This past summer, I had the rare privilege of traveling cross country along with my husband. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll call him Superman, because, well, he’s super and he’s a man, and because as a child he tried to jump out a window to see if he could fly. (Lucky for me, his mother caught him at it.)
Superman has, of course, superhuman strength, which in this case translated into being able to drive 1200 miles in 24 hours, from Phoenix, Arizona to San Antonio, Texas. I gave him a couple hours off, somewhere in New Mexico and then again in Texas (my gosh that state is big!), but basically I got to look out the window and make conversation, which is really the best part of any driving trip. We were driving from Arizona back to our home state of Maryland, to help my sister and her family move back east. (Our part, after helping pack boxes, was to drive the car.)
Our first major stop was in Roswell, New Mexico, home to the International UFO Museum and Research Center. I wanted to go there for the fun of it, because I’ve read so much science fiction in my life. It turned out to be every bit as strange as it sounds, though a lot smaller than I’d imagined. The museum itself actually had rubber aliens, lots of newspaper articles on the mysterious “Roswell incident” of 1947, and yellowing articles profiling people who said they’d been abducted by aliens. I did wonder at the couple, supposedly abducted by aliens in the 60s and subjected to painful tests, smilingly posing with alien manikins. And then there were the “how to tell if you’ve been abducted” tests and the instructions for “what to do of you see a UFO” which of course included contact info for the museum, which also bills itself as a research center.
The day we stopped in Roswell it was a quiet August Sunday with not much going on, and the place seemed much like any other small desert town off the highway – gas stations, one strip of Main Street, and little else. But I think Roswell must see more traffic than most, at least sometimes. As we drove in, we passed a small house with a large yard, filled with what some people might call household goods, and my mother would just call junk. By far the most prominent thing in there was a huge homemade sign painted with the words STAY OUT. I wasn’t sure if they were talking to the tourists or the aliens.