Time to get spooky: An alien experience

An 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 Roswell’s annual 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 out. Walk the streets in your favorite alien outfit, take campy photos with the variety of wood-carved, inflatable or gargantuan plastic alien statues in the streets, read testimonials in the UFO museum, fully immerse yourself in the virtual reality of the 1947 alien landing and government Cover up and top the trip off with a drive to the otherworldly White Sands National Park (plastic green saucer in hand, of course).

I spent October 22-23 celebrating my birthday in Roswell and White Sands with both believers and non-believers. As “ancient alien” aficionados, my mom and I fall into the first camp, while my dad and husband balk at the idea of ​​little green men. I admit, the theorists on the History Channel’s Ancient aliens Make ridiculously large leaps with several gaping holes between their coverage of historical sites and their conclusions that aliens explain almost every strange phenomenon, including the Egyptian pyramids. But to think we’re the only game in the galaxy seems a bit egocentric, so my opinion tends more towards the curious, open end of the spectrum.

Kimberly Nicoletti ‘meditating’ under the Roswell UFO mural.
Pat Mauk/Courtesy photo

My husband wants to watch the bunk, but he humored me all weekend by dressing in a green dress I picked up at a thrift store the weekend before and wearing the squid, or, as we like to think of it, alien hat, I bought 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 almost anything mechanical, walked out of the International UFO Museum and Research Center thinking “something happened,” but his story revolves more around the military messing up something and Creating a cover story that morphed into stories about aliens and UFOs after military guys found themselves with little to entertain themselves after World War II, hence the extraordinary alien stories.

A model of an alien in the International UFO Museum.
Kimberly Nicoletti / Special to The Daily

Honestly, I thought for sure my father and husband would become believers, or at least seriously entertain the possibility of aliens, after spending over 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 of sightings nationwide are enough to convince. I think something very strange is going on. And, one walk through the adjacent research library filled with volumes upon volumes of books and reports added to the considerable evidence.

Despite all the hard research and testimonials, Roswell doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is quite refreshing. Even the UFO museum, filled with accounts of sightings and even abductions, has a staged UFO that, every so often, becomes animated with smoke and aliens speaking in their native tongue (ah, that is, if they have tongues).

A foreign journey

The first stop to make on your Roswell adventure is the Roswell Visitor Center and Shop, where your campy photos begin (or, maybe you just want to pick up a cool pair of alien glasses—the visitor center is your cheapest bet). This includes a seasonally themed photo stage (this time of year, picture yourself smiling under a “believe” sign, among bales of hay, scarecrows and, of course, the ever-present aliens, currently dressed in fall clothes), in which free Printed photos pop out 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. It’s a hefty amount to read on the walls, but it’s worth it. Photos, movie posters, a variety of short videos and various foreign scenes provide an alternative to reading documents, explanations and encounters, resulting in a fun, interactive and 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 on the huge wall mural of a UFO, with the hot pink caption: “ROSWELL … WE BELIEVE!”

Dylan and Kimberly Nicoletti ‘hanging on’ to the UFO mural in Roswell.
Pat Mauk/Courtesy photo

Along the historic downtown strip, you’ll pass lots of creatively decorated and painted storefront windows; If you’re a shutterbug like me, they’re all worth a snapshot. The alien-themed stores are fun, too; Beyond the odd t-shirts and mugs, you’ll find everything from alien water-splash guns to baby Yoda cookie jars and alien-themed dog leashes. Speaking of dogs, Roswell is an exceptionally dog-friendly town. Most stores allow the furry four-leggeds to sniff around for aliens.

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Spaceport Roswell features one of the most memorable and exciting activities, in the form of virtual reality experiences. Our welcoming 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 flex capacitors in our wear-ons or luggage or any extraterrestrial goo, slime, mucus or goop on Our people (for those are prohibited) before showing us to our pod.

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

Once there, we adjusted our VR glasses and went on a wild, dizzying ride through the 1947 alien crash in 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 probing military officials. The experience is truly a must-see, even if you don’t choose the alien adventure: Spaceport Roswell also offers Apollo 11 and other intergalactic adventures. One tip: accept the complimentary, disposable ear plugs when offered, because you never know if you’ll be sitting next to a pod like ours, with four people Oohing, whining And Wowing how they go; You’ll want to be able to focus on your own virtual reality, and these ear plugs add to that ability.

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

Across the street, Roswell UFO Spacewalk and Gallery takes you through an artistic black light, family-friendly otherworld. Pets are allowed, and you can go through as many times as you want and take as many photos as you want. Hint: Wear something like white that glows for the best photo ops.

Dylan Nicoletti and four-legged Hani at the Roswell UFO Spacewalk and Gallery.
Kimberly Nicoletti / Special to The Daily

If you’re into 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 a giant green alien, while, right next door, McDonald’s competes for attention with its own UFO-shaped fast-food restaurant, complete with streaming-colored lights and silver aliens (just in case you’re tired of the green). variety). Further down the road, you’ll find a couple of other photo ops, especially ones attached to the Invasion Station shop.

I found the people in Roswell to be very friendly and welcoming; At no time did I feel “out of place” in costume. In fact, passers-by and shop owners were amused. One 5- or 6-year-old boy shouted out the window, “Stranger!” As his parents passed us by; Tourists wanted to take pictures with, or of, us (granted, one jokingly asked my husband if he lost a bet) and people waved and waved (in a friendly way, I think) as the four of us (and two dogs) , all dressed in foreign clothes, standing at the foot of the almighty Dunkin’ Donuts green grass.

We capped our day with a relaxing visit to the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium’s full-dome digital theater; It’s a bargain at $5 (seniors, kids and military get a discount) for an approximately 45-minute film on a variety of subjects. We immersed ourselves in it Unveiling the Invisible UniverseWhich was fitting to the subject, with its imagery of X-rays, gamma rays, neutrinos, black holes and cosmic rays.

The next day, we took the 2-hour 20-minute drive to White Sands National Park. This time, my dog ​​and I dressed in a Yoda onesie, as the vast white sand dunes were the perfect Star Wars backdrop. True, I didn’t stay in costume the whole time; I didn’t want to get my oh-so-sexy PJs (okay, so I just wore them as a costume – until now) full of sand as I sledded and skied (with vintage silver ruffles, of course) down the hills. On this particular day, the first snow of the season hit Colorado, and southern New Mexico was wildly windy, so I didn’t get as much skiing, sledding, or walking in as I wanted, although I did manage to carve out a sand angel. . My clothes prevented me from a full-body exfoliation, but my face was definitely pelted, and my hair felt like straw after the wind whipped through it. So, if you plan a visit, try to avoid a windy day.

A long, packed weekend will do to see Roswell and the National Park. Roswell, which is a little over 8 ½ hours from Vail, is a whole different world in which to land, exercise your imagination and possibly find yourself transported.


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