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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico’

An American Odyssey (Part 5)

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

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.

An American Odyssey (Part 4)

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

“Remember the Alamo” was an important lesson in history class when I was a child and this was our first visit. It was a bit unimpressive but we enjoyed the History Channel movie about the Alamo in one of the rooms. Like at most important tourist sites, the Alamo gift shop was a major attraction. Fortunately, during our many tours, my wife, Barbara, decided to collect only magnets, which significantly limited our expenses. Our refrigerator and a nearby wall back home in Israel are festooned with dozens of magnets, mementos of our many trips.

The Riverwalk near the Alamo meandered along a circuitous route and gondola-like boats were available for hire. The area was scenic, but housed mainly restaurants that we could not eat at. We left the area after a short walk and drove to Junction, Texas, to spend the night.

Dov and Barbara at the Alamo.

One of the sad things we noted this past summer (but enjoyed anyway) was the scarcity of fellow travelers. The economic downturn seriously impacted vacation travel and not once did we have trouble finding lodging at our first choice, nor did we get tied up in a traffic jam. Remembering previous road trips, we were surprised by the very small numbers of visitors at important tourist sites. We had expected crowds, but there were none.

That evening, we enjoyed the Southern fried chicken we had purchased in Houston. On our trips we often stayed at Choice motels. We were usually satisfied with the quality of the rooms and we accumulated free nights. Unfortunately, the Roadway Inn in Junction was of such poor quality that even the owner realized the problems and he reduced our rates for the night.

On the road, we often stopped at a Wal-Mart and other supermarkets both to rest and to give the women a chance to shop. At most locations we found many products with OU certification and we were able to stock up on our snacks and breakfast cereals. Kosher ice cream was also available almost everywhere. We were also very pleased to find free Internet service at many locations around the country. Every day we Skyped our grandkids in Israel and were able to keep in touch with everyone. At the border with New Mexico, we again set our clocks back one hour. We had to keep track that we were now nine hours ahead of Israel time so that we knew when we could contact the family.

Barbara in Carlesbad Cavern.

It was hot in the South but between Sheffield and Ft. Stockton, Texas, we passed by a windmill farm and the air was delightfully cooler. Route 10 is a main highway crossing the South and we often drove on it. Our next stop was Carlsbad National Park. A recent forest fire had raged for more than a week and we witnessed some of the devastation on both sides of the road as we approached the park. The fire had only been extinguished just four days earlier and we were appalled by the destruction.

My brother, Avi, had a Golden Age park pass, which gave us free entrance to the national parks. We took the Carlsbad cave elevator down some 754 feet and walked for an hour and a half through the cool and exciting Big Room. It was an amazing experience as the cave was filled with stalactites and stalagmites and an incredible variety of other formations, all under the Guadalupe Mountains. The cave was one of the highlights of our trip. Our next stop would be the UFO Museum of Roswell, New Mexico. We were warned to avoid unidentified aberrations in the vicinity.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/focus-israel/an-american-odyssey-chapter-4/2012/01/26/

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