Square State Tour

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Day 7
In alien surroundings

Sat, Oct 6, 2007

8:30 am
1,431 miles from home

Farmington, New Mexico

We finish writing up the trip log in our hotel room. Because there's no coffee maker (which we use to make hot water that we then pour into our French press), we've had to heat the water in the microwave (yes, we have a microwave, but no hot coffee maker—go figure). There's also no shampoo, which inspires Robert to declare, "All, or none, of this for $98 a night? Tonight we're camping out!"

We look at where we are (upper left corner of New Mexico) and where we need to be (upper tab part of Texas) and realize that we can easily be there in a day. Except we're not supposed to be there for two days. Hmmm...

Well, we wanted to visit Roswell and it's in New Mexico—so set a course for Roswell, Mr. Sulu, and fire up the warp engines!

9:48 am
1,436 miles

Farmington, New Mexico

Based on our research with the local residents, we've located a coffee shop that has free Wi-Fi so we can send out our trip report. They've also got lattes and breakfast items, so we fuel up while there and the chow and coffee is pretty good.

Looks like we'll get to see the Land of Enchantment in an up-close and personal way today as we bisect the state (Roswell is kind of in the middle lower bottom).

10:15 am
1,456 miles

Southbound Hwy 550

We're noticing that there's not as much nothing along the way as there was in Utah. We see telephone lines and power lands, farms with the occasional barn, oilrigs, and even water towers every now and then.

Granted, there're still no Subways or espresso stands, but it's less nothing than before.

10:55 pm
1,504 miles

Counselor, NM

We've stopped at the Counselor Post, which is about the only thing we've seen for the last fifty miles. It's a real old-fashioned General Store, and features gasoline, food, seeds and a Post Office. There's one lady who takes care of all of this and she has to keep moving from being Post Master to Gas Attendant to Twinkie Dispenser.

We also notice from the map that we're in Apache country! We're currently on the Apache reservation, so we figure we better mount up and get going.

11:11 am
1,520 miles

Southbound Hwy 550, NM

We keep seeing signs along the road that say "7,000 ft." We check the GPS and it tells us that, yup, we are at 7,000 ft. But then we'll go downhill for a while and then uphill and then—another sign that says "7,000 ft."

Maybe they had a sale on the signs? Does 7,000 feet have some significance in geographical terms?

Shortly after this we cross the Continental Divide. Laura is all excited about it, while Robert (who, as we know, doesn't do too well at geography) says, "Huh? What's it divide?"

Well, it turns out that the Continental Divide (CD) divides—ta da!—the continent. On one side of the CD, the rivers drain to the east on the other side they drain to the west. So far, we (and all the rivers we've crossed) have drained to the west. Now we're all happily draining to the east.

11:19 am

Hwy 550, NM

Trees suddenly appear! It's the first time we've seen actual full- grown trees in days and it's nice to see forested hills.

11:24 am

Cuba, NM

We just saw our seventh sign that said "7,000 ft." Maybe it's the Official Greeting of New Mexico? When you meet somebody, you say, "Dude! 7,000 feet!"?

Anyway, we're now in Cuba, which is officially a "village." They used to have a McDonalds, but it's closed now (or at least the highway sign announcing it has been covered up). It's a cute little town, and we don't understand what all the fuss is about.

12:10 pm
1,578 miles

San Ysidro, NM

Our notes indicate that we stopped here for gas and a pit stop, but neither of us can remember one thing about it. "San Ysidro, hmmm, nope, doesn't ring a bell."

Apparently, there wasn't much there.

12:45 pm
1,623 miles

Albuquerque, NM

Hey—we're at the really hard-to-spell city in New Mexico! If you're anywhere in this section of New Mexico, you pretty much have to go to Albuquerque. Not because there's fabulous stuff to see (we don't know, we didn't stop), but because EVERY SINGLE ROAD passes through Albuquerque.

According to all the road signs, right now there's a Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque and we're strongly warned not to stop by the side of the freeway to watch it (um—you need to TELL people that?).

Right now, though, we don't see any balloons, so maybe it's a Balloon Siesta. Or a Balloon Fiesta Siesta.

We're starting to get punchy from driving...

1:20 pm
1,645 miles

Edgewood, NM

We're on the downside of some mountain range or another and we stop in Edgewood to change drivers and check our oil. The "town" of Edgewood seems to consist of three filling stations and a McDonalds and is very popular with people driving down the freeway.

We stop at the littlest gas station, which is full of all kinds of touristy junk, but no tourists.

We're now on I-40 going east, which (according to our map) is also Route 66. We will try to concentrate on getting our kicks.

2:37 pm
1,721 miles

Vaughn, NM

We're now southbound on Highway 285. One nice thing about highways in New Mexico: they're all four-lane highways. In every other state, the highways were 95% two-lane highways, with an occasional passing lane.

It's like in New Mexico, they said: "Hey, there's nothing to see along the way and everybody's going to be in a hurry, so let's give them LOTS of room. Also, it's not like we're doing anything else with this land."

And the scenery is pretty boring. It's plains desert, which stretches on and on and on. There's not even any geology to break up the landscape. We find that our car keeps going faster and faster (Warp 9, mostly) as it tries to get wherever it is we're going.

4:00 pm
1,817 miles

Roswell, NM

Here we are! At the UFO Museum and Research Center in downtown Roswell (114 Main St). The streetlights along this block have alien heads on the light part and every other business has some alien connection ("Out of this World Music"). The UFO Museum seems to be Ground Zero, so we figure we'll start here.

In case you don't know the story, here it is: back in 1947 a farmer found some metallic looking debris on his land. Some folks think that it was a crashed alien vehicle with space aliens on board. The government thinks it was a weather balloon with a test dummy on board. The first folks think the government is covering everything up.

We wish we had that much faith in the government, thinking that they could effectively cover up anything for 60 years. But all conspiracy theorists are comforted by the thought that there is someone who actually knows what's going on.

Anyway, the first part of the museum deals with the Roswell incident and posts exhibits about all the testimony and timelines and such.

There's one section that documents a "metal fragment" which was given to the museum back in 1993 by someone claiming to have gotten it from a government worker who, in turn, got it from the space ship. After some investigation, the museum traces it to an earthly jeweler.

They've gone to some trouble to build up their credibility and there's even a section acknowledging the scientific skeptics and it's all looking pretty good.

Then they go and blow all their work with this statement:

"It is commonly accepted that ancient cultures on earth have been visited by extraterrestrial entities for many thousands of years."

We have a very hard time not giggling ourselves senseless at this point. Bwah ha ha ha! What a bunch of nut jobs!

They continue on with the Crop Circles (surely no human could make these—although many humans have confessed to doing so).

In the lobby, they proudly display a decorative turkey call commemorating the 1947 Roswell Incident. It looks kind of like a spaceship and has a space alien on the front of it. We don't know how well it works to call turkeys, but it seems to have gathered a bunch of them here.

We stop at the gift center and pick up some UFO guitar picks, a space alien antenna ball, and a space alien shot glass.

6:15 pm
1,823 miles

We've found an RV campsite that also has some tent camping and only charges $25 a night. We pitch our tent ("You want us to throw away our tent?" says Robert, who never gets tired of that joke) and set up camp and immediately notice that we're sharing our campsite with about 10,000 flies.

There's a little sign as you enter Roswell, that says, "Roswell, Dairy Capital of the Southwest," which means cow poop capital of the Southwest, which means flies. Lots of them.

We decide that we need to go get dinner and a crate of flytraps.

8:30 pm

We get our flytraps and set them out, although most of the flies have gone home for the night. Dinner was at the Snazzy Pig a new BBQ restaurant that Laura spotted when we were cruising Roswell. It's pretty good food—although it does involve plastic utensils.

The campsite has free Wi-Fi, so we watch some videos, check our mail and then head for bed. We think we've figured out a way to keep the air mattress inflated all night, but at least it's on a grassier area.

"And it won't freeze tonight!" Laura cheerfully offers.

"It still better not suck," replies Robert.

Tomorrow: Texas—as big as they say?

Robert & Laura
Square State Tour

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