Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 4 - The Truth is out there!

As posted on FB, we started the day with an incredible Santa Fe breakfast at our hotel.  Unbelievably delicious!  We didn't eat again till after 6 PM.

The Miracle Staircase
After breakfast we went next door to the Lorretto Chapel. This little chapel is famous for its stairway to the choir loft.  When the church was first built there was no way to access the choir loft.  Several carpenters were called in to build something, but they all concluded that a ladder was the only answer.  The nuns decided to hold a novena to pray for a solution.  On the last day of the novena a man showed up with a donkey and some tools.  After several months, the staircase was completed and the man left, taking no payment and to this day, no one knows who he was. The spiral staircase has two 360 degree turns, is fully self-supporting and has no nails.  It is truly beautiful and a masterpiece of design, engineering and mystery!

(Note: As we entered the chapel, I (Marvin) noticed the clerk had a slight smudge of something on his forehead.  Being the polite person I am, I started to lean over to whisper to him about his blemish.  Just in time, I realized what day it was.  Whew!  Almost added to the “dumbass” reputation initiated on the road to Taos!)

Next we visited the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.  This amazing woman produced over 2200 works and this museum has about 1100 of them.  About 200 pieces are on display at any one time.  We’ve always thought of large flower paintings as her primary work.  In fact, she was a prolific abstract artist with much of her work focusing on the New Mexican desert and the plants in her garden.  She was quite an outspoken person and didn’t like people to write about her paintings. She wanted people to see them.  She hated what art critics wrote about her paintings as they contrived interpretations of what she meant when she painted the piece.  Oh, the reason she painted those big flowers?  She was inspired by the big buildings being built in New York City.  Lots of people were noticing them and she wanted people to notice her work….hence, big flowers!

Indians selling their wares
outside the Palace
 Next was the Governor’s Palace.  Lots of history about New Mexico and Santa Fe.  There were several cutouts in the floor with glass over them.  Under the glass were the excavated ruins of the original adobe palace and the artifacts found during the excavation were on display in the museum.  History is strikingly different around here.  Back in Illinois, we trace our history through the settlers who moved in from places like Kentucky and Ohio.  Here, they trace their history back to the conquistadors, then the Mexicans who ruled here for some time.  Also, the history here is much more interwoven with the history of the Indians who were much more active in terms of battles and trade.

Last on our Santa Fe visits was the St. Francis Cathedral Basilica.  It’s absolutely stunning inside and very reminiscent of European cathedrals and in fact, was modeled after St. Chapelle in Paris.  It was Ash Wednesday so we only had a few minutes between services to visit.

Reluctantly, we left Santa Fe.  This is a wonderful wonderful city!  Incredible art.  Fantastic food.  Beautiful landscapes all around the city.  And, virtually every person we encountered was gracious and helpful beyond our expectations.  This truly is a city worth a longer visit!

 Next, a three hour drive across the high desert to Roswell. 

Back on the high plains, drifting along in Big Red.  (High Plains Drifter…get it?)  Anyway…as we steadily descended from 6300 feet to about 4000 feet, the temperature steadily increased…finally reaching the magic 72 degrees about an hour outside of Roswell.  The scenery was wide expanses of high desert with an occasional mountain peak placed here and there for interest.  We saw a few cows, three deer, and about six other vehicles, okay, maybe seven.  As we neared Roswell we started seeing circular irrigation farms,  The Roswell area sits atop one of the largest artesian wells in the nation, allowing them to use irrigation to grow grain crops.  We’ve flown over this area many times and viewed the “crop circles” and it was really a different perspective seeing them up close and personal.

On a side note:  We love to listen to music in the car…usually on radio stations.  In this area, you hit scan to find a station and you might find one…if you’re lucky.  We anticipated this and before we left we had a kit installed on our radio so we could connect our iDevices.  (Big Red is a 1999 Intrigue, built waaay before the iPod age.)  This has been a life saver…we have access to our entire music collection on a device that fits in the palm of your hand.  Highly recommend this!

Upon arriving in Roswell, we went straight for the International UFO Museum and Research Center.  Along the way we saw many businesses with signs welcoming UFOs and aliens.  This city really gets into UFOs!
Aliens welcome here

Welcome at our hotel!
We paid our $5 each, got our ID stickers and began seeking answers.  The first display is a map of the world with colored pins denoting each UFO sighting.  There were clusters of pins throughout the world, none in Decatur, but a couple in St. Louis.  Upon closer examination, you could see that there had been pins in Decatur.  Finally, you read the caption below the display….this is a MONTHLY plot of sightings!  Each month, they take all the pins down and start again.  About this time Scully…er, Mona, walked up and we began our investigation in earnest.

The first side of the museum is focused on the 1947 Roswell Incident.  It has a timeline that tracks the events of the incident and has signed affidavits from witnesses throughout the event…beginning with what was found in the field and what the American military response was.  Did you know the first press release from the military stated that they had recovered the debris from a flying saucer?  The next day they retracted that release and began saying they had been mistaken, it was a weather balloon.

NOT welcome at Walgreens
(apparently, they have had
 some incidents!)
The military went to extreme measures to close off the site and to ship whatever they found to Las Alamos and places like Area 51.  There are many affidavits from military personnel who guarded the debris, transported the debris and examined it.  (There are over 600 affidavits regarding the incident, all leading you to believe that there was much more than a balloon out there!

Reportedly, there were four crew members on the saucer and one was found alive.  There are drawings based upon what the military nurses described and chilling stories about what happened in the military hospitals.  (I can tell that even Scully…er, Mona….is becoming more and more convinced!)

The other side of the museum provides lots of exhibits on UFO sightings throughout the world and throughout history.  One of the more interesting exhibits is of an ancient Mayan burial carving which appears to depict an astronaut in a space ship.  Lots of strange stuff on this side of the museum!  (As if the Roswell Incident isn’t strange enough!)

Scully, er..Mona, and friends!
Here’s a link to the museum’s home page:

We won’t try to convince you one way or the other on the existence of UFOs, but as for Scully…er, Mona, and me…The Truth Is Here!

P.S.  Sheryl, Where's Daffy?


  1. Sounds like you are having fun. Did they let you climb that staircase?

  2. No, they don't let you climb the staircase. :-( Another interesting thing is that the staircase had no handrails when the mystery carpenter finished. The nuns were always terrified when they used it, so a few years later they hired another carpenter to put on the handrails.