As I drove up the hill in Roswell, New Mexico, its dirt was the color of red velvet cake and I thought, "My God, this dirt is amazing," and then I looked up. What I saw in front of me stopped me in my tracks.
It had been raining as I drove from Carlsbad to Roswell, an impressive feat for New Mexico, which had been desperate for water. The roof vent in my van ceiling was leaking. Despite more than a month on the road, it was the first rain I'd seen.
It was distracting. The leak, obviously, and the rain itself. As a midwestern girl, these desert climates are a relatively new experience for me. Sure, I'd been in various parts of the southwestern desert before. A few days here and there on different vacations, but I'd never lived in it. To me, desert rain meant one thing: spiders.
I have heard, but have not yet experienced, that when it rains, it chases the critters out of their holes and brings them into the open. Since I was staying alone in a van in the desert and it was raining, well, I was distracted.
The drive through two hours of southeastern New Mexico, except for the Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns, was uninspiring. The landscape is a dry tundra; the houses, few and far between, were more like shacks. Made from a depilated corrugated metal whose best days were long gone. As I always do when I see housing of any sort, I was trying to understand the appeal of such a lifestyle. But "appeal" is probably not the word; it is likely more necessity.
I kept driving.
Roswell, New Mexico
It's pretty obvious when you enter Roswell. Every road in and out greets you with a sign of an alien, a spaceship, or both. Of course, I was here for the aliens.
I've heard about Roswell my entire life. Who hasn't? It's known throughout the world as the site of a 1947 UFO crash. Allegedly. But I never thought I'd visit.
In downtown Roswell, you will find the aliens have taken over. Everything is alien-themed. Even the street lights have alien eyes on the glass globes that make them look like alien heads. There is the International UFO Museum; the McDonald’s looks like a spaceship crashed into it, and a massive green alien holds the Dunkin Donuts sign.
In fact, every shop and sign has an alien or a spaceship on it and they're named things like "Alien Invasion" and "Mothership" or "Abduction." I don’t think you can have a business in downtown Roswell unless you comply. They even host a UFO Festival, and this year they're hosting it again and celebrating their 25th year from July 2 - 4.
Heading into Desolation
Because I avoid family activities and kitschy consumer junk like my soul depends on it, I headed for the most desolate place I could find: Bureau of Land Management land. This public land, called BLM land, is federal land open to all citizens. It’s often among the most beautiful, well-preserved and remote land in the country.
I drove in the rain about 15 minutes outside of the city and that's when I notice the roof vent leak. My Dad and I worked so hard to ensure it would never leak and I'm stunned to see it's soaking through the insulation and felt cover on the ceiling. Still, I drive to my destination on the hill. There will be no fixing it tonight and it's not over my bed, so I'd be fine.
Up the Hill
On the way up the hill, the dirt looks like the color of an open wound—a deep red clay. As I mounted the top of the hill, the sun came out, and in front of me, the most spectacular rainbow I’ve ever seen appeared. It was end to end and was the brightness most saturated rainbow ever. It was almost too saturated, like the dirt. Unnatural.
I found the campsite and sat with the rainbow, admiring it, for over an hour. I was the only person for miles.
As night approaches, I watch the lights flicker from the city below. The sky is a deep gorgeous blue, and big clouds pepper the landscape almost close enough to touch. I think it will be too cloudy for the stars, but the twinkling of the lights is a comfort.
I imagine I can feel the energy in the air. The colors and the quiet and the smell of the Earth covered in rare rain is just a little over the top to be 100 percent natural.
Just a state over in Sedona, Arizona, the Earth is covered in vortexes known as sacred sites for connecting to the universe. A common belief about why there is so much energy at vortexes is that they exist at ley lines making up the Earth’s electromagnetic field. These lines create paths or a force of energy in our universe where there is alignment between historic structures and landmarks.
You'd have to be dead not to feel the vibration of that energy in Roswell too. So, I laid my couple of stones on that red ground to let the Earth recharge them. Spiders be damned.
Stars, Satellites, or ...
In Arizona, I met a woman who believed in aliens, and she passed some of that on to me. I didn't expect anything in Roswell, but it was fun to watch, to be in that famous place, to let myself be open to an idea in that way.
In the darkness, despite heavy cloud cover, many stars still shined.
I stayed two nights in the desert in Carlsbad before arriving in Roswell and I didn’t see any stars or satellites, but here I saw several. Some of them behaved especially bizarrely and I let my mind wander. At one point, there was a loud noise, like an engine running, but it stopped after a minute and was gone. I don't know what it was and I don't care to. I like my imagination as it is.
Magic of Roswell
That's the thing about coming to places like this, like the Sedona vortexes, or that time I met the Shaman in Tulum - it doesn't matter what I believe or not. What matters is that I let myself be open to anything and give free rein to my imagination to soar. It always leads me to new places worth exploring. That is the magic of visiting Roswell.