Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Visit

Jim and I, along with son Jim went out to the Trinity Site, where on July 16, 1945 the detonation of the first atomic bomb was tested.  The Site is only open one time a year now and draws hundreds upon hundreds out to see it during the hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Site is significant to my brother and I because my dad was there on that day.  My brother wasn't born yet - he would be in a little over 6 weeks and I was a little over 3 years old.

We lived in Los Alamos.  Mom had no idea what dad was doing or why he would be gone from time to time, because dad was a part of the Manhattan Project. 

I have lots of memories:  like nursery school and all the rabbits, rolling the metal hoops around the play yard; seeing my newborn brother through the hospital window for the first time; playing in the river (Rio Grande); that horrible poodle dog of mom's named Puffy (she didn't like me either); the day that I discovered those big metal machines that made lots of noise (tanks) and how I escaped the house unknown to mom, crawled through a hole in the chain link fence and sat in a pile of rocks (I didn't know about snakes or other bad creatures) to watch these big ole noisy machines.  I learned many years later that the town was put on alert as the thought of a kidnapping was paramount on peoples minds.  I was discovered by one of the tank crew members who saw me sitting in the pile of rocks. To this day I still am fascinated by the sound of the old tanks.

Our day started out pretty nice, slight breeze.  The drive out is across the northern end of the Jornada del Muerto valley (a part of the Camino Real Mexico City to Santa Fe route used in the late 1600's - known as the Journey of the Dead). It is easy, even today, to visualize the Spanish travelers moving across this area.  One enters at the Stallion Range Center and drives around 17 miles to the Site.

Here are pictures I took and as the wind picked up so did the dust and the dark clouds came in.
See the people walking out to the Site? Steady line.

Looking south from outside Ground Zero gates.
My son and I are standing in what is left of a large canister, that was built to - in case of failure - contain the explosion.  Since it wasn't needed it was placed on a steel tower 800 yards from Ground Zero.  Above is all that is left.  It is known as Jumbo.

I think these are the Oscura Mts and parts of the Little Burro Mts. to the east.
To the northwest of Ground Zero.
Ground Zero marker.

Son Jim at the Ground Zero Marker

Lone remaining footer of the 100 ft tower holding the bomb.
The sign says Fat Man, but I know it as Fat Boy.
And the weather starts to change with the winds picking up and the rain clouds hovering over the mountains.  Unfortunately, the McDonald Ranch Museum was not open due to some repairs.

You can see the long lines coming out to the left.

Son and Jim heading back to the car. Enough wind.

The day ended with a belated birthday lunch at Socorro's upscale burger joint, complete with white table clothes - Bodega Burger Co; and, a birthday cake made by son and some ice cream. 

It was a fun day, despite the wind, and felt good to get out.  As soon as that house back in Kansas gets sold, I am going to do some more exploring.

Thanks son for a fantastic day.

PS, if you are in the vicinty of Socorro NM, I recommend visiting the El Camino Real International Heritage Museum to learn more about the Spanish history of New Mexico (about 35 miles south of Socorro on I-25; and, to also visit the VLA, located off of US Hwy 60 west of Socorro.


  1. Hey Emily! Interesting post! So you have a history with New Mexico...wondering how many years you were there before you left?

    I drove into Los Alamos back in 1987 looking for a pay phone trying to call a medicine man and find his reservation. (He had invited me to attend a Corn Festival.) Memories!!!

    How do like living there? Are you happy that you moved? Just finished two of Tony Hillerman's books where the characters are based in NM. Thinking of the mountains!

    1. Lynne, I love it here. There is an inner soul within me that is finally happy again. Even with the wind as there is a sound unlike I heard with the winds in Kansas - one that tugs at me, hard to explain. Throw in a little dust and I take a shower or vacuum the window sills! The family left in 1946 for back east, then when I was 9 we moved to California, where I grew up. In 1964, I married a man from the Window Rock AZ area and we lived in Gallup until the early 70's. Both of the kids were born in Albuquerque and son has lived in Socorro for the last 30 years. When ever I got the chance, I was here - even if for a day.

  2. Interesting to think how life would be different if the bomb hadn't been developed, isn't it? I appreciate the history. Had read about it a very long time ago, but had forgotten.

    Also enjoyed seeing photos of all of you -- and of the mountains and those dramatic clouds. :)

    1. I think that even if we hadn't lived in Los Alamos, I would eventually come to love this country. Mom, the artistic one, taught my dad, scientist/engineer, how to love what time had created in nature. In between, was my brother and I. Fortunately, both my parents love to travel around the country.

  3. Interesting stories. I kind of knew the history of Trinity but didn't know it was only open one day a year. Reading your link to the site was also very informative. Glad you had a good day with your son, and Jim. Now I'm contacting Lynne. I want to hear more about that medicine man.

    1. Jerry, you are braver than I asking Lynne about the medicine man. Take care.

  4. Interesting day you all had. To bad the wind came in to throw dirt and sand at everyone. But a day out is so special when your son can join in.
    Was it your Birthday? If so Happy Birthday!

    1. Thank you Jo for the B'day wishes. I agree that spending time with your kids is special at anytime, even more so when it is something to do with one's own parents from a time gone by.

  5. Great post!!!! I love history and enjoyed your story and the link you provided!! Thanks!
    I think Lynne needs to write a post about the medicine man don't you???

    1. Yes, when one hints at something abit on the "gotcha" side, we need to know the rest of the story. Glad you liked the little bit of personalization to a time in history.

  6. Thanks for the interesting post. we missed getting over to see that when we were there and as you say it is really only open once a year. Sounds like a great day even with the wind.

    1. You will have to plan a workamping stint in this area next year so you can visit the site; and hopefully the McDonald Ranch Museum will be open. The Heritage Museum is in the general vicinity too. Am waiting in anticipation to see where you folks are headed next.