A UFO Sighting
We are on our first day of our epic road trip. We have been enjoying the threat and turbulence from a storm menacing the Tularosa Valley of New Mexico. We just left my childhood stomping grounds and the White Sands National Monument, but now, we need to find a shelter.
We pass by Holloman Air Force Base and more memories are triggered. Before space was deemed safe for men, it was here that chimpanzees were trained to be sent out into orbit. These earliest astronauts were trained with the positive reinforcement of banana pills. My dad, an Army Lieutenant Colonel had toured the training facility and brought some of the “top secret” pills back home to me. He joked about using them to train me like a monkey. Those pills were absolutely the essence of banana, delicious and I did want more.
Things have changed, this was once the world where Billy the Kid camped out under the stars of the big sky. Today, as we approach Alamogordo, I am searching for the National Weather Service on my smart phone. Do we go for a tent site up in the foothills of the Lincoln National Forest, or hunker down safely in a stuffy motel?
I look to the forecast and the evolving satellite weather map. I look out at the storm across the vast valley from here, ground level. I figure odds are that the storm will pass west and south of the mountain range. We’re feeling hopeful. We drive off to investigate the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.
After dropping our camping permit papers into a small box, we’re watching rain and storms all across the great valley. We’ll pitch our tent in the evening sun.
There are numerous adobe picnic shelters spaced across this hillside. I find a space under one that is just big enough for the tent. If my weather research is proved wrong, this will be an additional insurance.
As we set up camp and dinner. The sun peeks out from under the clouds and illuminates the massive hillside to our east. It is bright, a sharp golden spectacle. I think of Pizzaro and his army wandering in search of tales of mountains of gold. The natives along the way all concur that there are mountains of gold. His resolve increases and his thirst salivates, but his lust is never quenched on the fool’s errand.
Tularosa bats come by from mountainous shelters for their evening meals. We welcome them and wonder if they may be headed north to Colorado and the cave next to the Orient Land Trust hot springs.
We inspect the car that we started out with. It is coated with fine white powder, spotted like a Dalmatian by the large rain drops that found their way to us in the sandy storm, earlier in the day, at White Sands National Monument. It isn’t a sand blast, but more like flour dust stuck to the metal and paint. Oh, well….
We begin to test out the new REI folding chairs that we bought last week during our preparation for this trip. Thoughts appear as I count my blessings in the splendor of this. People often pray for better weather. It is expected that there just might be a possibility that just this once, the whole world will change for one small being, a proportionate speck that talks to God. Pondering that, I figure that when you pray for good weather, it probably won’t change the weather.
I sit and think a little further. It would seem possible, that with a prayer and turning that over, as I did today, one may get guidance through that day. It could seemingly be like parting the waters and getting clear skies, by being directed to the right place at the right time. Maybe, maybe not….
The storm moves south and we eat and watch a double rainbow from our table. This we decide is a great omen, a blessing for beginning our grand adventure across America. We’re ready. We’re excited.
For some reason, you just can’t get enough rainbow pictures.
We have chosen this ramada for privacy. It’s location is away from view from many directions. It is a solid structure with a roof, but there are two large openings for the views and breeze. There are just two walls, east and west, for privacy and shelter from the sun’s harshness and any winds. We soon find that at least partial body coverings will be needed. People are occasionally passing on the road, to get to the toilets down the hill. Our chairs, tent and car can be placed to obstruct others views of us. We can sit in certain places using the structure and be out of view. Most wandering around will require a wrap, until the dark of a starry night becomes the sky. From this perch, we see the Tularosa Valley stretched out west, south and north. The sun sets behind the Organ Mountains out west with their craggy sharp peaks. White Sands Missile Range is a tiny pocket of lights at their feet. The vast White Sands Monument can be seen as a white sea. Layer upon layer of geologic sediment like a huge cake rises above us to the east. There is something that feels mystic about it all.
Finally, under Milky Way stars, I sit peacefully with my little guitar at my chest, plucking whatever surprise comes out of my fingers.
In the Night:
I wake in the calm quiet of the night. The sound of the zipper is loud in this silence. I have the duties associated with old men to tend to.
Naked, I crawl out into the night from our cozy dome.
The storm clouds have passed south and west. They still linger out over El Paso, its city glow reflects under the dark clouds. Lightning blast out of them, but the distance is so severe that thunder will not be heard up here.
Las Cruces also glows. Behind the Organ Mountains, their sharp pipe-like peaks, which gave them their name, have become definitive shadows.
Organ peaks, earlier
I’m free to wander naked in the night. The camp sites are asleep, nobody is watching. The summer air is warm, perhaps from the rock face next to us, which has stored solar energy from the day. As I stand at attention to my duty, before me, this part of the valley suddenly burst with illumination. The flood is nearly daylight.
My eyes grow big in surprise.
I realize that the bright moon has burst through the clouds, casting light across the desert where the rainbows had delighted us earlier.
At that moment, as I scan the change, a bright disc appears in the sky. The disc trails, it dips down toward earth, it zig zags close to the ground, then it flies up, down and out! Gone!
This is the classic image of a flying saucer in the night sky, the same movement that has been described over and over again in UFO sightings. Whoah, what was that?
I watch quietly, cautiously, “That looked exactly like a flying saucer!…What did I just see?”
This is the Tularosa Valley, where the first Atomic Bomb was shot off, where all of those missiles were tested during the cold war and still today. This is where Unidentified Flying Objects got their name. The Roswell incident and the resulting museum are just over the hill! “What the….?”
I feel what emotion is going on and mitigate to stay cool headed. Noticing my inner body, I notice my bare outer body. I chuckle to myself, “Well, I’m certainly dressed for an abduction, all ready for my alien physical examination.”
I flash to those somnambulistic hypnosis tapes that I heard from sessions with those guys abducted near Slow Low.
I look around, “What was that?”
I do my boy shake and move to a relaxed stance. I slip my glasses from my nose to rub my eyes.
In the moonlight, as I replace my eyes to my face, I see tiny specks of the white sand powder on my lenses!
“Oh” I think, “The glare from the moonlight, coupled with my head moving, as I tracked the disc. As the head moved, so did the image!”
I smile, “That was fun.”
And tomorrow, we’re planning to visit that UFO museum in Roswell!
In a few days, I’ll post more. In the next post, we discover a natural bathtub in a hidden oasis.
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