Roswell, NM. The supposed site of the 1947 Alien crash. Denied, of course, by the government, but staunchly supported by some scientists and many locals. We thought a trip through this iconic city would be full of kitschy, albeit touristy, fun. It was, underwhelming at the least; disappointing at best.
Neglected and run-down were the first words that came to mind as we drove north on 285 and hooked a right onto 380. Boarded-up buildings; closed businesses; bars on the windows. Not the alien attraction for which we had hoped.
Of course, there were a few shops along the "Historic" section of Main Street. But even those were not as fulfilling as had been expected. The McDonalds had a space theme...but, other than a few painted, sculpted, or blown-up aliens, there was little that would tell anyone they were in Roswell. I desired the job of Mayor just to inject a little space fun into this sad little town; the Dairy Capital of the US, by the way... another surprise that held little evidence.
So, for a day, well, about an hour, myself and the kids walked about a block as Steve and his headache (alien mind-meld?) napped in the truck. We hit about 4 stores with an alien theme...not one of which had a cool postcard I could buy! They all had the same cutesy little alien t-shirts and Made-in-China alien knick-knacks. So we focused on hunting down some little green men (or women).
Outside the Welcome Center.
Window shopping for aliens.
Busy at work planning Earth domination.
One of the shoppes on Main Street.
One stop was Alien Zone (http://www.alienzoneroswellnm.com) and Area 51...a $3 fee for me and free for the kids. (Well, $2 for 12 and up, so Ian was 11 for the day.) An attempt, at least, to entertain the guests. Merchandise to buy, exhibits to see, and a fun slide for the kids. You pay to get into the
Area 51 in the back...this is where the alien fun begins.
Even aliens going through earthly probes and other scientific testing like to take a break once in a while.
As skeezed as I was about this couch, I had to get the picture. Don't put your heads on the fabric kids!
This was amazing! They floated right up to the ceiling! Worth the $3.
Dr. Chloe collects some extraterrestrial data.
After a long day in the lab, the scientists need a belt.
The kids' new friend.
They were even invited to a BBQ.
I put my foot down when they were invited to head back to see Zolton X's planet.
There's also the UFO Museum, http://www.roswellufomuseum.com, that we never ventured to see. We were told there was a LOT of reading, and, as fun as it may be I had a feeling it wouldn't entertain the twins all that much. Nominal fee to visit.
Now, this isn't to say that the town of Roswell, NM, isn't a nice place to live. They have a newer stretch of commerce north on Main Street...Walmart, Target, Office Max, among others. Some newer neighborhoods have been built with nice homes. There seems to be the beginnings of a movement to get Main Street up and running again and I hope they can. If they want to keep the alien theme to bring people in, the city needs a lot more to attract visitors. It needs a face-lift, and maybe a better sense of pride starting with business property owners and managers. Not overly clean. We went a week without heading to the laundromat because there wasn't one in town I'd set foot in. (Washed by hand and hung out to dry, just like the pioneers.)
I wouldn't encourage anyone to purposely head to Roswell for the alien thing, but if you are in the vicinity, stop in, patronize a bit. You never know if you might run into a visitor from WAY out of town.
As disappointing as the aliens were, the scenery and geology in the area is breathtaking. Large cliffs of red rock look over vast grazing ranches, bristled brush, and dry river beds of the Chihuahuan Dessert. Nearby are the bottomless lakes, so named because the vaqueros (cowboys) tied ropes together to measure the depth, but the ropes were not long enough. And so, they considered them to be bottomless. These lakes are actually sinkholes formed over time by the collapse of underground caverns or caves.
And the sunsets are out of this world!
We never actually encountered any real aliens, well, not the outer-space kind anyway. And if we did, we may just have kept it to ourselves. To talk about it may have been dangerous... http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/physician-told-handling-roswell-debris-dies-20096004