Closed

That seemed to be our mantra today. We took a day trip to Socorro, first stop El Camino Real heritage center. We were met by a sign on the door: closed on Monday and Tuesday. So we read the historical markers on the way back to the main road and pressed on to the ruins of Ft. Craig. Well, the gate was locked so we couldn’t drive in but there was an opening on either side of the gate that we could walk through. We took the hike in and looked at the maps of the layout of the fort and its history, then started down the path past the guard house and towards the officers’ quarters. About that time LeRoy looked back and said, “They want us to come back.” And sure enough, two rangers in full garb including flak vest, were coming toward us. Being the compliant people we are, we went back to meet them! They told us that, unfortunately, the site was closed for the day for maintenance. Since there wasn’t a sign to that effect, we weren’t in trouble but they did walk us back to the gate and followed us back to the highway. Back on the road, the next stop was Bosque del Apache National Wildlife refuge. We got there just after noon, pulled into the parking lot and started for the visitors’ center, where the sign on the door said CLOSED from 11:30 to 1 p.m. By this time it was getting really funny! I’ll have to say that was the last closed sign we ran into, but we were beginning to wonder.

Raymond had told us that we had to stop for lunch in San Antonio at the Buckhorn Tavern. They are nationally famous for a fantastic (and huge) green chile cheeseburger which had been victorious over Bobby Flay in a Food Network throwdown that was aired earlier this month , so we ordered one each. Did I mention HUGE? The burgers came cut in half and we just boxed up one entire sandwich to take home. The onion rings were great, too.

West of Socorro is the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Very Large Array and while I’m no scientist, it was really fascinating. Each of the receivers is 82 feet in diameter, more than twice as long as our bus! What’s more, they can each be moved by a “lifting locomotive” on rails and can be spread out 13 miles one way and 11 the other. We took the walking tour of the site and even stood at the base of one of those mammoth things.VLA Telescopes

When it was time to head for home, we decided to take Highway 52 back across to the Chloride area and go home that way. An acquaintance had told us this weekend that it’s a passable road that runs into the back side of the VLA. Passable was the operable word…remember that! Gypsy, our GPS, was more confused than she’s ever been. She tried her best to get us to turn anywhere other than Hwy 52 on which we were traveling, which was just a gravel road itself: onto National Forest roads, driveways, even arroyas and waterways! At one point, these were the options she pointed out. Which would you choose? Poor thing practically had a meltdown when we just continued on our merry way across 50 miles of backroads.



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