To Alamogordo then Phoenix, where the 4th day ended with a spectacular light show

Alamogordo Rest Stop Sleep Shop
Alamogordo Rest Stop Sleep Shop
Light box enlargement

Outside Roswell, in Hondo, is the Peter Hurd Museum. Keep this in mind if you ever get to Roswell. Having seen some of Hurd’s paintings at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, we would have loved to have stopped, but we didn’t have the time.

As for pics of the stretch from Roswell down to Alamogordo, there basically are none. Not that I didn’t take any, for I did, but the Canon, like I’ve been saying, was messed up and so of the spectacular scenery we passed through that day we have pretty much no images. Which is disappointing. Also, as with our drive through Texas, the skies were resolutely blue with no trace of clouds and the sun shining relentless in our faces pretty much all day. Not good conditions for photography and certainly not for on-the-run photography, which all of mine was. I’d the same problem last year on the day we were traveling from Kansas into Oklahoma. We traveling through the Flint Hills country where beautiful photo ops abound, but the skies were all unending brilliant blue.

And as for Alamogordo. I’m not a morning person, but I can be if it’s necessary and so I was up early every morning…trying to get H.o.p. up, who is not a morning person at all, for which reason we never got out of a hotel, I don’t think, before 10:30 AM, and usually not until 11 AM. Because of this my plans for each day were thrown off and we missed a number of things I’d wanted to do. Such as Alamogordo. My plan had been to hit the museums early and get out of Roswell in time for us to visit Alamogordo in the very late afternoon but before it closed. Which didn’t happen. We got out of Roswell pretty late, and then co-adult decided at one point to do a full wash of the car, which was nice and all (the Element was by now covered with bug goo) but ate up even more time. So when we got to Alamogordo and White Sands it was already closing time.

But it was an experience driving through. All my life I’ve seen paintings and pottery of the southwest showing the colors of the sunset in distinct, divided layers, which is what we saw that early evening. And the air…though there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, the air was like velour overhanging us, thick and plush. Which would have something to do with the distinct layers of sunset color, I imagine, and perhaps has something to do with dust in the air? I don’t know. Whatever causes this, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else.

This was the second time in many many years that I’ve attempted to get to Alamogordo. Second time I’ve missed seeing it. At least this time we drove along the edge and had glimpses.

We drove down El Paso way and began our swing up to Phoenix. We passed through a border check point that wasn’t on the border. They pulled over the guy before us and the guards walked away to attend to that car and I guess that was going to be it for a while because the guards busying themselves with him left no one to to even bother waving the cars behind us through, they just let them all go on by without even a glance as far as I could tell. But it was bizarre anyway. I’ve not been down near the Mexican border in years and it was strange to be as distant as we were from it and have to go through a check point on the Interstate.

We drove and drove and drove. And drove and drove and drove. It was perhaps somewhere along this stretch that we got the coffee that beat the bad coffee we had in Oklahoma City last year, which was the worst coffee we’d ever had in our lives and which we thought would be the worst coffee we would likely ever have. We were wrong. This coffee, Marty took a sip of it and told me it beat out the coffee in Oklahoma City by far and not to bother tasting it. So I let it sit there for a long while and then forgot what he’d said and picked it up my cup and took a sip…and spat it right back out in the cup. Hideous, foul tasting stuff. I’ve no description for it. Briney, acrid, repugnant, bleech bearing no resemblance at all to coffee. Out it went. It was so startlingly foul that I ate up about half a bag of little Snickers bars trying to get rid of the aftertaste.

Late, late, we got into Phoenix where that night police seemed to be at ever Interstate exit stopping cars..and we got lost. Lost by miles and miles. About an hour’s worth of lost. We stopped finally and asked for directions and the person at the convenience store gave us wrong directions. Finally, I pulled out the map and divined a route different from what anyone told us but which got us where we wanted to be.

And it was quite all right that we had gotten lost…actually, we were fortunate it had happened…because the day that began with the visit to the UFO museum ended with a spectacular meteor. We had finally found our way and were one of the few cars on the brightly lit city avenue and there brilliantly streaked through the sky right before us a meteor, falling earthward and evaporating. We’ve seen a few showers of falling stars and it was larger than anything I’ve seen before so I’m calling it a meteor fall.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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