Posted by: Sally Ingraham | November 20, 2008

NM, Bosque del Apache, and the Trinity Site

After navigating through four airports and flying on three airplanes, renting my first car and then driving it an hour or so from Albuquerque to Socorro, NM, I felt as though I had learned enough for one day. Part of this trip is a hands-on, crash course in solo travel, and yesterday I completed session one. About 18 hours after waking up in Kennebunk, ME, I found myself settling into a comfortable bed at the Best Western my Dad had secured for us. I was in something like a state of disbelief, but sleep took me soon enough.
Dad let me sleep in this morning, and then we drove out to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, where the Festival of the Cranes was already underway. We spent the morning driving around the refuge, checking out fields of sandhill cranes and snow geese, cameras snapping wildly. Bosque at this time of year is pretty spectacular, tucked as it is between mountains, and filled to overflowing with migrating birds. As Dad said, taking pictures there is like shooting ducks in a bucket – almost too easy. That didn’t stop either of us from thoroughly enjoying ourselves though!

Around noon I headed back to the town of San Antonio. I met up with the other members of the Trinity Site tour, and we had lunch at the Owl Bar and Cafe. I was probably the youngest person there, but I had fun listening to my elders converse. On the bus I struck up conversation with a woman named Sue, who was from L.A. We talked cameras and photography and travel.

When the bus entered the White Sands Missile Range, we were kindly instructed to put our cameras away, as we were now on restricted land. The range on this side of the mountains was a huge expanse of shrubby desert. Roads criss-crossed the land in a giant maze. Our bus driver found his way all right though, and soon enough we were pulling up to the McDonald Ranch house. This is where the core of the A bomb was constructed.

We spent an hour or so wandering around looking at very ordinary things – a broken windmill, cracked plaster – which are all that is left of the place where a rather significant line was crossed by mankind. Then we rode the bus back to Ground Zero – the exact spot where the bomb was detonated, 100 ft above the desert floor.
Ground Zero
There isn’t much there – just a monument made out of volcanic rock and a large circle of fenced in ground. The green glass that the sand melted into – dubbed Trinite – is gone, bulldozed away, and the 8 ft. in diameter crater was filled in long ago. Aside from a few plaques, Ground Zero is left mostly up to your imagination. That is somehow fitting. I left with a confused mixture of sadness over the events that followed, and a fascinated interest in what was going through the minds and hearts of the men who were involved in “Project Manhattan”.

On the bus ride back out of the missile range, we caught sight of a pair of Oryx – an african antelope that was introduced to the area and now thrives on the missile range lands. For a few seconds we were transported to an African safari and the New Mexican landscape was transformed into savannah. We couldn’t stop and take pictures though, as we were again in the restricted area of the range.

I was exhausted by the time we got back to the Owl Bar and Cafe, but caught up in the excitement of the day I tried to cram a little more in. I drove back out into Bosque to catch the sunset and the tail end of the classic “fly in”, when the birds come back for dinner and thousands upon thousands of them flood fields and ponds and whirl about in the air. Bird extravaganza!

I was a little too late and didn’t really have enough light, so I didn’t stay long. My own dinner was calling to me, so I returned to the hotel and collected Dad. We went out to Frank and Lupi’s El Sombrero, a restaurant that has been serving my family, among others, extremely delicious Mexican food for as long as I can remember. It is always worth a visit when the Ingraham’s are in town. 🙂

And now, after a long evening of uploading and editing pictures, it is bed time. I have a houseboat to catch at 8:30 tomorrow morning at Elephant Butte Lake, and I would hate to miss it!

//Note: This entry is from yesterday – I was too tired to finish it up and post it! 🙂 //


  1. I enjoyed you pictures, but, fail to see the connection to food category.
    Happy Holidays

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