Artesia, NM to Roswell, NM
With a tailwind, this was another fast day. I started out  with Pepsi for breakfast. I drank all I could of the second 2-liter bottle from last night  (there was a refrigerator in the room, so at least it wasn't warm), then I poured out the rest. I didn't feel too good afterward, but I swallowed enough calories to get me through the day.
There were two roads to Roswell--the straight, wide, barren  US 285 and SR-2, the old US 285 that paralleled the railroad tracks and went through several towns. Since I didn't have a lot of miles to cover, I opted for the more scenic latter option, which was several miles longer. This was also a more historic route. SR 2 ran parallel to the Pecos River, and somewhere in between the two was the legendary  Goodnight-Loving Trail, which was used to drive  cattle north from Texas in the 1860's (the trail went west, then north through New Mexico to  avoid Comanche country and to use  the water of the Pecos River).  About 12 miles north of Artesia, I came to Lake Arthur. I was hoping to mail home several pounds of books before I got to the mountains, but alas, the Lake Arthur post office was closed. A few miles north on SR 2, I came to a night club called El Gomez. It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but I think the idea was to put it halfway between Lake Arthur and Hagerman, drawing from both towns. I wouldn't want to be on SR 2 at closing time.
Hagerman was a bigger town, with a Chevron station and even an Italian restaurant. A red pick-up slowed down as it passed. A few moments later, the same truck came back toward me, stopping in the middle of the road. The young woman driving called out to me, " Are you in the Olympics?" Now there's a question I don't hear every day! I suppose if they came up with a biathlon of cycling and taking pictures, I might have a chance.
North of Hagerman, an awesome old steel truss bridge over the dry Felix River had been bypassed but not demolished. I took several photos, but a barbed-wire fence prevented me from crossing on it. The last notable town before Roswell was Dexter. North of Dexter, traffic was heavier and the road surface deteriorated. This was the only time I wished I had been on US 285 instead. Soon enough, SR 2 merged with US 285 into Roswell.
The welcome sign proclaimed Roswell to be the dairy capital of the Southwest, but people don't come to this town to see cows get milked. They come because of the " Roswell Incident," a supposed U.F.O. crash back in 1947.  I had planned to take lots of pictures of the goofy U.F.O.-themed businesses in town, but for some reason I just didn't feel like it today. I think I was in a bit of shock because with 45,000 people (and perhaps a few aliens), Roswell was three times larger than any town I had visited since Longview  more than two  weeks ago. It made me wonder how I would fare back in my city of three million when this trip is finished.
I checked into the Leisure Inn, one of the two westernmost motels on US 70. This way I would be able to get out of town quickly, headed toward my toughest day yet. My next goal was Capitan, 70 miles away and, more importantly, some 3,000 feet higher than Roswell.
Totals for the day: 50.90 miles in 3:13:29 for a 15.7 mph average.
Click here to see today's photos.
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