JJMRT Day 5: Enriched With Radon

Day 5 came on the wings of Friday. Not that the day of the week matters when you’re on vacation; every day has the same sense of unabashed freedom.

We awoke in Santa Fe and had our breakfast. As we were preparing to leave our nicest hotel yet, I noticed my nose had decided to start bleeding. It was an unpleasant experience that thankfully didn’t last long.

We checked out and left the hotel, then parked the car downtown, at The Plaza again. When we went there last night, most shops were closed, so we felt we should get a more appropriate feel for the land. After walking around Santa Fe for most of the morning, I very much believe that every resident of Santa Fe is an artist in some form. The fact that they can all remain financially stable is truly amazing – but I guess that’s what makes Santa Fe cool.

The forest fire smoke that we saw rising through the Rockies in the distance yesterday was still there, being all creepy and ethereal in the morning cloudless sky. The Plaza started out relatively empty, but by the time we left at 1 PM it was packed. We walked the length of it a few times, took some pictures of incredibly old churches, and saw the Palace of the Governors, which happens to be the nation’s oldest continuous use building. They cheated, of course, because you can clearly see that they’ve repaired it along the way.

Nonetheless, the number of art galleries and enthusiastic street merchants was impressive. We went into quite a few galleries, were told very extensive histories on a few expensive art pieces, and checked out a nice guitar shop ran by a slightly unfriendly man.

At Loretto Chapel we saw the famed Miraculous Staircase. The story goes that, whilst building the chapel, a bunch of nuns realized that they had to get to the loft upstairs but didn’t have nearly enough space for a conventional staircase (it’s a quite small chapel). They prayed that someone might come and fix a nice spirally staircase for them, and miraculously someone did. The guy came in, built the whole thing without a support beam whatsoever, and left without payment. They assumed the guy had been St. Joseph. The stairs are only held up by their own design.

We ate lunch on a rooftop pizzeria that allowed for a nice view of most of downtown Santa Fe. Almost all of the buildings are adobe, and Santa Fe is practically devoid of tall buildings, so off in the distance there was still a sliver of the Rockies visible. We ate and drank some ales from a local brewery and listened to this incredibly animated guy at the next table as he told stories of his childhood to what we could only assume were his two daughters. I never heard the girls say anything, so perhaps they were used to it and knew that, whenever going out for food with dad, he was going to talk about all of the times that he was home alone and was approached by strange people.

Afterwards, we went and got frozen yogurt at the smallest froyo shop I’ve yet seen. Once finished, we walked back to the car and commented, more than a few times, on how we continually eat too much food. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t make it yourself. Eat eat eat eat eat.

Then we left Santa Fe and headed to Albuquerque. The first stop was the National Museum of Nuclear Science, which lurked in a nondescript area on the south side. It only opened in 2009 but had a pretty impressive amount of things to see. This museum had a ton of things to read, and as such it could have taken hours upon hours if one was dedicated enough to read every little thing. I read most, but once we realized how late it was we picked up the pace.

The museum started with WWII background and eventually got into why everyone thought an A-Bomb could be so effective, and then into why it failed everywhere else and why it worked here. It was really interesting and showed replicas of the bombs themselves (for some reason they couldn’t recover the originals!), and a lot of other artifacts of the times. The title comes from a series of products from the ’50s which were designed to give the general public the ability to spray a little radon into their water supply. You know, because it’s good for you and stuff.

After leaving the museum, we headed for Apple Mountain Music, which, by the looks of its website, was to be an awesome folk music store. At first, seeing bars on its window and door, I thought it to be closed, but it wasn’t. Goes to show my bad-side-of-a-big-city ignorance, huh? The store was amazing and had just about every folk instrument you could think of, including a Dulcimer Player magazine and a dulcibanjo. The guy was super nice and we spent our dinner talking about how we should convince him to move he and his shop to Dallas.

Dinner was at Garcia’s Kitchen, which the internet led me to believe is something of an Albuquerque staple. There were a lot of old people inside and I think Josh was unnerved by it, but we ate and it was yumz and all was well as we left and got some gas.

Then Albuquerque was behind us and we were on the longish road to Roswell. I would have liked to have spent more time in the big ABQ, since I know there’s more to be experienced there, but the aliens of southern New Mexico wait for no man.

Along the road we may or may not have started to record what may or may not become an alien mockumentary. The landscape shed its lovely Rocky Mountains and became more and more flat. Eventually we were the only ones on the road. We saw long and slow trains and drove through an abandoned town that had to have been haunted.

I looked it up to find that it not only has 94 residents, but is absolutely haunted. I used our terrible Edge cell phone reception to slowly read some accounts of ghost visits in the town by some borderline illiterate people on a ghost site. Favorite quote from the ones we read, “Anyway, then she was strangled by a demon.” We snapped some pictures, talked a lot about ghosts, and then the sun was gone.

The flatness and desolation of the road became more immediate once the sun left the sky, and if we’d been low on gas I’m pretty sure we would have been at the beginning of a horror movie. We kept scanning the radio hoping to find some nut broadcasting from his mom’s basement about UFOs or something, but we had no such luck. All we could find were bad country stations and some creepy static that came and went and eventually morphed into a heavily distorted version of Britney Spears’ Toxic.

At long last we got into Roswell and were on the lookout for aliens. Actually, I guess we’d been on the lookout for aliens once we couldn’t see Albuquerque anymore, but with Roswell surrounding us, the search became more serious. Our hotel in Roswell is quite nice, and after checking in we spent some time looking up other things to do in the alien city.

Today happens to be the anniversary of the US Government’s cover-up of the 1947 UFO crash, but the annual UFO celebration doesn’t kick off until July 1. Boo. I read around and found that a lot of the weird alien-themed restaurants and coffeehouses have closed shop, so double boo.

We’ll still do our best to find some little green men while we’re here on the last stop of our trip. Maybe they’ll even abduct us and we’ll have some wild and crazy intergalactic parties!


~ by Jonathan Forisha on June 24, 2011.

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