8 Quirky Locations Dedicated to UFO Sightings

There's no evidence that little green men have ever come to Earth, but with insistent conspiracy theories, frequent UFO sightings, and alien jerky for sale, it makes one think. If you find yourself fascinated by UFO sightings and want to immerse yourself in the culture, there are plenty of places to visit. 


If you’re going alien hunting, the very first place to hit is the region around Nevada's Area 51. Among other things, conspiracy theorists believe that alien craft, most notably from the supposed 1947 Roswell crash, is being studied and reverse engineered at the "secret" military installation, which, until 2013, the U.S. government refused to acknowledge even existed. Even today, most mentions of Area 51 are redacted from government documents—even the declassified ones. Thanks to the veil of secrecy, flocks of extraterrestrial enthusiasts visit the site each year: Tourists can take guided tours, check the skies for unexplainable activity, and snap photos next to the sign dubbing the local stretch of Highway 375 the "Extraterrestrial Highway."

When they're finished exploring, they can take a load off at the Little A'Le'Inn (little alien) in Rachel, Nevada. The kitschy motel has a bar, restaurant, and gift shop, all decked out in celebration of the little green men. There are plenty of alien-themed murals, decorations, and knick-knacks to make UFOlogists feel right at home. 


In 1947, a mysterious aircraft crashed in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. Though the government explained it was a weather balloon (later confirmed to be a surveillance balloon), many of the locals suspected something a little more otherworldly. While the claims of aliens have been largely debunked, the site is still the epicenter for UFO fanatics; Roswell even has an alien on their town logo. In the town, you can find a UFO-themed McDonalds and Dominos as well as alien streetlights.

One of the bigger UFO-related places to visit is the Roswell International UFO Museum, which is a “non-profit educational organization with the mission of educating the general public on all aspects of the UFO phenomena.” Within its walls, you can find a plethora of alien-related artifacts like dirt from the crash site and a replica of the space roadster. 


iris, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

If the International UFO museum is a little too serious for you, you can also try the Area 51 Museum, which tries to make alien invasion more exciting. "Families with kids were coming to town and they were bored with the UFO Museum," said Elsie Reeves, the founder’s wife, told Roadside America. "We decided we'd become like the Hollywood part, where they can become part of the story." 

The museum, which is part of the Alien Zone cafe and gift shop, was built by artist and pastor Randy Reeves in the late ‘90s. Guests are treated to 20 life-size dioramas filled with props and backdrops. The museum is rife with photo-ops, including a crashed UFO that you can climb in, and an alien autopsy room with bloody knives you can pick up.  


According to some, Roswell isn't the only UFO crash site. In 1947, an alien spacecraft crashed in Piestewa Peak, outside Phoenix. The Dreamy Draw Dam was apparently built to cover the wreckage. The dam has a lot of “Keep Out” signs and a suspicious lack of water to dam. Some say that if you get close enough to the infrastructure, you can hear a distinct humming. The dam, which was built in 1973, is pretty close to an airport, which might explain the noise—but don’t let those facts get in the way of a good story.


San Luis Valley, Colorado has very little light pollution, making it a great spot for stargazing—or UFO-gazing: It's a hotspot for UFO sighting and other strange activity. The town of Hooper is home to the UFO Watchtower, a viewing platform with a connected gift shop. Although only 10 feet tall, the “tower” promises to give tourists the chance to catch a glimpse of something otherworldly. Visitors of the tower are provided with information about previous sightings and possible theories. Even if guests don’t see any UFOs, at least the sky will have plenty of stars to enjoy. You can check out their website here, complete with a Geocities-esque set-up and dancing alien gifs. 


The United States isn’t the only location for UFO gazing. Wycliffe Well is the self-declared UFO capital of Australia. The oasis has a holiday park that gives a nod to the UFOlogists that might be passing through with several alien murals scattered around the facility. According to their brochure, “UFO sightings are so common, that if you stayed up all night looking, you would be considered unlucky not to see anything, rather than lucky to see something.” Even if you don’t manage to see something strange, you can also check out the Devil’s Marbles, two large boulders found a short drive away from the park. 


San Clemente, Chile has had so many UFO sightings that in 2008 the town had no choice but to open a UFO trail. The 19-mile path cuts through the Andes mountains and passes by reported spots of alien activity. Tourists walking the trail can also stop by local restaurants, camp sites, and hotels. There’s no guarantee you’ll spot a UFO, but you can at least enjoy the view. 


On April 17, 1897, a strange cigar shaped object crashed into a windmill in Aurora, Texas. According to legend, there was an alien inside who died in the crash. The good people of Aurora did the only thing they could think of and gave the extraterrestrial a Christian burial. In the ‘70s, the International UFO Bureau discovered the story, and asked to exhume the body. The town refused. People from all over came to the small town to get a piece of the action and the locals responded defensively, even bringing out some guns. Today, the only thing to see is a small plaque noting the occurrence.

Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
David Lynch's Amazon T-Shirt Shop is as Surreal as His Movies
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images

David Lynch, the celebrated director behind baffling-but-brilliant films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, is now selling his equally surreal T-shirts on Amazon.

As IndieWire reports, each shirt bears an image of one of Lynch’s paintings or photographs with an accompanying title. Some of his designs are more straightforward (the shirts labeled “House” and “Whale” feature, respectively, drawings of a house and a whale), while others are obscure (the shirt called “Chicken Head Tears” features a disturbing sculpture of a semi-human face).

This isn’t the first time Lynch has ventured into pursuits outside of filmmaking. Previously, he has sold coffee, designed furniture, produced music, hosted daily weather reports, and published a book about his experience with transcendental meditation. Art, in fact, falls a little closer to Lynch’s roots; the filmmaker trained for years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before making his mark in Hollywood.

Lynch’s Amazon store currently sells 57 T-shirts, ranging in size from small to triple XL, all for $26 each. As for our own feelings on the collection, we think they’re best reflected by this T-shirt named “Honestly, I’m Sort of Confused.”

Check out some of our favorites below:

T-shirt that says "Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"
"Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a sleeping bird on it
"Sleeping Bird"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt that says Peace on Earth over and over again. The caption is pretty on the nose.
"Peace on Earth"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a screaming face made out of turkey with ants in its mouth
"Turkey Cheese Head"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an odd sculpted clay face asking if you know who it is. You get the idea.
"I Was Wondering If You Know Who I Am?"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a sculpted head that is not a chicken. It is blue, though.
"Chicken Head Blue"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a lobster on it. Below the drawing, the lobster is labeled with the word lobster. Shocking, I know.

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an abstract drawing of what is by David Lynch's account, at least, a cowboy

Buy it on Amazon

[h/t IndieWire]

8 Projects That Reenvision the Traditional Cemetery

Globally, nearly 57 million people died in 2016. If you happen to be a cemetery caretaker, you might be wondering where we managed to put them all. Indeed, many cemeteries in the world’s major cities are filling up fast, with no choice left but to tear up walkways, trees, and green spaces just to make room for more graves.

In response to these concerns, a variety of visionaries have attempted to reimagine the modern cemetery. These plans tend to fall into one of two camps: Biologists and environmentalists have brainstormed alternate methods for disposing of bodies, some of which are said to be better for the planet than the traditional methods of burial and cremation. Meanwhile, architects have looked at ways of adapting the burial space itself, whether that means altering a traditional cemetery or creating something new and more ephemeral. Here are just a few of the creative ideas that have emerged in recent years.


As cemeteries started running out of ground to dig, it was only a matter of time before they started building up. There's been a lot of talk about skyscraper cemeteries in recent years, although the idea dates back to at least 1829, when British architect Thomas Willson proposed a 94-story mausoleum in London.

"The vertical cemetery, with its open front, will become a significant part of the city and a daily reminder of death’s existence," says Martin McSherry, whose design for an open-air skyscraper cemetery with layers of park-like burial grounds was one of the proposals presented at the Oslo Conference for Nordic Cemeteries and Graveyards in 2013. Another recent plan by architecture students in Sweden suggested repurposing a cluster of silos into a vertical columbarium (a place to store urns). Brazil’s Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica was one of the first places to implement this vertical concept back in 1984, and at 32 stories high, it currently holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest cemetery.


For much of human history, graves were often reused, or common graves were dug deep enough to accommodate multiple bodies stacked one on top of the other. “Our current cemetery design is actually a pretty new thing,” Allison Meier, a New York City cemetery tour guide (and Mental Floss writer), tells us. “It wasn’t normal for everyone to get a headstone in the past and we didn’t have these big sprawling green spaces.”

Now that many urban cemeteries are filling up, the idea of reusing plots is once again gaining popularity. In London, it’s estimated that only one-third of the city’s boroughs will have burial space by 2031. In response, the City of London Cemetery—one of the biggest cemeteries in Britain—has started reusing certain grave plots (the practice is legal in the city, even though grave reuse is outlawed elsewhere in England).

Across continental Europe, however, it's not uncommon for graves to be "rented" rather than bought for all eternity. In countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Greece, families can hold a plot for their loved one as long as they continue to pay a rental fee. If they stop paying, the grave may be reused, with the previous remains either buried deeper or relocated to a common grave.

Meier says she isn’t aware of any cemeteries in New York City that have started reusing their plots, though. “That’s a tough thing for Americans to get on board with because it’s been a normal practice in a lot of places, but it’s never been normal here,” she says.


A rendering of a floating columbarium
BREAD Studio

Ninety percent of bodies in Hong Kong are cremated, according to CNN, and niches in the city's public columbaria are at a premium. The average wait for a space is about four years, sparking concerns that Hong Kongers could be forced to move their loved ones' ashes across the border to mainland China, where more space is available. (A space at a private columbarium in Hong Kong can be prohibitively expensive, at a cost of about $128,000.) To address this issue, a proposal emerged in 2012 to convert a cruise ship into a floating columbarium dubbed the “Floating Eternity.” Designed by Hong Kong and London-based architecture firm BREAD Studio, the columbarium would be able to accommodate the ashes of 370,000 people. Although it's still just an idea, BREAD Studio designer Benny Lee tells CNN, "A floating cemetery is the next natural step in Hong Kong's history of graveyards."


An underwater lion sculpture and other memorials
Neptune Reef

Land may be limited, but the sea is vast—and several companies want to take the cemetery concept underwater. At Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida, human ashes are mixed with cement to create unique memorials in the shape of seashells and other objects of the client's choice. The memorials are then taken by divers to the ocean floor and incorporated into a human-made reef designed to look like the Lost City of Atlantis. Eternal Reefs, based out of Sarasota, Florida, offers a similar service.


Not a water person? Try space instead. Elysium Space, a San Francisco-based company founded by a former software engineer at NASA, offers a couple of “celestial services.” At a cost of nearly $2500, the Shooting Star Memorial “delivers a symbolic portion of your loved one’s remains to Earth’s orbit, only to end this celestial journey as a shooting star,” while the Lunar Memorial will deliver a "symbolic portion" of human remains to the surface of the moon for a fee of nearly $10,000. Another company, Celestis, offers similar services ranging in price from $1300 to $12,500.


Shoveling soil

Critics of burial and cremation say both are bad for the environment. To address the need for a memorial method that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, waste resources, or release carcinogenic embalming fluid into the soil, a number of eco-friendly options have emerged. One such innovation is the “mushroom burial suit," a head-to-toe outfit that's lined with mushroom spores designed to devour human tissue and absorb the body's toxins. Another company, Recompose, espouses human composting—a process by which a corpse would be converted into a cubic yard of soil, which could then be used to nurture new life in a garden. The procedure isn’t legal yet, but the company plans to work with the Washington State legislature to make it available to the general public before eventually rolling it out nationwide.


Many innovative proposals have emerged from the DeathLAB at Columbia University, including a plan to convert human biomass (organic matter) into light. The design—a constellation of light that would serve as both a memorial and art installation—won a competition hosted by Future Cemetery, a collaboration between the University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society and media company Calling the Shots. John Troyer, director of the UK-based center, says they're working on raising funds to install a concept piece based on that design at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, England, but any usage of actual biomass would have to be cleared through the proper regulatory channels first. According to DeathLAB, the project would save significant space—within six years, it would more than double the capacity of the cemetery orchard where the memorials would be installed.


As virtual reality technology gets more and more advanced, some question whether a physical cemetery is needed at all. The website iVeneration.com, founded by a Hong Kong entrepreneur, lets users "create virtual headstones anywhere in an augmented reality landscape of Hong Kong, including such unlikely places as a downtown park," as Reuters describes it. In Japan, one online cemetery allows the bereaved to “light” incense, share memories of their loved one in comments, and even grab a virtual glass of beer. Similarly, an app called RiPCemetery created a social network where users can craft a virtual memorial and share photos of the deceased.

However, Troyer says he doesn’t believe technology will ever usurp the need for physical spaces. “A lot of the companies talking about digital solutions talk about ‘forever’—and that’s very complicated with the internet, because the virtual material we create can easily disappear," he told the The Guardian. "The lowly gravestone has been a very successful human technology, and I suspect it will last … I would go with granite.”


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