Close Encounters of the Third Kind

It’s a cold windy day here in Texas and I got to thinking about the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” For those of us who are fans of Sci-Fi and Aliens, this movie is a classic. Even the Library of Congress has recognized it.

When I started my RV Journey back in June of 2014, one of the places I knew I wanted to see was Devils Tower in Wyoming. It is where the aliens landed and where all of the primary characters in the movie got called to visit.

Devils Tower

I have to tell you, I drove into the tower from the west. I had dropped down from Montana back into Wyoming after visiting Little Big Horn and the Custer Memorial. I am very distantly related to Custer, we share a common 7th great grandfather.

Anyway, I expected to see the tower long before I actually did because the surrounding country is wide open. I did not see the tower until I was only few miles from it. The terrain is not as flat as it seems and contours and the path of the road, hid the tower from view. There are actually three towers, but this one is just the most impressive.

Devils Tower is controlled by the National Park Service and as such, is now a typical, sanitized experience with the same expense to get into the park and a visitor center at the top of a one mile road. I got the last spot for RV’s and walked over to the front of the center to get my first up close view of the tower. As I was standing there, I heard many of the people around me saying the same thing I was thinking: there are no references to the movie that literally put the tower on the map.

I walked back across the parking lot and took some additional pictures. There is a walkway you can climb to walk around the base of the tower. Unfortunately, the first 200 or so feet of that path is about a 12% grade and not easy to walk up. I got about half way and could feel both my knees and back screaming, so I went back down. So much for seeing where Richard Dryfess was during the filming.

I drove back down the road and headed east. I was on the road to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. About 5 miles or so from the tower, there is a restaurant called “Tower View Restaurant.” I stopped there for lunch. The place is run by a father and daughter and I got to have a nice conversation with the father. I asked him about no reference to the movie on the tower. He told me that there had been so many “Kooks and Freaks” come to the mountain right after the movie, that the National Park Service shut the tower down. When it re-opened there were strict rules about keeping certain types out. Even the tours are restricted to one company and they have a multi year contract. So, the potential for Close Encounter Tours is largely muted by the Killjoys of the National Park Service.

So space fans, go ahead and visit the Tower, but leave your Aluminum caps at home. Big Brother won’t let you in if you are wearing one.
If you were thinking about visiting Roswell, don’t get too excited. The City of Roswell is trying to kill everything alien there too. The fools don’t understand the value of alien tourism to what otherwise i a toilet of a town. It was like talking to a wall to try to convince them to leave things alone. The alien museum and a few shops are the only things left to see. Sad……

Alien - Roswell

Inspiration

I knew I wanted to write a long time ago, I started out in Journalism and moved into other forms of writing. I read all the famous writers, Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Poe, Dreiser, London, Twain, Salinger, Vonnegut, Lewis, Tolkien, and many others. I settled on Steinbeck as my favorite. I’ve read almost everything he mass published and I owned copies of most of the novels for a while, I gave my collection to a local school a couple of years ago with a few exceptions. I still read him over and over and I do have my favorites.

Alex Haley inspired me to expand my Genealogy Research and to try to tell the story. He also taught me to make sure it was as accurate as possible. He was sued because he did not disclose in Roots that he was adopted. There were also allegations of Plagiarism thrown against him and he ended up penniless. It’s a shame because Roots had a huge impact on both Genealogy and Television.

Television writers have inspired me. People like Earl Hamner have taught me to explore and produce the story. Hamner created “The Waltons,” and “Falcon Crest”, two series shows that I really enjoyed. Writers like Sid Caesar,  Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks have brought me decades of laughter.

For my photography, I can not pin down a specific person who inspired me. I am inspired by nature and most of my photography is based out of doors. I also like cool mechanical things, like planes, trains and ships. It’s the subject, more than a specific person that gets those juices going. There is one person who I do credit for my ability to design websites and also my photographic results. This person is not a web designer or photographer. He was a teacher I knew many years ago, while in High School. He had charge of the stage plays we produced and taught me about creating the picture, watching the balance, making sure things were in their best light, literally. Color balances, depth of scene and perspective, things he taught me then, still apply to the other mediums where I create now. He is and has been a public figure for years since his teaching days, so I will not include his name.

It doesn’t matter who or what inspires you. Take that inspiration and combine it with your creativity and talent. The results could end up stunning and be worthy of world wide recognition.