Apr 10 - Rockets and Ghosts

  • Explored around Roswell, NM.
  • Toad Miles Today: 35
  • Total Toad Miles Spring12: 353
  • Tonight's camp: Bottomless Lakes State Park
  • Weather: morning low 49; afternoon high 81; sunny morning, afternoon clouds and a few widely scattered showers.
  • Notables:  1. Impressed with the inventiveness and intelligence of Robert Goddard, the rocketeer. 2. Walked through an exhibition of art from various Southwest artists, among them Georgia O'Keeffe, which stimulated in Dar a desire to see Ghost Ranch. 3. After almost 4 days in the Roswell area we still haven't seen even one space alien, E.T., or UFO.

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by Georgia O'Keeffe
After our marathon day yesterday, it was good we decided to stay closer to "home" today. It felt good just to NOT be sitting in a car.

Like almost any town in the USA, Roswell has a history, a heritage, and a cast of characters... some good and some not so good. Here in Roswell a good place to get an overview... a sense of what this town is about... is at the impressive Roswell Museum and Art Center located just north of downtown on Main Street. After an easy breakfast, and a stop at McDonalds to upload a blog post, we headed over and found a couple helpful Museum staffers to explain how the place is laid out.  Then we dug in.

Dar and I approach museums differently. Not that there's a right or wrong... but she likes to read every word and take a detailed look at every artifact. I, on the other hand, sort of let the place flow over me... reading a little here, then there... trying to understand the theme of the room or exhibit, and then spice that understanding up with a few more focused studies. She certainly gets more detail, while I get more of a "survey course" understanding. She's deep, I'm broad. Or is that the other way around?

The museum had exhibits which covered ancient history and geology of the area, the early inhabitants and their culture, the impact and influence of European settlement, and the history of the people and cultures since the area became part of the USA.

The exhibit that most interested me was the one on Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry. Starting with nothing but an idea, and inspired by H.G. Wells and "The War of the Worlds" which he read at 16, he developed many of the basic principles of rocketry and flight propulsion.

His connection with Roswell was that he moved his lab here in 1930 to take advantage of the wide open spaces which protected others from his hazardous and explosive work. He also preferred to work with his own team of people in secrecy and isolation.

That he was an exceptional character in the history of rockets and space flight is a given. But the real surprise, to me, was the range of his other patents in fields as far ranging as solar energy, jet propulsion, magnetic levitation, and many others.

The attached art gallery included a showing of remarkable photographs by Craig Varjabedian titled "Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby". Ghost Ranch is in Northern New Mexico and was the place Georgia O'Keeffe found so much of her inspiration. Varjabedian's photographs inspired Dar to want to visit Ghost Ranch soon. But that stop will have to wait until our next pass through Northern New Mexico.

Goddard's recreated workshop

Goddard's rocket launching gantry, on display at the museum.

New Mexico evening. Heading back to Bottomless Lakes State Park.

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