“Few people realize the immensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.”

          – H.G Wells, War of the Worlds

I can't explain it. I was taking a picture of an alien in a museum in Roswell, New Mexico, when the flash on my camera fizzled, faded and died. There's no reason it should have. It had new batteries, it had worked two days before on a shoot for a website. But things happen in Roswell that I cannot explain. 

On July 7th, 1977, a rancher in New Mexico discovered some suspicious metal in his field and called the sheriff who called the local air force. On July 8th, a story was published with the headline “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region” in the Roswell Daily Record, the History Channel says. Just like Orson Welles and his famous 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds, the media went into a frenzy, and a boat load of conspiracies followed. The town went nuts. And to this day, it remains a famous tourist spot for travelers, scientists, space nerds, Sci Fy fans and what-have-yous. 

A report contradicting the previous speculation was published debunking the Roswell Daily Record and the Pentagon closed its files on the case decades later. The “official” explanation was that the unidentified object was actually from a crashed weather balloon that was part of the top secret Project Mogul, which was created to spy on the Russians during the kick off to the Cold War.

But there are some die hard fans and believers who say the truth is out there. The rancher, a man named William Brazel, died in 2007, still convinced by his theory that the debris was not of this earth, not budging on his beliefs regardless of the statements by the U.S government. Can you blame him? 

Roswell is bumping during its UFO Festival which takes place in July to commemorate the anniversary of the finding. Now, in the fall, it’s a bit eerie, like a beach town in off-season. Owners of shops were soft spoken and seemed a bit caught off guard when the bell of the door signaled a guest walking in. Others didn't notice. My eye made note of how sun-stained the buildings and signs are, which I find a weird sense of irony in considering how much this desert town relies on the dark and far off galaxy. The woman at the front desk of the International UFO Museum & Research center was incredibly nice with a kind smile. The other visitors with orange stickers on their shirts floated around quietly, reading the typed up text on the wall, examining the evidence, taking photos in front of the movie props, all which were inspired or linked to the event all those years ago.

Driving around the town, businesses were starkly contrasted between those that took on the alien hype and those who stayed away. Our hotel got rid of their waffle maker that imprinted aliens into the finished Belgian waffle (a sad moment for me in the morning). They had pamphlets for activities, none relating to aliens or space but to wineries and events in the area. Some major corporations like Dominos and McDonald's loved playing off the theme, and you could always find a gift shop for a tee or some Roswell memorabilia. Banks and other spots seemed unfazed by the whole thing. 

I felt an energy there but I think it’s because I wanted to.

However, when people ask me if anything weird happened while we were there, I think back to the time in the museum with my flash.

I had just bought fresh batteries and when I went to take a picture, the buzz of my flash suddenly started ringing rapidly before going completely silent. It wouldn't’t turn on, even with another round of new batteries. Hours later heading back to the hotel, we stopped to grab some food when I went to organize my camera bag. I felt an intense heat and my hands found the source quickly, it was coming from my flash. The batteries were melted in areas and the battery acid was leaking out, and I got in on my hands. 

I can’t help but think some force played a part in that. Clearly weirder things have happened in this town. 

photo - Roswell sign

photo - Roswell McDonalds

photo - Alien

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photo - Roswell UFO and Alien store

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photo - international UFO museum and research center

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photo - Roswell incident timeline

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photo - Roswell, New Mexico museum lobby

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photo - Roswell Daily Record bin

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photo - alien statue - Roswell, NM

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photo - keller - Roswell, New Mexico