Tag Archives: new mexico

Roswell, New Mexico and Space Aliens

This cheerful little green man greeted us at Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell, New Mexico.

You have to hand it to space aliens.  Like our most unruly relatives, when they visit they can cause a stir that we just can’t get over. On a recent road trip through southern New Mexico, we couldn’t resist a side trip to Roswell, the center of a classic UFO story that includes an extraterrestrial visit and a government coverup.  

The Roswell Incident

A display at Roswell’s UFO Museum depicting what may have happened during the “Roswell Incident” in 1947

Roswell, a ranching town, launched into international fame in 1947 when a sheep rancher northwest of town found strange metallic objects on his property and reported the incident to officials at the local military base.  According to the Roswell city government website,  “on July 8, 1947, public information officer Lt. Walter Haut issued a press release under orders from base commander Col. William Blanchard, which said basically that we have in our possession a flying saucer. The next day another press release was issued, this time from Gen. Roger Ramey, stating it was a weather balloon. That was the start of the best known and well-documented UFO coverups.”   For more, see a history.com explanation.

Little Green Men

McDonald’s has spacy architecture in Roswell, New Mexico.

Did that rancher find parts of a flying saucer or just a weather balloon?  Was it the “cover up” of an alien landing or merely the government explaining away hush-hush scientific research that couldn’t be revealed to the public?  Who knows?  Still, you can’t beat a good alien story whether it’s fact or fiction and the city of Roswell has made the most of it.  The city features two notable art museums, the Roswell Museum and Art Center and the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art and other attractions, but space aliens are it’s claim to fame.  Consequently, the city receives thousands of visitors each year who are either true believers or lovers of kitsch.  Count me in the latter group.  I couldn’t resist.  

Greetings donut eaters!

In Roswell, the globes of downtown streetlights have alien eyes painted on them.  The city hosts an annual UFO Festival. The local McDonald’s skipped the golden arches in favor of spaceship architecture. At the Dunkin’ Donuts a green space alien holds the sign inviting you in, much the way high-schoolers advertise their team’s car-wash fundraisers. Even at the nearby Bottomless Lakes State Park, a campground host sign welcomed us with a little green man.

UFO Museum

Welcome to the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico.

For all things UFO, head to Roswell’s International UFO Museum and Research Center.  Whether you’re serious about aliens or not, you gotta go.  The price is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for children and they let my dog in for free.  It offers a compilation of clippings, letters, and faded photos regarding the Roswell Incident.  You’ll find other information about sightings of UFOs, alien abductions and a section about Roswell in the movies.  Best, of all, even skeptics enjoy the steam-filled landing of aliens in a display in the museum’s center, pictured above.

Sci-Fi Classics

If you can’t make it to Roswell, you can indulge your sci-fi side with classic books of the genre.  They include H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, that classic of aliens invading earth, anything by Isaac Asimov (I, Robot, Foundation), Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheepadapted for film as Bladerunner), and Octavia Butler (Lilith’s Brood.)

See more about New Mexico’s gorgeous and “alien” landscapes in my next post.

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KiMo Theater, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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KiMo Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The KiMo Theater opened on what was then Route 66 (now Central Avenue) in Albuquerque in 1927.   The big new theater was a source of civic pride and boosters held a contest to name the theater. The governor of Isleta Pueblo,  Pablo Abeita, won a prize of $50, a huge sum for the time, for the KiMo name. According to theater history, “it is a combination of  two Tiwa words meaning “mountain lion” but liberally interpreted as ‘king of its kind’.”

It certainly is king of its kind, built in the the “pueblo deco” architectural style. If you think the outside is interesting, you should see the decor on the inside.  Understated it is not. Here are a few scenes from the interior.

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New Mexico Chilis: Know Your Boundaries

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Sometimes you need to set your own boundaries, know your limitations.  That’s especially the case with chilis.

They may merely add flavor to cooking or set your mouth ablaze in a manner that will send you running for the icewater (and have other repercussions, too, if you know what I mean.)

I was in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago where chilis–red and green–are in just about everything you eat.  Fall is the height of chili season there and you’ll find them piled in farmers’ markets and smell them roasting, “New Mexico aromatherapy,” at the market or on the roadside. You’ll find them in restaurants any time of year.  When ordering, your server may ask, “Red or green?”  By that she means the color of chilis you want.  If the answer in both, it’s common to say “Christmas.”

Some chilis hot, some not.   In some cases it’s like playing roulette–one in ten is hot, you just don’t know until you eat it.  Either way, they’re beautiful to look at.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist

The steeple at the chapel of Bishop's Lodge, just outside Santa Fe.  The chapel was built for the priest, Bishop Lamy, who was the inspiration for Willa Cather's novel Death Comes for the Archbishop.

This week’s challenge:  show a minimalist photo. This is the steeple at the chapel of Bishop’s Lodge, just outside Santa Fe. The chapel was built for the priest, Bishop Lamy, who was the inspiration for Willa Cather’s novel Death Comes for the Archbishop. The light in New Mexico makes just about any photograph interesting.

Strolling on Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is one of my favorite places.  Fabulous art, Native American crafts, great food, shopping, music, and outdoorsy pursuits abound.  If you’re traveling with a group, it’s hard to keep everyone together because everything you see makes you want to stop and stare, from the wisteria draped adobe architecture to the fabulous Native American jewelry and even the distinctive high desert sky.

Adobe and wisteria, Santa Fe
Adobe and wisteria, Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s sky and special light–clear and stunningly bright–is one reason Santa Fe and nearby Taos have attracted writers and artists for decades.  Author D.H. Lawrence fell in love with the place.  He wrote in “New Mexico,”

The moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend… In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to a new.

Willa Cather found a similar fascination with the New Mexico sky.  In Death Comes for the Archbishop she says

The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was the brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud.  Even the mountains were mere anthills under it.  Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky.

While Lawrence and Cather painted New Mexico with words, stroll through Santa Fe and you’ll see how countless artists have portrayed the area in oil, clay, bronze and more, which has made Santa Fe the second or third largest art market, depending on who you’re talking to. The city was designated a UNESCO Creative City in 2005, the first U.S. city to be so honored and currently one of only a handful of Creative Cities in the world. In 2009 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Santa Fe one of the Trust’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations.

You’ll find a concentrated dose of art on the city’s famous Canyon Road, with over one

Truffles the Pig on Canyon Road
Truffles the Pig on Canyon Road

hundred galleries, specialty shops, and restaurants. It’s a visual fiesta at just about every turn, and if you look carefully you’ll find something for every budget. Though the galleries would love to have you purchase a work of art, you’re welcome to come in and simply savor what you see for a while.

Cowboys and Indians Santa Fe
Cowboys and Indians Santa Fe

Just looking? Santa Fe is also a city of museums with more than a dozen different facilities including the Museum of International Folk Art, The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe Children’s Museum, New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, and one of my favorites, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.

Read more about Santa Fe in Off The Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs and Girls on Getaways.