I think New Mexico just went up several notches on my list of favorite states.  You see, I'm a space fanatic, and besides maybe Florida and Texas, it seems that New Mexico has more to do with space than any other state.

Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, tested his early designs not far from Roswell.  I didn't know that before.  What I did know is that "Spaceport America" is being constructed near Truth or Consequences in New Mexico.  One of these days it may be the first place paying tourists go to hitch a ride into space.

Three large motorhomes flank ours at Eastern Arizona rest stop

Humpty Dumpty doesn't look so monstrous when surrounded by large expensive motorhomes at a New Mexico rest stop.  The one on the left was towing a jeep which was itself towing a trailer!

We had to traverse a 7,500 foot summit on our way into Roswell.

A colorful mural in a parking lot in Roswell depicts aliens

One of several murals in central Roswell depicting a colorful alien scene

Jaden and I checked out the Roswell UFO museum.  I don't believe in aliens of course but I've been curious about what might be behind these kinds of incidents.  Are they government secrets or something else?

Roswell UFO museum

International UFO Museum and Research Center

I typically get overwhelmed whenever visiting a museum because I feel impelled to try to fully absorb every exhibit.  At this one I actually did look at all the exhibits, and I actually got the feeling that the exhibits only scratched the surface of the subject.  Which is fine since the admission fee is only $5.

Inside the entrance of the Roswell UFO museum

The ceiling in the UFO museum resembles a flying saucer, complete with flashing lights

One of the two main walls is devoted to the "Roswell incident" and the other covers UFO sightings in general.  To me one of the most interesting contrasts is the way the government handles Area 51, which clearly hides government secrets, and the way it has dealt with the Roswell incident, which may or may not involve actual government secrets.

The government tried for years to deny the existence of "Area 51". But in recent times they have gradually revealed general information about its existence and purpose.  Contrast that to the multiple "cover stories" that continue to change regarding the "Roswell incident", despite many years having elapsed and little reason for a change in official story after so many years.  It almost seems as if they are doing it to keep people's minds curious rather than otherwise.  I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about why that might be....

First stories of strange crash landing in Roswell

More recent official explanations of the Roswell incident

The official story is, the Roswell incident involved a weather balloon, no wait, a nuclear testing balloon.  Actually it was a crash dummy drop test.  Wait, what?

I would have enjoyed getting to know more of the local residents of Roswell who very much do not resemble aliens, but other than eating at a Denny's and fueling up at a gas station, we mostly just did the alien-loving tourist thing.  Fortunately it only took a couple hours, even with my very careful examination of the museum exhibits, and we were on our way.  My impressions of the locals: The restaurants we checked out were all very busy (it was a rainy Saturday) and the hostess at Denny's was very attentive while our waitress was not.  The lady at the gas station was also very attentive and had a steady stream of Hispanic customers whom she spoke to in Spanish.  (It is, after all, New Mexico.) It seems fairly average for a town of around 50,000 people.  Rather unlike the town portrayed in the TV show Roswell which we used to enjoy watching (at least the first couple seasons).

The Roswell Space Center - not a UFO museum

Follow the alien footsteps to... a tourist trap!  The signage leads one to believe they'll find some kind of educational experience, but they just sell alien-themed stuff there.

I mentioned the heat in my last two posts.  Our last two days were noteworthy for the lack thereof.  Big rainstorms swept into the Southwest on Friday night and the spectacular nighttime lightning displays were accompanied by rain and much cooler temperatures.  Thursday our low temperature was 63, which corresponds to the high temperature yesterday.  We actually ran our furnace yesterday morning since the temperatures were in the high 30's.

Alien face on fence outside Wal-Mart

Guess which Wal-Mart this is?

We had another first during our overnight stay in Roswell.  We parked at Wal-Mart, both that night and the next one in Lubbock.  Wal-Mart has a corporate policy of encouraging RV overnight parking, but many localities have prohibitions that prevent this from happening.  None of the Portland Wal-Marts allow overnight parking, possibly due to the prevalence of homeless RV dwellers.  However New Mexico has very few stores with prohibitions.  In fact some stores offer free Wi-Fi specifically in areas where the RVs are parked.  An appealing proposition for people like us.

Along the way we've had a few minor mechanical malfunctions but I won't cover those right now.

Jaden smiles as she eats her "chicken fingers"

Happiness is opening a box of Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers.

Central Kingdom Hall in Lubbock

Where the Lubbock Central Congregation meets

We arrived at the Kingdom Hall in Lubbock by 9 am hoping to join the Sagewood congregation in field service.  I wondered if anyone would show up with the strong winds and unseasonably cold temperatures.  No one did.  While we were waiting, though, we got to meet some of the friends who were arriving for the 10 am meeting.  The first brother I met is in the Spanish congregation.  I'm quite familiar with the friendly and hospitable manner of the Spanish Witnesses in Portland.  When they arrive at meeting they shake the hands of everyone they see, and they do the same before they leave.  On coming into the Hall we had the same experience and at first thought we were at a Spanish meeting.  We soon realized that those in the English congregation in Lubbock do the same thing!  We could get used to this.  Cultures are different in different places, but I think the hospitable, welcoming nature of the Texans, both English and Spanish, is worthy of our imitation.

Our goal was to meet the Chinese group in the Sagewood congregation.  Most of them were out of town, but there were a few still there.  The meeting program was a video feed from Taiwan, but we still had a great experience.

Man riding a horse through flowers

Monday was devoted to traversing the great state of Texas (most of it at least).  There's a Chinese saying, 走马观花, that can well describe my experience with Texas at this point:  It means to look at flowers while riding a horse.  Just as a horseback rider can't get a good look at the flowers he's racing past, I can't say I've really seen Texas.  But we did spend quite a bit of our drive on Texas Route 6 which passes through a lot of small towns.  We also zipped through Houston.  So I've got a lot of mental images to recall when I think of Texas.  The part I most treasure is the part I value the most about every trip I take, which is meeting the local Witnesses.  The friends in Lubbock left a very good impression on me.  I imagine our experiences in the next congregation we visit in the South will be similar.  There's a reason God considers these people the precious things of the nations.

We spent less time in Waco than we did in Roswell, so I don't have much to say about it.  Maybe Julie will mention something in her next post.  I did spend some time thinking about the mental image of Waco I had before visiting, which was connected with the turbulent events nearby that happened in 1993.  I find it interesting that the local officials in the city of Waco have no desire to memorialize the events that became synonymous with their town in the minds of most U.S. residents.  Fortunately the lives of ordinary Waco citizens are as distant from those events as the lives of Roswell residents have nothing to do with space aliens.

Upon arriving in Texas we learned that tornadoes had done massive damage in the Northeast part of the state. Sadly, several people died and many others lost their homes.  We were fortunate to have missed the area entirely but it was a good reminder of the tenuous nature of life in the present world.

As I write this we've overshot Galveston and are headed for Sea Rim State Park near the McFaddin Wildlife Refuge.  Julie found an RV park here she wanted to stay at, and it's right along the same coast as Galveston.