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Lonesome Highway To Another World?

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 08:26:27 -0400
Fwd Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 08:26:27 -0400
Subject: Lonesome Highway To Another World?

Source: The New York Times, New York, USA


April 13, 2007

Travel Section - Escapes

Lonesome Highway To Another World?
By Stephen Regenold

A moment before the sonic boom hit his trailer, Joerg Arnu's UHF
radio scanner crackled to life. "Cylon 1, got you on radar,"
said a voice just barely perceptible through the static.

And then - badamm-booom! - the whole trailer shook in a
shockwave, and Mr. Arnu jumped, a big plexiglass window
reverberating as a jet streaked overhead and through the sky.

"That was probably an F-16," Mr. Arnu said, peering out the
window and squinting into the sun. A telephoto lens sat on a
countertop nearby.

"They're testing a new weapon lately, and a laser system to
shoot down missiles," he said.

From his trailer in the town of Rachel, Nev., Mr. Arnu is less
than 10 miles from an unmarked military boundary, beyond which
the top-secret Air Force base known as Area 51 sits on a dry
salt flat guarded by big arid mountains and bleak desert on all

To the east, tracking past Rachel in two asphalt lanes, Nevada
State Route 375 bisects a wide basin, coursing northbound before
disappearing into a haze of nothingness beyond.

This is Alien Country, where more UFOs are sighted each year
than at any other place on the planet, at least according to
Larry Friedman of the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

A sign outside Rachel declares Nevada State Route 375 to be the
Extraterrestrial Highway, the name given to the road in 1996.
Renaming the road, the tourism commission had hoped at the time,
would draw travelers to the austere and remote reaches of south-
central Nevada, where old atomic bomb test sites, secret Defense
Department airstrips and huge, sequestered tracts of military
land create a marketable mystique.

Oh, and don't forget the flying saucers.

"People now come all the way from Japan to see what this place
is about," Mr. Friedman said.

Indeed, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, after a two-hour drive
up from Las Vegas through the utter emptiness of Lincoln County,
the first tourist I met on the Extraterrestrial Highway was from
Yamaguchi Prefecture in southwest Japan.

"We came for an alien souvenir," said Shihgo Miyamoto, 29, who
was holding his wife, Yoko, both shivering in the high-desert
wind. I took their picture under an official Nevada Department
of Transportation Extraterrestrial Highway sign, a sprawl of
trailer homes in the background.

"So cold, so empty," said Mr. Miyamoto, looking to the desert
beyond his rental car.

SOUTH-CENTRAL Nevada is, by and large, a vast wasteland, scrubby
and unpopulated, dotted with dry lakes, streaked with tan rocky
peaks, ravines and wide alluvial plains. Government land is
ubiquitous. Cattle guards rumble under tires on the barren
highways, which cut through sand and open range. To drive the
Extraterrestrial Highway - a route that snakes northwest for 98
empty miles, intersecting no other major roads - is to drive one
of the most desolate stretches of pavement in the country.
Gasoline is unavailable for its entire length. R.V.'s cannot
hook up in Rachel, the only town on the road.

According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, an average
of about 200 cars drive some portion of the Extraterrestrial
Highway every day, making it one of the state's least traveled

On my midday drive up the highway in February, I saw only six
other vehicles.

Coming north from the town of Alamo, where I stayed overnight in
a cabin, the Extraterrestrial Highway began as an innocuous flat
road through scrubby highlands. A mile or so in, a large silver
Quonset hut announced itself as the New Alien Research Center,
but its driveway was gated, so I drove on by.

The road bobbed through a Martian landscape, red valleys raked
with lines, flat expanses of gravel and dead shrubs, all ringed
by hulking mountains of stratified stone.

A hawk hung high in the air. Joshua trees reached for the sun,
their bristled bunches aglow, seemingly illuminated from within.

But soon I forgot about the nature and started looking for
UFOs. A sign warned of low-flying aircraft. Contrails
streaked the blue yonder ahead.

In Rachel, 40 minutes into the drive, I stopped at the Little
A'Le'Inn (pronounced Little Alien), a bar and restaurant, which
sells extraterrestrial-themed mixed drinks alongside self-
published books like "The Area 51 & S-4 Handbook." Its walls
were covered with sun-faded photographs featuring aliens,
glowing orbs and obelisks zooming through clouds.

The bartender was polishing a glass, standing near a man slumped
over a drink, when I approached to inquire about area
attractions. "You should talk to Pam," the bartender said,
pointing to a woman standing near the door.

And so I was introduced to Pam Kinsey, the first of several
residents I met eager to talk about Rachel, and Area 51, and
government sensors hidden in sand, and glowing dots hovering on

But Ms. Kinsey, 42, who has lived in the area for almost two
decades, is not herself an ardent alien believer.

"We have a military base next door that can explain a lot of the
lasers and other weird things," she said.

Ms. Kinsey said that only a couple of Rachel's 75 or so
residents talk about seeing saucers and little green men. The
tourists - whom she confirmed come from all over the world - are
often the only extraterrestrial seekers found in Rachel.

"There are conventions held in town, and the alien people like
to come here and congregate," she said.

(On Memorial Day weekend, May 25 to 27, the Little A'Le'Inn will
play host to its sixth annual UFO Friendship Campout, which
includes seminars, book signings and nightly sky watches led by
a "certified UFO Investigator.")

DeWayne Davis, a 72-year-old retired Air Force engineer who came
to the Little A'Le'Inn for dinner, said he has seen saucers in
the area, including a glowing craft that hovered at high
altitude before tracing a rectangular pattern in the night sky.

"It was at 55,000 feet or higher," he said. "And it emitted an
orange sodium-vapor color, not the xenon glow you'd usually

Mr. Davis, who said he worked at a military installation in
Roswell, N.M., during the mid-'50s, moved to central Nevada in
1997 for the clean air, the solitude and the scenery. He now
lives in a trailer a couple of blocks off the Extraterrestrial
Highway. The frequent sonic booms of test planes breaking the
sound barrier overhead are music to his ears, he said.

Outside the Little A'Le'Inn, I walked a few dusty blocks to take
in the sights around town, including an ad hoc air-traffic
control tower draped in camouflage netting.

Jets streaked overhead, silent at high altitude, blazing west
toward a setting sun.

Before leaving the area, I drove out of town a mile to find Mr.
Arnu, a 45-year-old software developer from Las Vegas who keeps
a trailer parked on some land he purchased in 2003 as a retreat
from the city. Mr. Arnu, a native of Germany who runs
www.dreamlandresort.com, a popular Web site on Area 51, said
that he files a Freedom of Information Act petition each year to
procure dates and times of major military testing periods.
"That's when all the action happens," he said.

My visit to the area coincided with Red Flag, the name Mr. Arnu
gave a period in mid-February when military exercises out of
nearby Nellis Air Force Base send a proliferation of jets into
the air.

"Earlier today, I saw British Tornados, American F-22s and an
Australian F-111," said Mr. Arnu, who hikes the hills around
town to photograph supersonic planes. He lives for the simulated
dogfights that take place in the air above the Extraterrestrial

Like most local people I met, Mr. Arnu thinks the Nevada
Commission on Tourism's fixation with aliens is a bit silly.

"I'm a plane-spotter," he said. "I have no real belief in the
alien stuff."

Driving alone later that night, the Extraterrestrial Highway a
dark winding lane in my headlights, I wasn't sure what to think.
On a mountain pass 20 minutes from town, I parked my car and
shut off the engine, an inky abyss closing in from all sides.

Stars packed the deep velour above, hundreds of thousands of
humming and twinkling little jewels. A blinking red dot dipped
behind a mountain in the distance.

I waited, searching the sky.

But nothing moved, nothing came, and I started to get cold. My
red dot was just a jet, probably descending to a landing in Las
Vegas 100 miles to the south.

The desert wind howled in a valley below. It was black and cold.
On the Extraterrestrial Highway, I was all alone.

[Thanks to Stuart Miller of http://uforeview.net/ for the lead]

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