Very Large Dream

Leaving Santa Fe, I finally pointed my trusty steed west and began the slow return back, heading for Arizona. I chose a small mountain road south from Santa Fe, taking a scenic detour to Sandia Peak, a 10,378-foot mountain overlooking Albuquerque and western New Mexico. I had hoped to combine this detour with another winding road down the mountain, but the road dead-ended at the summit. No matter, the 50-mile views were worth the extra driving.

Continuing on, I quickly moved through Albuquerque and headed south, then west. As I crossed the mountains of western New Mexico, I came over a rise and plunged into a wide valley. There, lined up like white tin soldiers, stood the 27 antennas of the Very Large Array of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. With each dish measuring over 80 feet in diameter and weighing 230 tons, the VLA presented a very impressive sight, even from miles away.

I've wanted to see the VLA since long before the movie "Contact" made it famous. I don't know whether it's a fascination with the site's mission—to seek out the mysteries of the universe—or simply awe of the monumental, Christo-like scale of the array. Whatever it is, standing in the shadows of these gargantuan seekers of knowledge was the realization of a long-awaited dream.

Next: Vortexes - or Are They Vortices?

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