Turns out, Roswell is a decent-sized city! We’d both been expecting a sleepy, dusty ranch town, but were pleasantly surprised to find creature comforts, including Wi-Fi at Starbucks for blog posting. We paid a visit to the UFO museum, which started out feeling kind of legit but degraded into jokester territory soon after, especially with the “artistic depictions” of extra terrestrials based on “witness accounts”. Unsure of what we really believe about that fateful day in 1947 when a rancher may or may not have come across a UFO crash site, we set off again on the road with thoughts of Independence Day and the X-Files.
The drive included our first glimpses of large-scale cattle yards. At first, they almost looked like junk yards, because all we could see were black, white, and brown tones squished together so tight you couldn’t make one end from the other. It was pretty disturbing when we realized what we were looking at, especially contrasting that with the big green open fields we’re used to seeing with cows leisurely strolling along and curled up under a tree. While we didn't get any photos, below is a map we found showing the density of factory farms by county across the country. We were in the deep red zone you can see in southeast NM.
We made it to White Sands National Park with a couple of hours to spare before sunset, and got to explore some of the famous gypsum sand dunes. It’s strange but incredibly beautiful to see the starkly white sand, which contrasts so strongly with the natural tones surrounding it: blue from the sky and mountains of orange and purple. Next time we’ll follow the lead of some of the families we saw, who’d been smart enough to bring sleds and saucers to ride the dunes.
Instead of sticking around for the full sunset at White Sands, we jumped at the opportunity to scope out the campsites at a nearby state park in daylight. Racing to Oliver Lee State Park, which is at the foot of the Sacramento Mountains, we experienced our first casualty: a swallow dive bombed right in front of the car, hitting with a bang. The poor little thing was in the grill of the car when we stopped at the campsite. Sad.
On a happier note, the State Park was great. We got to watch the last colors of sunset, a bit of lightning in the distance, and a couple of shooting stars all from our spot. Camping in state parks has not disappointed so far.
We brought with us a cold bottle of Chardonnay from our gas station pit stop and enjoyed it with our Mountain House dinner (just add boiling water). In the absence of a proper lantern to light our camp area, we hung a little flashlight from a nail, until Loren had the idea to place it in front of a jug of water, which worked out pretty well to illuminate our space.