Over the past 42 years we’ve attended our share of office Christmas parties. At least, they used to be called “Christmas parties.” These days, in keeping with political correctness, we are invited to “holiday parties.”
A number of these parties we felt obliged to attend. A few were downright uncomfortable for us. I think of one, in particular, where the goal of a great number of the party-ers was to drink themselves into oblivion, passing through several other states on their way there, including the wearing-of-the-lampshade state. Others have been tedious, with speech after speech; award after award; power-point presentation after power-point presentation.
To be fair, there were also some memorably fun company parties; those at George Fox University come to mind. Nice folks, interesting talk, good food, no booze, and . . . they called them “Christmas parties!"
We went to Dan’s company party last Friday night. It was a catered dinner, held at the Balloon Fiesta Museum. (That was the party where I kept coming up short on silverware for the next course - but that's another (embarrassing) story.)
This afternoon I went to my office party, which was at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This was my LAST company Christmas party! It was nice. The setting was pretty. I only had my cell phone, so the picture, above, isn't that good, but you can tell that it had a nice, warm, inviting feeling and was decorated beautifully. Great food, too.
At the end of the festivities, they announced (as is the custom at almost all of these parties) that anyone who found a red sticker-dot on the underside of their chair could take home one of the poinsettias. I looked, and saw a sticker. I tried to peel it off, but it was adhered solidly to the manufacturer's label on my chair. Finally I was able to tear off about two-thirds of the sticker, only to find, once it was out in better light, that it wasn't red at all, but orange! It must have been left there from some Halloween party where they played the same game. The emcees felt sorry for me, I guess, because they let me turn in my shred of an orange sticker for a poinsettia. "It's close enough to red," they declared.
That was nice. Since we won't be here for Christmas, and since all of my decorations are already moved to Temple, I haven't bothered to decorate for the season. Now, we have, at least, a nice splash of Christmas red!
It took some effort - a number of failed attempts to sign up online, by ourselves, and two trips into the Social Security Administration offices across town - but as of today, our applications for SS retirement benefits have been officially filed. That's one more giant step toward our goal.
Yes, the finish line is in view, in the sense that we are finishing up our careers that began back in the late '60s. But I really prefer to think of it as a START line, since we're also starting a brand new, exciting stage of life together.
Dan, Tim and I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Day together, at my mom’s home in Carlsbad. To make it easy on everyone, we purchased the entire meal from a local meat market, Keller’s, so no cooking had to be done in Mom’s kitchen. I was a little leery, not knowing how good the dinner would be, although Keller’s has a good reputation locally. There was no need to be concerned. Everything - from the roasted turkey (mixed dark and light) to the freshly made mashed potatoes and gravy; from the sweet potatoes and stuffing to the hot vegetable dish; from the cranberries to the pies – was delectable. At Tim’s request, I did make a big bowl of our family-favorite pasta salad, but that was easy, and lent an air of tradition to the table.
None of us being football fans, we didn’t find much worth watching on TV. Instead we broke out the electronics and taught Mom how to play Angry Birds. She was slinging those birds at the pigs and their teetering shelters, like a pro, in no time! The rest of us found watching her expressions and listening to her giggles more entertaining than playing the game ourselves.
Go Nanny Go!!!
On Saturday morning we left Carlsbad. Tim drove Dan back to Albuquerque; and I headed east, to Temple. We try to check on the house once a month or so, and it was my turn. We were also expecting delivery of our washer, dryer and refrigerator, so I needed to be there for that.
The wind was blowing when I left Carlsbad, and by the time I got to Hobbs, I was in the midst of a full-blown sand storm. It only got worse as I continued west. At times it was a complete brown-out, with zero visibility. Luckily there wasn’t much traffic at all, but I decided that pulling over and stopping was a bad idea, because of the possibility of being hit from behind by some similarly-blinded driver. So I continued on, making fair time when I could see the road ahead of me, and creeping at a snail’s pace when the road disappeared. Adding to the challenge were the galloping herds of tumbleweeds, playing Frogger with me on the road. Some of them were as big as Smart Cars, so could have done damage if they made contact with my car. At Snyder, TX, things began to improve. The wind continued, but with more ground cover the sand tended to stay where it belonged (on the ground) instead of in the air.
Late that afternoon I arrived in Temple. The first thing I did was pull out the clean bedding that I had brought with me and make up the guest room bed. (We sold all of our master bedroom furniture, so I would be sleeping in the guest room.) It felt strange - even a little spooky - that night, sleeping alone in a new house, which was empty for the most part. But by the second night, it was feeling more like home. I felt bad that Dan didn't get to share the experience of spending the first night in our new house.
On the other hand, Dan wouldn’t have been a happy camper when he tried to take his shower the next morning. For some reason, the water heater breaker refused to stay on. An electrician came and looked at the breaker box, thought he saw the problem, fixed it, and left. But by the next morning, the breaker was flipped again. They've assured us they'll have it figured out and fixed by our next visit.
Sunday was nice. I attended worship service at the North Side Church of Christ, where our friends, the MacDonalds, are members. Afterward I went to lunch with them and to their small worship group.
Wednesday morning I locked up the house and headed back west. I only drove as far as Lubbock. Strangely, I got sick almost immediately after arriving at the hotel. I was so glad I was THERE instead of on the road! After a good night’s rest, I was feeling well enough to make the rest of the drive home to Albuquerque. But when I came out to start the car that morning, I was greeted with an ugly surprise. I had unwittingly parked under a tree "owned" by grackles, and they spent the night "bombing" my car -- talk about ANGRY BIRDS!
All the way home, I was tuned into the weather reports of howling winds and impending snow for New Mexico. The wind gusts were pretty beastly, but I was thankful that no snow flurries developed. Albuquerque continued to experience strong winds all night. There were a lot of damaged roofs and downed trees. The wind has died down today. We haven’t seen any snow, yet, but it’s still in the forecast.
I'm glad to be home. But I'm missing my "other" home.
Dan and I thought we might go to a movie this evening. I have a couple gift cards for the theater that have been burning a hole in my pocket. But about the time Dan was getting home, we got a call from Chris, inviting us to Skype in to Robert's birthday party this evening. It wasn't even a close call. We can see a movie any old time, but second birthdays only come around once in a little boy's life!
It was such a short time ago that we welcomed baby Robert to the world and to our family. It's hard to believe he'll be two next week.
Here are a few pictures I snapped from the iPad screen as we enjoyed the party. I'm sorry that I missed getting a picture of the cake - a cute 3-D car, hand-made and -decorated by Kelsey.
"Hi Grandma and Grandpa!" We were warmly welcomed by Robert to his party.
After we sang Happy Birthday, Kelsey cut the cake, and Robert took the first bite.
Big sister, Clara, helped open the presents.
A Tonka truck!
Clara clowns around with a mask Robert got as a gift from some of his friends.
Lots of hours of fun ahead with this classy little trike, from Mama and Daddy.
Happy birthday, to our sweet little boy. Virtually-attending is better than not being there at all, but next year I hope to be there in person, to share birthday cake and hugs.
One thousand square feet is easy to keep clean, especially when the contents are rather sparse. I wouldn't say living in our apartment, waiting to make the move to Texas, has been a vacation. After all, we are still rising early each morning and going to work. We are still fixing meals, washing dishes and doing laundry. But there are fewer responsibilities as well as fewer opportunities for creative outlets.
For example . . . no house maintenance projects; no Daring Baker (or other baking) projects, since my kitchen is bare of all but the basics; no Bible class lessons to prepare, since I've reluctantly turned over my class to a new teacher; and less blogging, because I don't seem to be doing many blog-worthy activities.
It hasn't been bad, actually. The only thing is that now and then the walls seem to close in, and I become a tad bit stir-crazy. The best remedy I've found for that is to keep busy. Here are some of the activities that are helping to keep me sane.
I'm watching more TV than usual. Netflix has been a good friend to me, of late. I've watched a number of classics as well as some newer, rather obscure movies.
I'm spending more time on the computer. I've found a few new sites that have free puzzles, of various kinds, and I stop by once or twice a day to challenge my mind.
I've been reading like crazy.
I'm working jigsaw puzzles. This is the second one I've worked on in the past six weeks or so. Since we only have one table - our kitchen table - it leaves little space for us to eat dinner. Dan's been very understanding about it, but I try to work them quickly, so that he isn't inconvenienced for too long.
I've been doing origami . . . just for the fun of it. I've especially enjoyed making my own origami boxes and gift bags. Awhile back I sent Robert and Clara some cards, and inside of each one was a piece of origami made from paper money. Robert's was a shirt and tie, and Clara's was a dress.
For awhile I was spending a lot of time positioning paper "furniture" on our house plan, trying to decide where we'd put everything. I finally gave up on that, and decided to wait until I'm there in person, and can shove the real stuff around.
And, occasionally I do exercises with my "senior" exercise DVD. I need it after all of these sedentary activities.
This weekend we might take in a movie, since I have a theater gift-card that needs to be used up.
And with Christmas so near, I have lots of shopping to do and plans to make.
In my effort to avoid being stir-crazy, I may have become somewhat hyperactive!
Did I mention that I'm at 36 work-days (71 calendar days) and counting to R-Day?
Aware that the leaves will soon be drifting to the ground, I'm posting a few more pictures in honor of our last fall in Albuquerque. Our temperatures are, on some nights, dipping below the freezing point, so it won't be long before the tree limbs are bare. I'm enjoying the color while it lasts.
Our new house, in Temple, has a beautiful, spacious jetted bathtub. I’ve been reading about how to take care of one, and have learned that it will need some special care, above and beyond what regular soaking tubs need. But I’m up for it. Bring on the bubbles!
I remember, as a child, how I loved my baths. I played and played in the tub until the water got too cold, and Mom had to add more hot water to the mix. By the end of my bath, the water was considerably deeper than when I started. And my fingertips and toes were wrinkled like tiny prunes.
But for awhile, when we lived in the apartment above our first Juneau bakery - the one next door to the Moose Club on South Franklin Street - we had no bathtub, only a shower. In my nine-year-old mind, showers were okay for getting clean, but not for luxuriating. Well, to be honest, I didn’t know the word “luxuriating” at that age, but I knew what I liked.
Luckily, at this same time, my Grandma was trying her hand at a new venture. She had invested in a tiny little laundry that she called "The Launderette." The Launderette, which was also on South Franklin, only a couple blocks north of our bakery, housed a small bathroom with a bathtub in it. Grandma used to let me come there, with my towel and clean clothes in hand, and take a tub bath now and then. I remember how the wet ends of my hair would freeze into stiff spikes as I ran home on some of the colder winter days. That was a small price to pay for a good soak.
For the past eight years, in the house we recently sold, I’ve been spoiled by having my first garden tub in the master bathroom. It might have been my favorite creature-comfort of all times.
In the apartment in which we are now living, there are actually two bathrooms. Initially, I found it surprising that a 1000-square-foot apartment, like ours, would spend square footage on a second bathroom. I suppose, though, it makes the apartment better suited for roommates, which would, in turn, make it more marketable. Whatever the reason, we’re happy to have the two bathrooms. We’ve each adopted one bathroom as our own. In “mine”, we did not hang a shower curtain, because I still prefer a bath, even though the apartment tubs are not nearly as comfortable as the garden tub I left behind. Dan, on the other hand, has “his” bathroom set up for showers.
So, as you might guess, when we finally move to Temple, one of the first things on my to-do list will be to draw a hot tub full of water, turn on those jets, and take a long, relaxing soak in my new tub. I might even stay in there long enough to get "pruney" fingertips!
2) WHAT I READ THIS MONTH:
I finished up a book called One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, by Jim Fergus. Author's note: "In spite of efforts to convince the reader to the contrary, this book is entirely a work of fiction. However, the seed that grew into a novel was sown in the author's imagination by an actual historical event: in 1854 at a peace conference at Fort Laramie, a prominent Northern Cheyenne chief requested of the U.S. Army authorities the gift of one thousand white women as brides for his young warriors. Because theirs is a matrilineal society in which all children born belong to their mother's tribe, this seemed to the Cheyennes to be the perfect means of assimilation into the white man's world . . ." A great read!
I am currently reading My Life, Deleted: A Memoir, by Scott Bolzan, Caitlin Rother and Joan Bolzan. It is the true story about Scott Bolzan, who suffered the worst form of amnesia after falling and hitting his head. He not only lost all of his memory of life-before-the-fall, but also lost the meanings of many words . . . words as basic as "wife"! Oh, my!
3) MOVIES I SAW: I watched The Story of 1 from Netflix. A little interesting, but nothing to write home about!
4) FAVORITE TV MOMENTS OF THE MONTH: I've been watching reruns of Numbers on Netflix. Somehow I missed this series the first time around. Good stories. Off-beat solutions to criminal mysteries. Great characters.
5) SOMETHING YUMMY I MADE: Caramel apples . . . using Kraft Caramels and honeycrisp apples. They were delicious, even though by the end of the next day the caramel was sliding off the apples and pooling on the waxed paper. Woops. Should have kept them refrigerated.
6) RESTAURANTS WHERE I ATE: While in Temple, Dan, Chris and I went to BJ's. Mmmmm. I highly recommend their Original Roast Beef Dip Sandwich . . . unbelievably scrumptious.
7) FIVE GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS MONTH: Cooler temperatures, fall colors, Balloon Fiesta, getting my 5-year pin at UNM Foundation, and visiting the Texas Judds.
8) A GOAL I HAD FOR THIS MONTH: To get our household goods delivered and safely stowed away in our new house. Check!
9) WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO:
I'm looking forward to the arrival of our new preacher and his family, in November. We've been seven (?) months without a paid preacher. The men of the congregation have taught some wonderful lessons and others have stepped up in many other ways, but we are all excited to get to know Bud Woodall, his wife and children.
I'm also looking forward to Thanksgiving, in Carlsbad, with my mom. To make it easier on her, we are bringing a fully prepared meal from Keller's.
10) SOMETHING I WANT TO REMEMBER ABOUT THIS MONTH: Having lunch with Clara at her school, and hearing Robert speaking some of his first words.
Question: What is better than watching all of one's household goods being delivered to one's new house?
Answer: Watching all of one's household goods being delivered to one's new house AND fitting in a quick visit with family.
Dan and I just returned home from another Texas trip. We are one giant-step closer to our move. Everything that has been in storage for the past three months has been safely delivered to our new house. For this trip we flew into Houston, on Friday, where Chris picked us up. We spent that afternoon and evening visiting with Chris and Kelsey and playing with the grandkids.
Clara, who is now in kindergarten, is a fountain of delight! She and I spent a lot of time playing with paper dolls that I brought to her. She has a great imagination, which she showed off in her self-assumed role as Director of Paper Doll Drama. Occasionally, though, the drama would pause as her left brain took over:
Clara: Let's put all of the clothes over here, Grandma.
Grandma: Okay. [Grandma starts stacking up the dolls' clothes.]
Clara: No, Grandma. We need to put them in different piles, like this. [She begins sorting tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes and hats into different piles. Grandma, being the fast learner that she is, also begins sorting.]
Clara: No, Grandma, jackets don't go with shirts. They need their own pile.
Grandma: All right. Shall I start a new pile for "things"?
Clara: Yes. [Grandma starts the new pile.)
Clara: But Grandma, animals have to go in a different pile, because they are alive. And these (referring to a French horn and a drum that came with the dolls) are music things, so they go in their own pile. [It isn't long before the "things" have been subdivided into musical instruments, animals, toys and "other things."
It seemed to me that Clara found even more enjoyment out of this organizing activity than she did playing with the paper dolls.
Robert, of course, has changed more than Clara since we saw them last. His vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. Even during our short visit, he was using new words on a daily basis. But "STUCK" is his favorite new word. He fully understands the concept of "stuck," and finds a multitude of creative ways to use it. For instance, when a little Playmobil person won't easily come out of its airplane, Robert brings it to the nearest big person for assistance, declaring "stuck.!" When he decides that he's finished with dinner, but Mama hasn't yet released him from his high chair, he squirms and hollers, "stuck!" When Daddy has ahold of his hand, and Robert is trying to wriggle it free, he complains "stuck!" Or, when he's buckled into his car seat and not happy about it, he points to the release mechanism and cries, "stuck." He had me laughing almost non-stop.
Robert also seems to have a lot of natural physical ability. We were surprised to see, at his young age of 23 months, that without any coaching, he took off across a grassy expanse at the park, dribbling a ball with his feet, soccer-style, in a straight line!
At the park, Clara mostly played on the playground equipment.
The mosquitoes were ferocious, so we didn't stay long. When we got home Kelsey put some medicine on some bites that Clara had gotten, including one on her foot. Here she is blowing the spot of medicine so it will dry quicker.
Halloween is only a week away, and the Judd kids, having recently watched the Star Wars movies as a family, will be dressing as Princes Leah and an Ewok. Here are a few shots of them in costume.
Here's a picture of both children, with Clara sporting her "scary Halloween face."
Early Saturday morning Chris drove us to our new house (which is located about 3 hours away) so we could meet the moving van and supervise the delivery. We got there just before the movers, and everything went smoothly. After the Mayflower guys left, Dan sat down in his old, comfortable leather chair (which he hadn't seen in three months) in his brand new living room, just to "try it out." I thought we'd never get him to out of the house! He was ready to kick off his shoes and move in :-) Not so fast, Dan. We still have three months before we retire!
As we usually do when we visit the kids, we spent our nights at a nearby hotel. So on Sunday evening we said our good-byes to Clara, since she would be in school by the time we got to their house the next morning, and we would be gone by the time she came home from school. But, to her surprise, on Monday we (Kelsey, Robert, Grandpa and Grandma) all showed up at her school cafeteria to have lunch with her, before we left for the airport. Judging by her beaming face, having her "fan club" show up at school made her day!
The weather for the 2011 Balloon Fiesta wasn't altogether cooperative. Last Saturday, Sunday and Monday were just about perfect, then rain set in for several days. However, today, the final day of Fiesta, provided great conditions for the mass ascension, early this morning. We didn't actually go to Balloon Fiesta Park to get up-close-and-personal with them, this year. Instead we just watched from afar. While we were getting ready for church this morning, we could see a "flock" of balloons that had drifted even farther west than our west-side apartment complex.
Everyone is in a festive mood when the sky is filled with balloons. While we were looking westward from our balcony, over the top of the apartment building across the street from us, several bathrobe-clad neighbors were looking east at the ones behind us. We hollered a "hello", and one lady, seeing my camera, called back jokingly, "Take our picture!" But when I lifted the camera to do just that, she hid her face with her hands.
I noticed a shape-balloon that I hadn't seen before. It was a strange and goofy superhero. I looked him up on the Fiesta website. He's known as Super FMG. "FMG" stands for Festival de Montgolfieres de Gatineau, which is French for Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (from Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.
As you can see in the enlarged photo, he sports a red cape, googly eyes, bucked teeth and a lolling tongue! He made me smile.
It's over for another year, and I don't know if or when we'll be seeing this grand spectacle again. With the exception of friends, the balloons are what I will most miss about Albuquerque.
This morning, for the first time this season, we switched the thermostat from "cool" to "heat." And when we stepped outside to meet Tim for breakfast, we were surprised at the chill that was in the air. Then we saw it - what we used to call "termination dust" in Alaska - the first dusting of snow on the mountain, which signals summer's end.
Yesterday morning, before leaving for Trinity, I took my wallet, my hairbrush, my hand sanitizer, my iPhone and my car keys out of my purse and put them into a smaller red tote bag. I also organized my camera bag with essentials for the day. During the day, however, I never took the red canvas bag out of the car. I stowed it, where it wouldn't be visible, in the back seat and just carried my camera bag.
This morning, as I was getting ready to leave for church I put the camera case, the red bag, my purse and my Bible tote bag on the table to re-distribute things for the day. I opened my camera bag and took out a few things that had accumulated in there yesterday. I emptied out some extraneous papers and items from my Bible bag. I decided to carry the red canvas bag to church, but wanted to take a few extra things that were still in my purse. The last thing I did was pick up the keys from the table and drop them into my red bag. Then I tidied everything up and put the other bags away.
A little later I glanced toward the kitchen, and there, on the counter, were my keys. "WAIT!" my confused brain screamed, "I just put my keys into the red bag." So I looked in the bag. There was a set of keys. Two Toyota car keys and a house key. They didn't belong to me. They didn't belong to Dan. We don't own a Toyota. On close inspection, these keys didn't look a whole lot like mine, except they were on a carabiner clip, just like mine are. My habit is to clip them to the ring at the base of my purse strap, so I don't misplace them. The strange thing was that, with all of the bag-shuffling I had done, I didn't even know which bag they had come from or, for that matter, whether they had just been on the table all along.
When Dan came out of the bedroom, I asked him if he knew anything about these strange keys. He had never seen them.
All the way to church I was mentally running through scenarios, trying to solve the mystery of the keys. Had some stranger somehow entered our apartment and forgotten his keys on our table? (That was a freaky thought!) Had I picked up the keys at the Trinity site somehow? Did I take them from the Owl Cafe? Did they belong to someone at work? If so, how had they come into my possession? Was I, subconsciously a kleptomaniac? (Okay, that might have been an even freakier thought than the stranger theory.) How would I ever get them back to their owner if I didn't know where they had come from?
When we arrived at the church building, I went directly to our Bible class, but Dan stopped to visit with Wayne. Wayne is probably the person who best has a finger on the pulse of the congregation. He always knows what's happening. In their casual conversation, Dan mentioned that we'd found some keys. "Christie S. lost some keys last week, Wayne responded." Dan asked Wayne what kind of car Christie drives. "A Toyota." Mystery probably solved, Dan thought.
After talking with Christie, we confirmed that they were her keys, and that was the start to solving the mystery. On Wednesday night, Christie and I had sat next to each other, at a round table, during Bible class. Apparently I'd picked up her keys when class was over and, absent-mindedly thinking they were mine, dropped them into my Bible tote or clipped them onto my purse strap.
I was extremely embarrassed! Christie, on the other hand, was thrilled that I had her keys. She had already inquired about replacing the car keys. It was going to cost her $125 a piece! Luckily she hadn't yet proceeded with that expensive proposition.
At 5:29 a.m., on July 16, 1945, much of New Mexico was awaken by a huge shock wave, accompanied by breaking windows. A brilliant yellow light was seen as far north as Albuquerque and Los Alamos, as far west as Silver City, and as far south as El Paso, Texas! Army officials told the public that a munitions storage area had accidentally exploded at the Alamagordo Bombing Range.
It was not until after the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6 of that same year, that President Truman announced that the United States had created an "atomic bomb," which had first been tested in New Mexico . . . on July 16, 1945. Three days after Hiroshima, on August 9, a third bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On August 14 the Japanese surrendered.
The secret development of the atomic bomb was code-named the Manhattan Project, and the site where the first a-bomb was detonated is known as Trinity and is located on the White Sands Missile Range. Most of the time it is locked down, but twice a year the public is invited to visit. Today was one of those days, and Dan and I made the two-and-a-half-hour trip down to see the Trinity site.
There isn't actually much there to see. Originally there was a 100-foot steel tower, with a shelter on top, where the bomb was placed and eventually detonated. The tower was vaporized in the blast. All that is left to see is one of the footings from that tower.
A Ground Zero monument has been constructed at precisely the location beneath where the atom bomb perched on the tower. A replica of the Fatman bomb casing (the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki) is on display, and a number of historic photographs hang on the perimeter fence. It isn't so much what you can see; it's more about the sense of awe inspired by standing in the place where such a monumental historic event occurred.
Scientists estimate that the temperature of the fireball created from the explosion was approximately 14,710 degrees Fahrenheit! It was so hot that it melted the desert sand beneath the tower and turned it into a sheet of radio active green glass. This green material was dubbed Trinitite. In 1952 the Atomic Energy Commission contracted to have most of the Trinitite scraped up and buried. However, there are still very tiny pebbles of it all over the ground at Ground Zero. It is against federal law to remove any of the Trinitite from the ground. It is still somewhat radio active.
The site is still somewhat radio active, however they reassure you that you would get more radiation doing some rather routine things . . . a chest x-ray would give you about 12 times as much radiation as one hour at Trinity; a coast-to-coast commercial flight would give you about 4 times as much radiation. I have to admit I felt a little leery standing there, but, as you can see, the resident lizards really do have four legs and only one tail!
Buses are available to take visitors the two miles to the old McDonald Ranch house. The main bedroom in this old adobe-covered-in-plaster house was used as the assembly room for the Manhattan Project. I enjoyed walking through it. It has tons of character and must have been a lovely home when it was lived in by the McDonald family. Many of the Manhattan Project staff actually witnessed the explosion from this house -- only TWO MILES AWAY!
After leaving Trinity, we made a stop at The Owl Cafe in San Antonio, NM, about 34 miles away and on our route home. The Owl is one of those places that you MUSTN'T miss if you are anywhere in the area. It is most famous for its green chili cheese burgers, and the burgers are made with beef they grind, themselves, at the cafe. The reason we felt compelled to stop there was the historic connection the cafe has with Trinity. Trinity personnel frequented The Owl, and some say the green chili cheeseburgers were first made to satisfy their appetites. Another story we've heard, but I can't confirm, is that The Owl had the only telephone within miles, and that the report of the success of the bomb's detonation was reported from that phone.
The building is one of those places that is built like a maze. You enter into one room, and then wind your way through room after connecting room to find a place to sit. It's dark inside, and the walls are covered in paper money, scrawled with messages and names of those customers who tacked them there. Once a year the money is taken down and given to charity. I read that as of 2009 more than $19,700 had been donated. (This section of wall, below, was mostly or entirely foreign currency, but there are many walls plastered with good old U.S. of A. dollar bills.)