|November 10th - I decided to head North to Roswell, New
Mexico... Most of you probably have heard of Roswell New Mexico, the site of an alleged
UFO crash known as the Roswell Incident. I headed into the free International UFO Museum and Research Center in
downtown Roswell and was unimpressed. The exhibits were nothing more than a few
newspaper clippings and afadavits signed by folks involved in the incidents. In
addition there was some artwork, props from the Showtime movie "Roswell", and
descriptions of . After browsing the exhibit, this is what I could figure out:
Few people know for sure what happened in Roswell on that day of the UFO activity.
However, this much is known: People who did see the aircraft wreckage
describe seeing a type of metal that they had never seen before... very thin, like
aluminum foil, but it couldn't be bent. The day after the crash, the press reported
on a supposed UFO crash. The next day, the government came in and threatened people
if they continued to talk about the UFO. Houses were searched, and any items from
the wreckage were removed from the houses. The press got quiet really quick and
reported that the object was nothing more than a weather balloon. My only logical
conclusion is that something very strange did indeed crash near Roswell New Mexico.
I can't believe the government would get so paranoid about a weather baloon. And if
it were indeed some type of US technology experiment, I would think that they would have
come clean on that experiment by now... certainly public technology has caught up to 1947
Anyhow, after about an hour in the museum, I
snagged some groceries in Roswell, and I headed west towards the New Mexico mountains and
the resort community known as Ruidoso. Although I couldn't see too much at night,
Ruidoso reminded me of some of the ski towns out west in Colorado. Turns out, there
is indeed a ski resort nearby called Ski Apache. I found out later that they didn't
have enough snow to open yet, but planned on opening Thanksgiving day. Using my GPS,
Streets 98, and following signs in Lincoln National Forest I found a beautiful campsite
among the snow at approximately 9000 feet. This was the Skyline campsite with a nice
view of the town below.
November 11th - I awoke to the rumble of a number of cars passing by the
campsite... When I got out of my "bed", I noticed a number of hunters roaming
around in the woods near parking spot. Good thing I was in my car! Actually,
the few hunters I did see seemed nice enough. After a quick breakfast, I headed back
down to Ruidoso. My feelings were verified about the town. Very nice
little community with lots of condos. Reminded me a little of Aspen Colorado,but not
quite as nice.
At this point in my trip, I decided to try put my book, Manifold Destiny, to
good use. My old boss at Sterling Commerce gave me this book. Believe it is or
not, it was a cooking book about how to cook a meal on your exhaust manifold in your
engine. During my drive through Mescalero (in the Mescalero Apache Indian
Reservation), I had a potato (wrapped 3 times in a aluminum foil), stting on top of my
exhaust manifold. After about an hour, I was in Alamogordo and to my horror,
discovered that my car has excellent ventilation under the hood. The potato was as
raw as could be. I think that without building some kind of contraption to hinder
airflow around the exhaust manifold, I am doomed to bake in an actual oven. Oh well,
I tried Don! who knows, I might try to build a little oven to trap air near
the manifold in the future!
Anyhow, I arrived in Alamogordo and tried to find a place where I could update
my web pages. I tried the library there, and after about 3 hours futzing around, I
figured out that the computers there didn't have the ability to upload pages. They
had some pretty good security on those things unfortunately. My web page update
would have to wait. So off I went to White Sands National Monument.
After arriving, I checked in at the visitor's center. As I drove into the
park, I noticed that my morale was dropping. It took me a while to figure out that
one of the reasons my morale was dropping was because I wasn't feeding my self properly.
I recalled that I used to have a small problem with hypocglycemia (low blood
sugar). After entering the park, I pulled over at a picnic site and had a nice big
lunch/dinner. I felt 100 % better and headed off into the white sands. I got
some really incredible shots in White Sands. The White Sands are truly a site to
see. In many ways, it reminded me of the Sahara desert, but with white sand.
Absolutely stark white sand... and nothing but sand... there were a few (very few)
The white sands came from from crystals that eventually weathered themselves
down into sand. The crystals formed on the edges of lakes. As the lake level
would rise and fall, deposits of gypsum were left on the shore, forming these crystals.
These lakes were rich in gypsum because the waters from the mountains above the
desert floor had cut into the earth exposing gypsum. The gypsum eventually made its
way down, via the water runoff, and into the lake. The Dunes at white sands were
formed by the wind. During windy days, grains of sand glow around thereby moving the
dunes. It is said that dunes can move as much as 40 feet in a year. The dunes
swallow just about everything in its path. Therefore, the plants that do live there
have adapted in very unique ways. For example, some of the grasses and low lying
plants put down deep roots, holding on tightly to the sandy gypsum rich sand. This
forms grass islands that seem to defy the rules gravity and erosion. The soaptree
yucca is one of the most interesting plants. As the dune begins to overtake a plant,
the yucca shoots up its leaves in an attempt to stay above the dune. If/when the
dune moves on, it exposes the lower, weaker half of the plant that was built up in hast to
stay above the dune. The plant usually collapses under its own weight at this time.
After the white sands, I headed back into Alamogordo to figure out where to go
next. I found a $1 shower at the Family Center in Downtown Alamogordo. After
the show, I called my friend Dave in Dallas to see when/if I might be able to visit him.
Turned out the best time was Friday evening-Saturday afternoon. Sunday was
going to be busy for him. I had made plans to see my friend Wade in Houston on
Sunday-Tuesday. Yikes, it was already Thursday! I decided to head towards
Dallas. I went through El Paso and headed off to Hueco Tanks State Park in hope of
camping there for the night and seeing some of the petroglyphs the next day. I had
heard good things about Hueco Tanks... unfortunately, when I got there, I found the gate
closed (and locked!) So much for seeing Hueco Tanks! I actually had to drive
nearly back into El Paso to hit the interstate. I wasn't sure what I was going to do
for finding a place to sleep for the evening. However, along the interstate, I found
busy, 24 hour truckstop. This would be my first night in a truckstop and I felt a
little nervous about sleeping there. However, sleep came quickly and everything
worked out really well. I felt I now had another option for places I could stay
while on the road.
November 12th - I headed out on the road and hit a rest stop for
breakfast. There isn't much to note on this day... just a long drive into
Dallas. I did stop at the Odessa Meteor Crater. My friend Eric told me about
the crater, but couldn't find it on any maps. I was pretty surprised when I passed
Meteor Crater road with signs for "Meteor Crator". The reason I couldn't
find it is because it's official name is "The Odessa Meteor Crater". I
swear I took some pictures there, but my digital camera didn't keep them for some
reason. It really isn't very impressive to look at until you read some of the signs
that describe what you are looking at. The Meteor Crater was 100' deep after
impact. It is currently only 6'-10' deep. The most notable thing about it was
the uplifted limestone. The limestone is usually 50' below surface out there on the
dessert floor, but the meteor impact essentially pushed the limestone up towards the
surface. It may sound more interesting than it looked though... there was a only a
slight elevation difference between the desert and the floor of the crater, and the rocks
were only a few feet above the dessert soil.
After the crater I continued towards Dallas and arrived around 9pm at Dave's
(and wife Heather's) house. Dave was a good friend in college... my study partner at
Washington University for Sophmore and Junior year. We both struggled through a
number of CS and EE classes together. I hadn't seen him in nearly 3 and a half years
and it was really good to catch up with him. We stayed up late and reminisced about
the old times.
November 13th - The next day, I awoke and we decided to take a quick
ride on the greenway near his home. Dallas appears to have a number of multipurpose
trails throughout the city... something Atlanta could use a LOT more of! Dave
rollerbladed and I biked and we had a pretty good ride/skate. Dave had family coming
in, so after the ride, I took a quick shower and headed out. Bad weather was coming
in and I wanted to get to destination for the night at a decent hour... I arrived at
Huntsville around 9pm or so. It was dark, but I managed to find a nice campsite on
the lake as the skies opened up and the rain began to fall.
November 14th - Finally a day off! I did basicaly nothing this
day! After waking up, I relaxed and read my book by the lake. I also took a
short walk on their interpretive path. It was kind of humorous actually. They
had a pine tree labelled as a sassafrass tree... hmmm. I made myself lunch at
a picnic spot while I observed some crows attack a bird of prey that was invading there
territory. I got to see a number of animals... turtles in lake, squirrel, and
At around 4pm I headed out to Houston to visit my friend Wade. Once I
arrived, Wade was nowhere to be found. Thank goodness he had left a key to get into
his place! Once I got in, I got a call from him saying that he had missed his
flight. After arriving at the airport, he realized that he didn't have his keys with
him and they had to turn around. He told me that he would be out on the next flight.
I was still up when he arrived around 1am.
November 15th - We woke up at a decent hour and Wade called in sick (he
did actually have some stomach problems!). But that didn't stop us to heading off to
Padre Island National Seashore to try to see if we could catch some fish. It was a
long 4 hour drive, but we decided Padre Island would be worth it. Even though Wade
had to be back at work the following day. Upon arriving (around 3pm) we checked out
the visitor's center. It turns out that Padre Island is pretty big and all of it is
accessible by car. It's a 60 mile drive from one end to the other and 4WD is
required. We decided hit the nature trail to see what kind of flora and fauna grew
along the beach while we still had sunlight. At first I thought it was a pretty lame
nature trail. Afterwards, I discovered that we had forgotten to get the interpretive
brochure. Ooops. Oh well. We had to head off to the beach if we wanted
to start fishing before sunset. We drove down the beach and found a spot away from
everyone else. After catching some bait (smaller fish) with a castnet, we threw our
lines out and started fishing. Unfortunately, we came up emtpy handed before the sun
set and had to settle for a pasta dinner (which was still pretty darn good!)
We watched the stars for a bit. There was supposed to be a really impressive meteor
shower over the next couple of days and we were rewarded with views of a couple of
shooting stars. The lights of Corpus Christi didn't really affect the view.
Wade lit up his cigar and I light up my pipe and we had some great conversation as we
basked in the beauty of the beach night. Around 10 or 11pm, we headed back to
Houston. We arrived back in Houston around 3am and crashed immediately.
November 16th - Another relaxing day. Wade went into work and I
decided to do some laundry. Wade came home for lunch and we went out to hit a great
mexican restaurant. Afterwards we ran some errands. I bought a book on the
Perl programming language so I could try to do some fancy stuff with my web pages (keep
your eyes peeled for some enhanced functionality!). Wade headed back into work and I
started reading about Perl. I immediately fell into a stupor (technical books seem
to do that to you) and took a nice long nap. Before I knew it, Wade was baning on
the door and off we went for coffee and dinner. Wade is a really good friend from my
high school days and it was wonderful to spend some quality time like this together.
We talked about everything during the course of the weekend. It will be wonderful to
spend more time with him when he makes it back to Atlanta (which should be soon).
November 17th - Long ass drive! Nothing really to note here.
I stopped only 3 times for gas... that's IT! Other than that, I was driving the
entire time... 9am (CST) to 11pm (EST) when I arrived at home. Whew!
Welcome to Roswell, New Mexico
The Alien and I at the UFO Museum, Roswell, New Mexico
Ruidoso New Mexico, Skyline Campsite, Lincoln National Forest
Failed attempt to bake a potato on the engine
Grass Islands in the White Sands
Incredible Clouds, Dune View
1" deep reflection pool, dunes, and mountains
Wade on Padre Island grasslands/dunes
Wade and myself on Padre Island