Boys stuff

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Thursday, November 29, 2007

Just over the mountains to the east of Las Cruces is a place called White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). Yes another military installation but this is our history and isn't it great that we are given the freedom to see it for real after years of just remembering little snippets that we think we remember from newsreels and newspaper headlines. WSMR is an active base covering a valley about 40 miles wide by 100 miles long, it is at the northern end of this we found the Trinity site (remember our stay near the bird sanctuary that was so close to the first atomic bomb test site?). Driving the dead straight road, yet another, towards the base entrance I just got sort of focussed on that entrance so I drove straight up to the checkpoint where the guard asked if there was anything he could help me with? You see I had not even seen the signs telling visitors to pull off to the right and register - oops. Before I could go any further I had to surrender my drivers licence, proceed about ten yards and complete a U turn around the guard building to exit before being given back my licence so that I could actually make it to the correct "visitors" car park. Strange really, you get to walk into the base (showing id again) with your camera to take pictures of all these missiles (old ones) with a warning "make sure you only have the mountains in the background of any pictures". When we did make it to the missile park every time I took a picture I had the feeling of being watched (I probably was...). Like I said this is all part of our history - the nuclear era!
It was on this site that a hybrid/2stage rocket, built on the WWII German V2 technology, was the first rocket to reach beyond the earth's atmosphere and so we entered the space age. They have an actual V2 rocket preserved on this site. In 1982 a space shuttle landed here - it's all good "boys stuff"
Inside the museum are more missile based exhibits and also a Darth Vader mask - the story being that many sounds were recorded here and used in the film; Star Wars, like I said - "boys stuff".
Betsy wasn't left out though, there is a section on the area history, not just the farmers/ranchers and families that were displaced when the military moved in but also those that lived in the area looking back to prehistoric times.
Oh, by the way, the sand is white :)
http://www.wsmr.army.mil/
http://www.wsmr-history.org/index.htm - I like the stories from the people that served there.
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