Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

It’s Very Large

Posted from Las Cruces, New Mexico at 8:58 pm, December 5th, 2010

The town of Winslow was along the route last night so I decided to be a tourist, stopped, and yes, stood on a corner. I didn’t see a girl in a flat-bed Ford (my Lord) but there was a guy in a F150, so mission accomplished.

Today I woke up just before sunrise to a temperature of 38°F, drove to the gates of Petrified Forest National Park, and, while the horizon turned amazing shades of purple, stared in horror at a sign indicating the park didn’t open for another hour. That disappointment aside, the four-hour park visit was a good one – there were far too many photos and far too little hiking, but the supposed goal of this trip is to visit the Southeast so some sacrifices are needed.

What little plan there is for this roadtrip calls for getting to new places as quickly as possible and limiting the number of visits to old haunts, but White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns are kind of on the way, so I pointed the Subaru in that direction. I’m doing my best to travel backroad highways as long as there is daylight, so I was debating the merits of three possible routes when a dot on the map caught my attention: National Radio Astronomy Observatory. From that point the route was clear, and the fifth of December 2010 will live forever as the day Ryan went to the Very Large Array. The geek juices were flowing strong as I came upon 27 radio antennas, each 25 meters in diameter, spread across 22.3 miles of a high mountain plain. Sadly I only arrived with an hour to spare before sunset, but made the most of it by hurriedly visiting each part of the facility that didn’t have an “authorized personnel only” sign. Am I a huge dork? Clearly. But I am a very happy dork.

Blue Mesa in Petrified Forest National Park

Blue Mesa in Petrified Forest National Park. “Why is it called the Painted Desert” is a question that is infrequently asked.

Very Large Array Radio Antenna

One of the 27 radio antennas that make up the VLA. Each one is twenty-five meters across and totally awesome.

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