Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for November, 2011

Roswell, New Mexico – The Truth Is Here

UFO or Weather Balloon? When people hear Roswell, they immediately think of the 1947 UFO alien invasion,  a subject which still interests many people. But there is definitely much more to this town of Roswell, New Mexico than aliens!

As soon as you enter the town, the presence of the New Mexico Military Institute is obvious from the beautiful campus to the polite, young cadets walking the streets. Started in 1891, this four year high school and two year junior college has been the starting point for many officers in the US military, as it is the only state supported military institute in the western United States. Among its most notable graduates are Conrad Hilton, Roger Staubach, Sam Donaldson and Major General Edwin Walker. In 1921, the school adopted the honor code of : “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.” That code is still enforced today.

During WWII, a prisoner of war camp was located in nearby Orchard Park. These German prisoners assisted with many construction projects in Roswell.   Along the banks of the North Spring River, the sides were paved with stones. In one section the stones were strategically placed to form the outline of an Iron Cross, symbol of the German Army. Nearby was a piece of the Berlin Wall, which was sent by the German Air Force for their nice treatment as POW’s there. Today at the POW/MIA Park, there is a relaxing walkway along the river where you can appreciate the hard work involved and the beauty that they created.

The Roswell Museum and Art Center has many beautiful and unusual paintings by well known artists such as Peter Hurd, Henriette Wyeth, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Of special interest here is the Goddard Wing, which contains a reproduction of the workshop of liquid-fueled rocket pioneer, Robert Goddard. He tested prototypes of this fuel in Roswell from 1930-1941.  While there, noticed this Native American sun design at the gift shop, and now it often hangs in my car to bring a feeling of warmth and peace. Still makes me smile to realize that this beautiful sun is made from the bottom of a Coca Cola can!

Of course, no visit there would be complete without visiting the International UFO Museum and Research Center, and taking a trip to the site where the mysterious crash occurred. Here at the Museum you can find information about the Roswell incident, crop circles, UFO sightings, ancient astronauts, and Area 51. Living up to their motto, “The truth is here,” their library of books and films is a great place for the curious and the serious to explore the unexplainable.

One interesting film told the story of a young boy, who had seen inside a space ship in 1947 and told his parents he saw fine wires with colors flashing.  In the 1990’s, this now adult man worked in maintenance and was called into a phone room for repair work.  He exclaimed, “That looks just like the spaceship I was in!”  Fiber-optics!

Responsible citizens who witnessed the crash were very quiet about it until their retirement. Once they told their story, tourists began to visit to learn more about the possibilities. The event known as the Roswell incident: the crash of an alleged flying saucer, the collection of debris and bodies, and the ensuing military coverup, still leaves lots of questions unanswered. The debate continues to this day.

Many local businesses have joined in with the UFO theme as Roswell has suffered a tough economic time, especially after the closing of Walker Air Force Base there. Local gas stations have aliens pumping gas, Wal-Mart has an Aliens’ Welcome sign, and now McDonald’s has built a theme park restaurant there. Yes, you guessed it, McDonald’s is shaped like a UFO with aliens in the play area.

Roswell even has its own small zoo, which is a great place to take a daily walk with the animals. Spring River Park and Zoo is a free zoo run by volunteers and local donations, and has a wide variety of animals from prairie dogs to buffalo and even a black bear. For only a quarter, children, or the young at heart, can ride the miniature train ride or the antique wooden carousel. This is one of about a hundred wooden carousels left in the country and features hand-carved horses.

All ages are sure to find something to enjoy while visiting Roswell… but watch out for those little green men peeking around the corner.

Roswell is located South of I-40 on US 385 or East of I-25 on US Highway 380 in the southeastern  corner of New Mexico. US 380 is also Main Street  and there is a handy information center near the Roswell Museum and Art Center.


Canyon de Chelly – Home to Navajo Indians

Navajo Blessing
We walk in our moccasins upon the Earth
and beneath the sky
As we travel on life’s path of beauty
We will live a good life and reach old age.

Many American Indians still enjoy life in the Southwest,  and some call Canyon de Chelly (pronounced day Shay) home. Chelly is a slightly modified Navajo word Tseyi, meaning canyon or literally, under the rock.

Located in northeastern Arizona, Canyon de Chelly is completely located within the Navajo nation’s boundaries. Navajo Indians live and work here today among the red rock cliffs with ancient dwellings along their faces and lush valleys below.

Right at the edge of the South Rim parking lot, several wild horses that frequent the area, grazed on the sparse grass. This beautiful scenic drive takes about three hours so be certain that you have plenty of drinking water. There are trails to the bottom but you must be escorted by a guide from the Navajo tribe on all trails except the one leading to the White House Ruins.

One of the spectacular points along the rim trail is Spider Rock, twin sandstone spires with the tallest being 800 feet high. Traditional Navajo believe the taller of the two spires is home to Spider Grandmother. Spider Rock is considered sacred to the Navajo and is associated with Spider Woman, who taught the Navajo how to weave on a loom which Spider Man told them how to make.  Spider Woman also is the enforcer of obedience in children. Part of a Navajo chant heard there still remains in my mind today: With beauty in Nature, I walk.

Another highlight in the area is White House Ruins, which are remains in a sandstone cave of adobe dwellings from a previous culture.  They are believed to have been constructed by Anasazi people “the Ancient Ones”.  There was a time when you could roam up into the cave and walk where the Anasazi walked. But today it is fenced off due to tourists taking bits for souvenirs and thus destroying the historic value of the spot.

At the information center, the Navajo Indians have a beautiful gift shop with handmade Indian crafts. While visiting there talked with Gary Henry and his brother Teddy, Navajo jewelry craftsmen, and their sister Winnie, who leads many of the tours and weaves beautiful blankets.

The beautiful but tough sister, Winnie,  says that weaving is “to weave together the pieces of your own life.” Weaving is her special art given by Spider Woman’s spiritual touch.  Her mother told her, “If you know who you are, where you come from, and where you are going, you will never get lost in this world.” Winnie will tell you that her culture and religion live within her and will never come out.

Gary designed this beautiful two-sided necklace of native stones in a bear claw design – my treasure for this adventure. He grew up in Canyon de Chelly, running up and down the trails as a child. They lived in a hogan, a traditional Navajo dwelling, and their family raised sheep. At that time there was no water or electricity in the canyon, so meals were cooked over a fire, and the evening was spent listening to stories and playing their music.

Canyon de Chelly is a spiritual place where the soul responds to the beauty of nature, which abounds. When we leave, they say Hagona, which means “see you again”. To walk in beauty and die naturally of old age is the Navajo notion of the good life. Hozona h’astleen! May everything go well!

Canyon de Chelly is located in northeastern Arizona.  Take Route 191 to Chinle, Arizona and the Canyon is directly east of town. From the Visitors Center you have a choice of the North Rim Drive or South Rim Drive.  Each drive takes about three hours to complete.

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