Thursday, May 26, 2016

Westward Ho! 9 Roswell NM and Bottomless Lakes State Park

When people hear we stopped in Roswell their first question, understandably, is Did you see a UFO? or some variation thereof.  Our answer is that no we didn't even see the museum.  I will admit to a certain obnoxiously persnickety attitude toward doing what everyone else is, but in this case it really was that the entire operation seemed so commercialized and borderline tacky (or so we had read) that we decided to skip it.

When we left Guadalupe Mountain NP we drove for awhile along Rte 62/180, a long straight, flat road, under clouds that were opening to let sunlight through and creating beautiful patterns on the mountains.

Striking patterns from the sun on the mountains along Rte. 62/180







long flat straight stretches of road are something we have become familiar with in the desert southwest

We drove to Carlsbad and filled up with gas and then used a free town "dump" to empty our grey water tank (yahoo! for not having to do black water since we have our composting toilet) and continued through miles of open space and a few towns like Artesia.  Unsurprisingly, there are artesian wells there which explains the acres of pecan groves we saw along the road-in fact into Roswell.  But, I disgress...

I have always loved murals and ads painted on buildings and Artesia had its fair share

There was also a wonderful sculpture, The Cattle Drive, right at the main intersection in town



We saw one like this in Iowa too and felt like we were on a set for Star Wars...how appropriate when headed to Roswell

We see so much natural beauty that it's jarring at times to come upon roadside sites like these


Our stop for Roswell was our first state Park in NM so we signed up for the annual pass which will mean we can stay in any NM state park without paying an entrance/camping fee, unless we want electric and then it's $4.  Bottomless Lakes State Park is about 20 minutes drive outside of town and we stayed at the Lea Lake campground, a very nice and quiet site alongside a small lake.  The "bottomless" lakes are actually cenotes, which are really sinkholes in limestone bedrock which exposed the water underneath.  The limestone is part of an ancient reef which formed an escarpment or cliff alongside the Pecos River which eroded and caused caves which in turn collapsed and caused the cenotes. Pretty cool, huh?  Too bad I didn't pay better attention to Mr Palmer my 9th grade geology teacher.  I would know a LOT more about what I am looking at and he would have been saved 9 months of headaches from a snotty brat.  Everywhere we go out here there are incredible rock formations, colors and ancient history and I am left thinking Is that igneous or metamorphic rock?

Lea Lake from above

O! The difficult life of a cat!

Sunset over the Sierra Blanca range

sunrise over the Sierra Blanca range and Lea Lake

Lea Lake in the early morning sun

I had not made any reservations but we'd left early enough to get there by late morning and lucky for us there was one drive through spot open which we got.  The winds of the mountains were gone but the air was still cool so when the camp host told me the office, to get the annual pass, was "right over there" I thought he meant the building where we'd entered and decided to ride my bike over.  Weeeeelllll that place was just the day use pavilion but looking at the map it didn't look too much farther.  It was and in long sleeves and jeans, under the hot sun with no water and what turned out to be an almost flat tire AND my thinking the Visitor Center was a building farther away than the one right around the corner, I called Don.  My knight in shining armor came in the car, we loaded up the bike, rounded the corner and there it was.  Oh well, it gave us both a chance to read about the various flora and fauna in the area.

Laundry day reared its ugly head so I ventured into Roswell and left Don to care for the pets.  Cadbury liked the site but would get exhausted in the heat and came in to rest quite frequently.

Heading into Roswell from Bottomless Lakes


When we left after a day of hanging out we decided to stop in Roswell before going on to Lincoln, our next stop.  We had found a place to park in town and walked around looking for the Visitor Center which had moved from the address we had but found it in a lovely area that included the Roswell Museum and Art Center (RMAC).  We toured the museum with it's comprehensive museum and diverse collection of art, including the Founder's Room which featured the art of Peter Hurd and his wife Henriette Wyeth, and the Dr Robert Goddard Collection.  (Goddard was a pioneer in liquid-propellant rocketry.)


Chaves County Courthouse and its beautiful dome

Sheriff Pat Garrett, famous for killing Billy the Kid (see the Lincoln post to learn more about Billy)



Mural in the Visitor Center

Sidewalk art-most of them had washed away but this one was still pretty clear

The exhibits in the museum section of RMAC were very well done





This mural got my attention right away with its fabulous colors and all the detail




There were a number of sculptures both contemporary and classic



This, the paiting below and the lithograph below it are all the work of one of the founders, Peter Hurd



I am a fan of some modern art but I have to say truthfully that this did not strike me as something I would fork out money for.  I had to take a photo of it because the it's titled "Don" :-)

A lovely courtyard was outside

with flowers and shade,

sculpture

Dr RH Goddard
 Roswell is a place that certainly is dedicated to the other worldly and there are a number of "museum" and attractions focusing on extraterrestrial life with storm drain covers, mailboxes and even McDonald's using the theme.  One of our neighbors at the campground had recommended Big D's Downtown Dive for lunch.  He said the food was delicious and it was!  A very popular place with locals (always a good sign) as well as some tourists.  We both went for the Holy Guacamole burger with green chile, cheese and guacamole which was enough to keep us full enough that we had only  a small snack for dinner.

OK how many towns have specially designed manhole covers?

Or a Mc Donald's shaped like a spaceship? (Maybe that's why the "aliens" didn't stay.)



It was only as we drove out of town and I happened to look at the date I realized we'd left a day earlier than scheduled.  It was too bad because there were some other places we wanted to visit.  


Previous Stop: Westward Ho! 8 A turn to the north Guadalupe Mountains



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