THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
To UFOville via nostalgia for the new and endless beauty
Victory or death

UFO's and caves on the way to the Lone Star State

Carlsbad Caverns, a National Park below the surface
Where did the satnav land us this time, chaps?
Roswell's extra-terrestrial "research centre".
As promised, I began my day in Roswell NM by visiting the UFO Museum, or as it styles itself "International Museum and Research Center". In business, it's always wise to beware people with elaborate job titles. They are usually far less important than the guy with the simple one. It seems the same applies to museums.

There was almost nothing in the museum, set up in an old movie house on main street, that you or I could not replicate in a competing business. The exhibits consisted mostly of press cuttings and copies of affidavits and other documents, with some movie and TV posters thrown in.

There were tableaux which probably revealed more about the imaginations of various "witnesses" than about the likely appearance of extra-terrestrials. In pre-CGI television sci-fi (though Douglas Adams could give us a "super-intelligent shade of the colour blue" on radio) we had to accept that the appearance of aliens would be based on human actors, with a lot of latex applied. It would be rather surprising, I think, if actual aliens felt limited by the same conventions.

The last laugh is with the owners of this private museum. Having escaped the clutches of their fellow-professionals near Area 51, I walked into their business and gave them money. Not much, admittedly. For $5, most customers seemed well-satisfied, especially the excited small boys demanding that their mothers confirm their various theories. I enjoyed myself too, to be honest. It was fun - even the part about it pretending to be more.

My next destination was more worthily edifying; Carlsbad Caverns. The news that the main elevators down to the caverns 500 feet below the surface are unavailable seems to have spread. The threatened delays in using the ones still working did not materialise, so I spent a happy few hours beneath the desert in a cool natural environment for the first time in days. I got some much needed exercise by walking the "Big Room" (once again, Americans are direct in naming their natural wonders). I learned a new word for the formations - speleothems. I happily wandered about with my camera and tripod trying to get better shots than the people pointlessly, but determinedly, blazing away with tiny flashes in the vastness.

By the time I had done, it was late afternoon and I had covered only about 100 miles. As I had diverted almost 40 miles from my route to take in the natural wonders of the caverns, I had to get cracking.

I ended the day in Fort Stockton, TX. I have about 320 miles to cover tomorrow to San Antonio (or San Antone as we Johnny Cash fans think of it). With no touristic tasks on the to do list and the entire drive on one of America's fastest interstates (because of Texas's high speed limits) it should be easily do-able. I am looking forward to it.