New Mexico and Kansas landscape photography and explorations
(Roswell aliens and Capitan Mountains)

chase images and log by William T. Hark, M.D.

May 26, 2005: Roswell aliens and the Capitan Mountains in New Mexico (Landscape Photography)

The terrible weather pattern was continuing. Even The Weather Channel was commenting on the lack of tornadoes. This had been the slowest May in many years. I started the day in Clovis, New Mexico. After reviewing the weather data, I decided that it was going to be a down day. I went south with Scott Blair and the Weathervine chase group and we had lunch in Roswell. They were going to Carlsbad Caverns and possible chase any storms in that area. Since I've already been there and wasn't impressed with the forecast, I decided to check out Roswell and explore the Capitan Mountain area. Roswell is a very strange place. In the late 40's, a flying saucer supposedly crashed nearby and was then covered up by the government. It was later found to be a weather balloon but the true believers are not convinced. Some of these belivers have capitalized on the alien theme by opening souvenir shops and “museums.” It must be good business. I have never seen such a variety of alien gifts including dolls, t-shirts, canned aliens, posters and even golf balls. Basically, anything green or that glows in the dark. A local country music station was advertising a “UFO concert.” After a while, I decided that aliens look alike (green with big eyes), and I fled the land of kitsch for the beautiful Capitan Mountains.

(1V) (2V) (3V)
(4V) (5V) (6V)

The Capitan Mountain region is a beautiful area of New Mexico with mountains as high as 10,000 feet and valleys with ranches and small towns. The valleys are mainly scrub with a few trees while the higher mountains have forests. I explored the historic town of Lincoln, the site of a wild west “war” between two groups of merchants. It was also the home of Billy the Kid. The next town on 380 is Capitan. The original Smokey the Bear was found nearby and there is a museum about Smokey in the town. Unlike many of the Texas and Oklahoma towns that I frequent while chasing storms, this town was healthy with coffee houses, art galleries and a few restaurants. I wandered in one restaurant and found $25 entrees, white table clothes and a menu with all organic vegetarian cuisine. Not for me while chasing! Instead, I went to a very good Mexican restaurant.. The owner, who also works with forest firefighters, was complaining about the unusual weather. For the last several years, the area has been in a drought with severe fire danger. This year, the area has had the largest snow pack in years, but the recent heatwaves have caused the snow to melt too quickly causing flooding. The water runoff is too quick to allow the water to soak into the ground and the drought continues. I explored the area adding to my collection of landscape images. I ended the day in Santa Rosa, New Mexico at the Sun 'n Sand Motel. It was a true relic from the days of Route 66. One can drive right up to the room. They still have real keys and the price was right at $31 per night. Of course, there was no high speed internet.

(7V) (8V) (9V) (10V)
11P) (12V) (13P) (14V)

May 27 2005: New Mexico and Kansas landscapes

I spent the day driving from Santa Rosa, New Mexico to Pratt, Kansas. This was an opportunity to explore the back roads of the area and do more landcape photography. The weather computer models were differing concerning the slight possibility of severe weather in the next couple of days. (Marginal at best.) The town of Wakita would be hosting a storm chaser party Saturday as a part of their 10th anniversary celebration of the filming of Twister. It was filmed mainly in that town. I was positioning myself so that I could attend depending on the updated forecast on May 28. I had two possible chase days before I was supposed to return Monday.

I was quite frustrated looking at the long range outlook. The ridge across the Plains that effectively ended the possibility of tornadoes was starting to break down, and there was the indication of a severe weather outbreak the next week (June 3 through 5) after I was scheduled to return home! This ridge began when I arrived and produced a record lack of tornadoes. Arrghhhh!!!!!

Images of New Mexico and Kansas

Field of wildflowers near Santa Rosa (16P)

I had lunch in Las Vegas, New Mexico at a very good Mexican restaurant. Part of the fun of travel is trying different restaurants. I usually avoid chains if possible. Pictured is a sopapilla and posole. It was delicious. (21V)

This raven keeps watch over Interstate 25. (20V)

Cumulus forming near the Rocky Mountains. These became a line of severe storms (not supercells.) (17P)

While taking pictures on the side of the road, one must be careful. This one has a face only a mother could love.(19V)

Abandoned adobe house.(15V)

Especially near sunset, the Kansas wheat fields can be quite beautiful(22-24P)

(15V) (16P) (17P) (18P)
(19V) (20V) (21V) (22P)
(23P) (24P) (24P) .

(V -- Video Still. P -- Scanned from slide, Fuji Velvia 100)

Next Page: May 28, 2005

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