High desert sightings: Something is out there

Full disclosure: I saw a UFO one afternoon in the summer of 1981.

I was driving through the curvy section of Highway 62 between Morongo Valley and Desert Hot Springs when a winged vessel, the likes of which I had never seen, flew between — not over — the hills, sandwiching the road. It paused and hovered for a moment, like a helicopter, and then accelerated faster than a Lear jet. By the time I got down the hill a minute later, it was gone. Without a trace.

I told a grocer in Morongo Valley about it and he wasn’t fazed. He said lots of people saw UFOs there. He attributed it to the Marine base in Twenty­nine Palms trying out experimental vessels.

I accepted that and just waited for that flying vehicle to be publicly unveiled. Three decades later, I’m still waiting.

That’s why I don’t think of the people attending this weekend’s Contact in the Desert convention at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center a bunch of kooks. I actually felt more sane after interviewing one of the speakers, Barbara Harris, chairwoman of the Morongo Basin Historical Society, who will give a lecture and tour of Giant Rock near Landers on Friday morning.

“Where you said you saw that, I have documentation,” she said. “Probably in the ’70s, there was a list where they had watchers who were calling in — a constant flow of sightings in that particular area. In their little town newspaper, people were writing what they were seeing and all these people were talking about the UFOs in that area. So that particular space, it’s very common for sightings.”

I lived in Joshua Tree in 1981 and have made regular trips to Joshua Tree National Park ever since. I attended the Joshua Tree Retreat Center when it was the Institute of Mentalphysics and I heard the story of how its founder, Edwin Dingle, was guided to that spot by a guru in China and how Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Lloyd, designed the complex on what has been called an energy vortex.

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