When touring through the Land of Enchantment, the scenery impresses and the history intrigues, but the little highlights interest me – everything from horseback riding in the Sacramento Mountains, to Clark Gable’s signature in the Cloudcroft cupola (see Have You Ever Had That Feeling You’ve Been Somewhere Before? from March 2013), to the confectionary along the wine trail (see Antioxidants: Wine and Chocolate from September 2021). Unordinary outings and unexpected excursions along the way fills an orchestrated itinerary with impromptu surprises and delights. I’m a big fan of mixing it up.
We sped through the White Sands Missile Range (see Traveling with Boys from November 2011) and chased the Cumbres-Toltec to (see Cumbres and Toltec from June 2013) Chama. We crossed the Rio Grande listening to Duran Duran (see Su Nombre Es Rio Rio from June 2020) and we waited in the fading light of May to watch thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats head out into the darkened smorgasbord (see Waiting from August 2012). Notice all these links? There are so many amazing treats for the senses in New Mexico. This wasn’t my first visit, it wasn’t my last (see Hidden Beauty from March 2012), and there better damn well be more to come.
Just Plain Looney
North of Carlsbad Caverns on our way to Mescalaro, we detour to the International UFO Museum and Research Center, because nothing says “enchantment” like cheesy alien exhibits. Framed articles and photos, foil reconstructions, and a thousand artifacts with no real substance adorn what appears to be a former movie theater. The adjoining gift shop offers as broad a selection of worthwhile memorabilia. No doubt if you believe in the possibility of life from another solar system, the opportunity to visit the epicenter of UFO Land stirs unfathomable possibilities. For me, however, I enjoy giggling and feeling oddly grounded, while allowing the boys to giggle or believe at their own preferences.
The fact that the former nearby military instillation used to launch balloons into the stratosphere either explains the likely series of events in Roswell, or what initially attracted aliens to Roswell. As I tour the museum, not to mention drive in and out and through Roswell, I wonder what could have possibly attracted the aliens here. Did all the wineries throughout the state not entice them? What about the myriad of National Park facilities? Were they uninterested in all the Native American history? Perhaps they, and their Q-36 Explosive Space Modulators, should have made that left turn in Albuquerque.