"Do not go to Roswell."

I was going to Roswell, N.M. That was the plan, anyway. There were a lot of plans that didn't happen and so maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise when any one thing doesn't. But I was definitely planning on going to Roswell. 

You know. To look for the aliens.

Conspiracy stuff aside, I wanted to go because I figured it would be a weird, kitschy, maybe surreal kind of scene. Is the whole town really into the UFO thing? Are there lots of conspiracy theorists? A general weird vibe? Do people watch for aliens at night? Maybe just some strange street signs and business names?

If you're playing catch-up, the story goes that an alien spacecraft crashed there in late 40s and the military recovered and hid the craft in a secret installation called Area 51. (Not so secret, as the military last year confirmed the existence of Area 51 -- although, sadly, not also the aliens). So, thus, the town of Roswell is indelibly linked to UFO lore.

So I figured, anyway. But while getting my hair cut in Austin, Texas, this woman told me not to go.

"Do not go to Roswell. Definitely not worth it."

You have to understand, no one says "don't go" to anywhere. Everyone says, "Have you been to ... " or "You HAVE to go to ..." And you know what? It's an enormous country and I had to kind of accept a while  back that I'd almost never been to the place they were talking about.

It really did turn out to be a huge country. There's just too much stuff, too many places to see and go. So when this woman (wielding a pair of scissors, it must be said, so maybe she was more persuasive than usual) told me NOT to go to Roswell ... I listened.

"Don't go. I went on a roadtrip during the summer with my boyfriend. We stopped in for the exact reason you're talking about."

"And ... nothing?"

"Not really, no. If you need to see for yourself, then go. But I didn't think it was worth a detour."

And so I didn't go. And as I get closer and closer back to Washington, I find myself wondering: What if she was just in on the coverup?

Posted on March 8, 2014 .