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Tags post-TAM activities , pre-TAM activities , TAM 11

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Old 14th November 2012, 04:45 PM   #1
Hutch
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The 2013 Pre/Post TAM trip

Probably to early, but then again, it is never to early to start planning....

This year, five friendly, fulsome and fun-loving Forumites (2 Canadians, 1 Brazilian, and 2 old codgers) spent five days in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park before TAM, and managed...quite well, thank you.

And being that (1) I like traveling and (2) since joining the Forum, I've seldom had to travel alone, I'd thought it might be worth doing again.

The goal is 5-6 days together, a largish airport to meet-up in, and in general I look to Western sites, since that means an easier flight to/from Las Vegas.

There are three possibilities that I see, and if others would like to suggest something, I am all ears (or mostly eyes, my hearing right now is shot).

Option 1: Meetup in Denver, see the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs region. Lots to see/do in the area and a substantial number of Forumites live out that way, so maybe we'll cop a free drink or meal...and THIS TIME I will go white-water rafting!

Option 2: Seattle/Vancouver--Meetup in Seattle, and we have two options. The first is the Seattle/Vancouver areas only, about 6 days. Expand it to add Glacier National Park/Banff National Park and it gets out to about 10 days and 1,200+ miles of driving. Again, a fairly decent number of skeptics in the Seattle area to meet.

Option 3: New Mexico--Meetup in Albuqueque. Not as much here as in other places, but the Very Large Array, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell and Allamagordo are all in reach (and maybe cross the border to Mexico).

Would welcome other thoughts, ideas, or places you think I should go...

Will bump occasionally.
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Old 14th November 2012, 07:02 PM   #2
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I would lean toward #2, probably skip the Banff extension.

There's also a rumor going around that CSICon III might be in Seattle.
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Old 14th November 2012, 07:21 PM   #3
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Option 3 sounds cool, but it's way to early to commit for sure. I'll almost certainly be at TAM this time, but I don't know if I'll be able to commit more time.
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Old 14th November 2012, 08:04 PM   #4
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Interesting! If my budget allows for it I'll certainly consider one of those. But the Galapagos will devour my finances, I'm afraid, especially if I decide to go to the post-tour.
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Old 19th November 2012, 04:49 PM   #5
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I'm good for any of course, but New Mexico is one of the few states I've not yet seen. Lots of really great things to see there. Los Alamos comes to mind as well, since I worked in radiation protection. (Alas, the Trinity site has no tours mid summer, there there is always WSMR to consider.)
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Old 21st November 2012, 10:32 AM   #6
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I don't think I'd be in, but if the extended version of option 2 is chosen, I'd head out to Banff, as it's a short drive for me. I know the area, so could show some interesting things. There's even a mummified mer-man in Banff!
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Old 23rd November 2012, 08:45 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
I would lean toward #2, probably skip the Banff extension.

There's also a rumor going around that CSICon III might be in Seattle.

I'll remind you that the restraining order is still in effect.
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Old 25th November 2012, 11:28 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dicon View Post
I'll remind you that the restraining order is still in effect.
That's between me and your wife. I'll remind you that she likes bad boys.
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Old 26th November 2012, 10:50 AM   #9
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The restraining order was taken out by the Space Needle. Something about an odor.
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Old 26th November 2012, 01:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
I would lean toward #2, probably skip the Banff extension.

There's also a rumor going around that CSICon III might be in Seattle.
Thought that was official?? As to Glacier - especially recommended for anyone who was there 20 or more years ago.
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Old 28th November 2012, 07:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Hutch View Post
[...]

Option 3: New Mexico--Meetup in Albuqueque. Not as much here as in other places, but the Very Large Array, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell and Allamagordo are all in reach (and maybe cross the border to Mexico).

Would welcome other thoughts, ideas, or places you think I should go...

Will bump occasionally.

Hutch, you are seriously underestimating the number of places to go and things to see in New Mexico. In addition, don't underestimate the driving times and distances. This past spring, I spent about a month investigating places within a 250-mile radius of the Four Corners area, didn't see all of what is there -- and drove close to 2,000 miles doing it.

Incidentally, by mid-July, southern New Mexico will be pretty warm (90s) during the day.

xterra, who will watch this thread with interest
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Old 28th November 2012, 07:49 PM   #12
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I'm not sure what my plans are for next year in terms of vacation and such. It is likely I won't be doing TAM. I will mostly likely opt out. Hope you have a good time.
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Old 2nd December 2012, 07:38 AM   #13
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Carlsbad Caverns are great, especially if you can arrange to go to one of the other caves. They are limited to groups of around 20 (unless they have changed), so you need to make reservations for a particular time, and allow an hour to hike to the entrance.

http://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisi..._cave_tour.htm

Hmm, I've been here several times, but it's been 10-15 years. They used to call this 'New Cave' but I see they have renamed it after the Slaughter family that once owned a great deal of this eastern New Mexico and western Texas.
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Old 2nd December 2012, 08:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Geek Goddess View Post
[...]

They used to call this 'New Cave' but I see they have renamed it after the Slaughter family that once owned a great deal of this eastern New Mexico and western Texas.

That, plus the fact that it's in Slaughter Canyon -- as are several other caves, only some of which are open to tours.

xterra, who spent four months at Carlsbad Caverns as a volunteer some years ago.
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Old 2nd December 2012, 08:29 AM   #15
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If Albuquerque is the choice, I'll even go. If Four Corners is a part of the plan, I'ld really be interested. That's where they supposedly see centaurs, giant basilisks, and dogmen. Who could pass that opportunity up?
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Old 2nd December 2012, 08:59 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jodie View Post
If Albuquerque is the choice, I'll even go. If Four Corners is a part of the plan, I'ld really be interested. That's where they supposedly see centaurs, giant basilisks, and dogmen. Who could pass that opportunity up?

Better yet, there are Chaco Canyon National HIstorical Park, Canyonlands National Monument, Arches National Park, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and too many others to mention right now....
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Old 2nd December 2012, 11:42 AM   #17
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Would love to see all of them!
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Old 2nd December 2012, 02:23 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Better yet, there are Chaco Canyon National HIstorical Park, Canyonlands National Monument, Arches National Park, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and too many others to mention right now....
Originally Posted by Jodie View Post
Would love to see all of them!

Folks, folks, we only have 5 or 6 days. If we see the Very Large Array, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, Alamagordo, and maybe one more site, we'll be doing good.

That said, I am leaning towards this trip, there seems to be no love for Colorado and I've been to Seattle several times so Glacier Park is the only thing I really want to see, and that is a fair piece of driving.
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Old 2nd December 2012, 04:10 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Hutch View Post
Folks, folks, we only have 5 or 6 days. If we see the Very Large Array, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, Alamagordo, and maybe one more site, we'll be doing good.

Hutch et. al.,

Here is a round- trip route from Las Vegas Nevada to the places mentioned above, and back, with no other side trips, and by the fastest routes -- or sometimes the only routes.

http://tinyurl.com/clnm6jm

If you want to make this a one-way trip, the best destination airport to consider is El Paso. Here is that route:

http://tinyurl.com/EP-to-LV

I have driven all of the roads shown (although not all in one trip). The map does not show the nature of the country, which must be taken into account. If you have not lived in the Southwest, you will be shocked by the aridity and the emptiness. It's easy to die in this country in the summer.

I will be happy to expound on the exigencies of summer travel in New Mexico and Arizona if you desire.


xterra

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Old 2nd December 2012, 04:34 PM   #20
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Xterra;

My plan, such as it is, is to fly into Albuqueque (some folks who went on the trip last year to Yellowstone did not go to TAM) and base out of there, so that will cut the mileage down. I know there are a lot of sites on the Flagstaff-Albuqueque route, but those may have to wait for another day.


I say 5-6 days because that is long enough for people to get along with each other and not long enough for people to get on each other's nerves (IMHO).

My rough (very rough) draft now is:

Day 1--Everyone arrive in Albuqueque, get settled, maybe see some sites there (IIRC, there is an aerial tram that gives a pretty good view)

Day 2--Drive to Las Cruces, stopping to see the Very Large Array and any other interesting sites.

Day 3-Drive to Carlsbad via Alamagordo/White Sands, perhaps with a quick morning visit to Mexico if the group wants to.

Day 4-Do Carlsbad Caverns, to include the evening Bat patrol.

Day 5--Return to Albuqueque via Roswell, and either depart on evening flights or bunk for next morning.

Day 6--Either to TAM or Home, depending on when the trip happens.

That's about 800 or so miles over 5 days, which is not too bad.

I know that there is a lot to see West and North of Albuqueque, but we cna only do one direction given the parameters.

Any and all advice you may have would be appreciated.
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Old 3rd December 2012, 03:59 PM   #21
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Take my comments as what they are: The observation of someone who has lived in this area for five years and has tried to see lots of it, although not even close to what I would have seen if I'd started before I retired.*

Summary: I think that it's a lot of driving for the amount of sightseeing. The easiest way to change that is by adding an extra day at Carlsbad Caverns.

Here's a more detailed look at my view of the itinerary as Hutch indicated it:

Albuquerque - aerial tram: Good plan! Longest such in the world. Great view from the top from the Sandia Mountains west across the city. Eat New Mexican food, or if you're feeling adventurous, New New Mexican (New Mexican nouvelle cuisine). If you order something and the server asks "Red or green?" the question is about chilies. If you want a mixture and want to sound local, say "Navidad" (Christmas) -- that's red and green mixed. Remember that what is considered spicy Mexican food in the East is considered medium to mild in New Mexico and Arizona. Another tip: If it's too spicy, don't drink water in an attempt to relieve the pain. You want something that has or becomes sugar. Try bread or tortillas.

If there is time, drive to the west side of Albuquerque to Petroglyph National Monument. My avatar is a petroglyph, but not from there.

Day 2-- ABQ to Las Cruces, an hour plus a pit stop in Socorro, maybe another 30 minutes. Then 50 miles (an hour)) west to VLA. Then maybe two hours there. From the VLA to Las Cruces is maybe 200 miles. So maybe 3.5 hours, with another pit stop in Socorro included. A long day, but feasible.

Day 3 -- I would do this differently. In either case, forget the "quick trip to Mexico." First, it wouldn't be quick, and second it could be dangerous. Also, unless you are going through El Paso anyway (Option B below), going from Las Cruces to the border, spenidng time in Mexico, and then driving to Alamogordo would consume a full day.

Option A:
the route Hutch indicated: to Carsbad via White Sands and Alamogordo. Leaving LC, your route rises to the San Augustin Pass (the name is neither English nor Spanish, but a deliberate hybrid). On the plain at the bottom eastern side of the pass is the White Sands Missile Range. There is an interesting museum here, with lots of missiles. The last time I was there, I spent about two hours. But I was living in Las Cruces, so I didn't care about the time. To enter the Missile Range, you need proof of citizenship, proof of insurance for the vehicle. You must not be carrying firearms.

From the missile range exit, it's a 50-mile, 75-mph drive to about one mile south of White Sands National Monument. In the 50 miles you will see several roads leading onto the Missile Range, but nowhere for you to stop, no rest areas, etc. Next you will encounter a US Border Patrol checkpoint. The agents will question each person individually, although you probably won't need to get out of the car.

White Sands. Very nice place, very cool -- but not in the summer! The sun reflects from the sand quite well. Sunburn time, even if you have a really good tan. Where are your hat and sunglasses? Driving to the end of the road in the Monument, with stops here and there, and playing in the sand, will take from one to two hours, depending (of course).

So two hours from LC to White Sands, another 25 minutes to Alamogordo.

If you are going to Carlsbad Cavern, you drive east and south through the mountains, then down onto the plains to Artesia. From there, south on US 285 to Carlsbad. Google Maps says this is about 3.5 hours from Alamogordo; I think it's longer. Anyway, it's a long day, with most of it spent driving.

Again, not many places to stop. Skin dry? Maybe a sip of water. (See below.)
Option B:
From LC to Carlsbad, the most direct route is through El Paso and east across US 180. This is another of our famous long mostly-deserted roads. On one 20 mile stretch several years ago, not only did I see no cars going in my direction, none passed me going the other way. Don't have a breakdown here!

This route takes you through Guadalupe Pass, which is interesting in itself, and is the main entry to Guadalupe National Monument, a very large wilderness, and a very empty one. The west side of the pass rises well above the road.
Incidentally, this is the time to tell you about water. You need it. Lots of it. In normal non-strenuous conditions at 100 degrees F in the shade, with under 20% humidity, a gallon per person per day is adequate but not excessive. In strenuous conditions, more is needed. One day last spring, the high humidity was 2 (two) percent. Two. There are cases on record of people dying only several hours after running out of water. Dehydration is said to be a very unpleasant way to die.

When I travel more than 100 miles away from home in the summer, I usually have four to six gallons of water with me, even if I know that there are places to stop. I'd rather haul the water and not need it than ... etc.

I should also mention here that in your travels you will be experiencing elevation changes and you should be aware of the effect of higher altitude. Most of the time you'll be above 3,000 feet. If you live at sea level, this could be more change than you would expect. Headaches are common -- and are also caused by dehydration.

Day 4 -- To really experience Carlsbad Caverns, you need a minimum of two days, one in the Cavern, and the other taking a tour like Jodie mentioned. Also, the last I heard, the nearest decent lodgings are in Carlsbad itself, which is 27 miles and an hour north of the National Park; 20 miles take 25 minutes and the 7 miles through the canyon take the rest of the time.

Make reservations well in advance for the special cave tours. To reach the entrance of Slaughter Canyon Cave requires a difficult uphill climb along the side of a steep hill, and if you have any fear of heights, it might not be for you. There are other tours within the Cavern that might work.

Day 5 -- Roswell is a nice town, and the UFO museum was quite amusing. I have never tried to get to the supposed crash sites, so I can't talk about them.

I've just put in what occurs to me. If I think of more, I'll add it. But the big thing is not to underestimate the geography and the climate.

xterra, who is now thinking seriously about a spring (that means early May) road trip.


*If some of you are US citizens over 62, you can purchase a Federal Senior Pass that allows you and several other people free or half-price access to Federal recreational facilities. People younger than 62 (citizens or not) can buy annual passes that also offer the discounts.

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Old 11th December 2012, 09:06 PM   #22
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Just happens that I now have that Federal Senior Pass. Came in handy on the trip last year as Hutch will attest. Hutch and I wandered all over Arizona two years ago and actually got in quite a bit of sightseeing between long drives. He also managed to get a couple of carloads of us into and out of Death Valley in mid-July without losing anyone.
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Old 12th December 2012, 06:44 AM   #23
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Death Valley is quite different from Burlington or Winooski, isn't it?

It's been 20 years since I was in that area, but I remember it well.

You can attest to what I said about water and distances.
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Old 11th February 2013, 04:47 PM   #24
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OK, the plan is now to do the New Mexico trip, basically what I have laid out along with some of xterra's recommendations. Other opinions are also welcome.

Righ now it is I and my fellow bachelor rambler HamRadioGuy, but others are welcome and encouraged.

Before or after TAM is still to be decided, and opinions are welcome on that.

As for costs, figure that you would fly into Albuqueque, which has service to/from most major US cities and has Southwest Airlines service, so hopefully prices will be reasonable (going Huntsville-Albuqueque-Las Vegas-Huntsville is about $640 on Expedia right now). As for hotels, they are cheaper than Yellowstone, Carlsbad being the most expensive, but one person could manage 5 nights in nice places for under $700 total (and sharing a room would bring it down to $350 each--and there are less expensive choices, too.

Rental cars look expensive right now, but I have yet to really explore them.

So anyway, if you are interested and want to join in, let me know here or in an e-mail and we'll see how it goes.
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Old 11th February 2013, 04:54 PM   #25
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I'm considering it. What would work best for me, and me only, would be to arrive in Albuquerque on the Sat before TAM, and depart Albuquerque on Wednesday, maybe late afternoon/early evening.

Is anyone else thinking along those lines?
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Old 1st April 2013, 06:21 PM   #26
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Carlsbad Caverns sounds....bad. Where is Carl's Good Caverns? I'd go for that.
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Old 1st April 2013, 07:33 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Hamradioguy View Post
Carlsbad Caverns sounds....bad. Where is Carl's Good Caverns? I'd go for that.
Here
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Old 15th April 2013, 02:54 PM   #28
Hutch
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Ok, final call. Hamradioguy and I (the geezer brigade) are set for a New Mexico road trip following TAM.

Going to Albuqueque on Monday, 15 July, and from there the Very Large Array, Carlsbad Caverns, Alamagordo, White Sands, Roswell and lots and lots of great scenery (and great heat). Bakc in Albuqueque Friday night for any "red-eye" fliers or Saturday morning for the rest.

As for costs, looks like hotels (2 nights ALB, 1 night Las Cruces, 2 Nights Carlsbad) will run about $600.00 total for "good" accommodations, so if you can find a roomie it would be $300.00 total--and there are cheaper places (along with more expensive) if budget is a concern. Car rental shares will not be drastic.

Tam attendance is not required, just the ability to get to Albuqueque around noon on Monday, 15 July and have a week's vacation in hand.

So let me know if you're in or out, I'd like to get the rental details done in May if I can.
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Old 18th April 2013, 12:58 PM   #29
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Awesome, have fun guys. I have to pass on that one, as I said the Galapagos and Sacha Lodge devoured my savings (totally worth it mind you), and I still have a small trip to Baltimore for a music festival in late May, so that will probably be all the travelling I'll do this year.

On a semi-related note, I was looking at this awesome timelapse video of Yosemite Park posted on Phil Plait's blog, and... wow. I know the video will selectively show the best images, but that's enough to convince me to go at some point. Flights from Montreal to Fresno don't seem that bad: I checked, just out of curiosity and with no actual intent to book them for now, a round-trip flight in September, and it was about $430 on Expedia. Not bad for an 8/9-hour flight. This place looks possibly as awesome as Yellowstone. Maybe next year...? Just a thought.

Originally Posted by Hamradioguy View Post
Just happens that I now have that Federal Senior Pass. Came in handy on the trip last year as Hutch will attest.
Oh yes, that was very handy at Yellowstone. Thank you again for that. ^_^
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Old 18th April 2013, 06:14 PM   #30
Hutch
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Originally Posted by Morrigan View Post
On a semi-related note, I was looking at this awesome timelapse video of Yosemite Park posted on Phil Plait's blog, and... wow. I know the video will selectively show the best images, but that's enough to convince me to go at some point. Flights from Montreal to Fresno don't seem that bad: I checked, just out of curiosity and with no actual intent to book them for now, a round-trip flight in September, and it was about $430 on Expedia. Not bad for an 8/9-hour flight. This place looks possibly as awesome as Yellowstone. Maybe next year...? Just a thought.
Never been to Yosemite, that is a great idea for 2014, Morrigan. Now, don't let me forget about it....
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The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history. R.A. Heinlein
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Old 5th June 2013, 03:47 AM   #31
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OK, last call for any other travellers besides Hamradioguy and myself to journey post-TAM to New Mexico, for the Very Large Array, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, White Sands and Allamagordo.
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The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history. R.A. Heinlein
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Old 12th June 2013, 08:32 PM   #32
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I said in a private message to Hutch that I might tag along for part of your trip.

That will not happen; I have accepted an invitation to volunteer for three to four months at Chaco Culture National Historical National Park in northwestern New Mexico. Chaco is a wonderful place. Unfortunately, it is not on your tour route.

I don't know if you have been watching the weather in New Mexico, but temperatures are running from the mid to high 90s. Expect warmer temperatures in July.

I hope all of you enjoy the trip. Please post reports along the way.
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