“All U.S. citizens in here?”
~U.S. Border Patrol agent in New Mexico
Sorry about not posting last night. For the first time all trip we are staying in a house instead of a hotel, which means no wireless for me. We’re staying in Albuquerque with Paw-Paw’s friend Lester for tonight and will be heading out tomorrow. Since we’re not doing anything today, I figured I would go ahead and post for both days from the comfy confines of the Albuquerque Public Library.
Yesterday we were in Roswell in the morning, so we decided to drive over to the old air force base (which is now just a small airport) to drive around and see if anything was left from when Paw-Paw was there in the ’40s. Most of the buildings have been torn down since the base closed, but there were a few hangars that he recognized. After a little bit of searching, we were even able to find the duplex that he lived in for a few years on the base. It hasn’t been kept up very well since then.
In Roswell, there’s an obligation to go to the UFO museum. Or at least that’s what I think. You’re at the site of supposedly one of the biggest government cover-ups in history, you might as well learn what you can about it.
The International UFO Museum and Research Center is located in an old theater right off of Main Street. So that we didn’t miss any of the spacey details, we got an audio guide, which was an old portable tape player with crappy headphones that cut on and off in my left ear, making little clicky noises. Maybe it was aliens. The “museum” consisted mostly of newspaper clippings and statements from people that claimed to be involved. It also had a few recreations of things that were probably found at the crash sight. Needless to say, it wasn’t entirely convincing. One whole half of the museum was dedicated to other “evidence” of UFOs and extraterrestrial life.
Now, I’m not saying that it was a weather balloon or dummies (like the government said). I’m also not saying it was aliens (like everyone else said). But something happened there that was immediately covered up by the government and a lot of people were hushed up. Now it’s one man’s word against another’s. Who knows what happened. I’ll tell you this much, that little room I was in didn’t give me any answers.
We left Roswell a little after noon and decided to take the scenic route (i.e. 150 miles out of our way) to Albuquerque. It took us through the Guadalupe Mountains and the Sacramento Mountains and down to White Sands. The mountains and the landscape in general out here is so different and beautiful. In the Appalachian Mountains, the trees and hills obstruct the view of the mountains. Out here there are no trees — barely any vegetation at all — and the ground is flat so you can see the mountains looming all around you. (I could get really corny poetic here and say something like “You could see mountains in the distance, like great shadowy giants sleeping on a midsummers day,” but that wouldn’t do it justice. And it’s just not my style.)
Once we got up into the mountains, the trees picked up because it’s colder and they get a lot more rain. There were tons of pine trees lining the roads and all up the mountains.
White Sands is a beautiful area that stretches about 275 square miles between these mountain ranges and looks like the whitest beach you have ever seen. You can drive about eight miles into the dunes and even get out and climb on them. The sand is so white it almost blinds you, but surprisingly, even in 100 degree heat, it wasn’t that hot and didn’t burn my feet. It was also really soft since the particles were so small.
For the nerds out there, like me, the sand is white because it is made of gypsum, which comes from these lakes there (playas) that have very high mineral content. When these lakes evaporate, the gypsum is left over and the wind slowly forms it into dunes. This is also the place where the first atomic bomb was tested. There is still a massive missle testing area there. Good times.
We drove to I-25 and headed north up to Albuquerque, through the Manzano Mountains. Again, a beautiful drive through the countryside. This is such awesome land out here and it’s so different from back home.
We did get stopped at a border patrol stop, but apparently we need to hit the tanning beds because he didn’t even look at our licenses before waving us through. “All U.S. citizens in here?” “Uhhh…yep.” “Go ahead.”
We got into Albuquerque around dinner time and took some time to relax. Today we’re doing more of the same and washing clothes. Tomorrow we’ll be on the road to Arizona. [Betsy, if you’re reading this, you’ll be getting a call soon to figure out what we’re doing in Arizona!]
I won’t get to post again until tomorrow night, assuming the computer works and we have internet!