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The name sort of says it all, doesn’t it? Area 51? Aliens? The truth is out there…?

Fred wasn’t taking any chances.😉

I was hoping to meet a real live alien, but I settled for some sunglasses for my grandgirl and a photo op.

We enjoyed our brief stop then headed west to Soccoro, New Mexico. Interestingly, we passed through some gorgeous country jampacked with history.

Have you ever heard of the Lincoln County War? Me, neither, but it includes one historical name you have heard of: Billy the Kid.

We ambled about, poking in the remaining buildings preserved and open to the public. Paul made himself at home in the church and the bar, which also served as a courthouse. 

Although unplanned, we also stopped at Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, NM. This is one of those special places you can’t fully appreciate unless you take the time to go inside, watch the video, and then visit the final resting place of the real Smokey Bear…yes, real. I’ll admit I didn’t know his story. I cried a little.

Our one night in Socorro was interesting because the wind came up and the temp went down. Brr. But the next morning, the sky was a gorgeous blue, which made our stop at the Very Large Array a photo op we couldn’t pass up.

What is a Very Large Array? It’s a grouping of 27 giant radio dish receivers arranged across the high desert landscape to study the cosmos by “listening” to faint, natural radio waves traveling through distant spaces from objects like galaxies, black holes, and baby stars.

These dishes are 82’ across. And they can be moved along railroad tracks. Did we geek out? Yeah, pretty much.

The minute I spotted one, I said, “Is this where they filmed that Jodie Foster movie, Contact?” Sure was. While the film was entirely fiction, I was still impressed.

We spent two windy nights in Holbrook, Arizona, so we could visit the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park. Two amazing desert treasures (and gift shops).😉

Again, our photos don’t do the colors and sheer magnitude of these vistas justice. We drove the entire loop, and hiked several trails, but the wind was crazy and we didn't linger as long as we might have wished.

The Petrified Forest is a marvel I still can’t quite wrap my head around. Silly as it sounds in retrospect, a part of me went there expecting to see standing trees. I know that doesn’t make sense, but neither does walking through whole forests of trees, many which were as big as the Redwoods, lying about in their current state: large, solid hunks of colorful rock. Luckily, the park service displays helped us to understand how and—maybe more importantly—when this happened.

Would you believe, at this point in our travels, we were still five days from home?

Since I know you want to see Meteor Crater, Winslow, Sedona, two ghost towns, etc., I’ll save the final leg of the trip for next time (May 4).

But I also plan to send out a special notice on Monday, May 1, with links to my NEW RELEASE – I say mine but only because I’m the publisher of this eight-author group box set called SMALL TOWNS BIG HEARTS. It’s fair to say this one is near and dear to my heart – publishing is a lot of work. I can’t wait for you to read it, and I hope if you do, you’ll tell all your friends.

Here's one of the memes I made for it. Don’t you love my pal Linda Barrett’s fun snark?

Happy reading,


Coming next:
5/1 – Happy Book Birthday: SMALL TOWNS BIG HEARTS
5/4 – the final push for home
5/11 – Happy Mother’s Day recipe & a very special Free deal!



Copyright © 2023 Debra Salonen