Posts Tagged ‘roswell’

I got a good belly laugh when I saw a sign for eye exams on a Wal-Mart front in Roswell, New Mexico — and right above it a space. — Photo by Pat Bean

“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

Road Trip: June 21 – July 6, 2002

From Santa Fe, I took Interstate 25 south to Carlsbad, New Mexico, which took me through the strange city of Roswell. Home to about 50,000 residents, Roswell sits on the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains.

Mexican free-tailed bats exiting Carlsbad Caverns at sunset. — Wikimedia photo

The city’s weirdness factor, meanwhile, is based on a reported UFO crash near the city in 1947.  The alternative story is that it was actually a weather balloon that crashed and not an alien ship. The taller tale, expanded by UFO fans, claims that aliens were recovered from the crash and that the incident became a military cover up, a story that spawned the television series “Roswell” and been exploited by movies, such as “Independence Day.”

Roswell entrepreneurs have also exploited the UFO story to attract tourists.  Alien-themed businesses and museums abound, even Wal-Mart got into the act, as you can see from the above photo. I couldn’t help but have a good belly laugh when I saw a sign advertising an eye exam with a spaceship painted on the wall above it.

But since I’m not really into the UFO conspiracy, after a stop to refuel and have lunch, I drove on to Carlsbad, my stopping place for the night.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher, an awesome bird that’s common in Texas but can’t be found in Utah. — Wikimedia photo

While I wasn’t taking the time to visit Carlsbad Caverns, for which the city is famous, I did want to get into to town in time to watch the Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the cave at dusk. Some believe millions of these bats once inhabited the cave, but the latest rough count of these flying mammals was slightly less than 800,000, which is still enough to make for a spectacular show.

The day’s drive also increased my birding life list. Added to the list were scissor-tailed flycatcher, Couch’s kingbird, red-shoulder hawk and common and great-tailed grackles. All these birds were not normally seen in Utah, where most of my birding had been done since I had started seeing and listing birds.

Other birds seen on this day’s journey included house sparrow, rock pigeon, raven, red-winged blackbird, western meadowlark, turkey vulture, Lewis woodpecker, Swainson’s hawk, crow, mourning dove, northern mockingbird and cliff swallow.

Bean Pat: Oregon’s Painted Hills https://roadsbeltravelled.com/2018/09/08/born-to-wander-these-painted-hills/ I, too, traveled this road alone – as an old broad during my RV-ing days. Good times.

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Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion Pepper. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, enthusiastic birder and is always searching for life’s silver lining. She can be reached at patbean@msn.com

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“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” – Ashley Montagu

A piece of the Great Wall of China in Walla Walla, Washington. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Call me weird if you like, but I think the ladybug I find on the rose is even more beautiful than the rose itself. And it’s not just because I know that ladybugs eat the aphids that eat the roses. It’s mostly because coming across a ladybug is usually a surprise.

I like surprises. Seeing things I don’t expect to see. It’s actually what I enjoy best about travel.

Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy seeing the magnificent sights travel is all about. One wouldn’t want to go to Yellowstone and not see Old Faithful, or to New York and not see Niagara Falls.

But the little unexpected things along the way are what put the magic in any journey.

One of the more surprising surprises I got in September took place in Walla Walla, Washington.

I went there with my friend, Sherry, who lives in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. As we drove the eight miles from her home to the larger town to do some shopping, we got to talking about the places we wished we could afford to visit in the near future.

“Ayers Rock in Australia and the Great Wall of China top my list,” I said.

“Oh! Would like to touch a piece of the Great Wall,” she asked?

She then took me to the Walla Walla University, from which she had graduated.

The UFO above an eye exam sign on a Wal-Mart in Roswell, New Mexico, was a jolly fun surprise. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Hidden in a bushy alcove, on the brick wall of a campus building, was indeed a piece of the Great Wall. It had been incorporated into the building as one of the bricks. Above it was a plaque that read: “A piece of the China Wall, donated in 1941 by John L. Christian, Class of 1936, missionary to Burma.”

The touch of the rough, gray rock felt magical, and my fingers tingled.

My brain, however, was thinking that such casual taking of a piece of history today could land one in serious trouble. Of course things were different back then, when everyone was expected to bring home “real” souvenirs, like a piece of lava from Craters of the Moon or a rock-hard log from the Petrified Forest.

Back in the 1940s,  the “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints” motto hadn’t yet become conservation’s cry.  While I’m glad it’s now the standard, I’m also glad I got to actually touch a piece of China’s history.

It was a magnificent surprise to add to my travel memories.

Perhaps one day I’ll get to touch the actual wall. Of course, given my current economic reality, that would indeed be a surprise.

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