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  • J.F. Rowan

Datil, NM: Don't Dis My Array.

To think that we actually planned a route to Hatch, NM, around the possibility of being able to sample a great tasting sandwich, I suppose borders on the ridiculous. And then to make things worse, to show up in said town only to find out the place was closed. Normally, I would agree with you that we should have our heads examined. But as someone once near and dear to me said, “When one door closes, another one opens.” And so it was.

The Jansky Very Large Array, near Datil NM. Click on the photos.

After a disappointing attempt to satisfy our taste buds, we overnighted at a local state park and got back on the road. We planned on somewhat of a sweeping route through the southwestern portion of New Mexico, curving northward up into Farmington. While looking at the map the night before, I noticed our route would take us right past the National Radio Astronomy Very Large Array near the town of Datil, NM. Where, coincidently, we would also find our next camping area. The Datil Well BLM campground.

I won’t go into all the technical aspects of the array other than to say that it is BIG! These huge, multi-story dishes (14 of them) are situated on over 13 miles of railroad type rails, moved with specialized cranes that place them on side stations or anywhere along the rail network. We took a quick tour of one dish that was parked so visitors could view it, and when we left, we sort of cheated and took some photos of the huge “garage” used during any major repairs or modifications the dishes undergo. What can I say? I was turning the truck around and I feel out of the truck with the camera in my hands. HA! Enjoy the photos.

Next up? Well, I’ll give you a hint. Pie will be involved and proof positive that sometimes a bite can be worse than a bark…or howl!

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