in selected Los Alamos for the Manhattan project.

Over looking the Rio Grande River from White Rock NM. J. Robert Oppenheimer spent his youth hiking and camping in these mountains and as a result was instrumental in selecting Los Alamos for the Manhattan project.

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.

Fellow camper at the White Rock Visitors Center parking lot. We see these rental campers on the road a lot and the Golden Retriever looking out the side door window never fails to crack me up.

A fellow camper at the White Rock Visitors Center RV parking lot empties his tanks as be prepares to hit the road. We frequently see these rental campers and the Golden Retriever looking out the side door window never fails to crack me up.

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!

Little Boy - an accurate replica of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Little Boy – an accurate replica of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

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.

Cindy checks out Fat Man, a replica of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

Cindy checks out Fat Man, a replica of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

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 housed in one of the cabins built for the Ranch School in 1918. These cabins were homes to senior staff members like J. Robert Oppenheimer, during the Manhattan Project.

The Los Alamos Historical Museum is housed in one of the cabins built for the Ranch School in 1918. These cabins were homes to senior staff members like J. Robert Oppenheimer during the Manhattan Project.

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.

Fuller Lodge was the main building for the Los Alamos Ranch School from 1917-1942. It's open to the public today and is available for Weddings and other events.

Fuller Lodge was the main building for the Los Alamos Ranch School from 1917-1942. It’s open to the public today and is available for Weddings and other events.

Inside the main hall of Fuller Lodge. It was used for social gatherings during the Manhattan Project.

Inside the main hall of Fuller Lodge. It was used for social gatherings during the Manhattan Project.

The Los Alamos Ranch School was a private boys school modeled after the Boy Scouts of America. An upstairs room in the Fuller Lodge has been recreated to reflect what a staff members room would have looked like prior to 1942.

The Los Alamos Ranch School was a private boys school modeled after the Boy Scouts of America. An upstairs room in the Fuller Lodge has been recreated to reflect what a staff members room would have looked like prior to 1942.

Thursday, April 9th – Jemez Springs and Prairie Dogs

We saw a herd of elk running across the Valles Caldera National Preserve on the way to Jemez Springs NM.

We saw a herd of elk running across the Valles Caldera National Preserve on the way to Jemez Springs NM.

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.

"Squeak, squeak!" A prairie dog sees T&E and sounds the alarm.

“Squeak, squeak!” A prairie dog sees T&E and sounds the alarm.

Trixie tries her best to roust  a prairie dog out of its den. Fox Terriers are bred to have strong tails to be used as handles for extracting them from situations like this.

Trixie tries her best to roust a prairie dog out of its den. Fox Terriers are bred to have strong tails to be used as handles for extracting them from situations like this.

Eddie takes a turn. Cindy had to use T&E's tails for their intended purpose. BTW, no prairie dogs were hurt during the taking of these pictures.

Eddie takes a turn. Cindy had to use T&E’s tails for their intended purpose. BTW, no prairie dogs were hurt during the taking of these pictures.


















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