Or: Weird Shit That In Theory Should Seem Incongruous with the Desert Landscape but is Actually Perfect.
Case in point, the VLA has to exist here. Those things aren’t stationary. The satellites are constantly moving along modified railroad tracks that allow the focus of the array to flux, necessitating a flat landscape to reduce expending energy during their re-arrangements. Secondly, the Plains of San Augustine are flat, but they’re high, the altitude is 7000 ft and helps ensure the clarity of the received solar signals. Lastly, the plains are encircled by a number of mountain ranges that block terrestrial radio signals from interfering with the delicate equipment.
Plus the invisible radio waves tethering VLA to distant space anomalies make for a nice compliment to Buzz Aldrin’s visual correlation between the high desert and the “magnificent desolation” of the lunar landscape. But, not surprisingly, Cormac McCarthy provides the strongest portrait of the landscape: “Below them in the paling light smoldered the plains of San Agustin stretching away to the northeast, the earth floating off in a long curve silent under looms of smoke from the underground coal deposits burning there a thousands years. The horses picked their way along the rim with care and the riders cast varied glances out upon that ancient and naked land.”