E.T., phone me!

The aliens must have have taken off again.

Made the trek a few days ago through the high Nevada desert to Area 51 and its environs, including the tiny town of Rachel. That’s where you’ll find the Little A’Le’Inn, a diner, pub and souvenir shop run by a nice lady named Pat.

She’s put up with throngs of people who intended to invade Area 51, crowds of bus passengers eager to quench a thirst (for sci fi), and no doubt many hours where customers were no more numerous than actual aliens.

It’s a business based on kitsch, which I really admire.

You can’t actually see the famous Area 51 from the lonely highway, or even from where two dirt roads end at security gates. There’s Rachel, a UFO museum where you turn off a small highway onto a smaller one, and not a lot else out there.

We didn’t see any spy planes, or stealth fighters, or any of the other hardware we know has been developed there beginning in the 50s. Or the Russian jets that were studied there. Or the Nazi technology, Roswell wreckage or otherworldly gadgetry rumored to be hidden past the spiky hills between the highway, Rachel and Groom Lake.

Perhaps they don’t come out in daylight. Perhaps 51 is too well known, and they’ve been moved on to Area 52 or 53. But if aliens came to Rachel from beyond space, they’ve gone away again.

Which is a little disappointing if you’re a sci fi kid raised on Tomorrowland in the 60s and 70s. Certainly by the 21st century we’d have tracked down those lights in the sky. We’d have made Contact. Helped them phone home. Hopefully avoided a War of the Worlds. Sure, they might not be Cat-Women of the Moon, but an advanced race might set “To Serve Man” as a goal and not a cookbook.

Science and exploration, which sometimes teach us harsh realities, have taught us just how far it is to another livable planet, and just how cold space is.

I still want to believe they could come here, even if they haven’t been here already. Because while Captain Kirk touched the sky this week, we’re still a long way from other stars.

E.T., phone me. Buy you a beer at the Little A’Le’Inn.

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