Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 6 - Kingman Arizona

Click here for the photo album covering this day's events.

Day 6 started with breakfast and a small drive to another part of the Canyon where we hiked a bit and took some more scenic pictures. There were several vendor tables setup along the pathway with people selling American Indian wares and such, and I recognized my Sedona hat at one of the booths. I stopped to talk to the American Indian merchant to asked me about my hat, where I'd gotten it and how much I paid for it. It turns out the booth in Sedona was part of his franchise and I got the feeling he was quizzing me to make sure the other vendor wasn't over, or under, charging people. I've studied the plight of the American Indian in several college classes and have a soft spot in my heart for the people and culture, so I paused to talk to him a bit, learning that he was a "local" and this was his primary business.....selling to tourists. I thanked him for his time and moved on.

Once back on the road "for real" we were headed to Kingman, AZ. Here we were supposed to listen to watch a video of the famous Phoenix Lights incident of 1997, however Tony stated that  since we'd gotten the smaller van with no DVD player that plan got nixed. Instead he played audio of some 1960s and 1970s paranormal radio shows, similar to Coast to Coast or The Paracast in which UFO cases are deeply discussed and debated. Tony peppered in some New-Age-y music to set the mood. I have to admit that it made this part of the trip enjoyable and relaxing.

When we got to Kingman we ate lunch at a nice restaurant then met up with a guy named Harry Drew and his companion, Dr. Joan Hangarter, both of whom were immediately warm and personable to the whole tour group. I'd not heard too much about the Kingman crash but had looked it up on Google before our trip, so this was going to be interesting to me. We loaded up in the van, Harry and Dr. Joan in their 4X4 Jeep, and headed into downtown Kingman where Harry showed us the historic sheriff's office and jail.

As the story went in the 1940's there was a military radar array stationed in Kingman and used for Army-Airforce flights and such. After the end of WWII and into the late 1940's to 1950's, the military (Airforce, I think) decided to ramp up the radar signal, boosting it by several hundred-fold to use it as an early warning system against Russian missile attacks that may be flying over the U.S. west coast. So why is this important to UFO's? According to Harry since Kingman was established it had been a hotspot for flying saucers, a proverbial fly-over and flight path for UFO's. The stories told of innumerable UFO sightings in the desert around Kingman throughout history, but suddenly in the early 1950's there was a UFO crash on the outskirts of the city. Then, about a year later there was another one, and another. Four, total, I believe, from 1951 through 1953. Flying saucers were dropping out of the sky during this time frame, and Harry said it became common place for the local emergency services to retrieve the occupants, (dead or alive,) gather up the debris of the crashed craft, and transfer it all to the government officials who would show up a day or two later. The belief of many supporters of the Kingman UFO crash series is that when the government beefed up the signal of the radar array, the array may have started wreaking havoc with the UFO navigation systems, causing the pilots to lose control of their craft and crash within the desert around Kingman. Harry hinted at this belief while we were there, but his website indicates the radar array was removed in 1945 after the war, in fact, perhaps nullifying this suspicion and rumors. I find it a bit difficult to believe myself since the idea of human radar transmissions would be powerful enough to bring down a presumably extraterrestrial craft designed for flight in outer space.

Harry Drew giving his presentation to Team UFO on the left. From front to back; Linda, Glen, Ellen, Terry (asleep, I think. No offense Harry, he tended to do that), and Bonnie. (Courtesy of Top Secret Tours)

The first crash report involved the local authorities taking the inhabitants of the UFO into custody. The report states that these beings looked very human like in appearance, with pronounced almond-shaped eyes being the biggest hint that they were "not human." Here's where the jail cell comes in. The local sheriff stowed the crash survivors in the cell but they ended up disappearing a few hours later, seemingly having been released, escaped, or otherwise shifted through the cell door. They then walked down the hall of the courthouse and past a few people who appeared to have some fuzzy memories of the whole incident.

The accounts of the other crashes were also pretty fascinating, including one that started a fire up on a small mountain ridge within sight of the city. Some local campers were blamed, originally, but when the site was visited a craft was discovered. Harry related all these accounts to us before we loaded back up in the vehicles and followed him out into the desert. Here would have been the one and only reason I can think of why it was a good thing we had the van and not a tour bus. The roads we took into the desert were rough, even for the van, so I doubt a bus would have been able to handle it. We traveled for about an hour or so on bumpy roads and finally came to a U-shaped area in the desert where, Harry claims, one of the UFO's bounced off a hill and crashed into the desert floor. (He had found at least one more suspected crash site but this one was the easiest to get to.) As we walked into the U-shaped area Harry pointed out the good-sized hill to our right that created the end of the U. As Harry described, he believed this hill is where the UFO initially impacted, bouncing off the top and kicking up a small ridge of harder stone before falling into the U and sinking itself into the floor of the desert at an angle.

Harry and Team UFO at the crash site.
Your's truly to the left. (Courtesy of TST)
I stopped and took a look at that hill and the ridge of harder rock Harry claimed was a result of the UFO impact from 1953. I could get up there, I was sure of it. I'm in pretty good shape for my age, 41, and had actually been training for this trip (long story but I believe being in good physical shape leads to a better experience on vacations and such, ... much less life in general.) I was dressed to hike and climb, looking like Indiana Jones with my fedora hat and cargo shorts. Yeah ... I could make that, even without a whip. I asked Harry if we could get up there to take a look and he got pretty apprehensive, saying it was quite dangerous of a trek, with loose sand and rocks much less the possibility of a rattle snake or two. Neither of these things phased me but we moved on, deeper into the U. I kept an eye on the ridge that led to the hill and noticed it was considerably lower in elevation than the hill itself, with a much smaller incline up the hill than trekking up from the desert floor. Again I stopped and pointed this out, asking Harry if we could get up the hill by first climbing the lower ridge, then following the top of the ridge (a safer route) up to the top of the hill. Everybody stopped and Harry looked up there as if he'd never considered this route in the past. "Um.....I still wouldn't recommend it," he said, again mentioning rattlers (with it being spring, I guess, the rattlers were out in force due to it being breeding season.) I was standing there, pondering the climb with my hands on my hips, looking at the ridge, then at Tony. After a good few minutes of pondering, Dr. Joan said with a little smile, "I can tell you really want to get up there." Well, yeah. It wouldn't take a psychic to see that, but the bottom line was this was Tony's tour. He was the guide. He was responsible for the safety of all the tour members, and this was his call. He seemed to be avoiding my looks so I got the feeling he really didn't want me going against Harry's wishes and trekking up there. That's why I balked and didn't make the climb but I tell you this, NOT doing that climb was my single-biggest regret of the tour!  (I pissed-and-moaned about this missed opportunity for the rest of the tour, much to the annoyance of the other tour members but hey, if I was going to be miserable about it so were they, LOL!!)

On we moved, trailing into the heart of the large U-shaped formation to the point where Harry showed us the suspected impact site. For the second time on the tour (the first being in Socorro), I was pretty pumped. I mean whether or not a UFO crashed here this was pretty exciting to me. Harry told us of taking soil samples from here and that, indeed, the Earth on top of the small ridge was up-turned and "reversed" meaning that it was older than the Earth beneath it. The small ridge, which appeared like the imprint of a large saucer that had dug itself into the Earth, ran for several feet in an arch. Dr. Joan took several pictures while we walked around, and commented that sometimes you can find bits of metal or other suspected debris within the area. I doubted that claim, myself, since the government had supposedly swept the area thoroughly. I couldn't see them leaving pieces of alien-ore laying about for anybody to collect, but as I write this I wonder if Harry had ever gone out there with a metal detector. Too late to ask now. I noticed several good-sized rocks of quartz and lava rock, asking Harry about near-by volcanic activity which he did confirm. I picked up a few stones of each for my kids, including a bit of quartz that would have cost me about $15 in Sedona a few days ago. Here it was for free on the desert floor, and from an honest-to-god, maybe, perhaps, crash site of a UFO.

(Left-to-right) Harry, Glen, myself, Van, and Bonnie (courtesy of TST)
As we walked back to the vehicles Harry and I talked a bit more, discussing the findings he had discovered in his research. Harry was writing a book and/or making a DVD documentary about the Kingman crashes and had done a LOT of leg work on the subject. Whether or not anything really happened at Kingman, Harry was presenting a good case 'for' the event(s) but like most UFO researchers he tended to angle his research towards a pre-existing conclusion. To me, in the back of my mind, I thought Harry was trying to break a new Roswell case open, but by saying there were multiple crashes over a three year period he was ramping up the stakes against Roswell. Oh well. I found Harry to be likable, if a UFO believer, and I suppose everybody has a right to present a case to make a buck in a capitalist economy. Kingman was Harry's case. We drove away from the crash site into the deeper desert and came across a small convenience store, stopping here for a potty break. The store was awesome; a hole-in-the-wall shop smack in the middle of the desert, airconditioned, ran by a Vietnam vet. It as well-tended and quite busy while we where there, with the single bathroom the most popular feature of the store. I took a few minutes of the stop to ask Dr. Joan what she had her doctorate in, having thought I heard the word "anthropology" during her introduction. Instead she mentioned being a rikki massage therapist and a psychic intuitive.
Well she still made a good companion for Harry. They played off of one another quite well.
(**Correction** Dr. Joan contacted me and advised that she has also been a practicing and successful Doctor of Chiropractic  for over 30 years... a fact I'd missed in my prior description - 12/07/2012)

We drove back to Kingman where we had dinner at the coolest restaurant of the tour. It was a combination biker/cowboy bar with a massive Harley Davidson cycle displayed inside the front door. The cycle was a prize in a drawing the restaurant was having. I cut lose bit, ordering a steak and a beer, sitting across from Harry and Dr. Joan to continue asking questions. The line of questioning by the tour group was a bit frustrating as Harry has extreme hearing loss. Even I, sitting directly across from him, had to shout my questions several times. I found it odd that while talking in the desert he could hear me seemingly just fine, but now was having troubles hearing someone inches away. Later I would reason that it was because in the desert it was still and quiet except for a light wind, but in the restaurant there was a constant drone of music and crowd noise. We talked more about the Kingman case, ate a great meal, shared a few drinks, and watched as Dr. Joan worked with Bonnie and Katie in practicing dosing without rods and discussing other metaphysical practices. I'm not a big believer in the metaphysical, psychics and all that, so I avoided that discussion since I didn't want to poo-poo on the believers. It wasn't my place to do so, and everybody was having a good time anyway.

Saying our goodbyes to Harry and Dr. Joan we headed back to the hotel to crash. Tomorrow was Vegas, baby!

Click here for the photo case you didn't click it at the top of the post.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 5 - Grand Canyon

Click here for my Picasa album of our Grand Canyon visit.

Day five of the tour started with another breakfast at the Airport Mesa cafe and a small stop-and-hike up the airport vortex before striking out on the road to the Grand Canyon. In case I hadn't mentioned in previous posts, Sedona is known for it's vortices, areas of supposed-mystical power where geomagnetic forces do odd things to nature and people. Indeed Tony pointed out several twisted trees, growing in bent-over angles that defied a natural growth pattern, such as straight up or toward the path of the Sun. Twice, while in Sedona, we heard-tale of a researcher from the east who came out to completely disprove this myth of these vortices but by the time he was done taking measurements and talking to the locals he was thoroughly convinced of their validity. Whether or not you believe in their effects or powers, however, the view from the airport vortex was stunning. I can certainly see why people thought they were being re-energized or imbued with spiritual well-being, here and that goes for Sedona as a whole.

"Team UFO" at the Grand Canyon. From the left; Glenn, Ellen, Linda, me, Van, Bonnie, and Terry. (Courtesy TST)

After that it was on the road, again, and blazing across the desert. I think Tony had underestimated how long it would take us to get to the Canyon because we flew like a bat-out-of-hell along those desert roads. Not that I'm complaining, it was a smooth ride and not too much to see except for more desert (which I still found to be beautiful, really.)

When we got to the Grand Canyon we saw....stuff. I'd already seen some of the Canyon as we approached but, of course, the small hike to the South Rim revealed the Canyon in all it's glory and I was awe-inspired which was to be expected. We visited a watch tower that stood perched on the rim of the Canyon, built by an anthropologist several decades back. There were people everywhere taking pictures or acting like idiots by perching on guard rails so their friends could take pictures, as if they were about to fall off. It was here Tony told us a story about a UFO link with the Canyon. It seems that the local American Indians had a legend of a saucer-shaped craft that was buzzing the Canyon and actually crashed down in the base several hundred years ago. The local tribe buried the craft and alien bodies out of respect and, if memory-serves, there were some petroglyphs at the base of the Canyon at the crash site, depicting what had occurred. Unfortunately we didn't have the time, equipment, nor skill set to clammer down the Canyon walls and investigate for ourselves, but it was still an interesting story.

Van and I at the Canyon rim with my first solid view of the Grand Canyon. (Courtesy TST)

The rest of the day was spent around the Canyon rim, visiting some of the lookout points and hiking along the top. Despite Tony's aggressive driving we ran out of time too fast for my book, and we didn't have the chance to do as much nature seeing as I would have liked. We did hike enough for Van to realize how out of shape he was, though, poor guy, but his Army training still got him pretty far along the rim. Near the end of the day we went to another lookout point to try to catch a sunset, but the sky had over-cast right along the western horizon, obscuring our view. Regardless the Canyon was still beautiful, majestic, and awesome to behold.

Dinner followed, then we headed to our resort where Tony had already setup our rooms for us. The resort was one of the nicer places we'd stayed but also one of the shorter stays. By 7:15 am the next day we were up and on the road toward our next destination.

Click here for my Picasa album of our Grand Canyon visit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 4 - Sedona Part 2

Click here to see my photo album of our Sedona visit.

After our visit by Tom Dongo we drove out to see some of the scenes around Sedona. Although, again, the UFO link wasn't too apparent this was one of my favorite parts of the tour just for the sheer beauty of the location. Dongo had made a claim that, often, UFO's were seen over the buttes and mesa's around Sedona because, supposedly, they were powering up from the geomagnetic fields emanating from these structures. Well...maybe, I suppose.

My new hat.

During this visit I bought a new hat from a local American Indian vendor (pictured above). It was a cheesy little hat that said Sedona on it but it's shape and function were good and it got me by. After snapping some good shots and seeing the magnificent beauty Sedona had to offer we went back to the resort and the rest of the day was ours. Tony offered to drive us into the town, if we wanted, so we could shop or take a tour, but only Van, Bonnie, and I took him up on it. There I got some decent swag, for me, my wife, and daughter, then Van and I signed up for a Jeep tour at A Day in the West tours. Bonnie had abandoned us for an airplane tour to the Grand Canyon! but Van and I didn't want to pay the price tag for that big of an event. At A Day in the West we perused the tours they offered and were very excited to see a Jeep tour that catered to the UFO and Ghost phenomena around Sedona! Unfortunately, however, this particular tour was a "specialty" tour that had to be booked a few hours in advance and Van and I didn't have the time to wait. We opted for a semi-extreme tour that was going to happen in about 30 minutes and we figured we had enough time for that tour and to get back to the resort for diner.

Another, older couple had signed up for the same tour and once our tour guide, Amber, arrived, we loaded up and headed out to the desert outside of Sedona. Amber was a recent addition to Sedona having moved here from California about three years prior seeking a change-in-pace. She was a small slip of a girl who, I have to say, I didn't really think could handle the tougher parts of the Jeep tour, but she seriously proved me wrong. She handled that Jeep like a pro, even in the hardest elements of the desert. In looking back we should have gone for the extreme-extreme tour because the best parts of the Jeep ride were near-vertical descensions and ascensions within the desert environment! The tour was great, if a bit chilly (I was wearing shorts and seriously thought it was going to cause my cold to come back three-fold but I guess the healing powers of Sedona fought it off!) Amber told us about some of the fauna around Sedona but, unfortunately, we didn't see any snakes, rats, deer, scorpions, or spiders on our drive.  I did ask Amber about the supposed mysticism surrounding Sedona, such as the claims of UFO's and the so-called vortices that permeated the area. She gave me a good, solid answer, saying that the hype was seriously overly done for the sake of tourism but that some strange events did, indeed, occur with regular frequency. This was the part I liked...talking to a local who, from what I could tell, would give me the straight-talk about Sedona. Amber was skeptical of most of the claims surrounding the spot but said nearly every one of her friends had some sort of paranormal, or inexplicable, experience within their lives. Also, she said, she and a friend were hiking in Secret Valley (not so secret, really, everybody knew of it) and they saw a couple of black helicopters buzz them overhead. The 'copters had no markings and seemed to hover overhead just long enough to make note of her and her companion before moving on.

More pictures like this on my Picasa album, linked below.

During the tour we convinced Amber to drive us out to the Bradshaw Ranch which sits in the middle of the desert where, it was claimed, some pretty extreme events of high-strangeness occurred. The stories surrounding the Bradshaw Ranch mirrored those of The Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. Tom Dongo had made several claims and had many stories about this property. The location had recently been abandoned by the owner and it was now in possession of the United States government who had cordoned it off and did not allow trespassers, an action that added to the mystery and conspiracy surrounding the property. Personally I think the location was just shut down for legal issues but hey a good fantasy always brings the attention, and sometimes the money. We could only get within a mile of the ranch and Amber wouldn't take us closer for fear of being arrested or fined for trespassing. Van tried, several times and for a LONG time, to convince her to drive us back to the location later that night so we could sneak a closer look, but Amber shot him down (Van can be embarrassingly persistant sometimes, and this was one of those times.)

As the tour ended and Amber drove us back into Sedona we shared some ghost stories. Van told the others about the haunted (real haunted) house he owns, and Amber shared some of her own stories. We got back to Sedona just in time to have Tony pick us up, and we had a good diner, again at the Airport Cafe. One more sky watch that night (nothing really to report, there) while Tony, Van, and I shared a beer and got to know each other a little better.

Tony's a great guy. Later on Terry, one of the other tour guests who had been on nearly 23 of Tony's tours in America and in Europe, had shared a few stories about how Tony helps WWII vets find locations and re-connect with their experiences in Europe during his WWII tours. Tony know's his stuff when it comes to tours, and the sharing of stories about family and other experiences was a highlight of our Sedona visit. It was sort of an off-the-record time with just us guys kicking back and sharing a beer while kicking around some of this paranormal stuff between us. We crashed after about an hour or so, and woke up the next day ready to visit the Grand Canyon.

Click here to see my photo album of our Sedona visit.

Day 4 - Sedona Part 1, The Speaker

*Warning: this post will have a LOT more cursing in it and is rife with personal opinion, angry rantings, and raw disbelief. There will be a lot of people out there who will not agree with some of the things I say in this post. There will be many more who do. Also, this one may be rather long.*

Click here to see my photo album of our Sedona visit.

Day four started with breakfast at the airport cafe on Airport Mesa then a presentation by a one-Tom Dongo. Tom, our guest for the day, was billed as a "Paranormal or UFO expert" on a few places on the Internet that I visited prior to the trip, and when I went to Tom's web page in the weeks prior to the tour I was dismayed to see a multitude of pictures of orbs. Orbs, orbs, and more orbs. Now, to say I'm not a believer in orbs is an understatement. I do believe that a very tiny percentage of orbs are paranormal in nature but 99.9999% of every single orb caught on camera and claimed to be a paranormal phenomenon is 100% bullshit. I guess it's my understanding of digital photography and what causes an orb, and how the little computer within the camera interprets dust, moisture, and insects, attribute to my disbelief in orbs as being spirits of the dead, but believers do NOT want to hear that their captured image of proof of the existence of life after death is actually just a little bit of the most common element on Earth....dirt. Believers in orbs tend to get offended at that, but before I get off on a rant about orbs, back to Tom.

Our group sat on a small outlook that was part of our resort, peering out over Sedona while Tom sat near a table, holding a backpack in his lap the entire time. He had with him a binder of pictures that he would juggle, flipping to the page he would want to show us as he told us his presentation, (overall Travis Walton did a better job with his slide-show presentation). Tony had introduced Van and I to Tom as ghost hunters so Tom, at the start of his presentation, made a comment about how we would "understand" what he was talking about on a variety of his subject matters. And off he went.

Tom Dongo during his presentation.

Tom showed us pictures of some rather mundane things that he was pawning off as being paranormal. For instance he showed us a picture of a dog, a Husky by the look of the animal, and in the picture the dog's eyes were "glowing" (see below). As soon as I saw the picture I thought, "Oh, what a beautiful Husky," oh but Tom had a different interpretation for it. According to Tom a friend of his and some other people were out in the desert when they came across this animal at night and took some pictures, including the one he was showing us. The friend stated that the animal did not run, it did not flee, simply regarded the people as they moved past with mild interest, (I'm thinking "pet" here all-day-long! A pet would be accustomed to people and not run when it saw humans. der!). Now, according to Tom, this animal was actually a Timber Wolf!, a species of wolf who had been extinct in the Sedona area for many decades and that he had shown the picture to an "eye surgeon" who said that it was impossible for an animals eyes to glow "like that."  I think this so-called eye surgeon needs to have his own fucking vision checked! Later I tried to do some serious research in how to tell a Husky from a Wolf and came up pretty thin. I'd thought there would be bone structure differences and such but I found answers such as, "A Husky is tame. A Wolf isn't." Jenius. Nevertheless, Tom's paranormal Timber Wolf picture and the story that accompanied it, I found to be utter bullshit. What I saw in that picture was a Husky who's retina were reflecting back the flash from a camera to create a below. Anybody who owns a dog will know what I'm talking about. Sorry, Tom. Not paranormal.

Tom's "Timber Wolf" picture above. Puppy Timber Wolves (aka, my dogs) below. Now that's paranormal!
Well the presentation went on and the claims became more and more outrageous as it did. A few things about Tom that Van and I both noticed; Van pointed out that Tom appeared to have an "expert" for everything, such as the "eye surgeon" who analyzed the Husky photo. I also noticed that when Tom wanted to validate something, something usually absurd, he would look you in the eye and say very dramatically and with the appropriate pause before hand, "That's real. Oh yeah, that's real."

Tom was obsessed with orbs and he showed us countless pictures of them. I'd imagine that living in the desert you'd get a lot of orbs in pictures since it's so dry and dusty, but some of his more outrages claims where that you could see faces in the orbs. Another claim was that he'd seen a picture of an orb that had a little door, or portal, within it and a tiny alien was either climbing out or in of the orb. An alien climbing in or out of the orb?? Like it's a little tiny spacecraft??!! later on I told this claim to a friend of mine and his expression in response looked like I'd just shit in his hand. Now, for as ridiculous as this sounds you have to keep in mind that Dongo was 100% serious in these claims.  I had heard the "faces" claim before in my years of ghost hunting, with some people claiming that the face of Jesus or Mary appeared to them within orbs, but the orb with the tiny door and alien had me crapping my pants. After his barrage of orb pictures, Tom produced several other pictures of supposed paranormal activity, such as the Husky picture, and many light-reflecting pictures taken with the Sun in the shot. These reflecting pictures were supposed to show angels descending from Heaven and I have to admit some of them looked pretty amusing, but when you're taking a picture of the Sun the light and heat are going to play no-end of tricks on your film and camera. As we went on Tom just kept shitting claims out of his mouth about himself and Sedona, almost as if a flying saucer was going to appear behind him and puke out several orbs that were going to fly around Tom's head while he spoke.

Near the end of his presentation Tom produced two more astounding (and when I say "astounding" I mean bullshit) photographs. I can't recall the details surrounding the first one, I think I blanked them out in my utter disbelief of the claim around it, but it was a picture of Jesus Christ walking along someone else in a robe, an apostle, perhaps, seemingly discussing something. The claim was that this was an actual photograph of Jesus Christ. Of course Tom "validated" the claim by saying he'd had a religious expert look at the picture and that this expert was unable to explain or disprove the photograph. Now I was born and raised Lutheran and I've seen no-end of religious artwork very very very similar to what Tom showed us, typically on the bulletins of Easter or Lent church services, but Tom was convinced this was an actual photograph of Jesus Christ taken in modern day, or at least he was trying to convince us it was.

Finally Tom showed us a picture of an alien that was very high quality in design and execution. This item looked like an Olan Mills photograph, a large profile picture of the alien as it was holding up it's hand as if to say, "Howdy," with a soft-light source streaming in from the side to display the image of the being. Tom claimed this was a genuine photograph of an alien. Although it was an impressive picture I seriously doubted it was a genuine alien photograph. My suspicions were realized later on during the tour when we went to the Little Al'e'Inn and there, on the wall of the Inn, was the same picture. Well, Tom, seems someone copied your picture of Klatu! 

During the presentation I kept my thoughts and beliefs to myself, only asking the question of what type of camera Tom and his associates used to capture the orbs. I knew the answer before he told it, that he used the cheapest point-and-shoot camera's he could find because they produced the most orbs. "Produced" is right. Outside of that I didn't attack his claims or question them, mostly because there were a few people in our group who seemed to be genuinely interested or even believing of Tom's claims, and since they were on this tour to enjoy it as much as I was I didn't think it would be right to attack one of the guests and piss on everybody else's parade.

Not-so here on my own blog. The claims that Tom was shitting out of his mouth were absurd and I can honestly say they were the most absurd I'd ever heard some one say to me face-to-face. Later that night Tony approached Van and I and asked what we thought of Tom's claims. I looked Tony in the eye and with an enormous amount of self-restraint said, "I'm skeptical about most of it." Tony nodded as if he expected the answer from me.

As Tom's presentation ended we packed up and drove out to the desert. I honestly can't remember why we went where we went but Tom said it had some sort of paranormal link. When we got there we had to park in a lot a fair ways distant from the actual location and no one on the tour was too interested in hiking the distance to the location itself. Actually I think Tom said we couldn't get there, maybe because the government had shut it down or something like that. Oh well, it was still a nice drive into the desert and it had been a pleasant day, weather-wise. We did some more activities during the day in Sedona which I'll relate in my next post, but since this one is so long I'll break here to avoid boring you. And if you're Tom Dongo....sorry Tom, but I disagree with many, if not all, of your claims, buddy.

Click here for my photo album of pictures taken during our day in Sedona.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 3 - Meteor Crater and Drive to Sedona AZ

The next morning we got up and after a quick continental breakfast loaded into the van and headed toward Meteor Crater. When we settled for the drive I asked my fellow tour members if I'd seemed snippish toward Travis Walton the night before and they said no, that I seemed just genuinely curious and didn't see where Walton would have taken my question offensively. Ah well. I let the matter drop.

At Meteor Crater I was again introduced to a vastness of the desert that took my breath away. What was funny, too, was the fact that one of the reasons why my wife didn't come on this trip was because she said, "There is nothing out there except dirt and a big hole in the ground." Although she was talking about the Grand Canyon her words were not lost on me as we saw Meteor Crater for the first time. The museum at the crater was pretty impressive but, only Van, Tony, and I took the tour around part of the rim. The tour was interesting and we got some pretty good, scenic shots. While on the rim tour Tony walked with me and asked me about what had happened with Travis the night before (he'd heard me comment about it in the van.) I explained that I think Walton mis-interpreted my question and took a bit of offense to it. I told Tony that I just chalked it up to a conflict in personalities and little more.

The remains of the only cabin on the rim of the crater. The cabin was used for a variety of purposes until it was burned down by some workers. The high-velocity winds of the area did the rest. (Curtesy TST.)

Click here for my online album of Meteor Crater and Sedona.

Again there was little UFO connection with Meteor Crater but it was an astronomical event and a very good stop. Once back in the car we were heading to Sedona and I must say everything you've heard about the natural beauty and majesty of the place is 100% true. It took my breath away just driving there through Oak Creek Canyon, and once we arrived at Sedona and saw the Painted Desert I was in love. The Southwest Mecca of New Age'y'ness Sedona also has a blend of old Western American style that I think my wife and kids would have enjoyed. To me the scenery was better than any beach I'd been to.

After we arrived and settled in our hotel we had a little bit of time before diner. Tony drove us back to the shopping strip of Sedona for a little time there and while walking among the quaint little shops and touring businesses a small rain shower rolled in. It rained a good 10 minutes but when it was done the residents and tourists of Sedona were treated to a majestic double rainbow the likes of which I have never seen in my life. It arched over one side of the valley, a full rainbow so striking even I, with my mild color blindness, could clearly see the colorful bands. The scene literally brought tears to my eyes but then, I realized, they probably do this type of thing for all the tourists. I figure the rainbow is actually created by some illusionary device that they turn on once in a while just to impress people! (I'm being sarcastic, of course.)

The double rainbow over Sedona. I'm typically not very spiritual or religious, but this was something stunning to see and experience.

That night we had a small sky watch. It was a bit of a bummer for my first watch in Sedona because it was really cold outside. Myself, Van, Bonnie, and Linda were joined by two other people, a young man and woman who Tony had arranged to guide us through the skywatching process. Tony, himself, had to drive into Sedona for some batteries for two pair of night vision goggles he'd brought. According to our sky-watch guides (Jeff was the guy, I believe, but I never caught the name of the girl), aside from looking for actual flying saucers you want to look for high-altitude objects moving across the sky. Many of these objects were probably satellites but satellites move the same path and direction every time (east - to - west like the sun, I believe) and they do not turn, so with this criteria in mind we kept an eye out for objects moving in different directions or objects that turned. 

We actually saw some objects that fit these standards. We saw high-altitude lights that would bank or sway. Objects that blinked out of existence and such. It was interesting but, for me, it was still just lights in the sky. I wanted to see a physical craft and that wasn't in the stars, that night. Off to bed and a full day in Sedona tomorrow.

Side-note: I was researching the claim that all satellites travel in the same direction across the night sky and this claim is false. Only geosynchronous satellites travel east-to-west. Depending on their mission parameters, satellites can and often do travel in various directions, including pole-to-pole. The reason why I thoroughly looked into this question was because I was sitting on my back patio last night around 10:15 pm and observed a very bright-but distant light traveling directly over my zenith in a path from south-west to north-east. The light was extremely bright but not flashing as the lights from an aircraft would. After researching satellite flight paths I realized what I was observing was, indeed, probably just a satellite.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 2 - The VLA & Travis Walton

The second day of the tour brought us to the Jansky Very Large Array radio telescope site. I have one word about this stop; fucking windy! I've experienced near-tornado winds and hurricane winds but nothing like this. The VLA spreads across the New Mexico desert in a massive expanse and since it's so barren and remote there's nothing to stop the wind. The structure of the VLA Visitors center was trembling and shaking as if an earthquake was occurring, and there were permanent signs up warning about the wind, which told me that the wind was a constant issue.

Yeah...fucking windy!! (Photo courtesy of TopSecret Tours)

Click here for photo's of the array and Travis Walton taken by Top Secret Tours.
Click here for my own photos of the day.

If you're unfamiliar with the array (or didn't click my link above), the VLA is a spread of 27 (+1 on hold or being maintenanced) massive radio dishes that each weigh upwards of 230 tons. (I don't think that the dishes weigh this much because of the technology in them or their massive size. I think the builders of the dishes weighed them down so they wouldn't freakin' blow away!) The dishes work in unison with one another, forming a single, massive telescope that operates within radio wave frequencies, picking up objects in space unseen by the human eye. Despite popular belief, and the movie Contact, the VLA is not used for the SETI Project, however it's widely accepted that if indeed the SETI Project detected an abnormal radio transmission from space, the VLA would be called upon to confirm it. There was no real UFO connection at this stop other than, perhaps, the potential link to SETI, but it was still a fascinating stop with links to astronomy and space itself. Without the wind, the VLA would have rated very high on my list for stops that we did on this tour.

The rest of the day was spent driving to Heber, AZ. We stopped off at a quaint little dinner on the way there, and it started snowing pretty bad. We're talking near-white out conditions. Not too pleasant for someone who was fighting a pretty hard cold and had been looking for some desert heat on this trip. We also stopped by the grave site of a guy by the name of William, or Billy, Cooper. I'd never heard of Bill Cooper but Tony had and told us the story of how Cooper, a former military man, had become a big-time conspiracy theorist, speaking out against the government, UFO's, and secret experiments. Cooper was shot dead during a confrontation with the local law enforcement in the early 2000's and some believe that the shooting had been in an execution. Even Cooper's death, it seemed, was steeped in suspicion!

Once in Heber we got some dinner then headed back to our hotel for a presentation by famed abductee, Travis Walton. I'd heard mixed stories about Travis and his claims of alien abduction back in 1975 but he was a massive draw for Linda and Katie both.  Linda even brought her copy of Fire in the Sky for him to sign. Tony had advised us that Travis had been extremely hesitant to give the presentation and only agreed to it after talking to Tony on the phone several times, establishing a trust-base, first. I'd imagine that after 35+ years of skeptics, disbelievers, and hecklers, Travis was pretty sick of it and wanted to avoid such people.

Coming into the small meeting room at the hotel I got the impression Travis was hesitant even then. As we filed in he looked around and I tried to make eye contact, perhaps to let him know we weren't there to cut down his story. It was about that time I realized I was walking on egg shells and resolved myself not to be quite so timid around the guy. Maybe that's where I went wrong, LOL.

The presentation was good. Travis seemed off-center a few times but then again he's not a professional at doing this. He came across as a normal, approachable man doing little more than explaining his experience. At the end of the presentation we were able to ask a few questions and I had one. I raised my hand and started to ask, "You've been to several UFO conferences and seminars and, no doubt, heard a lot of other experiences from contactees and abductees. Of any of those other stories, if you've found them to be credible, have you talked to those other abductees and compared notes? If so, have you been able to find similarities between your mutual experiences and shared similarities in the beings, their craft, and how they treated you as human beings?" The nature of my question was to see if any comparison had been done within the abductee field by those abductee's themselves, and Walton may well be the best person to perform that comparison.

Unfortunately I didn't get an answer to my question.

I got about a third of the way through my question, about to here, "...if you've found them to be credible..." when Travis interrupted me pretty abruptly. "Well it's not my place to judge if another story or person's experience is credible or not so I don't really talk to other abductees or contactees." During his reply Walton didn't look my way at all, instead he looked at the person in front and to the left of me.

Um...okay. I guess in a way that WAS an answer to my question but I found it odd that he didn't even let me finish asking it. From there the next question was asked and then we went into a book-selling/autograph and photograph session. After that the plan was for Travis to escort us out to the place where he was dropped off by a UFO craft, or where he came to, on a street just outside Heber. From there he walked into Heber to a phone booth to call his brother to come and pick him up. Unfortunately I was still fighting a cold and was pretty tired so, for the first and only time, during the tour I was not going to participate in the activities. I let Tony know I was going to bow out of the drive up the street, but did walk out to the van with the rest of the crew. On the way out I held the door for Travis, who was walking behind me, and as he passed me I said, "Hey Travis, that was a great presentation, very interesting. I enjoyed it very much." Travis walked by without so much as a sideways glance my way. I know he had to have heard be because Bonnie, who was following him, said, "Yes, it was a great presentation, Travis, thank you." I got no so much as a word of acknowledgement from Walton.

Oh well. Sometimes you just come across wrong to other people, I suppose, and me more than others. Never did I mean to be short or abrasive toward Walton. The short-tale of it is that I sort of believe his account. I mean he has five other people backing him up, and there are other aspects of his story, and Walton himself, that tells me he's telling the truth about what happened to him in 1975. I headed back to my hotel and crashed, strong, until the next morning.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 3 - or Day 1 of the Actual Tour - Petroglyph Monument and Socorro New Mexico

This day started with a slightly-hurried car right back to Albuquerque to meet up with Tony (tour guide) and the rest of the tour group. We connected at the Albuquerque airport and met the rest of Team UFO, as I started calling us. I was a bit leery, at first, once it became apparent that Van and I were the youngest in the group. The cast of our group is as follows:

  • Linda - former travel agent, traveling alone since her family and husband weren't into the UFO stuff.
  • Katie - UFO buff and psychic/medium who won her spot on the tour at a UFO convention.
  • Terry - an older gentleman who's been on 23 of Tony's different kind of tours, including, mostly, Tony's WWII tours in Europe.
  • Bonnie - A vegan, pagan, hippie chick, and all-around great person. Of all the people on the tour, Bonnie was the only one in better shape than I, and I had a hard time keeping up with her, sometimes.
  • Glen and Ellen - a married couple who enjoyed taking trips and adventures around the U.S. and beyond.
  • Then there was Van and I to round it out.
If there was any major downer about the trip it was the van. The count was 9 people in a van built for 12. On the outset that sounds great except for the fact that you had our luggage as well and the van only had one set of doors to exit and enter through. It was a passenger van so if someone in the back wanted out for any reason, everybody in between him and those doors had to move. Also there were several times Tony would turn around and talk to us from the driver seat, giving us instruction or information about our next stop and it was very hard to hear Tony from the back, where Van and I sat. The van sucked. End of complaint.

Click here for my Picasa album of pictures taken on this part of the trip!

Once we were on the road our first stop was the Petroglyph National Monument. The UFO connection, here was the fact that of the 100 or so petroglyphs on the trail we took in Boca Negra Canyon, some of the glyphs appear alien or craft-type in design. Some of the images included saucer type images as well, and what's implied is that the ancient American Indians who crafted these glyphs were in contact with an alien species, and were documenting their craft. True or not the concept is very intriguing, and it's a well-known fact that ancient American Indians did document their environment, and what they saw and experienced within the area via these types of glyphs and artwork. If it just so happened that these indigenous peoples encountered these beings it would stand to reason they would document it anyway they could. Unfortunately this part of the tour was a bit disorganized. We all split up and sort of went our separate ways. I saw some glyphs that could have been interpreted as being alien beings, or of saucer-type vehicles, but I think it would have been better if we would have been directed to some of the more compelling images. Then, we cut out of the Monument a bit too quickly for my liking. There were at least two paths along the park from where we were at but before we had even had the chance to get down the first path Tony was ushering us away. 

The Visitors Center at the Petroglyph National Monument
After a quick lunch we were on the road heading to downtown Socorro. Here we stopped at a small park surrounded by quaint little shops and bordered by an official town building. Across the street sat a piece of the housing from the atomic bomb which was first tested not too far from Socorro there in the New Mexico desert at the Trinity site. See my Picasa picture link for some pictures of Jumbo, what the housing was called.

At the small park Tony had us get out of the van and walk to some seats where he started a presentation about the modern study of UFO's starting with the Kenneth Arnold sighting and moving through Roswell. I was a little bored, here. I mean I'd just spent 2 days perusing this exact same material, not to mention I'd read several books and listened to ump-teen podcasts about this same line of history.

Still it was a good presentation and necessary for all the rest of the tour members, it just wasn't my thing. Instead I got distracted and noticed some police activity around a near-by gazebo in the park. It seemed the local drunk and two or three of his hoochie mama's (ugly women, one of whom had a baby carriage), who had eyed our van and small group with a look of disdain, were being questioned by a member of the local law. The next thing I know the police officer has the drunk by the scruff of the neck and is hauling him towards the police car. After tossing the drunk into the back of his car and a few more words exchanged with the hoochies, the officer loaded up the drunk's bike into the trunk of the squad car and headed away from the park, leaving the hoochies wondering where they're going to get their next hit of pot, I suppose. Awesome.

From there we loaded up and rode through Socorro where, in 1964, police officer Lonnie Zamora (a relative of the cop we just saw, perhaps??) saw a flashing, flickering light over an arroyo while chasing a speeding vehicle. I won't bore you with the details but we actually drove up to the point where Zamora saw an egg-shaped craft and two small beings, a scene he originally mistook for a turned-over car and two children wandering around the wreckage. As Zamora drove closer he briefly lost sight of the beings (down a small hill and back up on top of another arroyo), and when he stopped and got of his car the craft lifted up and darted off.

Team UFO at the Socorro Crash Site.

We saw four divots marked by stone, supposedly the landing points the egg-shaped craft, and a blackened bush. This part of the tour was fascinating to me and I soaked it up. To see the area and and the perspective of this sighting was pretty exciting to me. I asked if the bush had been chemically tested (Tony wasn't sure) because I was doubtful that after forty years the bush was still displaying such apparent markings from the take off but since no additional testing had taken place all I could do is remain doubtful. Tony talked about some skeptics, like Phil Klass, who shot down the Socorro event. Originally Tony stated that Phil had not even come to Socorro to investigate the sighting but a bit more research on my part found this not to be the case. Klass did go to Socorro in '64 but he was more interested in why Zamora would have hoaxed the sighting instead of the details of the sighting itself. Klass's skepticism was founded in the intention behind the sighting instead of the details of the sighting. As nuclear scientist Stanton Friedman is want to say, "If you can't attack the data, attack the people. It's easier." Klass had to resort to attacking Zamora's character and supposedly guilty intentions. It was pathetic if you asked me, but that's how that man operated.

When we were done investigating the site we headed to a restaurant and the hotel, booking down until around 8:15 the next morning.