My best friend Patty and I went on a road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle last October and had a few fun stops along the way. We visited Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Booneville, CA where she asked a fellow beer drinker who had arrived on a Harley with his wife to take me for a ride. Riding on a motorcycle for the first time was on my list of important things to do before turning 30. Patty took pictures and waited as I pulled away screaming above the roar of the motorcycle. I was a little embarrassed when he asked me to keep it down.
We had many other stops during the trip like the town of Mendocino, a light hike through the Redwoods, a Drive-Thru Tree experience, and lunch in Depoe Bay, Oregon at Gracie’s Sea Hag.
Patty very carefully planned this road trip to include places known for being haunted. We have a very deep interest in the supernatural which stems from personal experiences as well as stories passed down to us by our families. We compare notes quite regularly and in general it’s relieving to not feel crazy about all this stuff.
Our most significant destination was Gilliland’s Ranch which is known for being a a UFO hot spot which countless people have visited just to see lights in the sky over Mt. Adams. We took the Trout Lake Highway and drove over a few scary, wet bridges, only slightly fearing for our sexy lives. It was late and very dark, so when we turned a corner and the head lights flashed on a llama that sat by the road, we shrieked. After a long, confusing drive, we finally found the sign indicating we’d arrived at James Gilliland’s spiritual sanctuary. The main purpose of this location is to help people meditate and reach spiritual enlightenment. This also seems to help them better communicate with other intelligent life forms, if you catch my drift.
We were greeted by a few young people who showed us to the guest house where we would be sleeping for the night. A young woman showed us which room we could use and we settled in for a few minutes before going back outside in the darkness to get our stuff from the car.
We dragged our suitcases and stopped halfway when we were greeted by James Gilliland himself who explained that he was sleeping but woke up when he saw a woman’s face at his window. This compelled him to come outside and that’s when he found us. We left our things there in the middle of the driveway to follow him over the field where visitors gather to get a view of the sky.
He showed us how to use his night vision goggles and explained that they would help us see the orbs around us. He shared that the orbs represented energy and if for any reason we didn’t want them near us, they were friendly and would leave us alone. Patty looked through the goggles and exclaimed, “Wow! There’s a lot of them!” She handed them to me, not knowing that from the moment we arrived to the ranch and exited the car, I was shaking in my Converse shoes.
I looked through the goggles and thought, If you’re there, I’m scared, and I really don’t want to see you. Please leave me alone. Little by little, the floating orbs I saw went away and all that was left was empty space between me and the dark field.
James recommended that we return sometime past 3am when the sky would be much clearer. It was almost 1am and the sky was still cloudy but also, it was very frickin’ cold. We talked about many other things regarding the level of attention the ranch has received and he shared that in the past, government agents would come by and sabotage his vehicles. He said that eventually they gave up and left them alone to communicate with the UFOs and allow visitors to come and explore the experience.
You know, I’ve had some scary moments in my life. I’ve been freaked out by sudden emergencies and have handled them really well. However, there’s something very different and difficult about walking outside at 3:30am in a strange place, holding just a sleeping bag and a flashlight and realizing just how thick the darkness can be. As I looked toward Mt. Adams, I imagined various creatures could sneak up on us if they wanted to and we’d never even hear them coming. My own thoughts scared the crap out of me as we sat outside staring at the sky with the crisp, cold air snapping against our cheeks.
We craned our necks up for about an hour, interrupting the silence only a few times to say, “Holy crap, it’s cold.” I don’t think Patty realized how consistently terrified I was every single minute that we shivered out there. I had given up hope of seeing anything beyond a shooting star or airplane. Then finally, as I looked straight ahead and relaxed, I saw a bright round light.
The only words that entered my mind were, “Well, alright.” Patty didn’t see it at all. Of course, it would happen that I would be the only one to see something in the sky and not have a second set of eyes to prove that I wasn’t experiencing some kind of brain glitch. Two seconds after it dimmed she said, “Alright dude, let’s go.”
I don’t know why I didn’t tell her about it as soon as it appeared. I could have yelled, could have asked her to turn around. But when it happened, it created a moment in which I was encased in total silence and the absence of fear.
After something like that, your brain comes up with the most logical explanations. I want to believe that something said hello and that there was nothing to be afraid of. I am aware that the stars in space are still sending light to us that is years old, and perhaps it was the last remaining glimmer of one that has long since expired.
It’s funny how the idea of something is far scarier than the reality of it. I spent so much of that time outside feeling bathed in a genuine fear of the unknown. When it finally presented itself so nonchalantly, it somewhat reminded me to get over myself and use my imagination for something more constructive than fear.