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Aliens Ate My Motorcycle: : Things to Do in New Mexico When You’re UFOing
You could say I’ve been in the “UFO scene” ever since my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Madugle, read to our children daily Truman Bethurum’s “Aboard a Flying Saucer,” a cult classic in literature.” contacted” of the 1950s. It left one of those indelible impressions that go around in my head.
Now here I was, years later, riding my motorcycle from LA to Roswell, New Mexico, a vortex of interest for UFO enthusiasts, the spot where in early July 1947 a flying saucer landed. would be crushed and its occupants recovered, as the story goes. Of mythical proportions, the Roswell enigma is still a hotbed of controversy half a century later thanks to official obfuscation, such as in the “cover-up” and the Freedom of Information Act by which researchers unearthed documents incriminating.
You could say that Roswell is the rock of Plymouth for ufologists, although most of us Saucerheads are not UFO freaks. We’re your average motorcyclist, freelance writer, college-educated traveler who’d rather spend time delving into paranormal mysteries than the souvenir shops of Disneyland. We have our own Tomorrowland to explore where the stakes are cosmic and often comical. But it’s the nature of the universe, a balance between the wild and the wacky, the weak and the strong that glues all quanta together.
As I zipped up my reinforced riding jacket and put on my full-face helmet, I was actually more concerned that the forces holding my 20-year-old German motorcycle would prevail. First gear was popping out and puffs of gray smoke from the left cylinder exhaust meant a ring job, but the trusty old BMW R100/7 had done 150,000 miles, so what about a few thousand more in the face of light years of adventure lurking around the next hairpin curve.
To cut to the chase, let’s just consider the in-between space between LA and my intermediate stop in Santa Fe as a missing time experience, lots of boring freeway curbs during which one could merge the mindset of the project into Classes. As I only had a short time for this adventure, I took the semi-direct route from LA first to Santa Fe, about 860 miles from LA, then to Roswell, about 200 miles south. If you want to completely skip Santa Fe and travel the 970 direct miles from Los Angeles, just take 1-10 East and continue for 674.90 miles, connecting to US-70E which becomes US -285 S. Left on NM-2, another left on NM-2 and you are there. Of course, you might want to stop and smell the cactus once in a while.
Without any mechanical mishaps or speeding tickets, my faithful Beemer and I arrived in Santa Fe, nicknamed the “city of the holy faith”. Founded in 1607 and home to 200 art galleries and five museums, the city is a sandstone-, gable- and cacti-covered nexus co-constructed by three cultures: the Native Americans who arrived first, the Spaniards who arrived later and finally the Anglos who ended up owning the place. My first impression was that Santa Fe was designed by Barney Rubble thanks to the houses that hug the ground with their hand-molded rounded and asymmetrical appearance. Everything is rendered in the hues of the surrounding desert… breccia browns, gecko grays, tumbleweed tans… an entire muted city of ecological invisibility and zero landscape. What keeps it on the map are the intensely colored supernovae that peak through the adobe cloaking device. They can be seen in the historic area of the square, especially the trading stalls under the portico of the Governors Palace where local Indians congregate to sell their brilliantly polished silver jewelry and rainbow woven tapestries and garments. . Plus, huge strands of dried red chili peppers like mummified kelp forests hang everywhere. Shamanic talismans from Santa Fe, they weave a spicy charm since everything you order seems to come with chili salsa.
I felt a growl and it was not coming from any secret US Air Force/Alien underground facility, although there is one in the area. I was hungry and something brought me to the massive hand-carved wooden doors of the Anasazi Inn (113 Washington Ave., 505-988-3030). The inn’s 59 rooms feature gas fireplaces, four-poster beds, Indian artwork, and even locally created organic toiletries with native cedar extract. Artists, historians and archaeologists lead fireside chats in the inn’s lounge. Call it a microcosm of the best Sante Fe has to offer under a roof built of vigas and latillas. The Inn was named after the Native American people who had built a thriving culture on the nearby Chaco Canyon cliffs, then suddenly disappeared without a trace six hundred years ago. Yes, petroglyphs and rock drawings in the area depict strange creatures with helmet-like headgear. UFOnauts extraterrestrials or bikers? Science had no answers, but the hotel’s excellent restaurant did…their specialty lamb prepared by Chef Randall Warder and complemented by a stellar wine list.
To burn off some calories, I signed up for a little excursion that I learned about from the plethora of brochures found at the hotel. (Pamphlets and checking the local Yellow Pages phone book are often my first reconnaissance maneuver when entering uncharted territory.) No visits to UFO landing sites, but I found something called ” Aspook About Ghosts” and inter-dimensional distortions and UFOs. What the hell, after a big dinner, I needed a walk.
For a few dollars, tour organizers promised “a haunting experience in Sante Fe’s hazy past…living (and dying) among coyotes, witches, ghosts, and the not-quite-dead.” Led by Santa Fe ghost guide Peter Sinclaire (505-988-2774), myself and my fellow ghost seekers met at the plush Eldorado Hotel at the intersection of San Francisco and Sandoval for a two-hour bipedal exploration of the place. Santa Fe Haunted Tours. This is a great way to see Sante Fe, sort of Ghost Busters Meets the Travel Channel.
Santa Fe is also looking to dig up the bones of the past, and so am I. But I like to search fossil and mineral stores for UFO-related items. You never know when a piece of the Roswell crash will appear, do you? No saucer debris, but there were lots of dinosaur eggshells at the Charlie “Have Rocks Will Travel” Snell store located at 1110 Calle La Resolana.
Before I spent all my money on eggs I couldn’t eat, I threw my bag on my bike and pointed its headlight toward Roswell about 175 miles south of Santa Fe. State Road 285 is a perfect place to hang out. have it removed. It is virtually traffic free with nothing but brush and wide open nothingness for hundreds of miles in all directions. Best to ride it at night if you want a close encounter of the fourth kind, but better to do it in daylight if you’d rather not encounter the pronghorn you see everywhere. Antelope and motorcycles don’t mix.
I nailed the throttle and dropped 285 back down, and lo and behold, I soon found myself within the city limits of Roswell. It was in the form of a giant trampoline painted with an alien gray face…big head, bigger eyes…stuck on the front of a large Wal-Mart store. In my head, something whispered that UFOs had been commercialized. It was no big secret that Roswell was on the international map due to the 1947 incident and the city’s total buy-in to the idea. If there is such a place that deserves the title “UFOville” then it is Roswell. From Wal-Mart to Arby’s Drive-through Sandwich to the International UFO Museum and Research Institute, Roswell was 100% Flying Saucer Central. I loved the place at first sight.
I went to the “budget” Crane Motel, one of those places where you can bring your own ice bucket. You can not miss it. There’s a strange assortment of old junk cars with flat tires growing roots in the ground. , an old trick to convince people that the place has guests. Or maybe the guests never left. A Plymouth had a faded “Vote Nixon” sticker on it. Anyway, I spent most of the next two days living in the Roswell International UFO Museum. You could easily spend a month if you’re into the subject. The exhibits cover the Roswell crash or crashes since other witnesses offered another crash site about 58 miles from Roswell. You can watch the video made by the late Jim Ragsdale days before his death. He recounts the details of his encounter with a crashed disc that crashed into his van in which he and his girlfriend were “naked” at the time. You can buy a copy of the Judge for Yourself tape or book, but damn compelling.
Dozens of other UFO books and videos are available, some of the more than 1000 items stocked by the museum’s gift shop, a day of exploration in itself. I bought an Alien New Mexico driver’s license which I think will get me into most bars in town. I also purchased a commemorative Roswell carpet and museum membership. I spoke with the lovely Mrs. Phyllis Blackard, one of the museum’s volunteers (entry is free!) who, as a young girl, was present in Roswell when it all fell from the sky. “I was here when the military came in droves, and I know Glenn Dennis, the undertaker who saw the little alien bodies. You can tell the bank.”
Located at 114 N. Main, the museum has welcomed more than one million visitors. The exhibits follow the timeline of the July 1947 incident and its aftermath, feature alleged fragments of extraterrestrial craft, and also shed light on the mystery of crop circles and other related subjects. Documents and photos line the walls along with various artist renderings of UFO scenes. There’s even a section with UFO humor, cartoons, and more. as well as two video projection rooms where you can watch documentaries. You can also have your photo taken in front of an “alien autopsy” scene that features props from the movie “Roswell” starring Martin Sheen. Bulletin boards display the latest reports from around the world, and if you would like to take a tour of the Roswell UFO crash site, you can call (505) 622-0628.
Although I wish I could have stayed in Roswell during the annual 4th of July celebration extravaganza, UFO-themed of course, I had to return to Los Angeles and work. But I occasionally looked upwards, always responding to the ufologist’s mantra… “Watch the Skies.”
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