Meandering road trip

 

I’m not quite sure of the purpose of “The Atomic Road Trip” (HCN, 5/13/19), which was not quite a travelogue, nor a thoughtful examination of New Mexico or its people and nuclear past. The story meanders and never comes to a point, which is ironic because that’s something you can do in New Mexico — meander the hundreds of back roads and scenic places that can seem otherworldly and fantastical. Which is why New Mexico is the “Land of Enchantment.” But the authors didn’t seem interested in any of that, and, as far as I can tell, only spoke to one actual New Mexican for their “reporting.” This read more like a hit piece written by a pair of smug Californians who must think it the height of hilarity to ridicule the gift shop at Clines Corners, as if such truck stops don’t exist in every single state, each with their own variety of kitsch.

I’ve never found New Mexico to be hiding its violent past. Every shrine, every monument, every pueblo or sacred Native American site you visit has a display that discusses the violence perpetrated within the state. It is not swept under the “colorful Mexican rugs” the authors found at Clines Corners. The authors also make a point to ridicule Roswell as one of the “worst tourist traps in the U.S.” So what? The packaging and selling of the strange and unusual is part of the American fabric. The authors also talk about White Sands and the gift shop selling vials of sand that isn’t theirs to sell, but fail to mention that White Sands has a rich history tied to the space program, or that White Sands is also where a memorial march is held every year to commemorate the Bataan Death March and honor the many New Mexicans (and others) who lost their lives in World War II.

New Mexico has its issues, to be sure. But there are so many amazing, interesting things about New Mexico that are completely missing from the piece. New Mexico has a vibrant artistic history, a rich spiritual center and an amazing culinary tradition. But I guess none of that’s important when you can laugh about the aliens on the windows of the Roswell Walmart.

Kristen Green
Eagle, Colorado

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