Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted RV
Upon a painted highway.
Oil, oil, every where,
And all the roads did turn;
Oil, oil, every where,
Nor any drop to burn.
Or so Mr Coleridge might have written, if he had been on our journey through the plains of New Mexico, on the faithful 380. Or might have written, if he had been in the States, and not stoned in a country house with Wordsworth. Actually, I was also going to say, he also might have written the above if he had been a pretentious little prat, but since he was - I can scrub that and just acknowledge that anyone who borrows such a poem and so utterly destroys it with pathetic and utterly irrelevant allegories must himself be either a pretentious little prat, or be suffering from sunstroke.
Did I mention that we spent many hours in the sun over the last few days, and that I even managed to burn a V in my chest by virtue of the Walmart v-necked white t-shirts that I bought? Incidentally, do you think it's implausible to claim to have v-necked t-shirts? What are they? TV or VT shirts?
Ah! I can hear your thoughts - yes, perhaps I do have diarrhea, another symptom of sunstroke - only the verbal variety. So I should make some efforts to bring you up to date with our adventures instead.
The nod to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was intended as an introduction to the vast oilfields between Hobbs and Artesia, up towards Roswell. Natural gas, as well as oil - but the product is irrelevant. The device that extracts it is the architect of the landscape; it should be shocking, or depressing, but we found the vista of thousands of acres of these bobbing beasts to be entirely beautiful in its own way. Impressive, intimidating, sometimes even so malodorous we choked and wiped tears from our eyes! Certainly not pleasant...
In some places, the jack pumps were no more than twenty metres apart, and spread as far as the eye could see in every direction! Incredible. A scene blending Transformers with the battle in the Lord of the Rings where Sauron is defeated at the end of the Second Age. Just sadly with Samwise Gangee instead of Megan Fox.
These oil and gas fields range from parts of Texas, across the plains and into New Mexico. For these same reasons, this area has an unemployment rate of less than 3%, and no personal income tax (in Texas)! It also affected us - the RV parks were often full of oil-field workers, from across the country. This is oil-cowboy country, for sure. Recession? Not here at least.
Finally, after 100 miles of nodding donkeys and burn towers, the landscape changed, and we entered a period of arable land leading into Roswell. Oddly green, considering they haven't had any rain for over 13 months. Or perhaps not so odd, for the prevailing theme here is green. As one bumper sticker put it -' Welcome to Roswell. Green since 1947'. Yes, this is the home of little green men and a great American conspiracy. Or is it?
What did we expect from Roswell? I suppose nothing much more than we got. The town is all classic kitsch Americana. The local Chamber of Commerce have little choice but to try to reap as much as they can from the 'Roswell Conspiracy', and to be fair, they don't overdo it.
There is a semi-serious ET museum, contrasted with an emphasis on Roswell as 'The Capital of Dairy Cheese in the Southwest' (one of the largest mozarella factories in the world is here), but nevertheless there is no escaping the cheap trinkets, the handwritten sales boards for alien t-shirts (yes, of course I bought several :), and the typical degeneration of Downtown. Yet, as I said above, does Roswell really deserve its reputation as the alien capital of the world? ....
The alleged UFO crash actually took place near the town of Corona NM, 75 miles away. The only connection with Roswell is that the soldiers sent to investigate came from the nearby base. Even then, the alleged bodies and debris were, according to modern legend, spirited away to Area 51, in Nevada (see our blog on the town of Rachel, from 2009).
So Roswell is, in the end, not much than a Hollywood legend and a self-perpetuated piece of American road trip kitsch. Does that matter? Probably not.
Two days in Roswell at the Trailer Village RV Park (yes, it's called that, and no - it's fortunately better than that sounds) was fine for us - with one exception, the 'Peppers' restaurant. Unless you like cold cardboard, this restaurant is probably not for you. And even if you do like cold cardboard, do you prefer it rare, medium or well-done? Unlucky - it comes one way. Only hope it stays in one way...