06 June 2010


Photo stolen from the copyrighted photographer in the lower right
(Problem? contact Ben Dover at Dewey, Cheatham and Howe LLP...AKA lower and lower principles)

Day One point five of 505's "Go East Old Mahon" escape from the Dusted Bowl of New Mexico.

One of the more enjoyable drives in the Rocky Mountain West is US Highway 285, a road constructed well before Dwight Eisenhower's ambitious Interstate Highway Program shifted a high volume of north/south traffic to I-25. During my 24 years in the 505, I have had the pleasure of traveling US 285 through all of Northern New Mexico and most of Colorado. But only yesterday, on my way outta town, did I venture into southeastern New Mexico via that one time main artery. 

Bits and pieces from that star studded trek down UFO Alley to Roswell and beyond:

There is pretty much nothing from Clines Corners (60 miles east of Albuquerque) to Roswell except for overgrazed grassland freely littered with cattle and antelope. (Saw two herds of antelope, one herd had 17 members, the other 12....how do I know? Count all the legs and divide by 4 silly).

About 15 miles north of Roswell, I noticed (well, I couldn't miss it) a Mayflower moving van steaming north like a Flying Dutchman billowing smoke out of the rear of the cab that was thick enough to make me come to a near complete stop, as the foaming 300 foot long fog obliterated the southbound lanes to near zero visibility. Was very thankful that southbound traffic behind me was 1/100th the volume of the Jersey Turnpike and California's I-5 during heavy ocean borne fog and no one plowed into my rear, nor did I destroy anyone (no one) in front of me.

Roswell may well be considered and known as the "UFO Capital of the World" and the "Dairy Farm of NM" but the real story of Roswell is it's cemetery. And it's not just an an average cemetery.

About 5 miles south of town, just off of 285,  is the Roswell Airport and "Air Center". Over 250 mostly widebodied aircraft from the "Glory Years" of the Airline Industry are buried above ground upon that air frame mausoleum. Not the least of which, as I spied, were a couple of old Northwest DC-10's. And if it wasn't for the fact that it was 109 degrees in the shade outside of my air conditioned 95 Sonoma, I might have stopped at the airpark to see if either of those DC-10's still had the checkbook Jim Snow stole from me one well lubricated night/early morning on a redeye from Anchorage-Seattle aboard NW028. In the seat pocket of 2D if I'm not mistaken. (and you won't find any capless miniatures next to it....those were the days when Northwest flight attendants free poured from fifths).

It's about 40 miles from Roswell to the next bustling metropolis along US 285....Artesia.

The stretch of road between Roswell and Artesia should forever be known as the "The Ole Factory Highway". Accessorized with roadside signs that read, "This section of the road sponsored by....." and are licensed  to Lysol Air Cleaner (aerosol and spray) and Renuzit Car Freshener. For the first 30 miles or so, US 285 south of Roswell, is rimmed by one of the world's largest and continuous dairy cow plantations...with 10's of thousands of bovines feasting upon all of natures finest synthetic vitamin laced natural ingredients. Waking up on the floor of a locker room the morning after a Deviled Egg Eating Competition (sponsored by Budweiser) would be a distant Silver Medalist in this Olympic Aromatic Showdown.

Not to be outdone, the last ten miles into Artesia has it's own sensory claim to fame. The skyline of Artesia, visible from 10 miles away, can best be described as a 1950's Hasbro Erector Set Christmas present that was hijacked by 1960's MIT freshman overdosed on hallucinogenic drugs. Mile upon mile of 3-4 story natural gas drilling and refinery apparatus highlighted by a continuous and overwhelming noxious, gaseous stench. An odor that would put the most insomniac among us into a long and comfortable death engaging snooze. I kept looking for signs that read "No Smoking Within 10 Miles Of Artesia", fearful that if I fired up a ciggie within the confines of this government sanctioned environmental disaster zone, I would go down in history as the two-legged equivalent of Mrs. O'Leary's cow.

And...that's not even the highlight of a drive through Artesia....Nope... not even close....
Ten miles from Artesia is the customary "Welcome to Artesia" sign that is a requisite in rural American approach arteries.

Just within a street walker's operating radius from that welcome sign, and MILES from anything else, was one of the finest looking, cleanest, largest, most modern Barnes and Noble equivalent of an Adult Video Store known to humanity.
Go figure.

Roadside Sign/Billboard of the Day.
Ever been on a rural highway approaching a town in the middle of nowhere and see billboards/wallboards spaced about 100 yards aparts encouraging road warriors to visit a gas station/curio shop in the approaching town?

Carlsbad New Mexico (remember in the 60's how every cool dad had a bumper sticker that read "I visited Carlsbad Caverns NM"?

Yesterday......final descent into Carlsbad there were about 6 short and spiffy roadside signs spaced about 100 yards apart along 285 promoting a Curio/Souvenir Shop in Carlsbad. One of the signs read...

WHAT?? ...........Anachronism? Twilight Zone? or a Brilliant Flashback to days gone by?
(I wonder if they sell Kodak flash bulbs with blue dots on them?)

Just my opinion.


  1. Weren't "blue dots" from Sylvania?

  2. Good call Jasper John...I believe you are correct.
    No problem Buckeye.....with Louisiana and the Gulf Coast looming upon the eastbound horizon, there's plenty of Obama Bashing in the extended forecast.