roswell new mexico in the smartbeetle

Day 23: Roswell, New Mexico

March 28, 2000

leaving phoenix7:15A - In a sleepy daze, i wave goodbye to Molly who is headed off to class. Dreaming of riding a Jeep to the moon. It must be the killer blanket.

10:40A - Fully fed by Cara with 2 slices of French Toast and the first Maple Syrup in 21 days on the road. Packed up my freshly cleaned clothes and loaded up. Bye bye Phoenix.

11:23A - huh, just a little late leaving - 4 hours! But, Mix 96.9 is playing excellent 80's Lunch: Green Day, Hush Hush (Voices Carry), Peter Gabriel's: Salisbury Hill, Walkin' on Sunshine, Abracadabra (old!), FYC:She Drives Me Crazy, Cyndi Lauper:Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Midnight Blue...

12:54P - Enjoying an hour and a half of sing along, i look down at the odometer and i just crossed 39000 miles on the car. there in the desert to the south is what looks like a couple hundred jumbo jets. maybe an airplane graveyard - or the other side of the Atmospheric Hole called the Bermuda Triangle.

smartbeetle in new mexico

Upon closer inspection, it's some National Guard Training facility - but why all the dead planes? Could it be where they train for taking over hijacked planes?

1:54P - missed the dang CrackerBarrel thinking i would see another one soon and i could kill two birds by getting gas as well. But, i just turned off into Benson, AZ and it is windy and 70 degrees and dry and breathtaking. Me and Tombstone have a date - too bad it's not High Noon

2:06P - Detour on the trail south. Gonna ride into Tombstone and check up on the Earp boys.  slowed the SmartBeetle down to a trot and with the window down, i'm able to hear my 21st century horse shoes on the cement.

my first smell-triggered memory of the trip. I have spent the last two days in Phoenix smelling spring flowering trees with Molly. There is a stale, but interesting odor in the wind here that brings me back to mid-eighties saturday morning drives in Michigan with the Ole Blue Boy (our 1950 something truck) to the grain elevator. It's that musty aged-dust smell that must come from old grain dust lying in the truck cab for years. Dry, stiff and fine.

smartbeetle where the streets have no name

tombstone, AZ2:20P - The SmartBeetle really looks out of place amongst the pickup trucks and stagecoaches of Tombstone. We mosey'd into town down a side street and i tied her up to a hitchin' post off of 4th street. Every eye I caught was smiling and nodded hello. If only i had a hat to tip in acknowledgement.


After strolling through town looking for trouble, i popped into Big Nose Kate's Saloon, bellied up to the bar, downed a shot of whiskey and a beer and ordered some enchiladas (did they have "authentic Mexican") back in 1880 or was it not a delicacy like it is today? 'Kate's had excellent live country music and the waitresses were in full "Gunsmoke" attire. Thanks for the drinks Jimmy.

big nose kate's saloon

steve butcher wild westBought me a nice hat and some sugar cubes for SmartBeetle, rolled back the seat and took a 2 hour nap under the only tree in town.


On the way out of town, the US Border Patrol has a checkpoint set up. After a few moments, their only question other than "US Citizen?" is - "Can i get a vest?" Sorry boys, most of them are spoken for and you don't want to pay the $40.

6:29P - Loves for gas & H2O - Next to Kauai, tonight offers the best view of the west. 21st state in 22 days (binary anyone?).

steve butcher and the smartbeetle get to new mexico

This is my kind of weather - 70F dry sun shining through puffed clouds and quite windy. The vest is coming in handy again.

sunset in new mexico

6:58P - The Great Divide (again!)....and guess what? Bowlin's all-in-one Store has FIREWORKS! And they were closing up when i rolled in. She re-opened the door and i loaded up with bricks of Explosives. My craving is quenched nearly 12,000 miles into the journey. My brother-in-law will be psyched.

9:50P - White Sands Missile Center. Absolutely no traffic and no building lights. I've pulled the car over to attempt to photograph some of the remote missile sites that glow across the horizon. There's a faint glow spinning around the sky, slowly circling downward. killed all lights and power to the SmartBeetle and got up on the roof to capture it on video:


rearview mirror smartbeetle11:11P - 2 miles outside of Roswell, State-y pulled me over doing 35 - in a 35. Turns out he saw my headlight out. Took my license, laughed at the sign and headed back to his cruiser. I snapped a quickie in the mirror for proof and he returned asking why i was out without a headlight. well, i explained how i stopped in Tombstone and bought a headlight, but couldn't get it installed. He accepted it and finished with: "You'd be surprised how many DUI's we get with busted headlights." Goodnight officer.

ticket in Roswell NM11:17P - A new record: County Sheriff pulled me over. you have got to be kidding me - i drove like 3 miles into Roswell. i showed him the warning from the guy just up the road and he threatened "better get it fixed pronto son." thanks again. Roswell on a Tuesday night is dead.

So i checked into the Days Inn after zooming down Main Street for a while. Didn't see any suspicious looking 'beings', maybe they will be easier to spot in the daylight.

i'm goin' alien hunting.

1:45A - Note-to-Self: A Whiskey, a Beer and an afternoon nap do NOT make for interesting travel or record keeping.

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Music of the day

  • Singles the Movie Soundtrack
  • REM: New Adventures in Hi-Fi
  • Dave Matthews
  • OMD
  • MP3 CD