Sunday, April 6, 2014

Out and About -- Again

Microseconds of the Trinity Test

Went out to Trinity Site yesterday. Because it was the only time the site would be open this year, there were larger than usual crowds, and it took close to an hour (maybe longer, come to think of it) to get cleared at the Stallion Gate.

Trinity Site, as I've written before, is a secular pilgrimage site in New Mexico, the site of the world's first atomic bomb explosion. One goes there to pay respects, not just to the hundreds of thousands of Japanese who were incinerated at the end of World War II by the two atomic bombs dropped on their country, but to the malevolent powers that were unleashed and which still haunt the world -- and haunt New Mexico in particular. I've said there is no place on earth outside Japan where the nuclear issue is so profound and profoundly moving as in New Mexico, as current and contemporary today as it ever was.

After arriving at the parking lot, I had to strategize actually getting to the site more than a quarter mile away and then getting back, as I am still lame from an episode of sciatica in January. So I got a seat-cane for the expedition, with the thought that if I were able to sit down during the trek, I'd probably be able to make it without too much trouble. (There is a transport for the old and lame from the parking lot to the site gate, but I decided to forgo it in order to test whether I could make it on my own.) Sure enough, the cane itself was sufficient to keep me appropriately propped up and walking, and I didn't have to sit on the way to or from the monument. Yay! Simple victories.

The April weather was a challenge, though. We'd been warned there might be rain, but instead, there was virga and many downdrafts which raised whirlwinds and clouds of dust and sand that got into everything. I found my wallet was full of sand and dust when we stopped for a late lunch after leaving the site. One man fell face first into the dirt in front of the monument when a gust caught him by surprise, and others were dumbfounded by the whipping whirlwinds and clouds of sand and dust pummeling them in the face. Nevertheless, the site is spectacular, and the winds and clouds added to the spectacle.

The site was essentially identical to what it had been in 2010 when I was there on my own. But this was the first time for Ms Ché, and she was quite taken with it. She and I grew up in a world in which nuclear power was seen as a panacea for practically everything that ailed mankind -- while the specter of nuclear annihilation loomed over us every single day.

Trinity Site is where that specter originated.

Yesterday's adventure there was made all the more dramatic by the dramatic weather knocking us and everyone else around so much.

After a brief return home to clean up, we headed back to Albuquerque to attend a fundraiser for the National Institute of Flamenco whose home base burned last February December. The program included 9 regional dance companies each of which performed one or two numbers to a wildly enthusiastic response by the full house at the Disney Theatre of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

There were many highlights, but one that will stay with us for a good long time was the performance of Sonia Olla and Ismael Fernandez who demonstrated -- as if there were any doubts -- what this "flamenco" thing is all about. It was brilliant. But then, so was practically everything at the event. 

It was yet another day and night to remember, and yet another "Only in New Mexico" experience.

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