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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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An American Odyssey (Part 5)


Gilor-Dov

Is it true that creatures from outer space visited New Mexico and that the U.S. government suppressed the story to avoid worldwide panic? At the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico, we saw many pieces of evidence and read many news stories about the landing of UFOs and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. After spending part of a day visiting the museum, we are no longer so sure that the stories were a hoax, but, sorry Roswell, we are still skeptical.

Dov and Barbara and a visitor from outer space.

The entire New Mexico experience was very exciting. Our next stop, the White Sands National Monument, heightened the science theme of this part of our tour. Visitors to the area often assume that the sand dunes would be too hot in the heat of the summer to walk on barefoot, but the “sand” is actually crystals and when we removed our shoes the crystals were comfortable to walk on. My brother, Avi, and I had fun climbing a sand dune and sliding down, while my sister-in-law, Martha, and my wife Barbara remained with the car and took pictures.

That evening in Las Crucas, we enjoyed the hospitality of Philip and Sally Alkon, thanks to the help of the local Chabad rabbi, and spent time learning about the Jewish community in the area. The community is not an Orthodox one and I had arranged to speak at the Temple Beth El. Twenty-four members came for a Wednesday morning breakfast to hear my talk about “Life in a Religious Settlement.” The participants asked interesting questions and seemed to enjoy the session.

After the session, we continued our trip via Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on our way to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. We enjoyed a film on preserving the local wildlife and drove the Marsh Trail to see if we could spot the local residents. We didn’t have much luck.

Dov and Barbara in a hot air balloon.

After the refuge we made our almost daily Walmart stop to replenish our bottled water supply and to shop. It is great that we can find so many products with the OU certification and other kosher symbols all across America. In Albuquerque we found an excellent Econo Lodge Motel that was so nice that we decided to spend Wednesday and Thursday nights there. Our next Shabbat stop would be in nearby Santa Fe and we used the time to tour the area. We visited the historic Old Town of Albuquerque and were impressed with the wooden balconies and adobe brown color and style of the houses. Everywhere we stopped, of course, there were tourist shops and art galleries and Barbara and Martha enjoyed the shops. We were fortunate that they could not buy too much because there was no available space in our packed van.

We drove to the Sandia Mountains to take the tramway ride to the top. It was an awesome sight (and a bit scary) as the tram made the steep, three-mile climb to the top. When we arrived at the top, one of the rangers mentioned that we could also drive to the top of a nearby peak. After we descended, we drove through the Cibola National Forest to Sandia Crest, some 10,673 feet above sea level.

Our next stop was the Hot Air Balloon Museum where we enjoyed piloting a simulated flight. Fortunately, it was only simulated because we crashed several times. The area is famous for the many companies that offer hot air balloon flights, but at $160 per person for a short balloon flight we decided to pass up the opportunity. We did watch some balloons take off during our next morning’s exercise walk.

Back at the motel, we used the free internet connection to Skype our great-grandchildren in Israel and enjoyed seeing and talking to them. Next stop: Friday and Shabbat in Santa Fe.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

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