Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday was a great day to play "tourist". Was up and out of the motel before 7am. Gassed the car and headed North. I had planned out a route up to the Jemez Mountains to Bandelier National Monument and the Bradbury Museum (Los Alamos National Laboratory).
From Albuquerque up to San Ysidro. As I approached San Ysidro, I noticed a sign pointing Bike Trails. I did not take the time to check them out - believing these are the "White Mesa" mountain bike trails.
Was going to stop at the Jemez State Monument but it was closed (likely too early). Took a couple photos along Route 4. When you drive the canyon, stop by "Soda Dam" and "Battleship Rock".
I think the road to Jemez Falls was closed. In the summer or fall I would like to make that little hike.
Highway 4 brings you right along the Valles Caldera National Preserve. I stopped to take some photos. Then saw the road to the open Visitor's Center and Gift Shop. Visited there and made a couple purchases. (Even got a semi-offer to be a volunteer there in the summer.) Visitor's Center is open Fri-Sun through March and opens again near the end of May.
Valles Caldera was formed by a super volcano. The caldera is HUGH! The first photo on today's posting is a panoramic shot of the caldera from Rt 4.
Next stop was Bandelier National Monument. After the 13 degree temperature up in the mountains, it was comfortable down in the Frijoles Canyon. During the hike to view the ruins, I even had to remove my jacket!
Walked the Main Loop Trail. The first loop up to the cliff dwellings can be a bit strenuous. There are also some ladders where you can climb up into those dwellings. The lower section of the Main Loop was icy - the park recommends returning back to the Visitor's Center the way we came.
From Bandelier, I was going to find a place to eat in White Rock. In no time, i was through that town on and the way to Los Alamos. In town I quickly found the Bradbury Science Museum - my destination.
The free museum is a part of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It chronicles the birth of the Atomic Age and the town of Los Alamos. The Laboratory is doing considerable work making sure the US strategic nuclear weapons are still functional.
All-in-all, the Bradbury was a bit disappointing. The town of Los Alamos lay-out is unusual (for me). It is built on a mesa, with canyons cutting through. Bridges span the canyons to connect the sections of the mesa.