Thursday, November 16
SO! All kind of things have happened since I left Roswell and I haven’t really gotten around to blogging about them. As previously mentioned, I had some kind of virus thingie and it started to really kick in over the last few days, so I didn’t have much energy for doing anything other than lying about bitching and moaning and taking my temperature. Yet I managed to go from place to place without, somehow, ever leaving New Mexico. It is a big state! I like it! I keep going down odd byways and ending up staying here longer than I meant to.
I was in Roswell for two nights. I drove from there to Oliver Lee Memorial State Park near Alamogordo. The road from Roswell to Alamogordo is completely beautiful and weirdly reminiscent of western North Carolina. It’s the Mescalero Apache reservation, for the most part, and it’s totally incredibly gorgeous and not really desert. Pines and mountains and creeks and deserted roadside attractions: it felt like home.
Well, for a little while. Soon enough I was in Alamogordo, which is kind of a world unto itself. There are pistachio wineries, which I will forever regret not visiting. I ended up at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, which is yet again one of the most insanely, startlingly beautiful places I have ever seen. New Mexico! Unfortunately, I felt like crap most of the time I
was there, so I didn’t do any hiking or even make it into the visitor center to find out who Oliver Lee was. I did see Frenchy’s cabin, or the remnants thereof. Frenchy was a guy, probably French or Quebecois, who decided about a century or so ago to hermit out on the mountain slope where the park is now. During the eight years he was there he managed to build an alarming number of stone walls and apparently have a vineyard, raise sheep and do any number of other admirable things that make people like me, who hide in campers and read books, look like the pathetic 21st century slackers they are. Somebody apparently shot him for his troubles, but there were several Quebecois visiting while I was there (Quebecois, for some reason, are heavily represented in the RV camping community; it’s the oddest thing) so, he is not forgotten? Perhaps his shade finds peace in the sound of French in the desert.
Alamogordo sits on a plain between two mountain ranges. There is, famously, a missile range and any number of military installations there. At night missiles, or maybe military planes, go overhead and sound like the world is ending. It is a bit unnerving to be camped directly under several gazillion metric shit tons of rock and feel the earth rumble. One may question ones life choices. One may also question them when one tries to go to the missile range, but, more on that later!
I went to the Space History museum in Alamogordo. It made me just as sad as I thought it might: space history basically ended a few years back. We just stopped. This will always break my heart. Goddamnit, I wanted to go to Mars. I was promised a dome on Mars and a rocket full of libertarian Heinlein boys who wanted to have sex with their mothers and all I got was decaying infrastructure and libertarian Nazis. Shit.
And before we even get to the idea of exploring space, a lot of Space History is just missiles and rockets and new inventive ways to kill other people. I can’t get behind it. I felt miserably ill already and after I had wandered through the entire museum (mad props for the elevators, though, because they are amazing) I was angry, too. The museum hosts the Space Hall of Fame, which is to say a winding wall of headshots and brief bios delineating the contributions to Space History of 177 noble individuals. Of whom ELEVEN, by my count, are female. There might be a few more. I was sick. But there are not many more.
Fuck you, Space History Hall of Fame. You had the chuzpah to nominate an ancient Greek mathematician and you couldn’t come up with a single extra woman or two? You nominated GENE FUCKING RODDENBERRY and you couldn’t get the number of women to SEVENTEEN, thus making it TEN PERCENT? I suspect that if you just looked through the NASA HR files you’d find a whole METRIC SHIT TON of women who contributed more to space than Gene Roddenberry.
But I shouldn’t bitch, because I worked in museums for years and I can spot a neglected, sorely underfunded and understaffed museum when I see one. It’s just something about the broken 1998 touchscreen technology that gives it away. Which is also a crying shame, and for fuck’s sake, America, can we please stop trying to turn ourselves into Feudalism, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo Now With More Serfs and get back to that idea we had about making the world better for everyone, not to mention domes on Mars? I have a few years left. I’d like to spend at least some of them floating around in a space colony in an orange jumpsuit. *
* Or a pink striped polo shirt! One of the very few female Space Explorers wore one on the space shuttle in the late 80s and it’s in a glass case at the museum, as are some genuine and much less fashionable Soviet space suits.