Oct. 8-15 2021

NM 502 approaching Los Alamos.

This bit of bippage is also NM 502.

NM 502 where it sprouts NM 4.

NM 502 again, roughly where we enter Los Alamos County. This is one of America's later counties, as it formed in 1949. (New Mexico does have at least one that is newer though: Cibola County, formed in 1981.) Los Alamos County was created after several years in which the area was under federal control as part of the Manhattan Project. More recently, Los Alamos was ranked as the nation's second-richest county - so I knew it would be trouble. Los Alamos County is surrounded largely by Sandoval County, but Sandoval County does have a tiny portion disconnected from the rest of the county. That portion would have become part of Los Alamos County, but it had been excluded from federal control because the land there was considered sacred by local Native Americans.

NM 502 again.

Here we enter the town of Los Alamos. Though unincorporated, the population is about 20,000. Los Alamos was built for the Manhattan Project, and it was so secret that the town and all its streets were missing from USGS maps as late as 1981. The tower at left may just be for the airport, but its menacing, creepy appearance sums up what I saw in Los Alamos. Almost everybody at the Smith's Marketplace supermarket was still wearing masks even though it was October 2021 - not March 2020. Plus, customers in the checkout lane stood exactly 6 feet apart - causing the line to back up halfway down the shopping aisle. When it was time to move, they marched forward in lockstep precisely 6 feet - like in one of those videos of a North Korean military parade.

NM 502 continues in Los Alamos.

Central Avenue in Los Alamos.

NM 502 uses Trinity Drive in Los Alamos.

NM 502 again.

I've pinpointed this spot on NM 502 and noticed on Google Maps that there's a cosmetic dentist nearby. Los Alamos being a wealthy community, think of all the people here who can afford cosmetic dentistry while also being terrified to leave the house without a mask, which defeats the whole purpose of cosmetic dentistry. As another mask-related paradox in Los Alamos, an outdoor trick-or-treat event on Halloween weekend in Los Alamos reportedly required masks - but since Los Alamos is unincorporated, how could it be enforced? Gotcha on that!

Los Alamos's slogan is "Where discoveries are made." Oh, we made discoveries! This is crossing a viaduct on NM 501, and a sign declares, "ALL VEHICLES ARE SUBJECT TO RANDOM INSPECTIONS." This isn't someplace like Los Alamos National Laboratory where you'd expect this. This is simply traveling on a major public road. The detailed essay on the blue sign prohibited "unauthorized taking of photographs or video" along this highway. Tough. NM 501 and 502 used to form Biz NM 4.

NM 501 does this little bipsy-doodle just past the viaduct, as the threats of an inspect-a-thon continue.

East on Jemez Road. We had tried continuing on NM 501, but it was blocked by guard booths. It wasn't just NANL that was restricted, but a major state highway that seemed to have a whole neighborhood along it. I can find very little information about it.

My New Mexico atlas dated 1995 labels this area as Los Alamos Canyon.

Jemez Road again.

The sign says this is west on NM 4.

NM 4 again. There is something resembling a satellite dish on the hill. Useful for watching Sesame Street.

NM 4 approaches Bandelier National Monument.

I'm not sure exactly where this appealing, fall-like scene is. Bandelier National Monument preserves a wilderness and Ancestral Puebloan homes and territory mostly dating from between 1150 and 1600. There have been recent plans to designate the monument as a national park.

Another good view, perhaps at Bandelier.

Not sure here. Bandelier is a great national monument, but I'll always remember it because of people at the campsite loudly passing gas and laughing about it, and a woman lecturing a youngster who threw a tantrum and swung a pole around. The woman sounded like a lawyer arguing a case instead of a parent reprimanding a child.

This must be at Bandelier, and I think this shows some ancient cliff or cave dwellings.

This appears to be a kiva, a space used for ceremonies.

Vacationers trudge up to the cliff dwellings. Also, that sign at the bottom uses the magic word!

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