As if there wasn't enough going on this 'Mass Ascension' weekend, the world famous Trinity Site opens it doors (ok, Gates) to visitors on Saturday. Instead of getting up early to see beautiful balloons, you can head south before sunrise to pass through the highly secured gates of the Trinity Site for a bit of nostalgia. On the way home you can zip over to see the VLA (Very Large Array) as well, and still be back in 'burque in time for the Balloon Glowdeo at twilight.

Several years ago, I made the trek south from Albuquerque to the Trinity Site (and to the VLA on the way home) and took some photographs of the experience...So if you want to visit both spots from your desktop check out the complete Trinity Gallery pages at Trinity/VLA Gallery. If you like what you see, you can gear up for a journey this weekend or just make it another year.

It is about a three hour drive to the site and there will be a line of vehicles waiting to pass through the gates at dawn. It can get hot and gusty winds may exist. You need a valid driver's license/ID to go through security. The place itself is mystically bleak. Not sure I can add that term to any other monument I have seen except for the Vietnam Wall Memorial perhaps. There are other hollowed out buildings and 'odd' structures surrounding the more famous triangular monument. The monument area is highly 'scrutinized' by a plethora of security officials...Many of the other buildings... well, not so much.

The Very Large Array (of radio telescopes) is open year round. I love the VLA which is an easy two hour drive from Albuquerque (west of Soccorro past Magdelena). There is a pleasant and informative Visitors' Center and plenty to walk around and gape at.

I have often seen eagles, hawks and other birds of prey there along with the vast Plains of St. Augustine which is where I would land if I was piloting a UFO. No wonder scenes from the movie CONTACT were filmed there. An easy and surreal road trip adventure easily do-able in an afternoon. The town of Magdelena is fun.

So pack up the cooler and gas the guzzler....or just click over to the complete Trinity Gallery pages at Trinity/VLA Gallery. Either way, enjoy the first weekend of October in our amazing state.

[Photography courtesy Aquila Arts LLC]

Views: 46

Comment by Ben Moffett on September 30, 2010 at 3:49pm
My home county. And I survived the world's first nuke. Try it. You'll like it.
Comment by Lahjik on September 30, 2010 at 5:20pm
The first time I drove from Alamogordo to Las Cruces and realysed what the sign that said "Trinity" meant, a cold shiver went up my spine. I grew up during the height of the cold war and the possibility of Russian and American nukes crossing paths on their way to wiping out civilization was always there, but it was a very abstract, 'in the movies' kinda concern. When you drive past the location of the first detonation and see signs telling visitors to not put rocks and bits of glass in their pockets, however, it becomes a bit too real.

And the VLA rocks!
Comment by Jeff Hartzer on September 30, 2010 at 6:36pm
Lahjik...T.S Eliot's The Hollow Men comes to mind with your comment. There is a wide open 'emptiness' in the land surrounding the Trinity site. Almost a take your breath away feeling vs. a more 'expansive' feeling...Bring Peace Home.
Ben...I guess that makes you on one level the Radiated Man...Can you feel the glow...? And have you ever written about your experiences with the nuclear testing?
Comment by Ben Moffett on September 30, 2010 at 8:37pm
I covered these twice-yearly open houses for several years for the Mountain Mail newspaper in Socorro, and worked with others on getting Trinity Site listed as a unit of the National Park Service and open year-around. The bomb itself didn't wake me up but my parents ran to my bedroom (I was 5 years old, to see if I was okay. Then they started babbling about the blinding light and noise. That day we went into Socorro from our farm near San Antonio to sell vegetables, and everyone was talking about it. For those who want to read about it, I recommend The Day The Sun Rose Twice, by Ferenc Morton Szasz, UNM Press, 1984. There are others, more sophisticated, but Szasz puts you up close to the events of that time period, such as Hereford cattle turning mottled white three weeks after the explosion,. It also has pieces on the physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project -- Oppenheimer, Fermi, Bethe, Teller. .
Comment by Jeff Hartzer on September 30, 2010 at 9:31pm
Many thanks for additional notage...will look for da book by Mr.Szasz...
Comment by Ben Moffett on September 30, 2010 at 10:08pm
I should add that the work to get Trinity Site opened to visitation on a regular basis just like Carlsbad Caverns, Bandelier, or Mount Rushmore has thus far failed. But as Lahjik said, it is a goose-bump producing experience, much like walking into Ford's Theatre or The Little Bighorn Battlefield.,
Comment by Stephanie on October 1, 2010 at 10:53am
FYI, the building in your post is unrelated to the trinity event; from what I recall it was part of a research project done just after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Comment by Jeff Hartzer on October 1, 2010 at 12:01pm
Thanks for the correction...If you view the Gallery of my day at the site (2005), there are a number of odd buildings shown including observation areas and misc. odd buildings...Trinity Gallery.
Comment by Ben Moffett on October 1, 2010 at 4:25pm
Come to think of it, I have never heard of a Trinity Site polo team either, although I won't say it doesn't exist or have a connection with Trinity Site in NM. It appears, however, that the polo team was 40 miles from San Antonio, Texas.
Comment by AriesSweet on October 3, 2010 at 10:06am
It is great to see something on DCF about Southern NM. Albuquerque is great but it seems at times that Southern NM is forgotten. These two sites are great places to visit and so educational. My father is a retiree from WSMR. I grew up being told stories about some of the most significant scientific milestones of our country's history occurring right here in the Land of Enchantment. Although, he wasn't working at WSMR at that time yet, he distinctly remembers the time that Trinity site became a part of our nation's history. As a little girl I remember all the great stories about science and military that my dad would tell me that he knew just from driving missile fuel trucks back and forth to the test facilities for over 30 years. NM as a whole has so much history and it's great that you posted this. Great post Jeff!


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