Great Southwest Adventure: Day 4: Alamogordo and Roswell
Day 4: Alamogordo and Roswell
Anthony and I recently spent some time in New Mexico and west Texas. We had an excellent time. We nicknamed our trip the “Great Southwest Adventure.” The theme of our trip seemed at first to be all about space but after throwing in a few other attractions, it seemed to be more science, history, sci-fi, and, of course, food. That is pretty much our personality, anyway.
- Day 1: Corinth, Amarillo, Adrian, and Santa Fe
- Day 2: Santa Fe and Los Alamos
- Day 3: Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Alamogordo
We awoke the next morning refreshed. We didn’t sleep as late as we thought we would so we took our time getting ready, repacking the cooler, and enjoying the White Sands Motel’s continental breakfast. I had a boiled egg and some toast and Anthony had some yogurt and toast. We filled up on coffee and checked out.
Again, the White Sands Motel is one that I would highly recommend if you even need a place to stay in Alamogordo. One thing we did notice before leaving is that they have sleds you can borrow for the day if you are going out to play in the sand at the White Sands National Monument. That is an extra touch of hospitality that very much impressed me even though we did not partake of this bonus.
White Sands National Monument
Since we were running about an hour earlier than schedule and the museum we wanted to visit wasn’t open yet, we decided to drive out to White Sands National Monument.
I had been here as a kid but Anthony had never been. We didn’t care to play in the sand this day (maybe the next time we visit) but we did check out the visitors center and gift shop.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History
After spending some time in the visitors center and taking some photos, we headed back into Alamogordo to visit The New Mexico Museum of Space History.
As we were pulling into a parking space, we looked down the hill and saw two school buses headed to the museum. Oh no! We snapped a couple of photos outside and then ran in to get our tickets before the school children. Thankfully, they were there only to see the IMAX movie so we were able to enjoy most of the museum in peace and quiet.
This is a fantastic museum. They go through the history of astronomy, the history of White Sands Missle Range, how war and the Cold War affected space exploration, the different types of ships that have been used, what astronauts eat, the layers of a space suit, and how space exploration has affected pop culture.
The museum has several hands-on exhibits that let you get a real feel of space exploration. They have a platform you stand on that shakes to give you the feel of what astronauts feel as a shuttle is taking off, they have a plan landing simulator, and a room with several space suits you can dress up in and take photos.
However, probably our favorite part of the museum was their Gene Roddenberry exhibit. Star Trek is one of our favorite shows. We have seen every episode at least once and most several times. This exhibit was totally unexpected but we loved it. We even had another visitor take our pic on the transporter pad.
Another fun part of the museum is the elevators. They have them designed like shuttles. So, of course, we got a little silly playing in them.
Outside, they have several rockets and missiles. We spent quite a long time reading about each of them. They also have an interactive device that teaches about sound. It took us a while to figure out how to use it but we eventually got it.
By this time, we were ready for a snack so we had some hummus and pretzel chips before leaving the parking lot.
McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch
On our way out of town, we stopped in at McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch. They do daily tours of their orchard but we didn’t have time that day so that will be something we do the next time we are in town.
We tried several samples and purchased a bag of roasted pistachios. They were wonderful!
Highway 82’s western terminus is located in Alamogordo. I grew up less than a quarter of a mile from this road. So, of course, we had to hop out and take a few pics.
We took Hwy 70 through the Mescalero Reservation and then connected with Hwy 380 again all the way to Roswell. Driving through the reservation was beautiful. You are up in the mountains and pass through a few mountain villages and ski resorts. Hwy 380 to Roswell is also beautiful for a while but is quickly becomes quite boring. At one point they were resurfacing the road for several miles. That was loud, uncomfortable, and probably not the best for our car. This area also has very spotty cell service so, if you ever go this way, make sure you have a full tank of gas and plenty of water in the car.
We had a picnic lunch in the car as we drove through the reservation. A delicious meal of turkey and roast beef with provolone cheese rollups, chips, and grapes.
We stayed at the Rodeway Inn in Roswell. This was the only chain hotel we stayed at on our trip. I wasn’t expecting much but it was a very nice hotel. They even upgraded us to a suite.
International UFO Museum and Research Center
We drove down to the touristy part of Roswell. It was getting close to closing time but we decided to check out the International UFO Museum and Research Center.
I was really surprised at how many people were in this small museum. This was probably the most crowded place we had visited so far on this trip.
This museum is a conspiracy theorist’s kind of place. Each display wall is covered in drawings, testimonials, letters, theories, photocopies, etc. They have a few displays and dioramas.
While they do seem quite serious in their beliefs that the Roswell incident was a crashed alien ship and that there has been a huge government coverup, they have a bit of fun with it too. They had life-size Gort and Klaatu (from the 1951 movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still“) that would every so often play some crazy rock music. There was a life-size display of some greys. Occasionally, they would move a bit and fog machines would fill the area with mystery. They also had an alien autopsy display that might bother some people.
All in all, it was a bit of silly fun that is probably required when visiting Roswell.
We walked up and down the street hoping to visit a few of the other shops but, unfortunately, most of them were closed. I’m not sure if it was because we were there on a Monday evening after 5 pm or if this area is starting to not do so well commercially. It was a shame.
It was still a bit early for dinner, so we stopped in at the Stellar Coffee Co. for a cool drink and to hop on Facebook and Twitter and see what all our friends and family had been up to. Anthony had an Italian soda and I had an iced coffee. They were very refreshing. This is a cool coffee shop. Apparently, they had a big board gaming day a week or so before we were there. That is our kind of place: coffee and board games.
Big D’s Downtown Dive
For dinner, we headed to Big D’s Downtown Dive. This is a pretty cool looking joint. I think we were pretty early for dinner so it wasn’t that crowded yet.
Anthony had the Tomahawk Burger. It is an open face burger on Native American fry bread, with red chile, cheddar, lettuce, black bean pico de gallo, and guacamole. Native American fry bread is kind of like a pita or flat bread but sweeter, puffier, and a bit tougher. I really liked the bread. We may have to see if we can figure out how to make it.
I had the West Coast Taco. It was a fried shrimp taco with “Latin Asian slaw,” pico de gallo, and a chipotle dressing. We also shared an order of their garlic fries. My taco was good but nothing super special. The garlic fries were great.
For dessert, we stopped in at Yoli’s Paleteria. They had all kinds of delectable frozen treats. Anthony got a pistachio flavored popsicle and I got a tres leches one. Then we had them dip them in chocolate. Oh, my, they were amazing! In fact, they were so amazing that we had to get another one (pineapple without chocolate) on the way out to share. Seriously, if you are ever in Roswell, you MUST stop at this place.
It had been a long day and we were exhausted so we headed back to the hotel to enjoy the latest episode of Doctor Who. It seemed the appropriate entertainment in the city of Roswell.
Check back on Wednesday to hear about Day 5 of our Great Southwest Adventure.
What is your favorite sci-fi TV show/movie? Have you ever been to Alamogordo or Roswell? If so, what would you recommend visitors see or eat?