Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 12 – Wednesday, Dec 9th

Roswell is not as cool as they make it look on TV. On TV, they make it look like the entire town is themed. That is not true. First of all, the 2 diners they have been showing on TV are both closed. Second, the only themed part of town is a couple of blocks downtown. That’s where they have a couple of museums and lots of gift shops, and they’ve decorated the street lights to look like aliens. Otherwise the coolest thing about Roswell is the McDonalds.
They did a very good job getting in the spirit. The rest of Roswell pretty much seems like they wish the Roswell incident would go away. We went to the museum. It was pretty thorough, mostly stuff to read, so if you don’t like reading, you might not like it. And if you have watched any Roswell reports on TV, you’ve pretty much seen the whole story that they re-create in the museum anyway. So, don’t bother going out of your way to see Roswell.

After Roswell, we drove to the town of Lincoln. This part of New Mexico made me feel like I’d truly gone back in time to the Old West. In fact, NM advertises that this part of the state is the most authentic, unchanged western settlements that you’re pretty much going to find. It was incredible. We parked and walked and looked at all the log and adobe structures.

Lincoln is not exactly a ghost town, since there are still residents in many of the historic structures. One relatively large private home was for sale, and I was stunned when I saw that both selling agents were named “Lincoln”, again making me sure that the claims that this settlement had changed very little was actually true. Evidently Lincoln is famous for some Billy the Kid incidents taking place here, and they’re very proud of this fact. There’s a whole Billy the Kid theme running through town, and everyone’s in the spirit. The spirit that was missing from Roswell. Here is a funny website for a working hotel in the old town, that advertises “No guests gunned down in over 100 years.”

From Lincoln, we drove through an area of New Mexico that advertises itself as the home of Smokey Bear, and I guess his remains are buried there now too. In the stories that I remember from childhood, Smokey was found as a cub, clinging to a tree after a forest fire. So, I kind of questioned whether NM could really be Smokey’s home, considering that I did not see any trees.
But, after I looked up Smokey’s bio online, I guess there are trees somewhere in NM that I could not see, and that black bears do (or did) live there. Anyway, what struck me about this area was again, the theming...everyone in the area was proud of Smokey Bear and being part of his hometown. The grocery store was even called Smokey Bear Market.

After leaving the Smokey Bear country, we drove further into NM and noted yet a 3rd theme. We were driving through a desert area in the middle of nowhere, when suddenly we came across a rock hound store that was advertising a sale on Trinitite. Having never heard of Trinitite, we still made jokes that if it was on sale we better hurry up and buy some. Miles and miles later, we stopped at a truck stop town for some Mexican food. Inside the restaurant they had a bulletin board, and on the board was another reference to Trinitite for sale. So now we were kind of interested and thought maybe we really should buy some Trinitite, as it must be some kind of New Mexico souvenir. I looked it up on the iPhone, and my eyes must have been wide as saucers when I figured out in about 2 seconds that THE STUFF IS NUCLEAR. I choked it out to DH and pushed the phone across the table so he could read it for himself. We cracked up laughing. Trinitite is a stone similar to volcanic glass, but it was created as a result of bomb tests at the site called Trinity. Most of this fallout was cleaned up by the government, but evidently anything that the locals found before the cleanup (or, I suppose anything they find today), they are allowed to keep and sell if they want to. And yes, it’s radioactive!!! I loved it! Here is a state that embraces its history, not hides it, however weird! When we got to Albuquerque we found out that their local baseball team is called the Isotopes. Another example of embracing who they are! It cracked me up so much I bought a team shirt. See, now I just don’t understand why Roswell couldn’t have been like this. Their local team is called the Coyotes. That’s stupid. They should be the Roswell Earthlings or the Roswell Visitors or something freakin’ funny like that.

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