Atomic Tourism

I get the feeling there are going to be a lot of posts over the next month written from the cheap blue leather seats of a Delta Airlines flight. Eastbound, now, this time with the whole family in tow. We’re calling this particular excursion “Atomic Tourism”, though it’s really a bunch of excuses all wrapped up into one.
First off: Mom, no, it’s not hazardous. Had to get that out of the way right up front. ‘K?
Now – some 72 or so years ago, the Atomic Age was ushered.. no, I think anything getting “ushered” would be all quiet and tip-toe-y. The Atomic Age bangedonto the stage with an explosion at the Trinity Test Site near Alamagordo, NM. Melted the desert floor into a green glass sea, and broke windows in the neighboring towns. Trinity is now a nationally protected landmark, open twice a year to visitors – first Saturday morning in April, and first Saturday morning in October. Which is…tomorrow.
Jem’s been fascinated with atomic bombs since – oh, I don’t know when, so we’ve had the April and October dates on our calendar for a couple of years now. But each time, we’d cross it off as the date approached – there was always some unavoidable conflict, or life was just too busy. Somehow, though, the schedule worked this time. As a bonus, Miranda’s history class is studying the Manhattan Project now, so this even counts as extra credit for her.
That being said, I don’t think I’d be able to justify pulling my kids out of school for a day, dragging them out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to catch a series of bad airline connections, climb in a rental car and drive two hours through the desert just to trudge around a chain-link fenced-in patch of green-brown sand. Not if that were the only draw.
But there’s also Brent. And the Balloon Festival.
Roadtrip readers will remember Brent Jones, OAE, South Pole electronics wizard, pilot and all-around awesome guy. It was an email introduction to Brent (thanks, Elizabeth!) that helped get me to the South Pole two years ago, though I didn’t get to meet him in person until an incidental trip to Albuquerque this past spring. Brent reminded me that the first weekend in October was also the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, so as long as we were looking for excuses to visit.
And so here we are. Sun’s coming up over the Nevada desert here on Delta Flight 1340. Miranda’s immersed in her book, and Jem’s plugged into his. We change planes in Salt Lake, then land in ABQ just in time for lunch, and we’re sort of going to play it by ear from there. More as it happens.


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