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   This is as close to the White Sands desert I was able to get—looking at a dune from the other side of a fence.  White Sands National Monument was closed due to a drone crash.  Around a mile south of the park the dunes get pretty close to the road.  So I pulled over to observe the white sand and at least see one dune.
   If the president of the United States were to have pushed the button during the Cold War, this is the room where his decision would be carried out.  From this control center, two men would be capable of launching the Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  It would deliver it's 9 megaton B53 thermonuclear weapon up to 6,300 miles away.  When the order came, operators could launch the missile in 58 seconds.  In 30 minutes the target would be completely destroyed.  The operators would have no idea where the target was, and to this day the targets are still classified.
   Strange to think about what could have taken place in this room.  By many accounts, turning the keys in this room could have led to a nuclear holocaust destroying life as we know it and perhaps all of human kind.  Some argue that Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) deterred the use of nuclear weapons, and this brought about the end of the Cold War.  Others credit Non-proliferation efforts.  Whatever the case standing in this room brings home the reality of what we were prepared to do.  Standing here I felt closer to the end of the world than any proficiency or prediction.

February 21, 2014

Southwest Trip Day 14

Monks Mound at Cahokia

Monks Mound at Cahokia

   I had planned on visiting a cave in Missouri, but found it was closed in the winter months.  So my next stop was Cahokia, an other Native American site.  These people were builders too, and their mounds were so large that Europeans thought it was some lost civilization who constructed them not believing the native peoples could have constructed such things.
   This Mississippian peoples who lived in this area were rather different than the Pueblo peoples.  There was clearly social class structure, where it doesn't appear the Pueblos had much separation.  These groups were also quite large, and the largest north of Mexico.  The museum was quite nice and it is clear a lot of money had been put into the display.  The only thing I wish I had for this and my other trips was my anthropology professor to swamp me with information.
   After Cahokia it was time to go home.  I arrived around 9:00 pm.  In total this trip was around 5,700 miles, covering 10 states over 13 days.  I checked off one more state from the list of those I had not been, and visited a lot of interesting places.  It was a good trip.