Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Odometer 26,293 miles

Trip meter 0 miles

Alamogordo, NM

December 4, 2012

Today we visited the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The highlight of this museum is it's IMAX theater. We were very surprised to be the only ones in the theater, but the movie was fabulous! The show we saw was a documentary on the shuttle missions to fix the Hubble space telescope. To see all this footage of the inside of the shuttle and even up close on the Hubble was unbelievable. We got to watch the space walking astronauts take apart the telescope and gently guide in the new pieces, and put it back together. The Museum is in a 4 story building high on the flanks of the Sacramento Mountains.

On the grounds of the museum were dozens of rockets and missiles, some older tracking devices and space artifacts.
Inside the museum we browsed the displays on space exploration from the earliest rockets to the latest Scaled Composites Space Ship One. I was a little disappointed that the displays on Space Ship One were only photos, however there was a whole room devoted to the winning of the Ansari X Prize.

Joan caught me attempting to land the Space Shuttle in one of the museum's simulators.
Joan and I decided to break up our visit and get lunch downtown after the movie and then go back to the displays in the main building of the museum. We had the great fortune to happen upon a place called Can't Stop Smokin Smokehouse. We shared a platter of brisket and chicken with potato salad and beans for lunch and it was fabulous!

When we left the museum we were craving some frozen yogurt. Any of you that know us, know that our favorite treat is self-serve yogurt. Out came the iPad and a search turned up an ice cream place and a custard place called Caliche's. The frozen custard sounded interesting and we enjoyed the treat. We kick ourselves for not taking a photo, because Caliche's was a neat art-deco place with stucco and quilted stainless steel and real neon striping.

Once we had our snack, we were tempted to head home and take a nap, but we really wanted to see White Sands and it was already 2 in the afternoon- some sacrifices would have to be made. The tough keep on going, so we headed out the 15 miles north of town to the White Sands National Monument. I have been waiting for my chance to buy a Senior Pass to the National Parks, and it arrived today. We knew the $10 pass would get me into the parks but we didn't know that Joan who is not a senior yet gets in free with me in most cases- Cool! We watched a 20 minute video introduction which was very interesting. We were disappointed that the "theater" was set up with what looked like church pews- really! They were mega- uncomfortable. Armed with information on where the white sands come from and how they were deposited here, we headed out the 8 mile road into the park.

The sand is really very white, and it f eels very soft in the hand. According to the video it is from the mineral gypsum that has been leached out of the surrounding mountains by runoff over the last 7000 years
One of the all-time great things to do here is to watch the sunset from the white sand dunes, and today did not disappoint. We climbed a middle sized dune and got comfortable for the light show.
Joan took several dozen photos, because as the light changed it kept getting better and better.
Tomorrow we are off to Carlsbad, NM and the Carlsbad Caverns

Love to you all!

Jeff and Joan

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