We started this day the proper way: with a nice walk. Our Airbnb was on a 100-acre farm with a walking path that led from the house, up a hill, and then back. I had asked our host about snakes and scorpions and she told me that it was too cold for them and once we stepped outside, I was inclined to agree. It was cold enough that I put Leo’s coat on and we went for a refreshing walk. We had not gone far when I had the feeling that we were being followed and I looked back to see a black lab shadowing us. Leo was instantly smitten as she was a smaller version of his girlfriend back home: a black Great Dane named Phoenix. The lab never got close enough for me to meet her properly but she was content to tag along behind us. At first the dogs wanted to meet our new friend but they eventually got the hint that she wanted some space and set out sniffing all the new scents. The lab darted to and fro and even leapt between strands of barbed wire that ran along the tops of the wire fence. Between. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.
Finally we got back to the house and the dogs had their breakfast before we went back into Roswell. Our first stop, other than the obligatory photo at the welcome sign, was for breakfast. I chose Stellar Coffee Co. as it was right downtown and with a name like that, I had to check it out. I popped in and first asked if they made cortados. The poor girl at the counter looked at me with a deer-in-the-headlights expression and said she had no idea what that was. OK then. I placed an order for a red eye (to compare with the one I had at Coffee Corner…yeah that’s it) and the breakfast burrito to go and mentioned I had dogs in the car. The young man behind the counter said that dogs were allowed inside as long as they were tame. I’m sorry. Inside? As in right here? I literally clapped my hands and giggled as I skipped out to the car and brought them inside. The dogs were as excited as I was and pulled more than normal as they tried to make friends with every other person inside while I wrangled them to a table that was as out of the way as I could be. They still did make a friend when a woman came over and asked if she could meet them. Of course they were over the moon with the attention. In short order, I was seated with my red eye and a fine burrito. Once the dogs settled, well they settled and were soon sprawled out around me. Literally. They have no problem making themselves at home which allowed me to linger over my coffee.
Finally I roused my pack and we set out for our next stop: the International UFO Museum and Research Centre. I likely would not have gone if it were not for one small detail: it’s dog-friendly! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we went inside. It’s the end unit of a strip of buildings and is mostly an open design. The displays are on partitions that stretch down both sides of the unit and is predominantly made up of newspaper articles, documents, and photos. One side is dedicated to the Roswell Incident and the other side to UFO/alien phenomena in general. There is a UFO that spews steam every so often with some grey aliens, there are aliens in tanks, and even a painted pony covered with newspaper articles about the UFO incident. That steam scared the dickens out of Piper and Leo at first. I’ll admit that it startled me too. Jack barely reacted; I think he was tired from his morning walk. After the first few times, the dogs got used to it and barely twitched. Piper was much more interested in the painted pony on display. She had grown up visiting barns and playing with horses and I think she was confused because this one didn’t want to play with her. The pony is one from The Trail of Painted Ponies, a public art project that started in New Mexico as a fundraiser but has now expanded into a global collectible and art company.
We moved slowly around the museum and when I stopped to read something, they’d all flop over and then I’d move down a few steps and they’d heave themselves up only to flop over again. We ended our visit in the gift shop and I browsed the souvenirs. I had texted my brother and asked if he wanted anything from Roswell and this was his response: “A piece of metal that can bend and form new shapes but always returns to it’s original shape please. Should be located out in the desert in some farmers field. If that fails a hat with something roswelly on it will do.” Needless to say, he got a hat and my friend taking care of the cats got a mug.
So what were my thoughts on the museum? I had half expected it to be crackpots screaming about alien colonization. What I saw appeared to be affidavits and documents that do suggest that something happened. Now can I say that it was an alien craft? Of course not. Could it have been part of Project Mogul and the military had been testing a top secret surveillance system as the official explanation now suggests? Possibly. Could “dummy drops” explain the reports of aliens found in the desert? Maybe. Do I still enjoy the intrigue? Absolutely.
Once we emerged from the museum we wandered around, stopping in some of the other gift shops while we tried to spot all the aliens that dotted the town. However there comes a point where an alien playing a trumpet looks like the one with a chicken so I decided it was time to explore outside of town.
While we were walking, I had noticed signs for Bottomless Lakes State Park and I figured a walk in a park was just what we needed. Even better was that Bottomless Lakes State Park is just outside of Roswell so it was a very short drive. There is one road that loops around the park and I drove around once to get a lay of the land then stopped at the Wetlands Trail. The trail consists mostly of a boardwalk to protect the fragile vegetation and soil and since the trail is only 0.54 miles and flat, it’s perfect to avoid taxing my senior citizens. We were too early in the season and the wetlands were more like damplands so we went across the road to the Lea Lake Day Use Area. Since there was no one anywhere near us, I let the dogs have a little run. By run, I mean that they went to the water and were all belly deep in the blink of an eye. Jack actually found a spot to sit down and lounge in the water. Once Leo emerged, he dropped into the sand and rolled, of course. Anyone who thinks that Boxers, Pugs, and Boston Terriers don’t like water should tell that to these guys.
On the way out of the park, we stopped at the Visitor Centre to see if there was anything else we should see and one of the rangers asked if I liked birds. Hmmmm thinking back to all the bird photos that I’ve taken I think it’s fair to say that I do. He suggested making the short drive to Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. I thought that sounded like a great idea; after one last hike. A trail led away from the parking lot of the visitor centre to Cottonwood Lake which was within spitting distance of the car so we went to check that out first. The lakes in Bottomless Lakes State Park are sinkholes, and this was a deep lake with small surface area.
I was going to walk back to the car, but the dogs seemed to have different ideas because they all started to walk farther down the trail. OK pups, let’s see where this trail goes. The trail somewhat parallels the road and travels over some ridges between the lakes. At one point, I dropped all their leashes so that we could climb without pulling each other off balance. Leo bounded ahead, Piper picked her way over some rocks, and Jack sat on a ledge watching us then tried to sneak back the way we had come. Once I showed him the trail that we were using, he scrambled over the rocks like a pro and we descended to Mirror Lake. This is a unique lake caused by two adjacent sinkholes collapsing. Oddly, the water on one side can support fish while the salinity on the other side is too high for fish to survive. Rather than climb back over the ridge we walked along the road to the waiting car. While I noticed it had been getting warmer, suddenly it seemed like it was hot and we all stopped in some shade for a water break before we climbed in the car.
The drive to Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge was a short one as promised and soon I was at the visitor centre. I asked about any special points of interest or places that would be good to hike with the dogs. The ranger suggested a few spots to go and also cautioned that with the day warming up, there’s a greater chance for rattlesnakes. Ohhhhh my, so they’ll be on leash at all times. We drove along the Auto Tour Loop which is an eight-mile loop of the refuge. It seemed that we had found all the water that the wetlands were missing at Bottomless Lakes and there were so many birds that some parts of the lakes were completely covered. Since I couldn’t resist getting out of the car, we did stop to hike short sections of the Dragonfly Trail and Oxbow Trail but by this time, the dogs were getting tired and it was starting to get late so climbed into the car and followed the loop back to the highway and into Roswell. I imagine that during the summer, this refuge would be an amazing place to view a lot of animals, especially birds.
I crisscrossed downtown Roswell looking for a barbecue restaurant but they were all closed. On a Tuesday. So I did the next best thing and went to Los Novillos Mexican Restaurant. My attempts to get a recommendation of any kind was fruitless so I finally ordered a chimichanga. I still have no idea what that is but I heard it in a movie (Deadpool if you must know) so I figured I’d give it a shot. Since there was no patio, I brought my order out to the car and had three noses offering to help me finish dinner. I ploughed through rice and beans and cheese and was delightfully stuffed.
As we were heading back to our Airbnb, I stopped by Farley’s Food, Fun & Pub; I didn’t want anything else to eat but I did want to enjoy a beer and according to bringfido.com, the patio is dog-friendly. After confirming that the dogs would be allowed outside, I brought them all out of the car along with one of their thick blankets and we soon made ourselves comfortable. It was cooler than it had been earlier and no one else was outside but for us northern folk, it was a pleasant respite from the heat. I ordered a brown ale from Sierra Blanca Brewing (love that brewery) and chatted with the folks that came out to smoke. One gentleman in particular kept coming outside and we had some lovely conversations. He even bought my beer. I wish that I had thought to ask him his name so that he could be more than “the nice man at Farley’s”. It just goes to show how baked my brain was after the busy day.
We headed back to the Airbnb and I found a lovely surprise: a bag of bacon strips hanging from our door knob left by our host. Even though the dogs turned up their noses at their kibble, they were still able to eat the pieces of bacon before piling up on the bed. I squeezed onto the edge of the mattress and quickly passed out.
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Read the next day by clicking here.