Inexplicable Moments

Strange things happen at this wacky crossroads of the hopelessly alien-addled in the Nevada desert

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The inn sponsors twice-yearly symposiums attended by everyone from serious UFO scholars to less reliable thinkers. There's also an annual "Walk to the Boundary," during which hundreds of people hike up to the unambiguous signs delineating the Nellis property line. They read: "Warning. Restricted Area," and one even cautions "Use of Deadly Force Authorized."

The Travises maintain a good-natured open-mindedness about what they hear, but they've had some inexplicable moments of their own. "My niece and I saw a saucer-shaped light moving erratically in the sky several weeks ago," Pat tells me. "And about a month ago, Joe and I were driving back from Vegas, and I saw this round object, like a circle of translucent light, moving along the side of the highway. I said to Joe, ‘Did you see that?' And he said, ‘Yeah, but I thought I was imagining it.'"

Joe points to the inn's back door. "That door is solid steel. It's facing the sunset right now, and no light from the sun is getting inside, right? But a few years back, we were sitting here and a cylinder of light about three inches across shot through the steel and then stopped — it stopped — about six feet into the room. It illuminated the doorjamb in blue. We both witnessed it, and we've never found anyone who could explain it."

I look around the room. Near that back door, a wall is plastered with photographic images of what are said to be aliens and flying saucers. My favorite shows a cowboy pouring a can of beer down a horse's throat as a saucer streaks through the sky. I start to order the house specialty, the Alien Burger, then have second thoughts. "Don't worry," Pat reassures me. "It's made out of beef."

By Donovan Webster

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