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Great Southwest Adventure: Day 4: Alamogordo and Roswell

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.

 

Alamogordo

White Sands MotelWe 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 Motel

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.

White Sands National Monument visitors center, museum, and gift shop.
The edge of the dunes of the White Sands National Monument.
The edge of the dunes of the White Sands National Monument.
I was told that we were lucky to be able to see these cacti blooming. They bloom for only a short time each year. They are beautiful.
I was told that we were lucky to be able to see these cacti blooming. They bloom for only a short time each year. They are beautiful.
Being silly with a cactus.
Apparently they have a bit of a problem with rattlesnakes at White Sands National Monument.
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White Sands National Monument visitors center, museum, and gift shop.
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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.

New Mexico Museum of Space History
View from the yard of the museum. Notice the school buses. O_O
Quick photo before running in to beat the school children.
View from the 4th floor of the museum. Notice the white band in the distance? That is the White Sands National Monument.
View of the rocket yard from the 4th floor of the museum.
Moon rock.
Replica of Sputnik.
I landed the space shuttle successfully...after a second try.
Astronaut Food
Astronaut Food
Skylab toilet.
Layers of a space suit.
Gene Roddenberry exhibit
Star Trek ships.
Star Trek exhibit
Beam us up, Scotty.
Tribble
I'm ready for space!
I'm an astronaut!
Rocket
I thought this looked like a giant paper airplane.
Anthony and Rocket
Museum and the rocket yard.
Museum and the rocket yard.
Happy rocket is happy.
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New Mexico Museum of Space History
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McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch

Great Southwest Adventure: Day 4: Alamogordo and RoswellOn 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.

Hwy 82 western terminus
Vineyard at the McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch
McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch
Picnic lunch in the car on the way to Roswell.
Road through Mescalero Reservation
Road to Roswell. Beautiful but not exactly exciting.
Resurfacing of Hwy 380.
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Hwy 82 western terminus
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Roswell

Great Southwest Adventure: Day 4: Alamogordo and RoswellWe 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.

International UFO Museum and Research Center
Green aliens
Making friends out of this world.
Incident Sculpture
Incident Diorama
Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still
UFO and Aliens
UFO and aliens
Alien
Eww!
Alien autopsy
Kissy kissy
Alien lamp
Alien lamps.
Eek!
McDonalds Saucer
Roswell mural
The Pleiadians
R2D2 mailbox
Stellar Coffee Co.
Stellar Coffee Co.
Stellar Coffee Co.
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International UFO Museum and Research Center
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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.

Big D's Downtown Dive
Big D's Downtown Dive
Big D's Downtown Dive
Big D's Downtown Dive
Big D's Downtown Dive: Tomahawk Burger and Garlic Fries
Big D's Downtown Dive: West Coast Shrimp Taco
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Big D's Downtown Dive
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Yoli’s Paleteria

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.

Popsicle case
Popsicle case
Chocolate Dip
Tres Leches
Pistachio
Pineapple
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Popsicle case
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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?

 

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  • Pingback: Great Southwest Adventure: Day 3: Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Alamogordo | Kapp's Kitchen()

  • Pinning this to save for future trip planning.

  • JeanneTakenaka

    It sounds like you guys have (?) had a fun trip. 🙂 This is my first visit to your blog. I enjoyed reading about the places you visited and the food you ate. Sounds delicious! We don’t live terribly far from that part of the country. This may be a fun visit for our family.

    I’m your neighbor at Barbie Swihart’s Glimpses linkup. 🙂

    • It’s definitely an underappreciated part of the country. 🙂

  • Jann Olson

    Fun trip! Glad you weren’t kidnapped by aliens. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  • OK. I’m not going to let hubby see your post because he’s going to want to go back to Alamogordo to see the Space History museum. We toured the southwest many years ago but decided to skip Roswell (didn’t even know about Alamogordo) because it was a bit off our path. Oh well, maybe next time (BTW, I wasn’t serious, hubby is going to so love this post)


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