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 V.20 No.19 | May 12 - 18, 2011 

Feature

7 Weird Wonders

WTF, N.M.?

Julia Minamata juliaminamata.com

Atari Video Game Burial Site

atari-video-game-burial.co.tv

The release of the notoriously crappy E.T. The Extraterrestrial video game for the Atari 2600 nearly bankrupted its manufacturer and led to the North American video game crash of 1983. Atari responded by burying between 10 and 20 truckloads of the industry-killing game cartridges in a landfill in Alamogordo. The cartridges were crushed and covered in concrete to prevent looters. Allegedly, the site is now covered by a highway. (Devin O’Leary)

Moore's Trading Post

bit.ly/NoDestinations

Tourist traps—I mean opportunities—abound in and around Alamogordo. Billboards beckon visitors to drop in on pistachio farms, gift shops and space oddities, but off Highway 82 lies a wonderland that relies on no such fanfare to attract traipsing travelers to its grounds. Moore’s Trading Post serves the surrounding community year-round as a junk yard, surplus shop and flea-market-style shopping outlet. But during warmer month, it adds a rattlesnake pit. Free to view, the serpent lair is little more than a concrete cavity filled with reptilian horrors. Only 25 cents buys you a balloon to be inflated and placed at the end of a fishing pole. Lower the pole into the pit and watch the snakes strike the colorful rubber with as much vim as they would an actual threat. It’s weird. It’s wrong. Maybe it’s cruel. But hold your judgment until you’re $3 in. On the bright side, the snakes are all released back into the wild where they’re from in time to hibernate. No harm, no foul? (Maren Taro)

The Oryx

bit.ly/OryxNM

New Mexico’s flora and fauna is varied and plentiful, from its Venusian-like plant life to its fairly familiar animal life. What many don’t realize is New Mexico has an added nature-based bonus in the form of the oryx. The majestic oryx is normally seen on the African Veldts, but due to nearly going extinct in their natural habitat of Southern Africa, they were brought overseas to White Sands, where they have no natural predators. The unsuspecting traveler passing through may be surprised to see a gazelle-like animal gazing at them across the desert expanses with long, curved horns protruding from black-and-white faces. They’ve taken over and nothing can stop them—except the few lucky hunters picked in the yearly lottery. (Maren Tarro)

The Flying Paperboy of the Guadalupes

bit.ly/FlyingPaperboy

The Flying Paperboy of the Guadalupes is in contention for the Most Isolated Monument in America. The propeller-fronted concrete obelisk is located about 40 miles outside of Carlsbad near some place called Queen. It was placed in honor of Frank A. Kindel, a 72-year-old "paperboy" who crashed his plane into the Lincoln National Forest near the Texas border in 1964. (Devin O’Leary)

Toilet Rock

explorenm.com/camping/CityOfRocks

It’s just what it sounds like—a giant rock that looks like a toilet. Of course, you’ll find it at City of Rocks State Park, which is an extremely cool sea of oddly shaped mounds of volcanic ash situated next to a campground outside Silver City. Some of those mounds are 40 feet tall. Toilet Rock isn’t the only recognizable shape around, though; the field of protruding boulders certainly has a more ... adult vibe. (Christie Chisholm)

Lake Lucero

bit.ly/LakeLucero

Yup, there's a lake in the middle of White Sands. Granted, it doesn't always have water in it, but it's got a name. Hit it up at the right time and you could spot football-sized selenite crystals, tufts of pickleweed, the occasional spadefoot toad and even some brine shrimp (sea monkeys to you and me). Ranger-guided tours are available once a month. (Devin O’Leary)

The Mystery Stone

bit.ly/MysteryStone

This Greek-letter-covered boulder on the side of Hidden Mountain in Los Lunas is either pre-Columbian proof of early Semitic contact with the Americas or a hoax perpetrated by UNM archeology professor Frank Hibben back in the ’30s. Of course, there are also those home-schooled fundamentalist Christians who trek here firmly believing the "Los Lunas Decalogue Stone" sports the Ten Commandments carved by the fiery finger of God himself. You're supposed to have a Recreational Access Permit from the New Mexico State Land Office to visit. It's right next to the dump. (Devin O’Leary)

 

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