Wednesday, March 6, 2019

"Phone Home" on the Way Home: Roswell and Silver City, NM

Our six weeks touring Texas was over and done, but the only way home to Arizona was through New Mexico.  Our brief visits would take us through two iconic NM cities, Roswell and Silver City. 


Roswell is perhaps best known as the supposed site of the "Roswell Incident," in which a USAF nuclear test surveillance balloon crashed into the nearby desert on July 2, 1947.  Many conspiracy theories around the occurrence continue to exist, most notably that one or more UFO's crash-landed there and that its alien occupants were recovered by the military, which then engaged in an elaborate and ongoing cover-up. 


Roswell city planners and entrepreneurs take full advantage of this marketing angle, with just a few of the many, many examples in full force throughout downtown Roswell.

ALIEN STREETLIGHTS


HIS-AND-HER ALIENS


THIRSTY ALIENS



THUG ALIENS


DUSTY, TIRED ALIENS


ZEN ALIENS


UBER-DRIVING ALIENS


MARIACHI ALIENS


GLUTEN-TOLERANT ALIENS


CHICKEN-LOVING ALIENS


BILINGUAL ALIENS


BULLFIGHTING ALIENS


CRAFTY ALIENS


The International UFO Museum's stated primary goal is "to provide information so the visitor is able to make up their own mind about the Roswell Incident, the UFOs and other possible extraterrestrial phenomena."


Inside, there are lots of articles and paperwork ... lots and lots of words to read.  Not a whole lot to look at, though what was I expecting, actual artifacts and concrete evidence?  Not here.  We tried to think of another type of museum that doesn't really have actual things to display, and came up empty.  Can you think of any?  Let us know ...


There were a couple of lifesized renderings of alien "concepts," however, making this more of an art gallery than a museum, I suppose.



P.M., phone home. 


Outside town, even the managers of our campground got in on the fun.


The oddly-named "Bottomless Lakes State Park" is a chain of 8 lakes that are actually sinkholes, which formed and filled with water when subterranean caverns collapsed under their own weight.


The largest of them, Lea Lake, is of course not actually "bottomless" ... but might as well be ... with a depth of 90 feet, and incredible clarity from the spring water that feeds the lakes.


"Bird blinds" are often located in park campgrounds to camouflage observers and allow them to see birds at close quarters. 


Here, I was able to see the rare one-legged P. Millerus variety of  Stork in its natural habitat.


Our final stop in Silver City, NM, was predicated on the funniest and BEST ensemble comedy movie ever produced, called Rat Race and starring John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovits, Seth Green, Kathy Najimi, and lots more super-funny people.


In this movie, a Las Vegas casino tycoon entertains his wealthiest high roller friends -- a group that will bet on anything -- by pitting six ordinary people against each other in a wild dash for $2 million jammed into a locker hundreds of miles away, in .... wait for it, wait for it ... Silver City, NM.


Because we love the movie so much, we were disappointed to subsequently learn that the actual location of the movie-version Silver City, was Ely, Nevada, and it looked nothing like the city we visited.  BUT, it was nevertheless a charming and interesting city with lots of shops and art galleries.


This is the local furniture and appliance shop.  Most interesting storefront award, yes ...?



Silver City sprang to life in 1870 with the discovery of a vast vein of silver in the area, but was built without adequate planning for storm water runoff. Citizens compensated for summer rains by using (very!) high sidewalks which allowed high flood waters to still flow down the street. Look closely ... Philip is 6'2" and that curb goes mid-thigh on him!


In 1895, a heavy wall of water rushed through downtown, destroying much of Main Street and instead leaving a ditch 55 feet lower than the original street level Being adaptive, business owners just started using their back doors as their new front entrances, effectively moving Main Street up a block and leaving behind what became "Big Ditch Park" down in that gulley. 


Leaving New Mexico and heading into Arizona, evidence of the very cold and wet weather we had experienced all through Texas continued to surround us, from the snowy mountaintops to the prolific blankets of wildflowers across the desert.   


This thingamybopper was a headscratcher ... hovering above Superior, Arizona.  A little Internet sluethery revealed that it's a package of electronic instruments that is used to map and unlock the secrets of local aquifers (like their depth, and whether they connect to other aquifers) which is otherwise difficult to acquire because you can't "see" through layers of rock.  Pretty cool technology, and not just some difficult placement of a trampoline in someone's yard, as we suspected.


The sun has set on our 2019 Texas Adventure.  And what an adventure it was!


We are now back in Arizona for 10 weeks, in part to celebrate the wedding of our daughter Sarah and new son-in-law Sean.  We'll be back on the road again from May 15 through October 8, following this slow path all the way east as far as Old Quebec City, Canada, and the coast of Maine!


Texas was full of surprises, most notably all the different terrain and weather we encountered, but then, it's a really big state, so of course it has a little bit of everything!  People always ask, "What was your favorite stop on the trip?" Answer: hands down, Big Bend National Park!  Thanks for following along with the Lucky Charm!  See y'all on down the road!