Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Great Bike Ride – Day 21

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The day started with a quick 30 mile ride to the site a retired Titan Missile Launch Complex south of Tucson. I had always wanted to go down into one of these things, and I'm quite sure I'll not be close to one again for some time. After the tour, I told John that this thing was like a "land submarine" in that the crew went down in a hole and stayed isolated, but self-sufficient, until the order came to launch their nuclear weapon. As our tour guide - a former launch crew commander - said, "the order never came." And that was the victory. He also said that this kind of warfare works only when the parties have rational governments. I guess that was his two cents worth on today's global situation.

After leaving the missile museum, we ran through the eastern edge of Tucson to see the aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The boneyard is huge, and you can't see much from the fence. Google Earth is the better way to see what's there.

Our goal was Alamogordo New Mexico, and we made it, but had to ride about an hour in darkness. Along the way we transitioned from the Sonoran Desert, which is pretty green with all the rain of late, to the broad high plain of southwest New Mexico. Leaving Tucson, we dodged some impressive thunderstorms. Because you can see for miles here, and the sky is so clear, it's hard for us to judge how far away they are. Nonetheless, we encountered a fairly small amount of rain. But the clouds blocked the sun for most of the day, making temperatures very comfortable.

Even the ride in the dark from Las Cruces to Alamogordo was nice. The road was straight, smooth, and without a single pothole. Lots of times it gets cold quickly when the sun goes down, but in this case, it remained warm. The only bummer about riding in the dark was that we passed through White Sands Missile Test Range, and I'm sure there was some cool stuff to see.


Sandy T said...

Did you see the big 8" floppy-disks they used to boot up the launch computers? The Titan museum in Green Valley is a "site" to behold!

Paul said...

It sure was. I wish we can been there on one of the days when they take folks through all the levels.

Did you know there is now a retired Minuteman complex near Rapid City open as a National Park? I've been right there twice and have never had a chance to tour it.