i was aware that roswell was a town famous for an alien event in the 1940's, so i peered out the window as we drove through; it was sunny, and it looked like san angelo, very well taken-care-of, not ashamed of its high-plains sunny bright character, prosperous, concerned about its appearance. we saw a few aliens on the billboards and saw a museum devoted to aliens. it was near the pecos river so i noticed that whereas artesia, also on the pecos, is only halfway to the mountains, roswell was actually much closer, and in fact the mountain swimming pool got a roswell radio station. the town was surrounded by that vast plain, where it looks like it goes a hundred miles, and once you get out of the city, there's nothing. and city? it's only got 40,000 or so; there aren't many cities in new mexico.
as a faithful license plate watcher, i was happy to catch a few right away, but noticed that, on these backroads, you don't see much besides NM & TX - after we got to ruidoso, it was pretty easy to pick up OK, AZ, UT (life elevated) and CA. Before the trip was over I'd got most of the west - WA, OR, ID, MT, even AK, which is the triple-word-score of license plate watching. but way out here, in the folds of the sacramento mountains, south of the main rockies and not on any cross-country interstates, it was hard to pick up any of the new england or southern states, and i only ended up with about 28. got TN, OH, NY, CT, FL & LA, but there were tons i never got. they just don't come out here all that much.
high up in the pines my wife got a lot of anxiety about coming back to work, but we had to roll off the mountain and down the hill anyway. i'd looked up a little about the roswell incident - how five different books were written about it - how there was no controversy that some aircraft fell from the sky and landed out there in the middle of nowhere - about controversy over the 'alien autopsies' and about all the secrecy surrounding the case, etc. - it was impressive. the car dealerships had alien statues out there - i saw them this time more clearly, even though i was driving. we stopped at a dairy queen in roswell, and dairy queens, it seems to me, are always somewhat otherworldly, no matter where they are.
sometimes, it seemed like the bleakest, emptiest environment a person could possibly drive through, brick streets in a town that turn into dirt less than two blocks from the courthouse, little more than a dairy queen in some towns, miles of flat red-clay soil in every direction. i thought sadly of coming down out of the beautiful mountains into a flat, dry, hot, sunny, arid plain and i got a little depressed. but i did run into one character, in a convenience store, who had moved from ruidoso to lubbock and was glad of it, because he had access to more stuff he needed and didn't feel as isolated; obviously he didn't care so much for the high mountain beautiful air.
right on the intersection of main street in roswell i saw it: the true triple-word-score of all license plates, hawaii. it had a rainbow on it. i always wonder about those - what did they do, ship the truck over here somehow? seemed like it came from outer space or something. i have no idea.
back at home now, and i promise you pictures, of the mountains, of white sands, whatever. i notice that i've completely failed to get them on here, and must rectify that situation. the sooner the better. chou