Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Close Encounters of Every Kind

After the excitement of Pikes Peak, the Halls still had many miles to go, and it was midnight before they rolled into the little town of Las Vegas, NM. Early in the drive, they had passed through some terrific storms, but as the sun set behind them, the most glorious full arch rainbow spread before them, seeming to lead the way south. "I'll take that as a good omen," murmured Mrs. H. sleepily, and she curled up in her seat and rested til they got to their next destination.
Las Vegas, NM was merely chosen as a rest stop, their real goal was to pull into Roswell in time for the Alien Festival and the Dress-Up Parade. They made excellent time, racing across the blistering desert, past scrub and mountain, and before they knew it, out of the flatlands appeared more and more buildings, traffic and eventually Roswell; bustling and busy and full of happy alien groupies! The Gentle Reader can well imagine that this little burg was normally just a sleepy village, but for this Independence Day every light post was decorated, every window adorned with an invitation to extraterrestrials, and apparently (muttered Mr. Hall) every parking spot was filled. At any other given time, alien enthusiasts would have been straining to watch the skies, but clearly, the game plan here was watching the streets: the endless variety of paranormal fanciers, trekkers (or is it trekkies?), conspiratorial whistle-blowers and just general goofballs made the town a kaleidoscope of kookiness.
There was a line to get into the UFO Museum; their main speaker that afternoon was Malcolm McDowell. Despite legitimate acting credentials, the fact that he had appeared in several bizarre and fringe films, as well as doing the voiceovers of numerous villians and swines in a multitude of video games, provided him with the necessary gravitas for this event and the long line to hear him speak bore this out. The Halls settled in briefly in the back, but when it appeared he was becoming fatigued with yet another question regarding events thirty or so years in the past ("I'm just an actor- I don't believe in any of this stuff!"), they decided it was time to investigate the other exhibits in the show. Several booksignings were taking place in a larger room and the pegboards lining the outer walls bore large blowups of blaring headlines and rampant speculation- the atmosphere of paranoia was intoxicating. Of course, the climax was the diarama of an alien autopsy. The editorial staff of the Monitor, to protect its younger readers, declines to post a photo of that here- but rest assured, the Halls took one or two.
An unexpected surprize was the Roswell Art Gallery and its fine collection of specimens from Robert Goddard's days in New Mexico. Behind the main rooms, there was a gallery devoted specifically to that noted rocket pioneer, and a complete replica of his workshop was displayed. While browsing the museum shop on the way out, Mr. Hall spotted a small tome on the history of Roswell that looked interesting. By happy coincidence (or was it...?) the author was featured that day, and Mrs. H. was thrilled to speak with him briefly and receive her specially dedicated volume.
While the strains of the movie "Independence Day" wafted from every establishment on the block, the Halls strolled back to their car and on to another road. Mrs. Hall was disappointed she had missed the parade and costume contest; it had been the day before and mysteriously (hmm....) no one could tell her who had won- but it was time to move on. Up through the mountains they went, and then suddenly, as they drove through the pass, there before them sprung a beautiful vista: Alamogordo and the White Sands. Happily, the Halls were able to check in, grab a bite to eat and from the window of their hotel, watch the fireworks set off from the National Space Museum against the backdrop of the Sacramento Mountains. Next episode: The Space Museum and White Sands Missile Range- Stay tuned!

No comments:

Tell your friends!