The Story of My Search for the Truth

Copyright © 1997 by Mark A. Lindner


I've always been fascinated with the prospect that the earth is being visited by aliens in flying saucers. Aliens and UFOs seem to be deeply ingrained in our space-age culture. The simple UFO theories of the 50's have expanded to include alien abductions, crop circles, and global-scale government cover-ups. Is there some truth to all of these fantastic ideas, or is the UFO craze merely a form of modern-day folklore?

The evidence for the existence of UFOs and aliens is largely inconclusive. There are indeed photographs of metallic-shaped objects and bright lights in the sky and eyewitness testimony of direct contact with aliens, but there doesn't seem to be a single shred of irrefutable evidence, such as a living (or dead) alien or a piece of equipment from an alien ship.

A large portion of the "evidence" that does exist can be explained away as hallucinations or hoaxes. There are those on the fanatic fringe who insist UFOs exist, and who will dismiss any evidence to the contrary. Then there are the hard-core debunkers, who refuse to even consider the idea that we are being visited and studied by extraterrestrial intelligences. I like to avoid these types of mindsets. I keep my mind open to both possiblities.

I will admit that like Fox Moulder of the X-Files, I want to believe; proof that aliens are among us would be the most groundshaking discovery in the history of mankind. I personally can't conceive of anything more exciting than making contact with a race of beings from somewhere else in the universe.

However, believing is faith, whereas knowing is science. We cannot allow our personal convictions to cloud our judgment. We must consider both sides of the UFO controversy, and we must apply the scientific method in determining which explanations best fit the facts. In general, the simplest and least fantastic explanation for a given phenomenon is usually the correct one. But if all of the simple "earthly" theories fail to explain the phenomenon, then we must take a second look at the ones that remain.

The rest of this document chronicles my search for the truth, which took me to Roswell, New Mexico; and to Rachel, Nevada, near the boundary of the infamous Area 51. A map outlining my entire trip may be found at the bottom of this page. You may click on any thumbnail image to see a more detailed version.

Roswell, New Mexico

Heading south. Rock formation in Utah.

On the morning of Saturday, February 15, 1997, I packed and fueled up my 1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse and left Idaho Falls, Idaho, heading south. The reclined seats and dark-tinded windows of my car made for a very pleasant trip. I made good time and was deep within Utah by mid-afternoon. The eastern portion of the state is very scenic and features many interesting rock formations such as the one pictured above.

Night began to fall as I reached the "Devil's Highway"...US 666. Route 666 stretches for some 200 miles through the desert in the Four Corners area. It's one of the darkest roads I've ever travelled on, and probably the ideal setting for an alien abduction to take place. But, alas, nothing out of the ordinary broke the monotony on that leg of the journey.

It was approaching midnight when I arrived in Gallup, New Mexico. There, I spent the night at a hotel facing historic Highway 66. I slept well past the checkout time the next morning, but the hotel management was kind enough to let me sleep in.

That next afternoon, I made my way to Albuquerque, where I attempted to look up a friend. Unfortunately, she had moved, so I pressed on toward Roswell.

The 200 miles between Albuquerque and Roswell were even more dreary than the Devil's Highway. The three population centers along the way--Encino, Vaughn, and Ramon--were little more than ghost towns...forlorn clusters of cinder block buildings. I arrived in Roswell around 8:00 pm and checked into a hotel, where I relaxed and prepared for the next day's sight seeing.

Roswell's museums. The Roswell Crash re-creation exhibit at the UFO Enigma Museum.

I looked in the Roswell phonebook under museums. Two of Roswell's five museums are dedicated to the UFO phenomenon: the UFO Enigma Museum and the more elaborate International UFO Museum and Research Center. I visited the former first, where I saw a somewhat comical recreation of the flying saucer which allegedly crashed just north of Roswell in 1947. Alien bodies, some dead and some alive, are said to have been recovered from this crash. The wreckage of the saucer itself was apparently cleaned up by the military and covertly shipped to Ohio for analysis. The government explained the wreckage away as the remains of a high-altitude weather balloon. The crash exhibit depicts an MP standing with one of the living survivors of the crash.

After looking over the museum's various exhibits, I sat in on the showing of a documentary on the UFO incident. According to this film, there was enough wreckage at the crash site to fill six large army trucks; a weather balloon would have fit easily inside the trunk of a passenger car. And there were evidently many Roswell citizens indirectly involved in the retrieval operation. The Roswell coroner, for example, received an urgent phonecall from an official at the Roswell Army Air Field, who instructed him to deliver several baby caskets and a large amount of dry ice to the base. He was warned by personnel at the base not to speak of the incident to anyone.

I walked away from the Enigma Museum with t-shirts, stickers, and other UFO memorabilia, as well as many unanswered questions.

Welcome, UFO buffs! Reconstructions of the "tinfoil" and "I-beam" wreckage. Making fun of the Military's weather balloon story.

My next stop was the International UFO Museum and Research Center in downtown Roswell. This museum featured many more exhibits and an amply-stocked gift shop. I spent a couple of hours wandering among the exhibits and reading various newspaper and magazine articles that described various UFO incidents. They were all fairly interesting, but there was nothing there that I hadn't already seen or read before.

Before leaving, I picked up some more memorabilia and Stanton Friedman's book TOP SECRET/MAJIC. Stanton Friedman is a UFO researcher with a background in nuclear physics. His research is meticulous and unbiased, which makes him a very important source of information on the UFO phenomenon. I'd seen the book mentioned on TV and thought it might be a good addition to my personal library.

Both museums enjoyed a good turnout; most of the attendees drove cars with California and Arizona license plates. It seems that people of all ages and persuasions find something of interest in the UFO phenomenon.

The sign at the head of the road that leads to the 1947 crash site. Somwhere out there is the alleged crash site. Heading out with my I Crashed in Roswell bumper sticker.

It was late afternoon by the time I had finished my museum visits. I had heard about the alleged crash site north of Roswell. It's located on a ranch which now belongs to a man named Hub Corn; I happen to work with a childhood friend of his. I had spoken to some residents of Roswell about the crash site. They told me that Mr. Corn charges a $15 fee for a "tour" of the crash area, but they didn't feel it was worth the time or money, since aside from sagebrush and rocks, there isn't anything to see there. I decided I'd at least drive up to the sign and take a couple of pictures before leaving Roswell.

Area 51 and Rachel, Nevada

I spent the next two days traveling west across the breadth of New Mexico and Arizona. I had hoped to spend a day in Lake Havasu City rollerblading around London Bridge, but unfortunately it was impossible to find a sensibly priced motel room.

Pit stop at the shore of Lake Mead. More scenes of beautiful Lake Mead.

On the morning of the fifth day of my trip, I left Kingman, Arizona. I crossed Hoover Dam and made my way north along the shores of Lake Mead. The scenery was gorgeous and a welcome sight after nearly a thousand miles of desert.

Arid Moapa Valley. Nevada's famous Extraterrestrial Highway.

I entered Moapa Valley around noon and stopped for lunch. The weather was in the high seventies; locals told me it usually got warmer than that in February. I drove on, crossing Interstate 15 and plunging deep into the deserts of southern Nevada. By late afternoon, I had arrived at the eastern extremity of the Extraterrestrial Highway. I turned onto the ET Highway and headed west for Rachel, Nevada, the closest population center to the vast expanse of desert known officially as the Nellis Air Force Bombing and Gunnery Range.

The ET Highway crosses some of the most desolate countryside I have ever seen. If the US Government does have alien spaceships in its possession, this is the place to hide them. I hoped that maybe here I would see or experience something unexplainable--missing time, strange lights in the sky--but alas, the Aliens eluded me once more.

The world-famous trailer park that is Rachel, Nevada. The nucleus of Rachel: The Little A'Le'Inn. Earthlings are always welcome at the Little A'Le'Inn.

It was beginning to get dark when I reached Rachel. The Little A'Le'Inn looked just like it had in all of the TV shows I had watched. It was great to actually be in a place I'd always seen mentioned on TV. I walked in and was greeted by the A'Le'Inn's amazingly friendly proprietors. UFO images and other paraphanelia covered every wall. I couldn't help grinning.

I booked a room and sat down at the bar to have some tacos and a coke. As I sat there eating, I noticed an ice cream cooler behind the bar that was completely covered with anti-Democrat bumper stickers. I snickered. At the other end of the bar, a group of people were having a very earnest discussion about UFOs being test flown at Area 51. The girl working the bar (presumably the proprietor's daughter), came over to talk to me. I asked her if it was likely that I'd see something strange in the night sky. She told me that people see strange things all the time; just recently, she told me, a group of people had observed a bright white light hover in the sky and then shoot a red "laser beam" down to the ground.

The UFO gazer's landmark, the "Black" Mailbox. Approaching the perimeter at night on Groom Lake Road. The perimeter signs threaten the use of "deadly force."

My curiosity piqued, I grabbed a map describing the route to the Area 51 perimeter and drove off. I travelled east on the ET Highway for about 20 miles until I reached the "Black" Mailbox. I'd always wondered what the mailbox was; I'd heard it mentioned on TV often. It turns out that it's just the mailbox for the local rancher family. Its location is its only claim to fame; it's evidently a popular landmark for UFO sighting hopefuls.

At the mailbox I turned right onto Groom Lake Road, a dirt and gravel road which ultimately leads into and through the Area 51 installation at Groom Lake. As I drove the 15 or so miles to the perimiter sign, I recalled all the stories I'd heard of unmarked white Cherokees and armed guards. But aside from being passed twice by tourists heading back from the perimeter, I had no encounters with anyone.

Before long, the perimeter sign was in sight. Its warnings written in an ominous "we mean business" tone. From inside my car, I snapped a picture of the sign ahead with my camera. A bright light on a hilltop to my right immediately flashed on; it appeared to be pointing directly at me. I assumed that some nearby photosensor had detected the flash of my camera and had triggered the light. I sat in my car for another minute and the light remained on. Only when I began to turn my car around did it wink out and leave me in total darkness once again.

I headed back to Rachel, feeling somewhat dejected about not having seen anything interesting. Back at the Little A'Le'Inn, I spoke to the barmaid once again. She explained that sometimes it took days of patient waiting to see something strange; people would camp out at the perimeter night after night, searching the skies, cameras ready. I told her it seemed like a good idea, but not this time around; perhaps on my next trip.

I spent the next day driving home. Though I hadn't seen any UFOs or strange lights, I did feel good about the trip. I had been to places that before I had only seen on television or read about in books. And I had come away with some good books, T-shirts, and bumper stickers. The new information I had gathered was inconclusive of course. I still don't know whether there's any truth to the myriad of UFO and alien visitation theories out there. But whether it's a case of contact with extraterrestrial beings, or simply another form of human folklore, I think I'm destined to remain intrigued by the UFO phenomenon.

Route Detail

My complete (clockwise) route is outlined on the following map.

For More Information

If you would like more information about Roswell, Area 51, and the UFO phenomenon in general, I suggest the following websites:

The Sci-Fi Channel's Dominion.
The Roswell Homepage.
Area 51 Related Links.