Sunday, August 14

Where to next?

This wouldn't be The Swiss Cottage blog without a few travel adventures on the calendar. Never fear; we have quite a few adventures in the works.  Next month Garry and I will be off for a two week road trip through New Mexico and Arizona. We fly into Dallas, non-stop from Sydney, where we then catch a commuter flight to Roswell, New Mexico.  From here we collect a rental car and spend ten days exploring a plethora of space, astronomy and science fiction destinations.  Of course, Roswell kicks off the road trip with its infamous UFO research museum. However, the town was also home to Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocket science. Many of his early experimental rockets are on display in the town's museum.

We then drive west to Alamagordo, home of the New Mexico Museum of Space History and on to White Sands, where the White Sands Missile Range Museum. This part of our journey will take at least two days. We'll then turn north and drive past Spaceport America, a new private space tourism complex that will become home to Virgin Galactic some time next year. Our next stop will be the Very Large Array, an impressive complex of radio telescopes stretching miles across the desert. The site featured in the opening credits of the 1997 science fiction movie, Contact, starring Jodie Foster.

Our itinerary will then focus on a host of natural phenonmeon in central Arizona including the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater, one the world's most widely recognised meteorite impact sites.  From here we'll head south to Tucson where more space and science sights await.  Our first stop in Tucson is the Titan Missile Museum where a former Cold War nuclear weapon remains on display in deep, blast protected silo.  We'll also be visiting the city's famous airplane graveyard where thousands of decommissioned US airforce aircraft are stored at the end of their useful life.  I'm also keen to visit Biosphere 2 where an unsuccessful experiment in closed-cycle ecosystem ran for several years.

We'll then head south again to the wild west town of Tombstone.  This is your classic frontier town of the Western movie genre. Here we'll celebrate my birthday with a visit to the world renown OK Corral, once home to outlaw, Billy the Kid. The final stop on our tour is Los Angeles.  I've been here several times before (see the photos above taken from Griffith Observatory in December 2009).  However, Garry's barely left the airport and so he's keen to experience the city's famous sights and sounds.  I've mapped out a three-day itinerary that will take us to Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills among other attractions.

Then, barely a week after we return to Australia, I'll be off again for a business trip that takes in Hong Kong, London and Madrid.  While in the UK I'm hoping to take a weekend excursion up to Northern Wales.  Several years ago I mapped out a road trip for Garry and I to Telford and Llangollen.  Why here?  Telford is the gateway to Ironbridge, home of the world's first metal bridge; while Llangollen is famous for the magnificant  Pontcysyllte Aqueduct built by Thomas Telford between 1795 and 1805.  This waterway, rising 38 metres above the valley floor, carries canal boats across the Dee River in Wales. The town also has a wonderful steam railway that follows the Dee upstream for several scenic miles.

Finally, there's the Christmas/New Year period.  We've had numerous debates about what we should do.  We've already debated taking a road trips to Tasmania or through the southern half of New Zealand's North Island.  However, we've yet to finalise our plans.  Of course we may simply stay home as we'll be off to port Douglas in early-April next year for a family wedding.  Garry's already talking about hiring a four-wheel drive and making our way to Cape York.  It seems there are no end of holiday destinations still to be experienced.

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