Guess Where We Went?

Yesterday, we packed up and left the Escapees Ranch. It always feels good to be on the road again. We headed north on very straight 285 through flat ranchlands passing long trains and an oil refinery in Artesia. This is Halliburton country with a very distinctive smell of sulfur from the refining process that we had on occasion smelled at The Ranch some fifty miles away.

Our goal was to reach some kind of a campground in Santa Fe by late afternoon. We had no cell phone reception at The Ranch, so, no reservations. On the way we passed through Roswell, NM and just had to stop and visit the aliens at the UFO Museum. Our Brit RV friends in N’awlins had gone and said it was a kick.

It feels like kicking a sick puppy to call the Roswell UFO Museum pathetic. The people who created it are sincere and they’ve done their best with an old theater space on Main Street. The funding had to be thin. I just think of the days of exhibit design 101 and I know Professor Fletcher would have given it a ‘D’ only in a particularly charitable day. The décor is light alien gray-painted peg-board or gray walls, black ceiling-tiles speckled with silver to suggest space. The fluorescent lighting adds to the bleakness.


The bulk of the artifacts are framed photos, and photostats of photos and newspaper articles, dating back to the Roswell event in 1947. A few small, nicely done dioramas of the crash site stand within plexi-cases on gray plinths, and on the front of each plinth is a framed photograph of the same diorama. A lot of duplication here, and a lot of general statements invite a credulous viewer’s inference. There’s a passive quality to the presentation of information, which I think the fervent beliefs of the museum’s creators hadn’t intended. Standing beneath the gray light, reading small text against gray walls, I though of the books I’ve read and the TV documentaries that were far more convincing that there actually had been a close encounter of the third kind and major cover-up afterward.

For some unknown reason, the focal point in the room is a fiberglass horse with the same articles and photos pasted on its flanks. I get the feeling they get offers of donated stuff and haven’t learned to say no. With so much open floor space, and so few three-dimensional exhibits, the horse was strangely welcome.

The gift shop is actually more interesting than the museum. It’s amazing how many trinkets they were able to alienize. But, the museum is kind to dogs; they let Sprocket in and as we exited through the gift shop they gave him an alien to chew on. Don’t know if that’s a good thing, but we’ll find out.

The couple of blocks of businesses on either side of the museum seemed convinced UFOs exist, or at least are marketable, like the UFO Zone, and the Cover-up Café. Like Cooperstown, with grey alien faces instead of MLB logos. Beyond the couple of blocks, Roswell is typical Main St. USA, stretching into the strip malls, then back into the flat ranchland.

A beautiful new museum on their website was planned for 2007. The lady who sold us our tickets said that it’s maybe going to be done in three years; it’s still a vacant lot. The architects were from a Cambridge, MA firm and the plans look impressive. I just wonder, from where will the material for the actual exhibits materialize? They could use a few more landings in the news. But, they do draw a very steady stream of visitors.

Back on the road, and with four bars on the cell phone, we made some calls from our magic Trailer Life Campground Directory and found a spot at a KOA ten miles south of Santa Fe. We’ve had mixed experiences with KOA, but this one is quite pleasant: in the mountains with lots of cedar trees, but again no working cell
phone. They do provide good WiFi, so we’re able to blog and keep in touch with the world.

We woke up this morning not feeling so hot, maybe the lasagna at the Velvet Garter, so, we’re staying put for the day, resting and acclimating to the altitude.

Explore posts in the same categories: Historic Sites

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