Home > Uncategorized > Day 45: Aliens and Sand

Day 45: Aliens and Sand

Location: near Las Cruces, NM

Miles Driven: 317

Total Miles: 10,430

In the morning, I made my way north to Roswell and I was there before I knew it.  I took advantage of some free McDonald’s WiFi, and then went out to explore the town.  Sidebar – the new thing about McDonald’s becoming more of a “cafe” experience is cool with me, except it is impossible to find electrical outlets.  My guess is that it is part of their strategy…they want people to stay for the coffeehouse experience, but only as long as their laptop battery lasts.  I’m onto you, McDonald’s.

Roswell is an interesting small town.  Outside of the UFO-inspired interest of tourists, I don’t think there’s a heck of a lot going on in this place, so businesses take advantage of the alien theme and apply it to whatever they might be selling.  For example:

I love it.

So the big draw for me was the “International UFO Museum and Research Center.”  Admission was only $5 and the museum is full of great information.  Not only does it document the Roswell Incident thoroughly, showing all sides, but it also has a lot of information on UFOs, abductions, and space, in general.  My only complaint is that the museum is somewhat out of date, as all the photos and displays appear to date back to when the museum originally opened up.  Even the space photos…I’m sure they could’ve grabbed a few more images from Hubble that were a bit more up to date.

But that’s a small complaint.  I really liked the museum in the way it presented the case of the Roswell Incident.  The museum didn’t tell you “THIS is what happened,” but took the approach “Here’s all the info, YOU decide.”

For those who might not know, here’s the incident in a nutshell, courtesy Cufos.org:

Stories about crashed UFOs have circulated for many years, but until recently they were dismissed as nonsense by most people, including ufologists.
New investigations, however,are uncovering startling evidence indicating that a UFO may have crashed in the New Mexico desert in July 1947. A rancher named Mac Brazel discovered strange metal strewn across a wide area of range land he tended. Because of the material’s unusual characteristics, Brazel took pieces of the debris to the authorities in Roswell, New Mexico. Intrigued by the debris, Colonel Blanchard, commanding officer at Roswell Army Air Field, ordered two intelligence officers to investigate. These two men were Major Jesse Marcel and Captain Sheridan Cavitt. Upon their report, Colonel Blanchard quietly ordered that the ranch area be cordoned off. Soldiers removed the debris, sending it to Army headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

At first the Army command at Roswell issued a press release announcing it had recovered a “flying disk,” as UFOs were then called. This press release was retracted, and further press coverage restricted. At a press conference in Fort Worth, the Army explained that the intelligence officer and others at Roswell had misidentified the debris, which was, in fact, the remains of a downed balloon with a metallic radar reflector attached, and not a UFO. Public interest faded, and the Roswell event became a part of UFO folklore, with most ufologists accepting the official government version of the story.  It was not until the late 1970s, with Jesse Marcel’s decision to comment publicly on the strange material and other aspects of the Roswell event, that the UFO crash story was revived.

And so the museum goes into all the interviews conducted, the various newsclippings, the sworn affidavits made years after the fact, etc.

There are stories that individuals involved in the “coverup” had their lives and lives of their families threatened if they spoke about “what really happened,” such as people involved in shipping the craft and bodies (yes, the story says four alien bodies were recovered).

Now what to believe?  I’m not sure, but it’s a fascinating story either way.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I think I lean along the sides of those who feel it was definitely not a weather balloon that crash landed in the New Mexico desert.  And again, I think the museum did a great job of presenting the case and letting the visitor decide for himself/herself.  I do believe the Universe is far too big for us to be the only intelligent life out there, so I don’t place an alien crash-landing out of the realm of possibility.  Who knows?

If you are still reading and didn’t dismiss me as crazy, this post continues…

The museum had some great artwork, in addition to all the news clippings and stories.

After I took my time throught the exhibits, I went into the video room where the film “Fire in the Sky” was playing.  I never saw the movie in it’s entirety, so ended up at the museum for another hour and half to watch that.  “Fire in the Sky” is based on the story of an alleged abduction that took place in Arizona, but I learned from later reading that the film took a lot of liberties with the story, especially the abductee’s account of events on the ship.  Still, an interesting film.

On my way back to the car to run some errands, I ran into an eccentric older dude who called himself “Happy.”  He saw my license plate cover “Binghamton Bearcats” and said he used to live in upstate NY, actually in Hornell.  He gave me a recommendation for a route to my next destination, White Sands National Monument.  Glad I ran into him, the route was very scenic, which included a stretch along the Billy the Kid Scenic Highway.

A weird thing happened on my way to White Sands.  I stopped at a gas station, and a man there say my NY tags and wondered where in NY I was from.  I told him upstate, and sure enough he was from upstate, as well.  Told me he went to school at Alfred University, and for those who don’t know, Alfred is located in Hornell!  What a strange coincidence – two random dudes I talk to, over 100 miles apart in New Mexico, both lived/worked in Hornell.  Hornell is not a big place for those who might be curious.  Funny.

I made it to White Sands as the sun was going down, and had a lot of fun just admiring the dunes then walking on them (which seemed a little stiff compared to normal beach dunes).  And part of the drive in the park was just on sand, so it somewhat reminded me of driving on a snowy day.

I learned about the history of this place from the pamphlet I received at the gate (Score, got to use my National Parks pass).  The reason the dunes here are white is because of gypsum that was deposited at the bottom of the sea that stood here 250 million years ago.  When the rocky Mountains formed, these deposits were uplifted and the Tularosa Basin (where White Sands lies) was created.  Now gypsum isn’t often found in sand because it is soluble in water, but the Tularosa Basin is not drained by any river, so the gypsum and other sediments are trapped, keeping the sand white.

Fun fact: the lady attending the gate filled me in on the difference between a “National Monument” and a “National Park.”  A President can declare anything a National Monument (through application of the Antiquities Act), but needs Congressional approval to name a place a National Park.

Some more pictures from beautiful White Sands:

The bugs were coming out pretty strong, and it was getting dark, so I got on the road and headed southwest towards Lac Cruces.  Speaking of bugs, I think New Mexico takes the cake so far in bug splatters on my car.  Like that brief moment in the midwest, bugs here hit my windshield like raindrops…only regularly.

Made it a little past Las Cruces before I settled in for the night.  On Wednesday, I’ll head into Arizona to catch a few things that have been on my list for a while, and I may make it up to highly-anticipated Monument Valley before the day is done.


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  1. The Mommie
    July 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    “Babies have big heads and big eyes, and tiny little bodies with tiny little arms and legs. So did the aliens at Roswell! I rest my case.”—William Shatner

  2. melissa
    July 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    woah…maybe the 2 hornell dudes are aliens in disguise. Beautiful pics of White Sands. I find it interesting how often you wash your car on this road trip. Ronald McDonald has to put up more electrical plugs.

    • July 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      Hahaha, gotta keep the bugs from petrifying on the front of my car, so I get the occasional cheap wash. I am convinced McDonald’s strategy is “don’t let people linger here”, because I’ve found a combined two electrical outlets in probably a dozen McDonald’s across the country.

    • July 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      great email, btw

  3. bea
    July 14, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    hmmm… Roswell, no comments. I would just say i won’t be going there again. White Sands looks pretty though! National Monument vs. National Park, huh? didn’t know that info before. thx for the info. alrighty, bug killer, i shall look forward to your next posting…

  4. Christelle
    July 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    hahaha can’t beleive Mc Donalds wud b so sneaky!!!
    Beautiful pix u took at teh White Sand park, I had actually never heard of it

  5. Color Me Green
    July 15, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I commend you…Roswell would freek me out too much to continue driving through a desert. White Sands looks amazing!

  6. The Mommie
    July 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    PS. Dad has cousins in Hornell! George Phillips senior is from Hornell.

    Melissa may be on to something.

    Maybe you were in……..the Twilight Zone………..after all Rod Serling was from Binghamton. Maybe his spirit is in your back seat!

    Quess we should stay tune but in the meantime: May the force be with you.

  7. Reva Barno
    July 16, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I didn’t know you were heading to Cedar City. My sister and husband live in Hurricane. Zion National Park near. Hope you see it. Your photos are fsntastic! Be well.

    • July 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

      thanks, Mrs. B. Yep, Zion National Park is one of the best parks, in my opinion. Planning to hit that up later this afternoon. This area of Utah is great, and Cedar City seems like a friendly town

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