Day 5 Los Alamos on the 70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Nagasaki

North America
August 18th 2015
Published: August 18th 2015
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Day 5

A special treat – reading into the mid-morning. No need to move fast, we are on vacation in one of the most beautiful places on earth with a view to the Pecos that makes my heart happy. I am reading Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine, her first published novel. I am meeting characters that I know from later works and despite the grim reality of her writing it is great to meet old friends as younger characters.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the Manhattan project. I don’t know why, it wasn’t planned but somehow it has coincided with the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We decided that this somehow was leading us to Los Alamos. On day 2 of the trip we travelled within 40 miles of the Trinity site. It is only open 2 days of the year and our day wasn’t one of them – would I go there anyway? I can’t imagine it is safe even yet.

Los Alamos is a weird, locked in time place. Built on several mesas with the lab on a separate mesa that is oddly difficult to access and yet access is everywhere as you drive around the area. Our destinations were the Bradbury Science Museum (not named after Ray) and the Los Alamos Historical Museum. The Bradbury deserves many hours – although a small museum it is loaded with information. Bill and I were fascinated to see so much of our Silicon Valley lives on display. There was a point on the timeline where we had a finger in many of the developments. Both exciting and disturbing.

I am left not understanding the argument that we must maintain an arsenal in order to maintain world peace. Really? Isn’t peace going to come from educating women, safe drinking water, healthy crops available safely?

We followed the day at Los Alamos with a late afternoon drive to Bandelier National Monument. A warm-up for Chaco Canyon. This national monument is a steep, edgy drive into a beautiful and secluded canyon. Flooded out recently, it isn’t very easy to get where you want to go – we opt to view from above and it’s a small settlement of the Chacoans that we see. Thrilling to see. The camping for Bandelier is high on the mesa and many sites provide extensive views of the surrounding valleys, mesas and mountains. Above all is the clear blue sky dotted with clouds that so identifies New Mexico.

Day 5 addendum written 1 week after our visit to Los Alamos

We both agree that the trip to Los Alamos yielded one life changing lesson in physics. How to dry your hand using only one of the skimpy towels that are in public restrooms. Here’s how it goes – wash as usual (remember to say your ABC’s) and before reaching for the towel to dry off – shake your hands downward 12 times. Then 1 towel, folded in half and using ½ for each hand will suffice. It works every time with every kind of paper hand towel. Bill and I have been doing this all over the state of New Mexico and so we know it works! The scientists at Los Alamos calculated the worldwide savings (and of course the biggest savings are in the US) to be upwards of 2 millions of pounds of paper annually. Now that I think about it, the calculation may have been higher.


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