If you are just joining us, Day One of the Southwest vacation is right here.
Day two of the Southwest vacation started a lot earlier than I would have wanted. The old folks I was with wanted to be on the road by 7, by I managed to talked them up to 8ish. My ideal time would have been closer to noon, but my father explained that old people know that they they don’t have much time left, so they appreciate the time they do. Whatever. When I’m old I’m going to sleep longer because I can.
We decided on Wednesday (day one) that on Thursday we would hit a place I always wanted to go to — Roswell (cue X-Files opening). It was the furthest east of any place we were going, so my Aunt Fame made the plan to do that first, then loop back around to our next destination (which was still up in the air) stopping whenever we felt like it. Sounded like a plan to me.
One place I love stopping at on road trips is truck stops. I don’t know why, but there’s something about a place where you can get fudge, coffee, t-shirts, jerky and other assorted tchotchke’s just appeals to me. Maybe it’s the whole Americana thing, maybe it’s just a place to get cool shirts. Either way, I stop when I see them, and I liked the look of this particular truck stop’s sign. Very ’50sish.
We were on interstate 285, which is just one long stretch of road between Albuquerque and Roswell. There aren’t many towns along this highway, nor there were many rest stops. We did see one, though, and while it was very clean, I suddenly didn’t need to go as bad as I thought I did.
After about four hours, we finally reached our my destination. Roswell, New Mexico. The Motherland of Geeks everywhere.
As you can see, the above sign is in divider of a relatively busy highway. That did not stop me from pulling over to the side of the road and getting pictures. I suspect the locals are use to jackasses like me, but I still got a few stares regardless. Not that I cared.
A lot of people have asked me if I enjoyed Roswell, because they all, well, know me. And I really did enjoy finally going there, but I also mentally prepared myself for what I was going to see, so I wasn’t at all disappointed, even though I could have very easily have been.
Here’s the thing about Roswell: It’s exactly what you expect it to be. The best way I can describe it (at least for some of you Marylanders) is imagine you’ve always wanted to go to the beach, and you finally got your chance in your mid-to-late 30s…when you went to Ocean City, Maryland.
Yes it’s cool and all and yes you will have a fantastic time, but if you had gone 10 to 15 years earlier, you would have had the time of your life.
That sounds bitter, but it’s not intended to be. I am incredibly happy that I finally got to see the town where the infamous ‘weather balloon’ fell, and after my father and I went through the town museum, I spent a lot of time poking around in the souvenir stores while my family waited patiently in the car (God bless them).
Roswell is a very cool small town, and if you are in the area I suggest you swing by it, if only just to say, “Yeah, I’ve been there.” The town completely embraces the mythology (no doubt to keep tourism business), the museum is pretty cool with a lot of newspaper articles and pictures and the lady that runs the welcoming center is top notch. Once she found out it was my first time to Roswell, she gave me pens and buttons and a goodie bag with all sorts of dorky things.
The aforementioned museum was (as said) pretty damn cool, but one of the best exhibits had to be the setup they had at the end. It was basically a big diorama of a doctor operating on an alien while a man-in-black stood watch.
Okay, so I’m painfully aware of the dork level this blog is at right now (CODE RED, BITCHES!), so we’ll move on.
Eventually, I saw everything I was going to see and bought everything I was going to buy, so it was time to hit the road. And with destinations unknown, we got in the car with a halfass plan. For me, this is always the best kind of plan to have when you are on vacation. Without a firm plan, you are open to see more than you may have originally had in mind. To be honest, I can’t even remember exactly where we were headed. We just jumped on 70 west, in the general direction of Arizona.
There are two things I loved about driving this trip. The first is the scenery. While there is a lot of brown (as far as the land) in both New Mexico and Arizona, I noticed that just as I was getting board with the view, something would slightly change (a mountain or hills would bust out, for example) to keep things from other getting boring.
The other thing I loved were the drivers. Hands down, no contest, New Mexico and Arizona drivers are the best I’ve ever seen. Period. For one simple reason: The know how to properly use the left lane. Not once in my week trip did I have a problem with some dumbass in the left lane pacing the car on its right. Not once. And I drove a LOT that week.
Capitan is where Smokey the Bear was born (and now rests) and Lincoln was the last jail that held Billy the Kid.
Most of the joints were closed by the time we arrived in town, but we did creep through at a slow pace and I did see the Lincoln Count Courthouse. We didn’t stop, though. If they were open, they probably would have. I plan on watching Young Guns again here pretty soon to make up for not stopping.
We did, however, stop at the Smokey The Bear Memorial. It was a shockingly small little thing just off 380, but it was a picture opportunity.
It had a plaque with a bunch of words on it, but I didn’t take a long time studying that. That’s school stuff, and I wasn’t really interested. So I got my picture and I left. We had places to go and things to see.
I can’t remember where we ended up staying the night on day two. I think it was another small town, but I don’t remember for sure. I’m pretty certain that was the rest of the cool stuff for that day, because there aren’t any more pictures.
Oh yeah, there are two more. Some cow gave us the stink eye.
Oddly, while this was the first time a cow gave us a dirty look, it wasn’t the last.
Day three will come eventually.