April 3rd - Santa Fe to El Paso, Texas

Just one night in beautiful Santa Fe; such a shame. Still we were able to spend an hour or so looking at the centre of the town before we headed south, and into Texas.

Around the corner from our hotel was the Loretto Chapel. The chapel, which is privately owned, is famous for its unique 'miracle spiral staircase. The chapel was built in 1873-8, and an unknown carpenter was asked to construct the double 360 degree spiral staircase. How he built the staircase is unknown.

When he finished he simply disappeared without asking for payment. The staircase is unique because it has no central support, nor is it supported by the wall or the floor above. Adding to the mystery is that no one is sure what wood was used in its construction. Various studies have been made of the staircase but no satisfactory answers as to how it was built have ever been forth coming.

We then visited the cathedral which was built between 1869 and 1884. There is a marvellous marble font and very beautiful pictures depicting the stations of the cross.

Over breakfast we had made the decision to drive slightly east of the direct route to El Paso and go through the 'UFO capital of the United States', Roswell, New Mexico. The town is about 200 miles south of Santa Fe in the middle of wide open flat scrub lands. It became famous in 1947 after the 'Roswell Incident' occurred. A farmer found strange metallic debris on his land which he handed in to the local police. They called in the US Air Force who then sealed off the area and over the next few weeks rumours abounded that the Air Force had recovered three alien bodies. The facts have never been fully explained and as a result many people believe that there was a major cover-up by the US Government. Even to this day nobody is certain what happened. We visited the UFO Museum and Research Centre in Roswell
This gives a very comprehensive report of the Incident. It was, much to my surprise, well worth the visit.

The drive south from Roswell of over 200 miles to El Paso took us through some very beautiful mountain scenery. We descended from the mountains towards the White Sands National Park, famous for its pure white gypsum. Nearby is the US Air Force missile testing station.

We then had a 60 mile drive, of virtually straight roads to the Texan border. We entered our sixth state in the early evening and drove into El Paso via the western loop which took us high above the city and then down to the Rio Grande, and our final destination.

We were all delighted to meet up with our friends from previous rallies, Kenny and DeeAnne Croucher, who had kindly invited us to stay. Later in the evening we were joined by Ernie Nelan (Fred's wife) for a lovely dinner by the hot tub and pool. Ernie told us she had heard from Fred that he and Jim Taylor seemed to have overcome most of their car problems on the rally from Hong Kong to Beijing. (You can click on Jim Taylor's link, to the right of this posting, and read about their rally)

Tomorrow we have a rest day here in El Paso and maybe we will be taken up in Kenny's light airplane for an aerial tour of El Paso.

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