MAY, 2005 e.v.

As we like to do every May when the weather permits, some friends and I spent the weekend camping near the perimeter of America's most famous secret base: 29 Palms (I'll explain in a minute)... no, of course I'm referring to the Paradise Ranch... that "godforsaken place" known by its designation on certain maps that officially don't exist as AREA 51.

Having got a bit of a late start after celebrating Scott Reeder's 40th birthday in grand style in the penthouse of the Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs, in the dusty afternoon sun our trusty navigation system failed rather miserably, in fact, to such an extent that Reed-O pulled right up to the guard shack of the apparently misnamed Marine base-mirage of 29 Palms, whereupon, at our apology and polite explanation about being hopelessly lost, the guard, complete with a Zero-To-Three and utility cover, copped an attitude, and, with excessive bravado, kept asking us if we had anything illegal on us?

"Illegal?.. Well, that goes without saying. Look at us... Yeah, there's a can of 'night vision' under the back seat. Go take a long hard look! They're no Hodgies here, grunt. We screwed the pooch!.. Look, maggot, we just want to turn the f**k around and, in these times of war and impending war... and with all the dangers of this new century, go intrude upon a real secret base! We're just doing our patriotic DUTY to try and convince the enemy that we have all these technological marvels, and not just a bunch of Hummers reinforced with pieces of scrap metal cannibalized from blown up Hummers! Isn't the Integratron just a few klicks down the road?" F**k, why's this guy so uptight? What, is he prairie-doggin' in the 120 degree heat or pissed off about not getting Cinderella leave? Did they shut the local A&W down? "I've a nephew that's a chairborne ranger over on the Rock at Okinawa that'll have you fishing in the latrine for blind Mullets if you don't quit messing with us! This is Vince De Franco, inventor of the Dimension Beam. One more word, puke, and he'll beam your pimpled ass to Okinawa!" (NOTE: I should probably mention that at the time I had one of those "what god did I offend" hangovers - that and a spilled half of a cup of tepid KFC iced tea in one of my Frye boots). As Scott prepared to turn around, he informed this particular gyrene that the two SUVs behind us were our friends (and NOT rainbows). Well, for whatever reason (see photos), our friends, Camella, Heather, Adele and Amanda were treated a little more civilly at Alpha Alpha. "Oh, what kind of dog is that?" he asked one of the lovelies as Diablo poked his head from the back. Vince was probably right - it was us, and not the ladies that this guy wanted to frisk. From his attitude, he was probably Tool's biggest fan, and if he wouldn't have been running his suck, I would have told the bag of ass about Elephtheria. Jesus Christ, a van pulls up to a Marine guard post in the sand and everybody freaks - am I missing something here?

We arrived near the perimeter of Dreamland after nightfall, but with a nearly full moon to spoil the glittering infinity of stars had little trouble setting up camp. Not that there weren't a few glitches. The silver Coleman was performing admirably, nay, magnificently, keeping our supplies cool, but its counterpart, the stainless steel BBQ Grillware had a few gremlins, and had to be rigged to keep the blue gas flame from sputtering out every few minutes. The McIver's amongst us attempted to fix it with several items, including bungee cords, one of the shoelaces from my Big Five hiking boots, and even Heather's fancy scrungy, but all to no avail. Finally, I came up with a solution, although Vince was still harping on about how a roll of duct tape could save the world.

As I sipped on cold Coronas and charred an assortment of meat (every body wanted something different charred), Camella and a few others gathered firewood, and placed it into her makeshift circle of stones (surely evidence of devil worshippers - that or Camellas in the vicinity). After picking moths out of the salsa, eating and lamenting the fact (not me) that we had no marshmallows to toast, we watched those who watched us - the security units that patrolled the buffer zone, whose headlights could be seen off in the distance. So far, though, there was no activity in the skies over the base...

"Never mind about my name, call it Smith"
- The occupant of a mysterious airship in 1897

Being avid readers of the newsletter, one of the lovelies asked me about the great airship flap of 1897 and its possible connection with today's dirigible-like black triangles? "Ah, just think about it, Heather... at the close of the nineteenth century, while on the verge of AIR TRAVEL, but with no known airships in existence, suddenly we've hundreds of sightings of phantom airships, objects sailing leisurely over the countryside just like today's black triangles, with both described by witnesses as being able to accelerate rapidly, disappearing from sight within seconds. But, back then, these mysterious cloudships were said to be ponderous things... with cog wheels, locomotive headlights, propellers and other mechanical contrivances that seem utterly ridiculous for "extra-mundane voyagers." Was it as has been suggested by some researchers all just a hoax concocted to sell newspapers? And then in 1897 when one of the airships crashed in the small Texas town of Aurora (45 miles NW of Dallas, just as in 1947, the spaceship or whatever it was is believed to have crashed near Corona, about the same distance NW of Roswell!), it was claimed to be the hoax of one "Truthful SKULLY", a brakeman whose tall tale was spread by railroad telegraph. At the time, in addressing the various sightings, Thomas Edison said: "It is absolutely absurd to imagine that a man would construct a successful airship and keep the matter secret." Perhaps, but, when airships WERE invented, what were they first used for? The answer is military applications, as in the Zeppelin airships of Germany.

But, here's an interesting sidebar. In the early 1950s, while on the brink of SPACE TRAVEL, one of the earliest accounts of a crashed flying saucer in the American southwest was written by Frank SKULLY (from whom the skeptic SKULLY of the X-Files was named). Weird, isn't it? Do you ever feel like something is f**king with our heads - that is, the producer of the terribly elusive and mysterious phenomena that is ufology?

Definitely, one has to ask: Are these things 'chameleons' - that is, do they assume the physical characteristics of that which can be expected by the people of the time... perhaps to give us a friendly nudge? And, with this in mind, when the strange airships came down for repairs, one has to wonder... repairs for who? Speaking of which, my favorite phantom airship close encounter also occurred in Texas in 1897. When the rancher (with Winchester) asked the pilot of the object (who had anchored for repairs) where he was from and where he was headed, the cryptic reply was "From anywhere, but we will be in Greece day after tomorrow." Nonsensical sentence or an ingenious cryptogram? Think about it for a while, and tomorrow I'll give you my take.

Seated around the fire-circle, we continued to scan the skies, but still no green plasma enhaloing any TR-3Bs. I had serious doubts that anything exotic would appear for the cherries, after all, it was date night, and security was aware that there were people in the bleachers (actually, they don't give a shit about someone claiming to see a light). Bored with Simpsons' trivia, at about 2:30 a.m. we opened travelers (beers), climbed into Scott's van and headed to the border to stir up some trouble. After driving a few miles on the Extra-terrestrial Highway 375, Scott spotted something rather strange in his headlights and slowed down. It appeared to be a misty-looking mass moving slowly across the road, almost like some huge grayish caterpillar that was bizarre by any crypto- zoologist's standards (nor lack there of). Whatever the monstrosity was, it had numerous glowing eyes. Bummer, it turned out to be just a group of jack-rabbits crossing the street at the same time. What the hell, since when did jack-rabbits learn that there's safety in numbers? Further along, Reed-O managed to miss a dozen or more of the guys that darted out in front of him solo - no easy feat, especially with a traveler in one hand.

Creeping down the well-maintained 13-mile dirt road that leads to the secret Groom Lake facility, Scotty and I kept our eyes on the van's computer display as the GPS system mapped out our current location. I don't know about the others, but I for one was quite amused to see that the screen indicated we were on 51RD (which is actually Groom Lake Road). Cheers to the programmers for that! But, what fascinated Scott even more was the ominous blank or empty blue space that we were headed towards, and, in fact, according to the GPS display, had already entered (even so, we were still safely on BLM land). To truly test the GPS system, I had Scott turn onto one of the narrow dirt side roads to see what it might be called on the display. It was a bit of a let down to see only NEW ROAD. I was guessing Medlin Ranch, or Black Mailbox.

Parking in front of the array of intimidating warning signs at the border to the restricted zone, we got out to have a look around. "Hey, new signs" I noticed. "Fancy!" They still conveyed the same message about "No Photography" and, I assume, "Use of Deadly Force Authorized", but nevertheless, they were new signs that had a more modern look to them. Alright, Federal tax dollars allocated to the black budget put to good use! When one of the ladies, Amanda I believe it was, decided to take a closer look at them, before she could get two steps closer, the CAMs (security personnel) watching us from their vehicle hidden on a small ridge shined their spotlight on us, keeping it on until Amanda backed away (which didn't take too long). Next came some rather striking orange lights, but only for a second or two. After finishing our beers and a smoke, we climbed back into the van and headed back to campsite... and to bed ( I'll bet that's when they brought out the 'foreign' technology)

Morning comes early in the high desert, or so it seems, and when we woke up it was already in the high 80s. "Let's get out of here" Camella said, keeping an eye on her panting Great Dane, Diablo. With only time to brush our teeth and check for predator damage, we climbed back into our vehicles and caravanned to Las Vegas. On the way, an impatient Adele passed Scott on a dangerous curve in which a yellow school bus was coming. Somehow (skill?) she managed to duck in at the last second, avoiding a head on collision that still would have been better than watching "American Idol." Without missing a beat, Camella rang her on her cell phone: "Nice almost fatal collision with a school bus full of children." But it was Sunday. What kind of a school bus would be traveling in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday? Chameleon extra-mundane voyagers (or a Xian church group) is all I could think of, which is probably why Adele made it back into her lane unscathed (especially if it was a church group, what with those last minute prayers and all).

An hour and a half later, with the temperature hitting 114 degrees and climbing, we pulled into Las Vegas and dropped the dogs off at a place where dogs stay while humans go into the casinos (Trust me, such places exist in Vegas). We then met Heather and Adele at a cheap hotel that they had checked into to use the shower (what our Marine friend at 29 Palms would call a rain locker). Once we had washed the plutonium-laden dust off ourselves, Camella suggested that we head over to the Hilton to grab some lunch and drinks at Quark's Bar, and then maybe do Star Trek: The Experience. Scott wanted to shoot machine guns, Heather and Adele wanted to shop at the world's largest souvenir shop, Vince wanted to play Black Jack at the Mirage, Amanda was up for anything, and I had just come back from three days in Steve Wynn's new casino, so I didn't care what we did, although I would have preferred a vertical wind-tunnel in the nude.

Alright, at Quark's Bar we had a smorgasBorg or something, and drank colorful drinks that, although fancy, could have used a bit more 151. At any rate, none of us were, to use Naval lingo, awash to the gunwales. Skylarking in the Hilton's modest casino, as half of the group did the Experience, Vince, Heather and I lost at video poker rather than pay for the expensive drinks (I think that's what happened). Before we knew it, it was time to find a carniceria and a decent grocery store (one without tweekers) to replenish our supplies, and head back out to the AO, where we just knew there would be more activity seeing how it was a Sunday night. "But, first we should pick up the dogs", Camella said, glowering at me... "But, of course, let's pick up the dogs first"...

With the dogs in the air conditioned vehicles, we (not me) shopped in the world's largest souvenir shop. Scott, who earlier wanted to shoot machine guns purchased a fancy purse. "I'll bet you thought that was for Renee" he says to me. For their part, the ladies bought all kinds of junk... mainly charms for bracelets I think, but I wasn't really paying attention. I was intrigued by the shop's security personnel. They had patches on their uniforms that indicated they were Wackenhut. Wackenhut! The same guys* that patrol the buffer zone at Area 51... in a souvenir shop?.. even if it is the world's largest... "Let's brave the Alamo speed trap, get some ice from the would's most fancy Chevron station and make it back to our geographical sector before the sun sets." * I'm kidding.

On the way back to our campsite, Camella and Amanda watched one of the Reeder's DVDs (the fancy van also came with a DVD player). This was "Bound" and its Lesbian/Mafioso theme seemed light years from the goings on at the Groom Lake facility where the secret government were genetically altering human pilots in order for them to be able to withstand the G-forces of their latest propulsion systems (those in the HPACs). Yet, still, there were hot lesbians... COWS!.. Cows in the middle of the highway. Brown ones and purple ones biznatchin about. As we slowed to a crawl, they just stood there, goddamn unfenced cattle looking at us like we were the dumb f**ks. But who's got carne asada in the back, not to mention DVD technology that brings hot lesbians right into our vehicle. I thought we had a deal. You guys get hundreds of acres to graze, and we get this little narrow strip called a ROAD! I missed a margarita sunset last night and I'm not going miss tonight's while you guys stand around waiting to be Arbys 5 for a 5 dollars... well, not Arbys (I don't know what that shit is)... but you guys know what I mean!..

Sunset at our campsite is a beautiful thing. Imagine, the silver Coleman has kept scores of Coronas chilled all day (and could do another day if asked to perform - sometimes even I find myself looking for the plug!), and there's one in there now waiting for you. Even so, I mixed up a pitcher of margaritas, and we sipped them as bats from the nearby abandoned silver mine wheeled above our heads. After a couple of refills, because there were cherries in this group, we decided to drive 20 miles to the "Little AleInn." So, with travelers, we (not me) watched the rest of "Bound."

What can I say about this double-wide trailer-turned bar&grill (but mainly Rachel's largest souvenir shop) other than that I helped to put it together many years ago. In fact, on my first trip to Area 51 back in the late 1980s, you'd be lucky to find an alien paper-towel holder. Seated in the bright place (too bright for me), I ordered a can of ice-cold Bud and talked to owner Pat Travis about the latest happenings in her world. I was particularly interested to hear about the fate of Area 51 researcher and Rachel resident, Chuck Clark. As it turned out, Chuck was still in Rachel, and the feds even returned all his stuff... even the computer monitor that they seized! (NOTE: The feds had given Chuck all kinds of grief because he was digging up magnetic trip sensors (on BLM!) land, checking them out, and then re-burying them. More likely, they were interested in any video footage that he may have had in his possession.

While enjoying my beer and conversation, Captain Midnight, Vince, told me that his stomach was a bit upset, and yet he still thought that ordering a bowl... make that a cup of Pat's famous chili was a good idea. Pat suggested a glass of 7up instead, and Vince reluctantly agreed. I told him that I had with me one of those new camera pills and that all he had to do is swallow it and then we could diagnose and correct the problem... although I already knew the answer. It's Jack Daniels!.. as in that bottle he drank. As we paid for our drinks and souvenirs, Pat warned us to be extra careful out there... that security around the base had been heightened... and that she'd already received a report that there were cows on the road. Well, this seemed promising - not the part about the cows, which we already had some inkling of...

Back at the campsite, as the moonlight glistened on the silver Coleman creating a prismatic display that would make a moth think it was smoking what that Marine was talking about, and as wounded coyotes yelped in the distance (fakers), having tamed the blue flame, I began grilling up the carne. Next to me, Camella was busy opening containers of salsa and gourmet guacamole, before slicing cheese to make some dang casadillas (I forgot to mention that we watched the first 20 minutes of Napoleon Dynamite on the way back from the AleInn). With the carne cooked and tortillas semi-charred we constructed tacos with all the fixins', well almost, there was no lettuce. Evidently, Heather, along with one of her slick accomplices, ate the entire bag of lettuce, not unlike a rabbit, on the way back from Vegas. Shit, I'll bet there are no photos of that!

And something else was missing. The CAMs! Where in the hell were the distant headlights of the security patrols protecting the buffer zone? What, were they back in Alamo sitting down to a Sunday dinner of fried chicken, corn on the cob, iced-tea, coffee and pumpkin pie with Aunt Bea? "Ummm, that pie sure was good. Maybe I'll have another slice before going back to work. Aint no one gonna be trying to get a look at that gravity-warping craft with them bio-machine pilots on a Sunday night." I don't get it, are they all watching for shoplifters at the world's largest souvenir shop back in Las Vegas? Do they think terrorists take Sundays off? Well, maybe they do... but saucer nuts sitting in the bleachers don't. We didn't come all this way just to get stupid drunk while sitting around Camella's pagan fire-circle. We could do that at Joshua Tree, for Christ's sake!

As I listened to the hum of the silver Coleman, hours passed, still with out any activity. I was so bored that I offered whoever would listen $20.00 for an SR-71 out of mothballs, $10.00 for a shooting star (knowing that the big show off moon had ruined that), or $7.50 to Heather to climb up a nearby ridge and throw lighted matches or wave a Bic lighter. "Where's that powered water that you just add water to?" That's how bored I was without the magnetic vortex of an aerial platform. "How late is that Star Trek Experience opened? We could go look for Jim Morrison...those were probably his cows standing in the middle of the highway... Wanna go harass the Lizard King?.. Where the hell is prophet Yahweh when you need him?.." Even a fat Vicodin with my beer wouldn't salvage things... of course it wouldn't hurt to try. "I'm glad I didn't bring Icelandic Barbie... even she'd be bored... plus we'd be out of Coronas. Damn, there's not enough material here even for a Tool newsletter! Maybe they moved the damn thing. Sunday is moving day, isn't it? That would explain the blank space... you know, the empty blue box on Scotts GPS display. Anybody see any U-Hauls back at that fancy Chevron?" And it wasn't just me. Evidently, Vince was so bored that he tossed a big lump of dried cow dung onto Camella's glorious sparks. Adele was horrified, and lit clumps of sage to purify the situation. And then somebody (not me) remembered the marshmallows. Only, not content with just marshmallows, the lovelies had bought chocolate bars and graham crackers to make... yep.

Only, no one had the energy to assemble these smores, so the skewers that had been chilled in my boy silver were only used to toast a few marshmallows. Jesus, never before did backing into a cactus seem... Well, it still seemed like a really bad idea.

There was more Simpsons' trivia, and we were on the brink of ghost stories when Heather saved the day by asking about my take on the mysterious airship pilot's cryptic reply about being from anywhere, but that day after tomorrow they'd be in Greece. "Well, simply put, he was right with his statement, if by "anywhere" the pilot meant that their place of origin wouldn't be comprehensible to the Texas rancher, and that by the "day after tomorrow" he was referring to sometime in the future on earth...

In the case of the spacecraft that allegedly crashed in the American southwest in 1947... conveniently so close to a military facility (and not just any military base *nudge*), the glyphs embossed on the H and I beams resembled letters of the classical Greek alphabetic script (with Greek-like letters reported elsewhere in connection with alleged trans-mundane writing). Of course, nearly everyone considers Santilli's controversial 'Magdalena' footage to be bogus, and point out that the classical Greek letters and/or proto-Phoenician script, if that's what it is, appear to spell out in English the word "video." (NOTE: With its combination of strange alien symbols, classical Greek, [proto] Phoenician and modern day English, did anyone ever consider that what 'crashed' was a Rosetta Stone of sorts?) All I can say is that you haven't seen what I have. Danny saw it, too... in Mesquite... the first dissection, which was far better...the humanoid appearing even freakier looking than Michael Jackson..." "Danny saw it, too?" one the ladies asked... "Well there's a Tool connection for the Tool newsletter." "I know that. Hell, there are lots of connections. Camella here is married to Adam and Diablo is their dog. Scott was damn near the new bass player after Paul left... and Danny's new electronic drums were Vince's brainchild... not to mention that new dimension beam contraption that will enable Danny to play without drumsticks. Need I continue?.. And Scott's now in Butcher with Camella who is married to Adam and Diablo is their dog..." That's when the Vicodin (or was it a Xan-bar*?) kicked in. And, so instead of smores, there were snores as one by one we retired to our respective tents (and I'm positive that's when they resumed 'testing' the TR-3B).

* No doubt the CAMs had beamed a message into my brain to do this - that so the person who always stays awake and scans the skies 'till dawn would finally go to sleep.

Morning comes early in the high desert, or so it seems, and when we woke up it was already in the high 80s...

The next morning while riding with Camella back to Los Angeles, even though we were both so groggy that we could barely keep our eyes open, we already began planning our next adventure, which I suggested ought to be a hike up Tikaboo peak (on a week day, say, a Wednesday, which used to be Spaghetti night at the AleInn... and with a new moon) so that we could look down on the base. That or Mt. Stirling, the Papoose viewpoint. Of course, we couldn't haul the silver Coleman up there, it would be a strenuous climb" I said. "That's okay" Camella replied. "We can convert our backpacks into coolers and take pre-mixed margaritas up there." "Excellent"... I mean "Exactly" (that's for you, Adele - some Simpsons' trivia)



I don't expect anyone to believe this, other than the anonymous sender of the email, perhaps, but here's the very first email that I received after writing this newsletter, BUT PRIOR (by days) TO IT BEING POSTED!!!

EMAIL SUBJECT: Come to Greece!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Come to greece!!!!!!!!!!!1



Photos by Camella, Heather, and Vince

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