With a checkout time of 11am, and a need to pass by the hotel on the way out of town, we chose to leave our belongings in the room while we went to go discover the truth of the Roswell UFO crash. We passed by more little green men on the way to the museum, where we parked in front of the main entrance.
Inside, after paying, we saw a guest book and a map with pins marking where the museum’s various guests call home. Alyssa looked to see if anyone claimed Del Rio, and after see it blank, decided to stick a pin of her own there. I tried to capture it with the camera I brought, the Fuji X-100, but between her not realizing what I was trying to do and my fighting with the camera’s broken shutter button, the opportunity was missed.
There was a lot to read, and if we didn’t have to drive across most of the state of New Mexico, I’d have probably read more. Witness statements, military testimonies, dioramas, and more filled the various sections of the building, some siding with the conspiracy believers and some on the side of the official weather balloon story. While my own personal theories were unchanged, Alyssa walked away more skeptical than when she entered.
We went back to the hotel, to check out of the room and to load up the Fusion. Shortly after, we were on the road again, although not for much longer. During the various conversations that come up after hours on the road, Alyssa commented that she didn’t know how to change a tire. Roughly a half hour after I explained the process to her, a warning message appeared on the dash.
“You know how you were saying you didn’t know how to change a tire? Well, you might get a chance to try soon,” I told her, staring at the illuminated Tire Pressure Monitoring System light.
Knowing that a small town was only a handful of miles away, I made the decision to push on planning to deal with the issue once we arrived at a gas station. Unfortunately, the first station we arrived at told me their air pump was out of service, and recommended me to try the one on the other side of town. Conveniently, that one was out of service too.
With no other options, I cleaned out the trunk and lifted the floor, expecting to find a spare tire. Instead, I found Ford’s “Tire Mobility Kit,” consisting of a small air compressor and tire sealant. I patched up the tire and we were on the road once more.
Arriving in Albuquerque, we sat in a line of traffic similar to that of DC’s, before pulling into the Ford dealership. I checked us in at the service department while Alyssa went to the parts counter for another container of sealant.
While the service techs repaired the tire, we walked through the showroom, marking the second time that I’ve looked at new vehicles while having tire work done in Albuquerque. As much as I wanted to take one of the new 2015 Mustang GTs for a test drive, I was talked out of it.
Before leaving town, we made another stop, again to a place I had been at during my last trip to the city: REI. With the long period of camping to come, I knew that power would be an issue, especially if I was going to use my GoPro cameras in Moab. While she spent some time looking at insect repellents, I looked at solar battery kits. With our purchases made, we set off once again.
US-550 was a route I had taken on my motorcycle trip last year and, as we travelled past the scenic mesas, I realized I had forgotten a significant amount of my travels. I had known I had been on the road but, aside from knowing that fact, it all seemed virgin to me. By this point in the previous trip, I still had roughly three weeks of adventure ahead of me, plus the wedding, commissioning from Officer Training School, and a move from Virginia to Texas. The past year had been busy, but it surprised me that I was looking at the terrain much like an amnesiac would something from his prior life. It was a little disconcerting, at best.
Having spent so much time in Albuquerque earlier in the day, we were in a hurry to make it to our campsite before sunset, not only so that we could set up camp with light, but so we could enjoy some of the lakeside views. That said, we grabbed a meal from Burger King to eat on the way, and a bit of ice for our cooler, and headed out to the lake.
Last time I was at this campsite, it was the beginning of the travel season and it was easy to find a site. Now, in mid June, the main campground was filled, and the overflow camp was starting to become the same. After touring through the lots, we eventually found a site to set up for the night. I parked and we began to unload.
After the sun set, the stars slowly began to appear. Having wasted my opportunities to photograph the star trails on my previous trip, I was anxious to get something from this one. I had even brought my bulky Nikon for the occasion. But, as I set the camera up on the tripod, adjusted my settings, and clicked the shutter, I realized that the only way to get a long enough exposure, would be to keep my finger on the shutter for the entirety of the shot. Not only that, but it was too dark to get my focus set correctly.
I made a few attempts, but nothing worthwhile came from it. Eventually, Alyssa persuaded me to put the gear away and I joined her on the picnic table to gaze out at the various constellations of the nighttime sky.