Hi there i'm back i've had to maintain ...

Trip Start Jun 29, 1999
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Trip End Dec 04, 1999


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Flag of United States  , Texas
Thursday, November 18, 1999

Hi there. I'm back. I've had to maintain Internet silence for some time for I fear there is a vast conspiracy out there and it is out to get me. I'm sure that by reading this travelogue you shall see how I came to be in this state of mind.

Saturday, November 6th
Well I surprised myself on this evening by not turning into a couch potato after my long hike in the midday heat (this long sentence is too help you remember where I left off last time). Every Saturday evening in downtown Tucson there is a street party. There were a few buskers as well as a skateboard ramp with a couple of teenage punk skater bands. The bus station is shut down and local dance studios put on performances. But the highlight of the evening was the Day of the Dead procession. It probably only lasted 5 minutes but it was one of the most creative and chaotic parades I have ever seen. A real blast.

Sunday, November 7th
I headed southeasterly out of Tucson along I-10 passing Kartchner Caverns State Park. Alas I was one week to early for this brand new park. From what I've seen and heard this place will be fantastic but anyone trying to get there anytime soon is in for some long, long lines. I got off the Interstate for the short drive down to Tombstone, The Town Too Tough To Die. Although somewhat touristy this place is worth seeing. You can visit the local Boot Hill, which contains the famous dead from the Shootout at the OK Corral but the cemetary doesn't contain that eerie feeling most old graveyards do. This is probably because it is swarming with people and metal pipes and signs have replaced the original grave markers. The old downtown area has been very well preserved. There are a number of old saloons including the Bird Cage Theatre. You can still get that dusty frontier town feeling from this place. There are a number of gift shops and restaurants to choose from and there are at least three different re-enactments of the shootout that you can see (not that the series of events are different in each re-enactment just the company of performers putting on the show). I chose to go see the original performers, the Wild Bunch who actually do their show inside the original OK Corral. It's well worth the few bucks it costs and you'll have some fun. I'd also recommend checking out the newly restored old Courthouse that is a block off the main drag. After leaving Tombstone I continued southward to the town of Bisbee. The town is incredibly scenic, as it is set inside a narrow canyon. If you're ever in the area make sure to get off the highway to drive up and down the Main Street because there are some interesting works of engineering involved in the construction of this town. Unfortunately upon leaving Bisbee to the south you can't help by be disgusted by the giant open-pit copper mine. I kept pushing south to the town of Douglas, which is right on the US-Mexico border. Along all the open fields around the town you'll see lots of US Border Patrol trucks on the constant search for illegal aliens. I was hoping to find a cheap motel (i.e. in the $20 range) so I could catch the brand new X-Files season opener but the best I could do was $35 at the Border Motel which is actually a converted set of slums. It's not the prettiest part of town. And just to piss me off The X-Files turns out to be another "To be continued."

Monday, November 8th
I thought about making a quick trip across the border but I wasn't sure since I don't have a passport. The guy at the motel couldn't tell me anything about Canadians crossing the border and neither could the girl at Pizza Hut so I decided it was a nuisance I could avoid. I headed northward along Hwy 80 into New Mexico. It was a nice drive along a fairly empty desert-mountain highway. Along here you pass by Skeleton Canyon where Geronimo finally gave up to the US Troops and thus completely ended Indian warfare in America. You across the border into New Mexico you pass through a town called Rodeo. There's nothing incredibly special about it except that the local playground still has one of the domed monkey-bar sets that you never see anymore because kids kept getting hurt on them (and cities kept getting sued). I got back onto the Interstate for a short bit until Deming. From there you can head along a very scenic byway through Lake Valley. It's a great drive along the rolling ranchland and there are no shoulders on these roads. The grass is at least waist high and it makes you feel like you are driving through a tunnel. Along the road I stumbled across the actual town of Lake Valley. This is a genuine ghost town. From the 1940's to the 1980's the population was under 10 and now it is completely empty. It is maintained by the state but is not a tourist attraction. There are about 6 buildings left standing as well as the old railroad area and a super-duper cemetary with a great view. There are over 400 mineshafts in the surrounding countryside so don't go wandering off. The cemetary is still is use and you'll find tombstones ranging from 1844 to 1997. It's overrun by grass and bush but a visit to the older parts of this graveyard reveal a ground littered with old wooden crosses. It's pretty creepy. From Lake Valley I headed northward to Truth or Consequences. The town is small (like most in southern New Mexico) but it has a fantastic hot spring. The water comes out of the ground at 115 degrees! The hostel has it's own set of tubs that patrons can use for free. I took advantage of a nice soak right beside the Rio Grande during halftime of the football game. Alas, when I returned both Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman were injured and the Cowboys lost. Earlier this very same day I had purchased a ticket for the Cowboy game the next Sunday in Dallas.

Tuesday, November 9th
I turned south once again and passed through Las Cruces and across the San Andreas Mountains. On the other side of the mountain pass I stopped at White Sands Missile Proving Grounds to check out their missile museum. It was kind of neat because I had to get security clearance as a Foreign National. The museum was okay. I particularly enjoyed the information about the Manhattan Project (it was here that the first-ever atomic bomb was exploded). They also had a missile park which is just a large open area with dozens of old missiles from the V-2 to the Patriot Missile are displayed. I kept moving eastward to White Sands National Monument. Right beside the missile range is a nature preserve, go figure. The sand here is very white as it consists of gypsum (most beach sand you see is made of quartz). From the car it seems so unreal. My brain kept thinking it was snow and I expected the road to be really slippery. What made the stop here excellent were the cottonwood trees that were displaying their fall colours and they contrasted nicely with the vast area of pure white ground. While hiking through the area you could also watch the skies for military planes taking off from the air force base at Alamogordo. The stealth bombers were cool. Also in Alamogordo is the Space Hall of Fame and Museum. It's a pretty neat place but not much has been updated in it since 1986. So you'll read about the brand new Russian Mir space station. For you patriotic Canadians, Marc Garneau has been elected to the Hall of Fame. I kept moving east through the Sacramento Mountains to Roswell where I found a motel and fell asleep watching a Real World marathon on MTV (I felt so dirty the next morning).

Wednesday, November 10th
Roswell was the site of a mysterious crash in July 1947. Some people maintain it was an alien spaceship and the military contends that it was a weather balloon. Either way this town is cashing in on its notoriety. Every building in town has a flying saucer or alien face on it. Downtown you can find the UFO Museum. This place is dead serious about its intentions. It's free but I shucked out an extra 2 bucks for the audio tour. Whatever your take on aliens may be before entering the museum you will definitely be drawn in by the museum's version of the series of events as well as their look into the holes in the military's cover story. I left not necessarily believing in aliens, but damn sure that the military is covering something up. It's a very good museum and I spent 2 hours there (and I didn't even check out the video rooms). Up the street I visited the Roswell Museum and Art Gallery for the sole purpose of checking out Robert Goddard's workshop. Goddard is the father of modern rocketry and moved here in the early part of this century when the fire marshal in Massachusetts wouldn't let him fire off his rockets in his backyard anymore. Isn't it interesting that this town is famous for our start into the realm of space as well as having an alien spaceship crash? I left town quickly and headed south to White's City, which isn't really a city but a commercial enterprise pretending to be a city at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I didn't have time to visit the caverns this day so I camped for the night.

Thursday, November 11th
I got up early to travel 800 feet below the surface of the Earth. The caverns are incredible. I walked all the way down through the Natural Entrance and then did the tour of The Big Room. There are many great things to see and neither adjectives nor vulgarity can express the sights inside. Oh yeah, at 755 feet below the surface there is a gift shop and a cafeteria which kind of ruins things a bit. I was done all my spelunking by noon so I enjoyed the warm afternoon with a book.

Friday, November 12th
This day was meant for driving. It's about 850 kilometres from Carlsbad to Dallas and there isn't much in between except for oilrigs and steers. I did find some interesting radio stations along the way including one that managed to play 3 Lynyrd Skynyrd and 2 Dokken songs in the hour in which I listened to it. I also got to hear Poison's "Unskinny Bop" for the first time in 10 years. I got into Dallas right around sundown, which was kind of neat. There are a lot of highways in Dallas and that means a lot of bizarre interchanges where ramps are stacked three high. At sundown these concrete ramps glow pink and purple in the fading sunlight. I found a camping spot in Cedar Hill State Park just south of the city and went to bed.

Saturday, November 13th
So what's the first thing new tourists do on their visit to Dallas? Go to Dealey Plaza of course! Yes, I had plunged from the intricate world of alien cover-ups into the most disputed assassination ever. The sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository has been turned into a museum. It's very informative and it gives the official version of the events but it does do a decent job of saying that there are a lot of people not satisfied with this version. I was actually surprised at how moved I was by this museum. I figured that with the JFK conspiracy overdose I've received through Oliver Stone's movie and Don DeLillo's book "Libra" that I could look at these events without emotion. I was wrong. I then walked around Dealey Plaza including a visit to the grassy knoll and the spot where Abraham Zapruder filmed the assassination. There's actually a little X on the road at the exact spot where JFK was hit with the fatal shot. About 2 blocks away is a museum offering a different story. The Conspiracy Museum looks into the JFK assassination as well as the slayings of Martin Luther King and RFK and Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick incident AND the KAL007 airliner shooting. Apparently they are all related. These guys are serious but they come off as slight crackpots. It's still a lot of fun and their look into the RFK assassination has a lot of merit. For those of you who are wondering this museum maintains that there were 9 shots fired at JFK from 4 different positions and the guys on the grassy knoll missed on purpose while the mysterious umbrella man hit Kennedy first with a poison dart. Got that? Dallas's downtown is much like Phoenix's: there are a lot of brand new office buildings and not much else. A walk eastward will bring you into the area called Deep Ellum where all the hip and happenin' bars and tattoo parlours are. Luckily for me, I have a good friend in John Andrews who used to live in Dallas. He talked a friend into putting me up for the rest of the weekend. It was like I died and went to Guy Heaven. My new hero, Greg Thomas, has three TVs in his living room so he can watch three football games at once (just like Elvis!!). He also has a nice hot tub and treated me to a super steak and baked potato. He also fried up some chicken but I was full. That evening we watched former Kitchener boy Lennox Lewis become the undisputed Heavyweight champion of the world.

Sunday, November 14th
Game day! I was pretty stoked on this day, as I would fulfill a lifelong dream to see the Dallas Cowboys play a game in their home stadium. The first football I ever watched on TV was Super Bowl 12 when I was 6 and since then I've been a Cowboys fan through thick and thin. I got to the stadium early to check out the tailgate action. There actually isn't much to their tailgate party as this is the first year the city of Irving has allowed an open flame in public so the fans haven't caught on to this tailgate party just quite yet (unlike the denizens of Buffalo). Fortunately the fans are a lot classier than in Buffalo where cheering for the visiting team means fighting for your life through most of the game. I entered the stadium and immediately picked up some great football cuisine - sausage on a stick. I was then showed to my seat... the very last row. It wasn't that bad as I was on the 20-yard line so I had a good view of the whole field and I was right in the aisle so I had lots of legroom. It was a great game and the Cowboys overcame the injuries to their stars and beat the dreaded Green Bay Packers 27-13. I went to the game alone but as soon as I put on by Cowboys baseball hat I had 60,000 friends. By the end of the game I could barely talk and my hands were sore from clapping and high-fiving. I could have stayed after the game and attended the Shania Twain concert for free but I didn't want to ruin this glorious day. When I got back to Greg's place he already had a big pot of spaghetti on the go. Yeah Greg!!

Monday, November 15th
I decided that I had better get moving or else I would never leave Greg's house. Thanks a lot!! I headed down to Austin. The drive took up most of the day but I did get a chance to visit the University of Texas's campus and once again I became disappointed at how ugly the U of Waterloo's grounds are. The campus is home to the Austin clock tower where some nutball went crazy with a rifle over 30 years ago and killed a mess of people. This guy is the granddaddy of every psycho loser with a gun. His massacre still ranks number 3 all-time in the US. Now that is history! Downtown Austin also contains the state capitol building which is larger than the one in Washington. I also dropped by the governor's mansion to see if George W Bush was out enjoying the warm evening in his gazebo but he was not. Austin has a great string of bars along 6th Street that helped the city declare itself The Live Music Capitol of the World. There wasn't much happening on Monday and I missed the David Lee Roth concert the previous evening, darn it!

Tuesday, November 16th
This day was the 20th week anniversary of my life on the road. I celebrated by going to the Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin. It was a very good museum and I learned a lot about this president whose acheivements seem to given credit to JFK. Of course, he did escalate the Vietnam War that kind of puts a dark cloud over his presidency but his work on civil rights and the space program were awesome. On the top floor of the museum they have re-created Johnson's Oval Office where you can see the original 3 TV set-up that Johnson used to follow Vietnam coverage. It was this set-up that inspired Elvis's rec room football game set-up. As soon as I get home I'm buying two more TVs. I then took off for the short drive down to San Antonio. Once in town I didn't do much but I did find a theatre that shows second run movies for a buck so I enjoyed "Bowfinger" and "Mystery Men."

Wednesday, November 17th
"I remember... I remember the Alamo." - PeeWee Herman
Yup, you'll not forget the Alamo once you visit it. It's the centerpiece of aboveground San Antonio. The museum is a little small but informative and the grounds of this landmark are very pretty. The rest of downtown San Antonio is quite pleasant but for some real scenery you must head downward. About 10 feet below street-level lies the San Antonio River and several canals built in the 1930s. In 1937 a huge public works beautification process created Riverwalk which is, in my opinion, the nicest downtown area I've seen since Quebec City. The sidewalks and footbridges along side the river are lined with nice restaurants and cafes and you feel completely transported away from the hustle and bustle happenning in the downtown core above you. Although the river area is wide open above you cannot hear much of the traffic noise from the streets. It's a truly wonderful area.

Thursday, November 18th
Wooo! Finally made it back to today. That only took 2 hours of brain-dumping. I've driven down to the Gulf Coast at Corpus Christi for a couple of days of serious beach-sitting. There's a great hostel right on the beach with a bar and restaurant right next door. This going to be great lounge time.
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