Well, this is kinda funny.
This past weekend I’d posted about the UFO Watchtower, a place I’d visited about once a year since 2005, then hadn’t been to for a couple years. I’d talked of trying to make my way down there this year, for certain. Well, no sooner had I posted that post, when my wife says, “Do you wanna go today?”
I’d never even considered it, and had, in fact, been looking to head down there in a couple weeks.
I looked outside.
Mow the lawn and yard work, standard weekend chores…or a fun, spontaneous road trip?
We day-packed the car, made our hotel reservation, and sped out about an hour-and-a-half later.
There’s nothing like a road trip…heading out on the open road, leaving the cares and chores of everyday life for asphalt (or concrete) and rolling scenery. It was a gorgeous Saturday. Blue, sunny skies, mid-to-upper eighties. We only ran into one glitch, with a temporary delay just south of Colorado City. A pickup truck and it’s camper had flipped and gone off the Interstate. As we’d approached, I’d seen the Flight-for-Life chopper heading north, low, off to the right of us. The accident had happened before we’d driven by, so we didn’t have much of a delay. Was a heck of an accident, but, so far, both people have survived. The truck ended up pointing north, but was on the southbound side of the Interstate. Must have been quite the flip. Was sad to see so many personal effects scattered about, like a cat carrier (what happened to the cat?), clothes, and any of the standard items people take with them on vacation, spread out alongside the road. We wish them well.
It did take us a little over 3 hours to get to the Alamosa area. We had to eat, but the restaurant we frequented while there, Dos Rios,
had been bought out and renamed, so we went to Calvillos, instead. We’d been there before, and the food was great. The maître d’ was extremely attentive.
Of course, I had to have the “UFO Enchiladas.”
We then backtracked and took a left on Highway 17, up to the UFO Watchtower.
Well, though it’d been a few years, turns out not much had changed. We did find that the green alien sign that had been on the right side of Highway 17 was no longer there. Those (Judy Messoline, owner and operator of The UFO Watchtower, had later told us), had been removed at the behest of the Colorado DOT. It had all been part of the Lady Bird Johnson Beautify America “act” years ago. No advertising billboards in non-industrial areas—even though Judy owns the land upon which said billboards resided. Apparently when land has a road bisecting it, you cannot put up any signs that advertise and tell drivers to “turn here.” Okay, I get that. This stretch of Highway 17 isn’t busy, so drivers can (and probably do) simply stop and backup to see the signs at her entrance. Makes for a good story….
Anyway, the road to turn left on, off of Highway 17 into the Watchtower, indeed remains a dirt road. Once off Highway 17, Judy has her little alien directional signs to the Watchtower, and most things there remain the same. The Garden is much more packed with visitor trinkets. Once section was of particular note, given I’m a writer: there were tons of pens and pencils jammed into the earth (I’d meant to take a picture of that, but got sidetracked, so never did…).
Judy isn’t smoking as much anymore, and, in fact, never lit one up once, while we were there. She says she no longer smokes as much, and is actually using e-cigarettes now. But her patio table and chairs remain outside, under the Watchtower’s mesh platform, and she still has several dogs, one of which was there when we’d last visited. Another she’d lost to an illness, if I remember right. Had a couple new ones.
And, Judy remains as friendly and outgoing as ever!
Judy’s gift shop is a little more sparse. She no longer has her horses or cattle. Too expensive to care for, et cetera, so she had to let them go to someone who could give them adequate care and attention. All I could think was the same applied to her gift shop. Things are just more expensive now, is all. She showed me some new additions to her notebook on strange incidents, like how one visitor took pictures of the The Garden, her pictures had shown orbs in them…her camera had malfunctioned (actually stopped working)…and when she’d returned home, The Garden pictures had disappeared from her camera. Okay. As you can see, below, my picture remained…and no orbs. Inneresting, as my Man With No Name character would say….
Another funny thing happened: while as I was setting up my books for consignment in Judy’s gift shop, from behind me I heard someone hail me by name. I turn around, and it’s Ron Cree, a writer friend of mine. Of all places to meet someone who actually knows me…it’s usually my wife who runs into people she knows, since she was essentially raised in Colorado (an early transplant)! I haven’t seen Ron in some two years, since the last writer’s conference I’d attended (and he mentioned he hadn’t seen me at the last one). He and his friend had been on a road trip, and were heading north. So we chatted a bit, took some pictures, and off they returned to their road trip. On his way out, Ron had gone back to his car to fetch something for The Garden. On his return he called to me to show me what he thought would be perfect for him to leave as a “Garden gift”: a writer’s conference pen. We both chuckled, and he stuck it in the ground, by one of the so-called “vortex centers.” Was good seeing ya, Ron! He mentioned he’d just sent his next novel manuscript to his agent. Be on the look-out for that. He writes for young adults, but mostly 30-something women seem to like reading his work.
It was cool finally “delivering” on my promise to give Judy a copy of ERO…and to leave a few (signed!) copies behind for
consignment, and some ERO business cards. I also left copies of Sleepwalkers and The Uninvited. Be interesting to see how they do, especially given her upcoming UFO Conference, July 26th and 27th. One thing we forgot to do was sign in at the gift shop’s register, dang it.
As we hung out at the watchtower, I was up on the platform, just hanging out, when I see this “interesting” bird fly low, over the tops of the brush, some distance out from us. I grab my binoculars, and home in on it…and find a whole parliament of ground owls! I counted seven! And they were so funny, the lot of them just hanging out at this one location, just messing around with each other, hopping on and of brush, branches, and each other! So, we figured, they must have been young ones. One of them seemed larger, probably the mom. We didn’t have any “long lenses,” just our little digital camera, which took far better pictures than I’d expected,given the distance, even if blurry. But, maybe the photos were blurry for a reason? Were they really ground owls…or “screen memories”…memory images (or photographs…?) of aliens replaced by something familiar or perhaps friendly (owls or deer are typical screen memories of aliens). We watched them for quite a while, it was the coolest thing!
But, alas, no UFO sightings.
We had a great time talking with Judy, and a couple other visitors who stopped by while we were there, but come around 7 p.m., she had to part company.
We then drove to Monte Vista, to The Best Western Movie Manor hotel we always stay at. The rooms are named after movie stars, and we stayed in room 102, this time, the “Paul Newman” room. The movies were Dragon 2 and Transformers. From within the hotel rooms, you can only see one of the screens, and the one we could watch was Dragon 2. Didn’t do anything for me, so only watched part of it before calling it a night. That didn’t keep us from getting some popcorn and (for me) a hotdog, though. This really is a unique hotel…there’s no other like it that I’m aware of in the US, anyway. Do check it out if you can! You can call ahead to see what movies are playing, and if you want to see the other screen, you can hop in your car and drive in to the other one, for free. We love drive-ins, and do try to make at least one drive-in a summer. When we had our dog, Mac, and our truck (and the local drive-in that is now a Wal-Mart…), we used to back into the drive-in slot, and all pile into the truck bed, blankets and sleeping bags and watch in the open air! So, try to support you local drive-ins, if you can!
So, the trip was fun, not much had changed, and it was good seeing Judy (and Ron!) again. If you’re ever “in the neighborhood, do make a trip down to Hooper-way, and tell them we sent ya!
By the way, as I post this, it is the 67th anniversary of the Roswell Incident, July 1-4, 1947. Again, I hadn’t planned this. Funny how it all happened, though. Synchronicity.