November 11th, 2012 by Jan

Let me tell you a little about the town I’m in this month.

Los Alamos, NM – aka Bomb City or as I like to call it; Dodge. Mostly because when I was growing up here, all we ever talked about was “Getting out of Dodge.”
Los Alamos is a small mountain and very beautiful but, very weird town. Population about 10,000 and then another 4 or 5 thousand people that commute from surrounding areas like Espanola, Pojaque, and Santa Fe to work here each day.

This is a company town, “The Labs” are the entire reason anyone is here. The birth place of the Atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project lead by Robert Oppenheimer during WW2 found that LA was the perfect place to work in secret. They say 1 in 5 people in this town are millionaires, but I don’t seem to know any of them.

Los Alamos is about 35 miles north of Santa Fe and about 100 miles from Albuquerque. It is known as The Hill. 7500 feet in elevation (Albuquerque is 5200) it is nestled in the Jemez Mountains at the foot of the Valle Grande. The Valle is the worlds largest extinct volcano and used to be a ranch. I’m not sure what it is now, but it is big and it is pretty. I used to cross country ski and hike at the Valle.

The town has only one big grocery store, a lot of banks and about a zillion churches. You can go out for lunch and breakfast, but there is no place to go for dinner. You can buy a cuppa coffee, but there is no place to buy a tennis racket or household goods. The book store just closed, and the card shop, flower store and jewerly store also closed. There is a movie theatre, but it is new and for years there wasn’t one. They do have a huge ACE hardware store for home repairs and building supplies. I think mostly because there have been two huge fires in the last 10 years around here and over 400 houses burned in them and they are rebuilding.

The town sits on three “finger mesas”. When the Valle Grand blew as a volcano, a billion or so years ago, lava flowed and formed the fingers of the area. On one finger is the labs, then a big canyon. The next finger is the town, then a big canyon and the last finger of land is where the rich folks live. I grew up on the middle finger, in the eastern area of the town. I can walk to the Post Office, library, and grocery store in about 5 minutes from the house my dad lives in. The same one I grew up in.

So, there are high mountain mesas and deep rocky canyons. Ponderosa pine, Aspen and Cottonwood are the main types of trees. Pinon and Juniper are also around. Yucca, prickly pear, and Choiya are common cactus. (choiya may be misspelled)

Los Alamos has a great climate, but wow was it cold today. New Mexico boasts 360 days of sunshine here each year. All four seasons last about three months each. A nice balance. There is a ski hill, skating rink, loads of parks, dog runs, sledding hills, a golf course, two outdoor pools, a 50 metre Aquatic centre and several fitness centres.

When I grew up here there were about eight elementary schools, two junior highs and one high school. My graduating class in 1973 had 369 students. Now there are only two elementary, one junior high and the same high school, plus there is a branch of UNM and a community college here.

They have a noon time AA meeting every day and one at 8pm as well. The senior centre is active. I’m guessing the town probably has something for children as well.

The sunsets are as colourful as the sunrises; sometimes the only difference between them, is the time of day and the direction I point the camera. The wind does blow — a lot. Actually the wind howls. Ravens rule the town, deer are everywhere. Bears, racoons, skunks and horny toads are common sights, well, not the bears as much.

Lucky for me, there are a lot of trails to walk and trees to sit under.

As far as small towns go, this is a good one. But it is still very weird here.

2 thoughts on “Dodgereport

  1. Dorian

    Great description Jan – brought me right there, and you’re right – it’s weird. Nice, but weird. Glad you got outta dodge once, and will do so again!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *