Day 227: Claunch Paunch

Laetitia and her group spent the day in New Mexico south of Albuquerque. They hiked in Elephant Butte State Park near Truth or Consequences, a spa city of about 7,000 people located on the Rio Grande. The city was originally named Hot Springs, but when Ralph Edwards, the host of the popular radio show Truth or Consequences, said he would air the show in the first town that renamed itself after the show, Hot Springs stepped up to the mark and changed its name.

Toward the end of the day, Laetitia brought her tour to Claunch, New Mexico, where they were spending the evening. Most of its residents consider it the center of the state, and, a few, the center of the universe. It’s a small town of fewer than 200 people—one of those towns where people mostly entertain themselves, usually with dinner parties. During her walkabout with the group, Laetitia overheard two women complaining about an acquaintance who, as a dinner guest, tended to have a lengthy and rather loud debate with herself over each food item she ate and what eating it would do to her figure. It became the subject of the limerick of the day.

Old Alice could never quite staunch
Her fear about growing a paunch
Which meant that she quibbled
Over morsels she nibbled
As she irked every hostess in Claunch.

Day 226: Roswell Nell

Roswell, New Mexico, has around 45,000 inhabitants, and is perhaps best-known for its association with unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The association stemmed originally from an incident that occurred in 1947 that has come to be known as the Roswell UFO Incident, even though the presumed UFO crash site was about 75 miles away from Roswell.

At the time of the incident, the Roswell Army Air Field Public Information Office issued a press release saying that personnel from the base had recovered the remains of a flying disc. The next day, the Air Force high command contradicted the story, saying what was actually found was debris from a crashed radar-tracking balloon. The case lay dormant for about thirty years, until a Canadian-born physicist, named Stanton Friedman, began investigating the incident and found several witnesses who claimed that the Air Force had covered up the incident. The upshot of Friedman’s investigation and those that came after was that Roswell became a destination for serious ufologists and for tourists who are simply curious.

Laetitia took her group, who—unsurprisingly—were UFO enthusiasts, to the UFO Museum and Research Center and then on a UFO crash site tour. On their way to their hotel, they stopped at a bar for happy hour and everyone had a glass of Roswell Alien Amber Ale, appropriately labeled with a smiling green alien. The bar was a lively place, with most of the men giving their attention to a young woman named Nell, whose attire and the sense of mystery created by her cryptic comments suggested that she might be an alien from outer space, or at least the next county. Laetitia was grateful to the woman for providing the limerick of the day.

A plastic-clad lady named Nell
Fascinated the men of Roswell
With an alien look
That kept them on the hook
For a secret that she wouldn’t tell.

Day 225: Artesia Amnesia

Artesia, New Mexico, is a small city of about 11,000. The city was named after an artesian aquifer in the area that provided artesian wells for agriculture until it was depleted in the 1920s.

Laetitia and her group went to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and toured the cave, returning to Artesia in the afternoon. Happy hour was where Laetitia received much of the local information that led to her limericks, but some of the stories she heard in Artesia were outlandish. Being from out of town, Laetitia was often a target for those who like to have a few drinks and then brag about themselves with tall tales of their adventures. Most of the local bar patrons have heard the stories before and simply ignore or shush the braggart, so the braggarts sought out strangers like Laetitia . This happy hour was no exception and provided the limerick of the day.

A man from the town of Artesia
Fought Zulus, he claimed, in Rhodesia
Where he’d played the fife
‘Til he fled for his life
But most thought him cursed with amnesia.

Day 224: Horse Sense

One of the larger cities in New Mexico,—Las Cruces, “The City of the Crosses”—has about 94,000 inhabitants. It is a scenic city, situated on a relatively flat plain with the Organ Mountains, ten miles away, serving as a backdrop. It is home to Mexico State University and is a popular destination for retirees from the north who want to spend their retirement years without snow. Laetitia and her group toured Old Mesilla, just south of Las Cruces. Historically, it was a major stopping point for those traveling between San Diego and San Antonio.

Billy the Kid once was tried for two murders in Mesilla. He was convicted of one and acquitted of the other. One of the interesting things on display there is the barber chair where Billy had his hair cut before the trial. With its adobe church built in 1855 and other historic buildings, the town has a nineteenth-century southwestern flavor.

Las Cruces is in horse country, and that was the subject of happy hour conversation. It provided the limerick of the day.

For riding companions, Rose chooses
Just a few of the men from Las Cruces
Caring not for panache
Nor oodles of cash
She prefers men who ride appaloosas.