APRIL 27 - MAY 09, 2006

Audio log, Day 4

DAY 4, Sunday, April 30, 2006

I left the Holiday Inn Express in Anthony, Texas, just north of El Paso, and headed south. I took the exit for the hospital, and ended up at Providence Memorial. I was born there, waaaaay back in 1957. The design of the current building seems the same as the picture on my birth certificate, so it may be the same building, just updated a bit. I took some pictures, looked around a bit, then headed downtown. Made a stop at Alligator Park, and got out to stroll around. I wondered about something... the outer edge of the park had grassy areas, but all those areas were surrounded by wrought iron fences! No way to get into the grassy spots. So do El Paso's parks people only want the citizenry to look at the grass, but not to walk on it? It seemed odd to me, but then I'm just a tourist there, so what do I know? ;-) I was quickly accosted by a 5150 ( a person with mental issues ), who told me he had seen me on television! He was chattering on about how he knew he wasn't supposed to know, or say anything, but he just had to come over and talk to me. He rambled on for a few moments, while I just nodded and said things like "oh, yeah?" and was trying to figure out how to disengage from him. I told him something along the lines of "it was nice seeing him. I'm going to go take some pictures now." He seemed content with that, and went to shake my hand. The handshake started off normally, then went into that shake, clasp, and bump fists nonsense that I find annoyingly inane. Just as we were shaking, another man walks up and starts engaging the first guy in conversation as I walked off. He either knew him, and was 'saving' the tourist from him (thanks!) or he was another 5150 who found someone to talk to! Either way, I wandered off clicking pictures. I should have taken his picture, but it didn't occur to me at that moment. A lot of Mexican folks around the park, and in that part of downtown. I guess that is not at all surprising, considering I was less than a couple of miles from Mexico! In places I could see into Juarez from where I was in El Paso. A lot of businesses in the area catering to the Mexican population, most signs were in Spanish. I was feeling uneasy, and it took me a while to figure out why. At first I thought it was just that I was alone in an unfamilar place, but I realised that was not it completely. After a while it dawned on me. I was out of my usual places, and I couldn't register the subliminal and other signs one relies on to spot possible problems coming on. I didn't know the signals of body language, clothing, or eye contact to understand what and where I was. I thought that was interesting once I figured it out. I left the downtown area, and went to find an address that was listed on my birth certificate as being my parents residence when I was born. I had been checking the area out on Google Earth, and the satellite photos seemed to show a business area, with that address being in the parking lot of some kind of store. Well, it seems Google Earth got it wrong, when I got down there, I found the 2 story brick apartment building, and took some pictures. I'll show my parents, and see if it looks familar to them. When we were talking about it, they both thought it was 3 story, but it has been 48 years since they lived there! On up the road, drove over the loop from east El Paso to west, through the hills overlooking El Paso... gee, was that Rosa's Cantina below?? Headed out of town, part of the loop around the city goes out east through the edges of Fort Bliss. Then what seemed like an ENDLESS highway out of town, through some low hills east of town. Ran into a Border Patrol check point in those hills, had a nice short chat with a couple of agents, talking a bit about all my radio stuff in the truck. While the chat was going on, the dog was sniffing up the truck, and I must have passed, because after a bit I was sent on my way with a friendly "have a nice day, sir". After what seemed like forever, I arrived at Carlsbad Caverns, and made the last tour of the day. Not too many people there, I was expecting a crowd, but maybe late Sundays are slow times for them. Walked through the main chamber, and took a few pictures. Cool and moist in the cave, and the Park Service has the place lit with carefully placed lights to create a wonderful effect while you walk the paths. You could see in places where the rocks had fallen from the ceiling, and other places where the material was built up from eons of drips depositing minerals on the floor. I wish my camera was able to catch some if it better, there were a couple of places where the lighting made the formations look like faces and figures. The flash just washed the effect away, and I ended up with a bright blob of a picture. Next time, a better camera! Out of the cave, and back on the road. Stopped for the night in Roswell, New Mexico, home of arguably the most famous UFO story in the United States. A funny checking-in story.... the clerk was new, and in training, so the manager was walking him through the procedure. We got to the part where he asks "what brings you to Roswell?", and I replied "a UFO". The trainee starts typing that in, and the manager leans over and says "click 'leisure'"! I think some of the folks around there wish the UFO thing had never happened! Tomorrow, the UFO!

Day 5