My fellow Terror Dave, David Albaugh, celebrated his birthday just a week shy of our road trip. Since we’re rarely within nine hundred miles of each other during special occasions, I offered to treat him to dinner while we were on the road. My plan was to find something fun and unique; ideally in Roswell, New Mexico. Unfortunately, while the UFO capital of the world was chock full of gift shops they came up decisively short in terms of gimmicky food places. Not to worry because, as fate should have it, there was an alien themed restaurant right down the street from a hotel we were already booked at. And so, just two weeks after David’s special day, we’d celebrate at the E.T. Encounter Diner in Sedona!
We drove into Sedona on the afternoon of Saturday June 11th, the day after our tarantula triumph in Saguaro and exactly a week from when this trip began. It was an interesting drive from Tucson; not just because of the gorgeous landscapes but also because it took us through Camp Verde where Kingdom of the Spiders was filmed. David wrote a couple of tributes to this movie, on this site as well as Scary Monsters Magazine issue 89.
Sedona more than lived up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The stunning red, sandstone rocks (the result of a chemical weathering that began 500 million years ago) instantly set it apart from all other rock formations we’d seen the previous week.
The community strives to keep its businesses as aesthetically pleasing as the surroundings and even the mighty McDonald’s had to relinquish its trademark golden arches in favor of a less garish teal. The ONLY one of its kind.
As soon as we checked into our hotel I caught myself up with emails while David took a nap. We then further solidified our “old man status” by leaving for dinner around four. Could a rip-roaring game of shuffleboard be far behind? Actually, we didn’t have much of a lunch and were pretty hungry. We also wanted to do an evening hike around Sedona’s signature red cliffs and the extra hour of daylight would be advantageous. No more scary night hikes like the night before!
We pulled into the E.T. Diner (formerly called the “Red Planet Diner” – a moniker still listed on the building) and instantly knew we were in for a memorable dining experience.
While we were being seated, I noticed they were selling t-shirts (two different designs). Since this was a birthday celebration, I told David he could include one of them as part of the whole dinner package. The waitress set down our menus but we barely glanced at it in favor of scoping out our surroundings…a veritable sci-fi dream come true!
When we finally gazed down at the menu we saw it offered fun names for their food like the “Roswell Burger” and “Astronauts Gourmet Smash Burgers.” We both opted for a “Roswell Burger” (since we couldn’t actually get one of those IN Roswell) and, though they were certainly tasty, we were clearly paying for the novelty. A $12 hamburger? Talk about a conspiracy!
After we left we found an area to hike called Boynton Canyon and “Deadman’s Pass.” Sedona’s rich Indian history makes it rife with mystical lore and Boynton Canyon was one of its many hot spots. The Yavapai Indians believe that this was the location where the first woman was born (I’m guessing a stork brought her). Psychics and Paranormal researches have flocked the area, particularly a cave where her spirit is still believed to dwell. We never found the cave but could certainly understand why anyone would attribute spiritual significance to such beautiful scenery.
The next morning we’d see another wonder, The Grand Canyon, before abandoning breathtaking scenic views for favor of Las Vegas and its gaudy, blinking lights. Sin City was a definite downgrade but a necessary evil for getting to our true destination; the remote Rachel, Nevada near the infamous Area 51.
Coming up…Area 51 and The Little Ale’Inn!
Photos David Albaugh & Dave Fuentes