New Mexico is a very strange place! It has been consistently so through the years, as far as I know. Many years ago, when I was just out of college for the first time, I and Guthrum (my then-boyfriend) drove my parents’ horse van, complete with their horses, from Texas to Colorado for them, since they were moving. We hit New Mexico at night, driving across its uppermost northeastern corner, and I remember it mostly because the gas gauge was steadily lowering, and we could not find an open gas station — or even any gas stations!
Today I can stop just off the highway at any number of clearly marked gas stations, open or closed, and pay with a credit card; it’s terribly convenient. Then, though, we were getting really worried — being stranded and out of gas in the middle of the New Mexico desert with a van full of horses was not in the plan! To our great relief, we finally found an open gas station just as things were getting dire: on the New Mexico border just before we exited the state. As I’ve often laughingly told friends since then, New Mexico was weird: it had only three gas stations — and two of them were closed!
That weirdness is still present, I believe. I first noticed it when passing through New Mexico while driving towards Florida. The first thing that hit me was a series of signs which I didn’t immediately understand: on the dramatic black outline of a very Batman-style flying bat were the words “OPERATION D.W.I.” and below it, in ominous red: “CHECKPOINTS EVERYWHERE.” Okaaay… aside from the bat reminding me of Guthrum (his SCA heraldry included a similarly dramatic bat silhouette), I found myself raising a mental eyebrow at this apparent strong desire to show that Big Brother is still watching you!
Admittedly, there was a moment where I wondered — could Guthrum have returned to New Mexico, conquered the local warlord, and established himself as a sort of “Dictator Without Impedance” or somesuch, and was now demanding fealty and tribute at various checkpoints throughout the state?! Then I remembered — with relief — that he and his wife Becky are currently actually busy conquering the hearts and minds of the wildlife local to Sacramento, California. ;)
I’d just posted the “I am become a connoisseur of mountains” posting, so I was driving along and almost dreamily regarding the New Mexico environment, wondering what the mountains here had to say to me. They weren’t very communicative, however — they stayed well back on the horizon, lurking and regarding me silently until, hours later, I was lulled into a false sense of complacency. Then, abruptly, I noticed them, and it suddenly hit me: when did the mountains get so close?! -and green?! Wasn’t this supposed to be a desert? I was amusedly bemused at the sneakiness of the mountains, but the true strangeness of this occurrence didn’t register until I realized: it was all the work of the alien mind control lasers!
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking I was delusional, and I understand that. But I have proof — I have photos! :)
The International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell was a lot of fun, though to my disappointment, I wasn’t able to have an alien burger there — apparently the restaurant has been closed for years, but the web site wasn’t updated accordingly. I was also delighted to realize (after I’d left, alas, so I couldn’t get a photo) that I’d unwittingly parked Dark Star directly in front of the Museum! Apparently people were studying him curiously and wondering what the show was about. :)
There’s a curious mix of seriousness and tongue-in-cheek displayed in Roswell. The museum gift shop and the thematically-associated businesses in town seem to be sharing the gleeful joke of aliens with the tourists, but the museum itself asks what I consider a valid question: if there are some possibly uncomfortable things we cannot explain in the world, then why aren’t we researching them scientifically instead of just pooh-poohing and ignoring them, and ridiculing those who ask the difficult questions?
I have often wondered if the viciously gleeful mockery heaped on taboo subjects such as UFOs or transpersonal psychology is ultimately based in fear of the unknown. We may fear the asking, we may not like the answers… but don’t we owe it to our supposed scientific integrity to at least ask — and research without ridicule — these uncomfortable questions about transpersonal experiences? Just because one person can be exposed as either gullible or a charlatan does not mean everyone is, after all. Further, we already have statistically significant, repeated, scientifically collected proof of transpersonal experience — so why is it still so coldly and thoroughly ignored by the scientific community? Why cannot it ever be discussed? What are we so afraid of?
More later about the return trip — for now, lunch! :)