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Having visited the White Sands Missile Range Ed wanted to head over to Roswell, New Mexico and the Roswell Museum and Art Center where there’s a permanent exhibit on Robert Goddard.


This is the last rocket Goddard built and launched before his death in 1945. It’s on display in his workshop at the Roswell Museum and Art Center as well as three videos about Goddard playing on a loop.  The best is called “Father of the Space Age: Robert Goddard, The Untold Story.”

Goddard was fascinated by science as a youngster and the idea of space flight before age 16 when he read H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Clark University in 1911.  Often ridiculed and misunderstood Goddard mostly worked alone because others could not see his genius.  Tucked into the deserted deserts outside of Roswell, where he and his wife moved partly to hide from criticism and partly to keep from doing any harm with flaming and exploding rockets, he labored tirelessly on his theories of rocket propulsion, designing, building and launching ever larger rockets.  After WWII, when the Americans questioned the German scientists about their V2 Rocket and how they developed it, the interrogators were told to look to the work of Robert Goddard. While the Americans had pooh-poohed his theories and experiments, the German’s had used his work as their basis!   Years after his death in 1945 Goddard was finally recognized as the man who had indeed ushered in the Space Age.


Julie Alpert’s “Finishing Touches”.  Installation, drawing, sculpture and paper tapestries, she says, “Evokes nostalgia for my 1980’s suburban childhood.”  This was her show as the Artist In Residence for one year at RMAC.


The Roswell Museum also houses the most impressive display of western Native American, early settler, cowboy, rancher and soldier artifacts I have ever seen.  There are also a handful of European pieces like a suit of armor, Conquistador helmets, and weapons.


These displays were full walls of artifacts with no labeling, my only complaint. Off to the side of each wall display, there was a book with outlines of each piece or a general section and a short description or long explanation.



One of the mostly Indian sections.  Some items very old, others not so much.



Being as we were in ROSWELL……well yeah…. we did sort of have to go to the International UFO Museum and Research Center!  I doubt any of you dear readers don’t know about “The Roswell Incident” but just in case….supposedly,  back in July 1947 a spaceship crashed on a ranch northwest of Roswell and not only were pieces of the ship recovered but several bodies of non-earthlings also.  All of this was of course immediately  “debunked” by our government.  HOWEVER…….I strongly suggest you put Roswell on your MVL (Must Visit List) and read the extensive collection of reports, reminisces, news articles and sworn witness statements…then make up your own mind 🙂 … but WE think SOMETHING happened and it wasn’t a weather balloon.


it is, after all, Roswell so there is some amount of hokey.


We were expected for a brief visit with my sister Ellen and husband Bob in Edgewood (on the eastern side of the Sandia Mountains by Albuquerque) but first I had another stop in mind.  Heading north on US 285 we took the mostly deserted Rt. 20 for 47 miles of wide open country towards Fort Sumner and the Bosque Redondo Memorial.   I remember my father telling me about the Navajo Long Walk and while he may not have used the words horrific, shameful or disgraceful, he did lead me to understand it was wrong.  Now as an adult I, and Ed use those words and feel a shame and heaviness that demands acknowledgment and remembrance of a sad period in our history.


In the hopes of fixing “the hostile Indian problem” the US Military murdered Indian men and captured mostly women and children.  Known to the Navajo as the “Long Walk”, 10,000 people were forced to march 450 miles from their homeland in the Four Corners area to the Bosque Redondo Reservation.  Only about 8,500 Navajo survived the walk.  500 Mescalero Apaches were also forced here. Brigadier General James Carleton envisioned a thriving community of farmers overlooking the fact that neither the Navajo or Apaches were farmers and knew nothing about this land.


Fort Sumner also holds the distinction of being the “end of the trail” for Billy the Kid.  Shot by Pat Garrett July 14, 1881 (my Dad’s birthday plus 27 years) William Bonney, (actually born Henry McCarty), Billy the Kid is buried in a small sad cemetery here.


Over the years this grave marker has been stolen so many times they bolted it to the concrete and erected an iron fence around the graves.


We continued on to Ellen’s with poor Ed fighting a wind so strong he was steering left to go straight, but we finally made it and had a short but fun visit.  Then down through Tijeras Canyon on Interstate 40 to Albuquerque to visit with Ed’s cousin Molly, and her sweet girls Maeve & Caitlin.  We had a delightful time with them and even got to see Molly’s sister, Cousin Beth, her husband Richard, and Beth’s daughter Sara and her friend Steve.  It’s nice to have family scattered about the country 🙂

Our son Kevin has been telling us for years …” you’ve got to go to Pie Town”, so we headed south on Interstate 25 for US 60 west.  The road goes through open country and then some hills and mountains before coming out into the Plains of San Agustin which is an ancient dry lake surrounded by mountains.  It is here where the world is quiet and empty that we planned to stop for a tour of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array20180425-_EKP4290Featured in the Jodie Foster movie Contact,  (they got a number of things wrong) the VLA is made up of 27 dish-shaped antennas mounted on railroad tracks. The antennas collect radio waves from deep space. These 27 individual signals are sent down fiber optic cables to a supercomputer where they are mathematically merged, thus creating a single extremely powerful radio telescope!


There are three arms stretching out across the plain, each 13 miles in length forming a huge Y nearly 27 miles across that provides unparalleled resolution. The individual antennas are mobile and are repositioned every four months. Sometimes close together, sometimes far apart depending on the needs of the astronomers.



Each station is on a spur off the main track and there are 82 miles of track.



One “spare” antenna is always in the barn giving a total of 28 units.  The orange machine in the foreground maneuvers underneath each antenna picks it up and transports it at 5mph to its assigned station if the winds are below 20mph.




After the VLA we continued west on 60 climbing through beautiful mountains up to 8100 feet elevation and then down about 1000 feet to Pie Town.


The road to Pie Town, US 60.

We checked into the Pie Town RV Park (only game in town with 5 spaces but fine) and headed back into town.  There are three places to eat in town and only one was open, so we sat down at The Gatherin’ Place for a huge bowl of good green chili stew, cornbread, and PIE 🙂


The Gatherin’ Place where we had a New Mexico Apple pie (of course it had chiles and pinon nuts) along with the apples and a Very Berry pie. Ed was not convinced apple pie needs chiles and nuts.

All in all, there was just something about this little out of the way place that I really liked, so go ahead and take my advice, and son Kevin’s and put Pie Town, New Mexico on your MVL 🙂


Continuing on 60 at Quemado we turned onto Rt 32 south and the Gila National Forest.  Rt 32 stops at Apache Creek and we took 12 towards the town of Reserve.  Be sure to stop for lunch here at Carmen’s where everyone else will be a local and the food is very plentiful and very good.


Seriously good food and the locals know it.

Pretty soon Rt 12 also ends and we picked up US Rt 180 south.  At Glenwood we saw a sign that said Catwalk Trail Recreation Area 1 mile, so decided to go.  This was a lie! It’s more like 5 miles, but Ed kept driving and yes we’re glad he did!


In the 1890s gold and silver brought miners to Whitewater Canyon.  In 1893 a mill was built down at the mouth of the canyon to process the nearly 73 tons of daily diggings.  Water was needed and the water was always flowing in the canyon.  So, three miles of 4-inch pipe was slung from cables and rods along the canyon walls to bring water from the springs above.  This pipe was later replaced by an 18-inch pipe.  The men that hung by ropes and walked along it to maintain it took to calling it the Catwalk.  It was only in use for ten years before the mill went broke.


Geronimo later followed by Butch Cassidy used the canyon as a hideout from authorities.  Marti wanted to go all the way up too but she was having dizzy spells and Ed told her no.  She’s fine now that she is rehydrated.  The trail was also broken at this point.  A section of 18-inch pipe and stairs built by the CCC in the 1930s are seen in this photo.  Butch and Geronimo got away.





On 180 just as you head out of the Gila NF there’s a sign on the right for Leopold Vista…..GO!!


Aldo Leopold Vista. “Considered by many to be the father of wildlife ecology and the United States’ wilderness system, Aldo Leopold was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast. ” It was through his efforts that the Gila was declared a National Wilderness Area.


We turned onto Rt 78 just a bit further down the road where the countryside is at first big soft grassy hills that leads back into the Gila and Apache National Forest.  This bit is absolutely twisty, windy but fine if you drive as well as Ed does and pretty quickly no longer New Mexico, but Arizona.  We stopped for the night just about 12 miles over the state line at Black Jack Campground,  National Forest, free, dry camping, two others camped…..HEAVEN!



Cowboy rigs on display at the RMAC in Roswell.



This painting is “The Gate and Beyond” by Peter Hurd who studied under N.C. Wyeth and married Wyeth’s eldest daughter, Henriette who was an artist in her own right. They lived in San Patricio about 30 miles west of Roswell.  The museum holds many of their works.



“Pow-Wow” 1975, by Willard Midgette, is a room-sized oil on linen mural in the RMAC.




82 feet across made of smooth aluminum panels fitted carefully into a steel basket. The Very Large Array was constructed way too late for the Roswell aliens to phone home. 🙂



Rt. 20 to Fort Sumner across 47 miles of New Mexico empty.




Each of the 27 antennas weighs over 230 tons and is over 90 feet high.



Formally known as the Pie Hole, where Kevin and Za had wonderful pies it is now under new management and known as the Pie Town Cafe and was not open yet.  As the owner of The Gatherin’ Place told Ed, “those people open late.”



We pulled into a FS road to explore and this sign stopped us.  We backed out the road while a truck-full of Forest Service firefighters were patiently waiting.  Marti popped out and asked if it was a wildfire or a controlled burn.  The wildfire was out and just being mopped up then. In our opinion, these guys don’t get near enough respect for what they do.



This is the monument to Elfego Baca in Reserve, New Mexico, scene of the “Frisco Shootout” and where Deputy Baca held off somewhere between 40 and 150 cowboys trying to free their drunk friend, Charlie McCarty from jail.  The siege lasted over 33 hours and more than 4000 bullets were fired.  Be sure to read more about it at the link.  The stories varied greatly depending on who was telling.



We just love that the local general merchandise store in Reserve also sells Stihl chainsaws and Lottery tickets.



After the mill closed the catwalk was broken up for scrap and left to rot.  In the 1930s, the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corp, constructed a wooden catwalk for tourists.  It was replaced in 1961 with a cantilevered steel catwalk which is yet another impressive feat of engineering.



Whack-A-Mole Wheels at Whitewater Canyon,  Marti says sometimes you gotta get your feet wet to see what’s over the next hill.

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