Wednesday, May 04, 2011


We're back - and much sooner than planned. I should know better than to risk taking a trip with transiting Mars and Jupiter conjoining my natal Moon and transiting Saturn opposing natal Saturn. But I'm obtuse, so will not allow astrology to rule our comings and goings.

We had planned to travel, via the Texas panhandle into New Mexico, head north and west to see the Four Corners Area, where four states meet: New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. We then hoped to travel on northward into Utah to see some of the dramatic coppery red rock formations and scenery in the state's south-eastern section.

During our first overnighter in Dumas, Texas we didn't see any sign of the "Ding-Dong Daddies From Dumas" once made famous by a songwriter who stayed in the city for a few weeks in the 1920s. We can reliably confirm that, in 2011, Dumas has lost any Ding-Dong it ever had!

On reaching New Mexico we chose to take Highway 64 from the eastern border at Clayton through the mountains and across to Farmington in the west, not far from the 4 Corners Monument. This scenic road is at around 8,000 feet in most places, passes through some small villages, Jiccarilla Apache Indian lands and reservations. Highway 64 is a favourite of motor cycle enthusiasts for its stunning scenery.

Just outside of Taos we noticed some peculiar-looking buildings in a large roadside field. We couldn't easily stop, but I remembered the name on a billboard as we passed the entrance: "Earthship Center". The photos are not ours, but lifted from the web. Wikipedia tells me:

An Earthship is a type of passive solar house made of natural and recycled materials. Designed and marketed by Earthship Biotecture of Taos, New Mexico, the homes are primarily constructed to work autonomously and are generally made of earth-filled tires, using thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. They also usually have their own special natural ventilation system. Earthships are generally Off-the-grid homes, minimizing their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. Earthships are built to utilize the available local resources, especially energy from the Sun.
There's more information online.

One particular little village on Highway 64, Dulce, was going to fascinate yours truly because of stories of UFOs, aliens and a massive 7-layered underground government facility said to be nearby - under a huge mesa (pictured left). There are also stories/legends of a UFO crash near Aztec village in this area. Again, there's a ton of information, comment from locals and researchers online. Some, if even half-true would be hair-raising. It involves bio-tech experiments (which I can believe), mutilated cattle found regularly around the area (documented), alien cooperation following a firefight between government troops and aliens or "grays" (which I can't believe).

I'd guess that there really is, or was, some kind of underground facility in this area dating from 1950s through 1970s. The fear of nuclear war was fierce then. The US government, paranoia-filled as usual, could easily have decided to experiment, attempting to plan for all eventualities: mutations, radiation effects, etc. etc. Where better than this wilderness area with plentiful natural underground caverns, easily extended and modified, for use without much chance of discovery? That part of the stories isn't hard to believe, given the atmosphere of those times.

We didn't reach Dulce though. We stayed overnight in Chama, a village 25 miles to the east. The temperature was frigid up there in the mountains, some of what we'd assumed was remnants of the winter's snow remained in the fields and forests over the highest parts of the route.

Chama's local restaurant/pub was warm and friendly with, surprisingly for such an out-of-the-way place, a pianist playing in the bar. The floor was littered with peanut shells, from the amply filled big buckets of nuts decorating each table as a complimentary snack. We were able to celebrate our 7th anniversary there happily enough.

Neither of us slept a wink that night though. The altitude was probably getting to us both. My husband, restless, decided to get up and play on the laptop. I experienced a severe attack of allergic sneezing which brought on a sharp sinus headache and it simply wouldn't let up. In addition I had developed a troublesome sore on my ankle. We both wondered aloud whether to carry on west or head back to Oklahoma next morning. When we looked outside at about 7 AM we decided at once! Snow had coated the car, and it was still snowing. Probably not at all a surprising find to the locals but a bit disconcerting to southerners like us, spoiled by an unusually warm spring. I hadn't packed any warm clothes. We had to layer up with what we had. It was Sunday, no shops were open to buy warmer clothing -there were no shops around anyway! I'd also managed, somehow, to get myself multi-bitten by an insect (goodness knows what insect would be around in those temps!) I still have 3 itchy bites on my left earlobe, several down the left side of my neck and a cluster of bites on my chest. And they ain't love bites!!

We headed back then, Sunday morning. We popped into the town of Los Alamos, famous for its connection with a secret, centralized facility which coordinated the scientific research of the Manhattan Project during World War 2. It was still snowing. We tried but were unable to find the museum, which was supposed to be open 7 days a week; gave it up as a lost cause and carried on south-eastward, stopping overnight in Las Vegas, New Mexico (not at all like the famous one). We realised that Las Vegas NM is nothing like its namesake in Nevada when my husband asked a gal at the counter of the only cafe we could find open, "Which way is the downtown area, please?" She looked puzzled. "Downtown? Do you mean where Walmart is?" Then we knew the town couldn't be anything like its namesake!

Last overnight stop was in Canyon, Texas, then back home yesterday afternoon. My allergies and ankle are still troublesome, but nothing seems nearly as bad when at home.

Better luck next time! That experience might (underline might) teach me to take note of astrology when planning our trips.

Thankfully we avoided completely the Royal Wedding razamataz on TV, and most of the Osama bin Laden rejoicings too. It's hard to say which I'd have been most disgusted by - I don't even want to think about it. I'd rather wonder about the goings-on under the mesa in Dulce NM.


Jefferson's Guardian said...

First of all, happy anniversary! I'm glad you and your husband were able to get away, if only for a few days. Sometimes, that's all it takes.

While in college many years ago, I took a spring break trip and lived for a week at Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, NM. It was a work/study program, but there was ample time to do other things. One day we went to Santa Fe; another we visited Taos.

All-in-all, it was a great trip! I have some fond memories of that time. But, like you, I didn't (as many in our group didn't) bring enough clothing to fend-off the early spring temperatures at around 6,500 feet. Brrrrr!

Twilight said...

Jefferson's Guardian ~~~ Hi there!

Thank you! Yes, it was enjoyable in spite of difficulties.

I saw the sign for Ghost Ranch, yes. Wondered how it got its name.
We've stayed in both Santa Fe and Taos, in past years. I love them both, especially Santa Fe - it was the first city we visited where I felt immediately "at home". It's so different from the average Texas and Oklahoma city.

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh poor you, T. I read your post earlier but couldn't comment (my netbook doesn't allow me, alas!). On my bucket list is New Mexico though with my recent experience with Homeland Security, it may remain there.
I hope your bites have vanished and you are feeling a lot better!

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~~ bites fading but not gone completely - Thank you! Allergies etc. still hanging around - way of life in Oklahoma!

I love New Mexico, but suspect that April/May is not the best time to be there, for me anyway.
Trying to avoid tornado-prone locations further east and south, we could still encounter other stuff there!