I stumbled across this today while writing down my memories of further proof of New Mexico's inherent weirdness: Roswell UFO Crash: There Were 2 Crashes, Not 1, Says Ex-Air Force Official. Yep… that's about par for the course for New Mexico. :)

So on the way home I was planning on driving through Texas in two big hops: from Louisiana to just past San Antonio, and then from there on up into New Mexico for the next night. Studying the google map intently, I determined on the second morning that I could get to Las Cruces in New Mexico, and that'd be a reasonable drive — long, but doable.

I was annoyed to be stopped on my way there, though — along with all the other highway traffic — by the Border Patrol. Everyone was funneled off the highway into and through a very high, Quonset-hut-like, open-sided, roofed thingie that had the option for several lanes in it. Only one was open, though, and when I went through an obese uniformed white man asked me if I was alone in my van and if I was a US citizen. I guess it was sheer orneriness that made me reply somewhat vaguely with, "You got it!" rather than a clear yes. I also suspect it was the other Border Patrol guy with the young German Shepherd on a leash who was doing the real "searching," letting the dog close to sniff at all the cars.

I found it annoying also that as I passed on through, I noticed two other Border Patrol guys sitting on a divider, swinging their heels and just chatting with each other. What, they couldn't be bothered to open another aisle to get vehicles through faster? Maybe they only had the one dog… but still. Prepare ahead of time, folks, if you're going to be pseudo-militaristic dicks! As I left, too, I could see headlights suddenly flick on behind me, then start down the highway after me. I kept an eye on them as I accelerated onto the highway, and it turned out to be just a white pickup with no markings on it which passed me and vanished on into the night. I don't know if it was an unmarked Border Patrol vehicle, or some poor sap they decided to pull aside and pester for no good reason. I mean, I'd seen Border Patrol vehicles and men in other places on the trip, but this was the first time they were actual pests and got in everyone's way.

I should say up front here that I'm hugely conflicted about immigration issues. On the one hand, I firmly believe you should help support — with your taxes and your good citizenship — the country you live in and benefit from. On the other hand, the current immigration laws in the US are a horrible racist mash-up of decades of accretion of bad to worse, and the entire concept of blaming someone with different skin color for all your personal issues is, I feel, an insult to every rational human being. So… yeah. Not happy at all with that experience. The whole thing was just… creepy.

Increasing the weirdness annoyance of New Mexico for me: once I arrived in Las Cruces I found the highway was actually in the process of being built! Worse, when I managed to pull off onto the appropriate exit, it appeared the town of Las Cruces itself was being built along with and around the new highway. What the heck?! Most annoyingly, the McD's there was closed for renovations. I stopped into a Burger King instead, first asking if they had wi-fi, which the woman proudly assured me they did — so I stopped and bought a quick bite to eat. Unfortunately her idea of having wi-fi and mine were miles apart: not only did she tell me I should just pirate the wi-fi of the nearby Starbucks… but it wasn't even showing up on my list of options! I ended up pirating it from another nearby restaurant, much to my dismay and embarrassment — just long enough to make sure there was another town close by with a McD's in it that wasn't closed. After that I headed out immediately — because even though tired and road-worn, that really offended my sense of rightness, especially on where I'd spend the night.

It only took an hour or so to drive to Deming, the next stop on my route, but along the way I received another New Mexico peculiarity special: Akela Flats — or maybe just Akela. Seriously, there was this exit called Akela on the big green federal signage — the name comes from the alpha wolf in Kipling's Jungle Books, which is why it initially caught my attention — or Akela Flats on the billboards along the highway, which announced all the neat stuff there. However, as I drove past the Akela exit I saw there was effectively a… a sort of strip mall of maybe 7 to 10 shop fronts — all nicely and neatly painted on several long pieces of plywood, along with cartoony people walking along in front — and apparently with no entrance into any of them but like the first two! It was like a real life Potemkin village: very weird!

I did finally arrive at Deming's McDonald's, which was also strange: I arrived at about 8:30 and it was packed. So I typed away quietly on my little valkyrie as I waited for the crowd to die down a bit… and just as I was thinking it'd been an hour or so, and things were calming down a bit — I raise my head to notice a new flood of people entering! I have never before seen a McDonald's so full with unrelated people (as in not a celebrating sports team or something similar) that the line to order food extended throughout the entire restaurant — and this happened not once, but twice! I can't help but wonder at how boring a place it must be, if McD's is their big go-to place for dinner and entertainment, too. I have no idea of the population of Deming, but I can't help but wonder if I saw about half of them that night at McD's!

In New Mexico's favor, however, I must mention the non-chain, independently owned Savoy Truck Stop at Deming, which was absolutely the very nicest truck stop I have ever been in. They had lots of space for the semis and myself to park, and a gorgeous night sky and a full moon overhead that night. They also were staffed by pleasant young women — and when you're a half-dressed woman blearily trying to buy a shower from a staring guy, at way too early in the morning for rational thought, and you realize there's no lock on the inside of the shower you're in… you'll understand why this was very nice. The store had nummy drinks and food for me to purchase, a very nice restaurant inside, reasonably priced clothes-washers and driers that worked well, and a very nice and comfy room for the truckers or other folks to sprawl out on nice couches and watch TV. Heck, even their showers (which were free, as opposed to the more usual $10 to $12 of other truck stops) were wonderful: dark slate-like tile on floor and walls around a nice big mirror over a large sink, a clean and comfortable toilet that worked automatically, soft and clean towels, plenty of places to set things down, a nice big fan to keep everything from getting too fogged up, and a lovely "walk in around a corner" style shower room. Wish my bathroom at home was half so nice! :)

OK, this is it for tonight… though I still have to write about my last "weirdness" in New Mexico, which occurred the next day — when I spotted the giant cloud-squid dragging its tentacles along the ground. No, really! ;)

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