Truth or Consequences & Space-y New Mexico

Memory is a funny thing.  I was trying to figure out my way through New Mexico.  Taos, Santa Fe, Roswell. Not that I care about Roswell & aliens but it’s a nice stopping point in Eastern NM on the way to Texas.  The Very Large Array had been on my bucket list since Contact came out.  Also not so much for aliens as that it’s a big, giant telescope & I think the space IMAX shows in science centers are great & wanted to see the real telescope…anyways, memory is a funny thing.  I’m looking up the VLA & where to stay nearby & remember a conversation with a faraway friend from years ago telling me he’d had a really good time traveling through Truth or Consequences, NM.  I pulled up TorC, saw it wasn’t too far from the VLA & had the original name of Hot Springs, NM.  The town was known for it’s therapeutic waters and decided to go.  That was my whole thought process - the recommendation of a friend. 

Truth or Consequences  

Truth or Consequences  

He had stayed at the youth hostel, back in the day.  His NM trip was during his college years. I’m not doing that at this point in my life. Instead, I found one room for one night, Friday 4/20 @ the Fire Water Lodge, two days beforehand and booked it.  I’m pretty sure this was the last “spa room” in town rather than a Holiday Inn or other roadside chain.  

Starting on April 21, the Very Large Array was going to be giving Saturday tours, making Friday night in Truth or Consequences, perfect for seeing the VLA and then driving across to Roswell.

I’d been to the baths in Budapest, done spa treatments in Thailand & some very luxurious hotels but I’d never been to a hot spring resort before.  There’s just one temperature with an on/off switch for the tub & it took between 5-10 minutes to fill. The tub was huge. Forget being big enough for two.  You could fit a family of five in the Agave room’s tub. It was 4/20 & I’d been in Colorado recently, so I filled up the tub, put some music on, had a little smoke & took a soak. It felt great! When I got out of the water, my skin felt smooth & amazing. It was a truly, luxurious experience.  That was a great bath.

I passed out with the intention of when I wake up in the middle of the night, doing the ritual over again but was so comfortable I slept until my alarm.  

In the morning, I took another bath, as a bath - scrubbing & washing in the warm water.  I took my time getting ready for the day, went to the one place in town that offered espresso drinks & headed off in the wrong direction to go see the Very Large Array.  I felt so good when I left the Fire Water Lodge. Those really are therapeutic waters.

The tub in the Agave Room

The tub in the Agave Room

I got to the telescope just as the tour was starting.  I had to jog to get to catch up with the group. The facility was really interesting.  I didn’t know anything about it besides it’s location from the movie & that wasn’t too far from Phoenix.   

You have to turn your cell phones to airplane mode & then off when you get to the VLA because frequencies coming off from a phone sincerely interferes with their collection data.  The VLA focuses on the low end of the energy spectrum we can’t see where waves can been as long as 30 cm to some really small length.  They have one of the largest supercomputers calculating data at something like a multiple of a trillion calculations per second.  The technology is amazing. It’s no wonder the telescope needs to sit in the middle of a quiet plane in the middle of the high desert of the Southwest.  You need a flat, quiet place. There is no water & nothing around for miles except a few cows. Their counterpart is in the Atacama desert in Chili to cover the Southern Hemisphere, another high, quiet desert.  And now besides a friend representing hotels down there, I have a nerdy reason to want to visit.

NRAO in New Mexico  

NRAO in New Mexico  

The drive between Socorro & Roswell was long. There were some very pretty places & some places that felt like a long stretch of road.  But the cabinets have arrived in Michigan & I need to move along. Tomorrow, I head into Texas.  


Thanks to friends on Facebook, I’m putting together my route through the state.  My work had primarily focused on business travel when I planned trips for people to Texas.  I never got a call for a family looking to travel around. This is something new. Roswell to Cadillac Ranch is the one piece of true Route 66 (or today’s version of that) that I’m driving.   I have friends in Austin. In between those two, I’m still working out the details. Roswell to Amarillo seems like a healthy chunk for the first drive. More later.



Staci Lichterman