America the Strange – 5 Exceptionally Odd New Mexico Attractions
From Texas we cut back West to New Mexico, to bring you more tales of the off-beat and bizarre from across the U.S.A. Spend a week or two in New Mexico yourself and you’ll quickly understand why its earned the name, The Land Of Enchantment:
1. The Black Hole: Atomic Surplus Store & Museum: Los Alamos New Mexico
Put on your best radioactive suit, and head into the The Black Hole, a 17,000 square foot store and museum brandishing some of the great relics from Los Alamos’ radioactive past.
Need a new fallout Shelter? You’ll find it here. Need a Geiger counter? You’ve come to the right place. Need a kilo of Uranium? Come on in (we’re kidding on that one).
Since 1970, store owner and former nuclear machinist “Atomic” Ed Grothus has been collecting and dealing non radioactive nuclear waste to the masses. His efforts to preserve Los Alamos’ nuclear history have been so profound in fact, that his story was made into an award winning documentary in 2002.
2. Smokey The Bear Grave and Museum: Capitan, New Mexico
Once just an average bear, Smokey likely never envisioned becoming a national advertising icon. After being rescued from a forest fire in the mid 1950’s, Smokey took off to Washington, giving 20 years of service to the United States Forest Service before his death in 1976.
Today you can pay your respects to Smokey in his final resting place, a simple grave-site lying in the small town of Capitan, New Mexico.
If the emotion of it all leaves you feeling famished, stop in the Smokey Bear Restaurant, and order up a famous Smokey The Bear Burger (we checked, and the meat contains no parts of Smokey or any other bear). Just be sure to smother it in plenty of ketchup because; only you can prevent bland burgers.
3. Lightning Field – Quemado, New Mexico
Take 400 stainless steal polls, arrange them in a one mile grid, wait for lightning to strike, and zap, you’ve got mother nature’s answer to the laser show.
For $250, you can spend an electric night in a 3-Bedroom cabin, watching lightning violently batter into the metal rods before it. You better hope there’s a storm in the forecast though, as there’s no money back guarantee if lightning fails to strike.
4. Roswell New Mexico
It wouldn’t be a trip to New Mexico, without experiencing the extra terrestrial. Roswell’s downtown strip features no less than a dozen otherworldly attractions. Even the local Walmart and Arby’s have signs exclaiming, “Aliens Welcome”
For a close encounter of your own, head to the International UFO and Research Centre and learn the mysteries behind alien encounters, crop circles, and the infamous UFO crash of 1947.
Next, point your tractor beam at the Area 51 museum and pose for pictures with E.T in the over 20 handmade alien scenes. For the truly ambitious, there’s even alien autopsy to perform. Bring your gloves, it could get messy.
5. Sparky’s Burgers, BBQ and Espresso: Hatch, New Mexico
Only in America could a restaurant serve up the odd combination of burgers, BBQ and espresso and pull it off with such flawless perfection. Drop in for a meal at Sparky’s and be blown away by how beautifully a fresh ground java cuts through the barbecued goodness of a pulled pork sandwich.
Besides the unlikely coupling of cuisines, you’ll also find enough kitschy decor to fill a museum. A giant Uncle Sam, a 10 foot tall A&W momma, and an army of scrap metal robots are just some of the many off-beat marvels eagerly awaiting your visit.
– Sam Zivot