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Preston Jones

Aliens, A-Bombs, and Mastodons

Travels in Nevada and Colorado.

Corn dog in hand, the man in the elevator bids me good tidings, and "welcome to our white trash fiesta." Here in Las Vegas the family has gathered to ponder the deep things, such as whether we shall retch before or after we ride the Stratosphere, a roller coaster-type attraction perched atop a tower over one hundred stories high. Weak-kneed and gurgling, we stumble off the ride in short order, observing that we probably won't give it another go-around. Then we soak in the view afforded from these lofty heights. "Don't you worry about earthquakes?" I ask the girl taking tickets. She says she doesn't, and that's hard to believe. But I cannot press the point, for now we are off to watch Pappy and my siblings-in-law jump from an airplane.

The rule of the day, enunciated this morning at Denny's, is that no one shall speak explicitly of skydiving until the deed is done. Thus we drive in silence for some 30 minutes to the place where "it" will happen, and I have time to cogitate this review. My mind turns first to the space aliens who, in the summer of 1947, lighted upon Roswell, New Mexico, only to be hounded into a government compound in Nevada and there sequestered till kingdom come. The famous compound is located in a military security zone called Area 51, which is the size of the fine State of Connecticut.

David Thomson, author of In Nevada, writes that anyone who attempts to penetrate Area 51 "runs the risk of arrest, confiscation of vehicle and equipment, heavy fines, and imprisonment." Indeed, signs around Area 51 warn that the use of deadly force is authorized against tax-paying intruders who want in on government military secrets. "There are those who say that UFOs are kept there and tested," Thomson writes, "along with the imprisoned aliens who piloted them to Earth."

Thomson himself doesn't appear to believe in UFOs, and neither does Glenn Campbell, a self-proclaimed "philosophical warrior" who resides in the tiny town of Rachel, a stone's throw north of Area 51. ...

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