We drove up from Roswell to Santa Fe on Tuesday – through what New Mexico refers to as a “Winter Driving Warning.” Leaving Roswell, where there was less than 1/2″ of snow on the ground, I laughed when I saw the big lighted sign warning of Winter Driving Conditions Ahead, “Use Caution.”
Four and a half hours later I had a new appreciation for the conditions. While it wasn’t really HORRID, the drive wasn’t all that much fun either. For some time outside of Roswell, the driving lane was clear and dry and we could pretty much drive the speed limit. Soon, however, either the snow had picked up or there had been more snow than in Roswell, because the driving lane became slushy and not so clear.
At times, what few cars there were on the road were traveling only at 40 MPH, and with the passing lane covered with snow and too much snow blowing and swirling behind the cars ahead I was unwilling to pass. So, using my good judgment (HA! Bet you thought I didn’t have any?!) I remained in the slow line of cars until conditions improved. By the time I got to Santa Fe, I was happy to pull off the road and settle into our motel.
On the way, I spotted a cattle loading area by the side of the road on one of the ranches. This is the place where the cattle are rounded up into pens and loaded through a chute onto trucks to go to the slaughterhouse. This particular chute and holding pens looked like a great photo op, so I made a U-turn and drove back. The chute and circular pen that led the cattle into the chute were metal that was painted a bright blue, but it was rusted, scratched and scuffed – loaded with patina of years of wear and tear.
Temperatures were in the single digits and the wind was whipping at 25-30 MPH so it was freaking COLD out there! I left the car running and crossed the cattle guard, went between the rails on the gate and started shooting with my Canon EOS digital. Every time I pushed the button, the camera would click and then NOT take another picture unless I turned it off, then back on again. I figured the problem was that it was too cold.
So, back to the car and on to Santa Fe, with a couple of similar photo stops to shoot some interesting abandoned buildings. This morning, when I went to download the photos, I was crushed to find that I didn’t have any photos of the cattle loading chute! It was so cold that the camera didn’t shoot a single of my dozen or so images. So, those are pictures taken with my heart only…
Roswell – which I expected to STILL be the small town made famous by UFO sightings in the 1950s and 60s – was pretty big and sprawling, a lot like many places we’ve traveled through on this trip. And once again, we were on the fringes with the other motels, fast food, tire warehouses – and not so far away, the ever-present Starbucks, my early morning salvation.
We actually got a nice mile walk in before 7 AM, which took us down a side street past the New Mexico Military Academy’s athletic fields to said Starbucks and back to our motel for breakfast in our room. After checking out, I drove to the Roswell Museum and Art Center, which houses a nice collection of art and artifacts. There was an interesting exhibition on the history of the area, complete with artifacts from both the Native American tribes, and the white people who came to the territory in the 1800s.
They have an artist-in-residence program, and I was pleased to see that Anna Hepler, a Portland, Maine based artist will be in residence from March 5 to April 17th.
From the art museum, I went to the UFO Museum and Research Center! From the entrance, to the gift shop, it’s filled with accounts of UFO sightings, including typewritten and signed statements, newspaper accounts, photographs, movie posters, and dioramas depicting all manner of UFO encounters. I have to say that I breezed through pretty quickly, but I felt like I HAD to go since I was in Roswell…
I think that ALIENS sabotaged my post tonight!
I wrote a whole heckuva lot more than this and there was a weird glitch as I tried to upload my final photo before publishing the post. I tried to save the post but lost everything I wrote after these photos… So, since it is now 11:17PM here, I am going to bed.
I’ll write about today in Santa Fe tomorrow…