We have made it this far. Quite easy actually. We have crossed to New Mexico last night after whizzing through Arizona and found a camping near Pie Town. I wanted to be close to Magdalena. No it's not a new girlfriend. Magdalena is a place where The Large Array Radio Telescopes are. I've learned that one of these 'surreal' places exists on the high plains of San Augustin and I've made sure that it falls in our journey. My plan was to check the array out in the evening and take some more Milky Way night shots using the gigantic dishes as foreground. Turns out the weather had a different plan, so I didn't bother. It was too late in the evening anyway, while we have set up our camping site.
What we didn't manage to do last night we did the next morning. The Large Array has a more than alright visitor centre and they even let you wonder around the antennas as long as you promise to keep your mobile off (and the rest of your radios). The whole plateau and the surrounding area is a radio free zone due to the immense sensitivity of this Large Array apparatus. If I remember right a radius of about 40-50 miles is 'radio dead'. No cellular, no TV, no radio. You should keep even your GPS device off, but I'm not sure whether this rule is enforced or is it just up to everyone's good judgement. The view of the huge dishes pointing towards one direction on the sky and lining up while they meet in a dot on the horizon is impressive. ...as is the fact what great things we are capable of achieving given the collective effort. Makes me wonder different would be the faith of humanity if we put collective in front of our personal mediocre needs. But that's an answer I'm not prepared to philosophy about and we had miles to do in order to get to our hosts, Kelly and Mark, in Los Alamos. Right after Mark it was Kimi who greeted us along with Mango on Kelly's shoulder. Kimi is a fierce looking but sweet little Chihuahua and Mango is a jolly little parrot playing with all colours of a mango. Mark was one of the first people who offered us a space to crush just as soon I've announced our trip back in July 2015, so I took this offer as sign number one for including New Mexico to our journey. We have spent a night in a tent like structure that Mark built for Kelly as an outdoor office, but became something like a spare room. Mariola still claims they have put one of the most comfortable beds in there she has ever slept on. Or she's just starting to get sick of nomad ways of 'our' Tacoma..? The next day we have headed back to Santa Fe, where Mariola and I have lived up on a second offer to crash In someone's spare room. This time Deborah and Lou. I've run into Deborah on Ngapali Beach in Myanmar. From the first moment incredibly warm and open people. After just 3 conversations we were invited to visit New Mexico. Sign number two. No way we could get around New Mexico now! Specially if we were going to be this close. Once in Santa Fe it was Tulip who greeted us by the front door of these beautiful people. We have stayed with Deborah, Lou and Tulip short 2 days and 2 nights. During the day we have visited many beautiful places, historic places, listened to great life stories of this incredible couple. In the evenings we have been catching up on the Olympic Games in Brazil. But the single most incredible experience was the invitation to a native Indian feast in a settlement near Santa Fe. I have been advised to keep all my cameras, phones, basically any recording device away as any record of the processions is prohibited and I may lose the device. Maybe for this reason my experience has been so strong. Indians chanting and dancing in near trans state of mind put me and everyone looking, into a weird state. Like I wasn't even there and all has been just a vivid dream. Absolutely beautiful. After the processions we were invited to join Deborah and Lou for a feast in their friends home. Apparently anyone is welcome, but I would have been hesitating if it wasn't for the invitation and lead from our hosts. After a rich meal we have headed to the house and atelier of a local pottery artist. I wish I remembered her name, or at least where I've put the note with her name, but all I remember is the detailed process of making pottery, treasured techniques and a display of extremely valuable tools. Such warm and sharing, caring people. So many special moments. I really hope I get to see everyone again... In the evening we, and I mean Lou and Deborah, have been invited to a private view of a local painters exhibition after which we had a picnic in the park with live music and some dancing. Time flies when you're having fun. It was time for us to hit the road again, but before we did that we have returned for one more night to Kelly and Mark, where I cooked an unforgettable vegan rice dish that was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. I guess Karma got me for bragging about my unbeatable skills in preparing rice. Ah well, hope I get a second chance. The reason for us to stop by in Los Alamos was Mark, again. He's decided to show us his secret hideaway that should remain undisclosed. I'm sure Mark would show you around if you ask... But you haven't got that from me, if you know what I mean. We have arrived to this secret location late afternoon and went for a quick walk. Amazing rock formations, hoodoos, fossilised wood and exploding rocks. In fact we were so taken that the way back to our cars we had to make in pitch dark. Despite that Mark and I have made plans to do the walk again in the morning so we can enjoy sunrise by the 'alien eggs'. I think we might have walked some 3-4 hours that morning. Maybe more as we have left very early in the morning and been back before 9am. Breakfast and then Mark took off on his ex FBI surveillance van that is probably the best camper I came across so far. We headed towards Colorado.
I use the word 'surreal' far too often in thisNM entry. Believe or not this state in the US can be quite bizarre, specially if well oriented locals guide you around places that otherwise we wouldn't stand a chance to stumble upon. One way or another New Mexico was meant to happen for us. The signs were just too strong to overlook. And I'm glad that it worked out this way. We have made friends that can hopefully forgive my lousiness to keep in touch. See you in the future Deborah, Lou, Kelly and Mark! Thank you...