We got the morning started quickly in Roswell. Mallory & Marissa hopped right out of bed to join me for breakfast at the hotel lobby. Miles came down to join us later, and Stephanie walked across the street to Starbucks (go figure).
As we drove to our destination down Main Street, we were greeted by a large selection of UFO-related gift shops. Tourism appears to be one of the main industries in Roswell. The street lamps were in the shape of alien heads, and were topped off with Santa hats.
We pulled into our parking spaces on Main Street a few minutes before 9:00. There was already a line of people waiting to get into the UFO Museum & Research Center! As you pay your admission fee, each person in your group is given a sticker to wear. The cashier told us, “Place this sticker on your right shoulder. If you don’t know which is your right shoulder, raise your right hand, and someone will assist you in a moment.” I bet he gets tired of saying that…
There was an older Native American lady paying her admission in front of us, and she had brought in her own pictures of a UFO. The cashier was not interested and directed her to the Research Library, where he was certain they would want to see them.
The first exhibit at the museum is the history & timeline of the events at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. It was very interesting to read the newspaper clippings and listen to an old ABC news radio telecast. The news program said that sources at the military at an Air Force Base in Ohio were expecting the debris from the crash site at any time, but it had not arrived yet. Of course, the military changed their tune quickly after that, and “oh by the way, that was just a weather balloon”. There were numerous affidavits posted for us to read from members of the military who were there, or local Roswell townspeople who were there at the time. Reading everything available really makes you wonder what the real story is of what happened.
In addition to information about the Roswell incident, there were other sections of the museum dedicated to Area 51, crop circles, astronaut and military pilot accounts of UFOs, and quotes from politicians and scientists from around the world.
There was also a very large Research Library on-site, but I was so involved in the rest of the museum that I forgot to go into it. KK did go inside and said it was very impressive.
After our tour of the museum, we visited their adjoining gift shop. Everybody in the household made a purchase in there! Miles picked up an Alien ID card that had the tagline on the back, “UFOs are real. The Air Force is not.”
As we left the Museum, we visited every gift shop on Main Street. About this time, KK found out that his driver side mirror had been completely busted out. There was a note on his truck with a phone number, which he called. The number was from a Roswell citizen who had witnessed the accident. An 18-wheeler had been driving down Main Street with his rear door open, and it was flapping open & closed, and just happened to hit KK’s truck window. We’re lucky it wasn’t worse, because it would have been terrible if it had crashed against the side of the pickup. Later in the day, KK called the Roswell Police Department to report the incident, as he figured he did not have the only vehicle struck by this semi-truck.
The last gift shop we went into had a walk-through “exhibit” called the “Starwalk”. I asked if it was open and the cashier told me yes, so I paid for all of us to go through. The Starwalk consisted of black lights and fluorescent colored pictures of space scenes, and one display of a UFO spinning in a circle, as if on a baby’s mobile. Overall, I was a little disappointed, but the kids walked through it a second time.
One of our rules of traveling is that we do not eat someplace that we can eat at home. McDonald’s would certainly quality for this rule, and in fact, it might be one of the main reasons the rule was implemented in the first place. However, Roswell has the world’s only UFO-themed McDonalds, and everybody in our group felt the need to visit here. I wish we had taken a picture of it at night, because it was lit up beautifully. It is not quite as impressive in the daytime. The kids played in the space-themed playground while we ordered lunch, then we took it on the road with us. KK even visited McDonald’s with us, as the rest of his traveling party took a quick trip down to the local Wal-Mart for supplies.
We met up with our other car at the Wal-Mart, and we hit the road out of town around 12:30. We have seen the last of Roswell until we make it back for their annual Roswell UFO Festival, held every year around the 4th of July.
KK continued to ride with us, and we shipped Mallory off to the other car. Dad and I rode in the front of the van and visited while the rest of the crew entertained themselves with reading and playing their electronic games.
The drive across eastern New Mexico and the Texas panhandle is flat. There is little else to say about it. We would stop every hour to two hours for pit stops. We somehow managed to always land at a convenience store with only one bathroom. You would think that with only one bathroom, it would be twice as easy to keep clean, but the exact opposite was always true. I did load up on some energy drinks at these stops. We could almost always find two energy drinks for $3 at these convenience stores. I have consumed more energy drinks during this trip than I have cumulatively drank in my lifetime up until now!
As we were nearing the New Mexico / Texas state line, we made an impromptu change to the travel plan. We redirected our route so that we could drive by the Cadillac Ranch, which is west of Amarillo 15 miles or so. We managed to pull off alongside the road at least an hour before dark, and we weren’t the only folks there.
The Cadillac Ranch was built in 1974, and consists of 10 Cadillacs half-buried, nose down, facing west at the same angle as the pyramids. Visitors are encouraged to bring along a can of spray paint and graffiti their own message onto the cars. In fact, as we were walking up to the display, every single person walking back to their cars were carrying multiple cans of empty spray paint. We’ll have to make a mental note to bring along a can of Krylon on our next visit. We took advantage of the photo opportunity and spent a few minutes admiring the cars. Mallory & Marissa wandered over to where some other girls were trying to pet some cows. The Cadillac Ranch sits in the middle of a cow pasture, and we figured those cows were likely high on the paint fumes.
Dinner was a feast of Blizzards and french fries at the local Dairy Queen – yes, it must be vacation!
As we drove through Amarillo, dusk was setting in, and we prepared for the final stretch drive of our trip. KK mentioned to me how neat he thought it was that we could make a trip like this. I couldn’t agree more. Lots of folks that he tells about our trip cannot believe it. They would never want to spend 10 days trapped in a car with their own family! Lucky for us, that is not the case with us.
We pulled into our driveway a few minutes before midnight. We drove 3,452 miles during our 10 day trip to California and everybody is still talking to each other. We had a great time, aside from the fact that we lost our bowl game, and we’re already looking forward to next year.