Time to get spooky: An alien experience

Alien painting at the International UFO Museum in Roswell.
Kimberly Nicoletti/Special to the Daily

Editor’s Note: “Time to Get Spooky” is a series in the Vail Daily exploring the spooky, weird and supernatural.

Short of going to the annual Roswell UFO Festival in the summer, the only way to fully experience Roswell, New Mexico, in my humble opinion, is to go all out — far, far away. Walk the streets in your favorite alien costume, take camp photos with the variety of wooden carved, inflatable or giant plastic alien statues lining the streets, read testimonies in the UFO museum, fully immerse yourself in the virtual reality of the alien landing and government of 1947. cover and make the trip by driving to the otherworldly White Sands National Park (plastic green plate in hand, of course).

I spent October 22-23 celebrating my birthday in Roswell and White Sands with believers and non-believers alike. As “Ancient Alien” fans, my mom and I fall into the first camp, while my dad and husband balk at the idea of ​​green men. I admit, the theorists on the History Channel Ancient Aliens make ridiculously grand leaps with some gaping holes between their coverage of historical sites and their conclusions that aliens explain almost every strange phenomenon, including the Egyptian pyramids. But thinking we’re the only game in the galaxy seems a bit egocentric, so my mind leans more towards the quirky, open end of the spectrum.

Kimberly Nicoletti “meditating” under the Roswell UFO mural.
Pat Mauk/Courtesy photo

My husband refuses to look at the crib, but he humored me all weekend by dressing up in a green onesie we picked up at a thrift store the weekend before and putting on the squid, or, as we like to think of it, alien hat, me. purchased in 2020 when we originally planned to go to Roswell for my birthday – until we discovered the state was closed to tourists due to COVID. My dad, a decorated Vietnam vet who lives in the more tangible world of building homes and fixing just about anything mechanical, walked out of the International UFO Museum and Research Center thinking “something happened,” but his story revolves more around the military screwing something up. up and creating a cover story that morphed into stories about aliens and UFOs after military guys found themselves with little to entertain themselves after WWII, hence the foreign stories about aliens.

Alien model at the International UFO Museum.
Kimberly Nicoletti/Special to the Daily

Honestly, I thought for sure that my father and husband would become believers, or at least seriously entertain the possibility of aliens, after spending more than an hour in the UFO Museum. I, personally, found it compelling: military men encountering technology they couldn’t explain, government agents threatening their lives if they claimed the Roswell crash was anything but a weather balloon—just the sheer volume of stories about sightings nationwide was enough to convince me that something very strange is happening. And, one walk through the adjacent research library filled with volumes upon volumes of books and reports added to the great evidence.

Despite all the heavy research and testimony, Roswell doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is quite refreshing. Even the UFO Museum, full of stories of sightings and even abductions, has a staged UFO that, from time to time, becomes animated with smoke and aliens who speak in their native language (uh, that is, if they have tongues).

Alien route

The first stop on your Roswell adventure is The Roswell Visitor Center and Store, where your camping photos begin (or, maybe you just want to pick up a great pair of alien glasses – the visitor center is your cheapest bet). This includes a seasonally themed photo stage (this time of year, imagine yourself smiling under a “Believe” sign, among bales of hay, scarecrows and, of course, the ever-present aliens, currently dressed in fall clothing), in which free printables photos appear as the perfect keepsake.

The International UFO Museum and Research Center is an absolute must to fully familiarize yourself with the Roswell culture, as well as NASA data and research. There’s a lot to read on the walls, but it’s worth it. Photos, movie posters, various short videos and various extraterrestrial scenes provide an alternative to reading documents, explanations and encounters, resulting in a fun, interactive, imaginative adventure.

On the short walk from the Roswell Visitor Center to the museum, take at least a few minutes to capture some creative photos or videos at the enormous UFO mural, with the hot pink caption: “ROSWELL … we believe!”

Dylan and Kimberly Nicoletti “hung out” at the UFO mural in Roswell.
Pat Mauk/Courtesy photo

Along the historic downtown strip, you’ll pass plenty of creatively decorated and painted shop windows; if you’re like me, they’re all worth a snapshot. The alien shops are fun too; beyond the fun T-shirts and mugs, you’ll find everything from alien water squirt guns to baby Yoda cake tins and alien-themed dog leashes. Speaking of dogs, Roswell is an exceptionally dog-friendly town. Most stores allow the furry four-legged to sniff for aliens.

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Roswell Spaceport presents one of the most memorable and exciting activities, in the form of virtual reality experiences. Our welcome employee, dressed as a futuristic flight attendant, didn’t bat an eye at our costumes – all she wanted to know was if we had any flexible capacitors in our carry-ons or luggage or any extraterrestrial goo, slime, mucus or glop. on our persons (for these are forbidden) before showing us to our pod.

Experiencing virtual reality in the pod at Roswell Spaceport.
Courtesy photo

Once there, we adjusted our VR goggles and went on a wild, dizzying ride through the 1947 alien crash on our swivel chairs. The adventure takes you face to face, body to body with aliens before their ship crashes and lands in the hands of investigating military officials. This experience is truly a must-see, even if you don’t opt ​​for the extraterrestrial adventure: Roswell Spaceport also offers Apollo 11 and other intergalactic adventures. One tip: Take the complimentary, disposable earplugs when they’re offered, because you never know if you’ll be sitting next to a pod like ours, with four people. ooh, wheewing and waking up as they go; you’ll want to be able to focus on your own virtual reality, and the earplugs add to that ability.

Visitors can also purchase tickets to BrickTown, which features an alien, pirate, moon landing, railroad, city and wonders of the world built from more than 250,000 toy bricks. Press a button and a part lights up, while the World Buildings section tells you all about the structure via video.

Across the street, Roswell UFO Space Walk and Gallery takes you through an artistic black light, family-friendly otherworld. Pets are allowed, and you can walk through as many times as you like and take as many photos as you like. Tip: Wear something like white that shines for the best photo ops.

Dylan Nicoletti and four-legged Hani in the Roswell UFO Space Walk and Gallery.
Kimberly Nicoletti/Special to the Daily

If you like laser tag, check out the 15,000-square-foot Area 52 Tactical Laser Tag.

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Beyond “the strip”, you’ll find more great photo ops. Dunkin’ Donuts boasts an enormous green alien, while, right next door, McDonald’s competes for attention with its own UFO-shaped fast food restaurant, complete with flowing colored lights and silver aliens (just in case you get tired of the green). variety). Further down the road, you’ll find a few other photos, notably attached to the Invasion Station store.

I found the people in Roswell to be very kind and welcoming; at no time did I feel “out of place” in a suit. In fact, passers-by and store owners seemed amused. One 5- or 6-year-old boy yelled out the window, “alien!” how his parents drove past us; tourists wanted to take pictures with, or of, us (granted, my husband was jokingly asked if he lost a bet) and people honked and waved (in a friendly way, I think) as the four of us (and two dogs), all dressed in foreign clothing, posed at the foot of the almighty Dunkin’ Donuts green creature.

We ended our day with a relaxing visit to the full-dome digital theater of the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium; it’s a bargain at $5 (seniors, children and military get a discount) for about a 45-minute movie on a variety of topics. We immersed ourselves in Revealing the Invisible Universewhich seemed appropriate to the subject, with its depiction of x-rays, gamma rays, neutrinos, black holes and cosmic rays.

The next day, we drove 2 hours and 20 minutes to White Sands National Park. This time, my dog ​​and I dressed in Yoda onesie, because the vast white sand dunes seemed to be the perfect. Cosmic Wars background Granted, I didn’t stay in costume the whole time; I didn’t want my oh-so-sexy pjs (okay, so I only wore them as a costume — until now) full of sand when I skated and skied (with vintage silver Volants, of course) down the hills. That particular day, the first snow of the season hit Colorado, and southern New Mexico was wicked windy, so I didn’t get as much skiing, sledding, or hiking as I wanted, although I did manage to carve out a sand angel, too. . My clothes prevented me from full-body exfoliation, but my face was definitely crushed, and my hair felt like straw after the wind blew through it. So, if you are planning a visit, try to avoid a windy day.

A long packed weekend is fine to see Roswell and the national park. Located just over 8 ½ hours from Vail, Roswell is a completely different world in which to land, exercise your imagination and perhaps find yourself transported.


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