A Travellerspoint blog

Alien Grave in Aurora, Texas?


According to Local Legend...
On April 17, 1897, an alleged UFO crashed into a windmill and ruined Judge Proctor's flower garden. According to accounts, the small pilot, described by locals as "not of this world", did not survive the crash and was buried "with Christian rites" in the Aurora Cemetery. What a story.

The Search
When I heard about the Aurora crash, which pre-dates the famous Roswell incident by 50 years, I knew I had to check it out for myself. This afternoon, my sister and I drove across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, past the airport, and got lost a couple times due to confusing road signs. When we made it to the Aurora Cemetery, we started walking around trying to look for the exact location of the alien grave site.

I had read that the grave marker frequently gets stolen, so I knew it may not be easy to find the exact spot. My sister and I walked up and down the rows of cemetery without much luck. The more time that passed, I started to feel a little bit self conscious. Just before we left, my sister and I saw a random bunch of red flowers on the ground next to a tree near the wire fence gate. She reminded me at that moment to take photos as needed, and I think we both realized at the same time that we may have found the correct spot.


How to Get There
The tiny town of Aurora is located northwest of Fort Worth. From the Dallas area, take State Highway 114 westbound. When the highway narrows to one lane on each side near the town of Rhome, you are getting very close. Turn left onto Cemetery Road, which is a small, narrow street. The cemetery will be on your left.

Note: If my sister and I did in fact find the correct spot within the cemetery, here is how to locate the "alien" grave site: When you enter the main cemetery gate, immediately walk a few steps to the right, and the spot will be near the tree by the wire fence. Also noteworthy: In the same cemetery, there is a grave for Loretta the World's Talking Bird (I am not kidding), though my sister and I did not find it today.

The Verdict?
Is it a hoax? Is it real? To be honest, I do not care. It is a great story, even if it is just a local tall-tale. Because the incident happened so long ago, it would not be easy to prove with certainty what actually happened. I am sure the truth is out there!

More Information
Itching to learn more about the alleged Aurora UFO incident? Here are some additional resources to check out:

The Dallas Morning News: http://www.ufocasebook.com/haydonarticle.jpg

The History Channel: http://www.history.com/videos/ufo-files-texas-roswell-the-aurora-crash#ufo-files-texas-roswell-the-aurora-crash

UFO Casebook: http://www.ufocasebook.com/Aurora.html

Posted by rachwells 21:40 Comments (0)

13 Awesome Memories From 2013

It was a weird, epic and absolutely wonderful year in 2013. You will see what I mean when you look at this list and read through previous my blog posts! These are some of my favorite places and events that I blogged about during the past twelve months, along with some additional honorable mentions that did not previously make it into this blog.

#1) Epic New Year's Eve - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
During the first few hours of the year 2013, I was completely on my own. In a foreign country. Where I barely spoke the language. Walking two miles in knee-deep snow. In the freezing cold. At one o'clock in the morning heading back to my hotel. But I had seen the most amazing New Years Eve fireworks show at the Old Port, along with 40,000 other Montrealers ringing in a new calendar year full of hope and promise. How could I feel anything but exhilarated? I loved every moment of it, even in spite of accidentally missing the last train. Yep, 2013 was destined to be an eventful year for me from the very beginning.

#2) Olympic Sculpture Park - Seattle, Washington
I hit the weather lottery when I visited Seattle in April. Bright blue sunny skies, plus the lush greenery made for an absolutely gorgeous springtime experience in the Emerald City. I particularly enjoyed Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor park right along the Pacific Ocean which features amazing art. It was a great place to casually stroll and enjoy the outdoor beauty of Seattle.

#3) Experience Music Project/Sci-Fi Museum - Seattle, Washington
Rock-n-roll and science fiction artifacts in one building? Yes, please! I particularly enjoyed the exhibits about Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, as well as the Science Fiction Museum's collection of Star Wars memorabilia.

#4) Elephant Riding at Scarborough Renaissance Festival - Waxahachie, Texas
Why were they offering rides on an elephant at a Renaissance festival in Waxahachie, Texas? I have no idea, but when I saw the opportunity, I said yes. Because when else in life are you going to get to ride on an elephant?

#5) Giant Potato - Amarillo, Texas
My friend and I could see the giant potato from the opposite side of I-40, so we had to make a detour in order to see it up-close. And oh boy, we did see it.

#6) Driving on Route 66 - On the Road from Texas to California and back again!
I got my kicks! While driving to and from California during the summer, my driving path often coincided with the famous Route 66. From the first moment when I saw the sign near the Continental Divide in New Mexico, to the moment I saw the "End of the Road" sign on the Santa Monica Pier in L.A., I absolutely loved the amazing journey.

#7) Las Vegas, Nevada
After a long day driving from Albuquerque to Nevada on our way to California, my friend and I stopped for the night in Sin City. And of course, it was my first time in Vegas (besides a brief layover in the airport several years ago). I felt a little bit outside of my comfort zone, but I ended up having a good time...not too much fun though - it was a PG night of walking along the Strip, exploring the fancy hotels (including the Venetian, which I particularly thought was cool) and doing a little bit of gambling (I stopped after trying the penny slots and the roulette table once each). The bright lights, loud music, dry heat (110 degrees even at night!), big crowds and skimpy outfits are a lot to take in all at once, but Las Vegas is a neat place.

#8) Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles, California
This is probably my favorite memory of the entire year. After mis-reading the bus schedule, I hiked from the L.A. neighborhood of Los Feliz (on ground level) through Griffith Park and all the way up to the Observatory. When I neared my destination, I saw the most incredible view of the downtown L.A. skyline. You also get an absolutely unreal, up-close view of the Hollywood sign from outside of the Observatory. During that day, as I looked at the telescope, the other exhibits and the incredible views, it reminded me how much I loved astronomy when I was a kid (still do, actually).

#9) Craft and Folk Art Museum - Los Angeles, California
Across the street from the smelly La Brea Tar Pitts, you can't miss the brightly colored Craft and Folk Art Museum on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. At the time when I visited in August, the museum had an excellent exhibit featuring Alaskan artists.

#10) Flagstaff, Arizona
This summer, I drove through plenty of desert, but I was pleasantly surprised when passing through Flagstaff, which has beautiful mountains and tall trees. It looked much more like a typical small town in Colorado than the desert in the Southwest. Though I did not have time to adequately stop in the town to explore its charming streets and shops, I would love to go back...and visit the nearby Grand Canyon!

#11) Santa Fe, New Mexico
What a neat city! My cousin and I stopped in Santa Fe to have lunch, buy some amazing locally-made jewelry and browse the neat shops. This is another city where I would love to come back in order to spend extended time.

#12) Ostrich Racing at the State Fair - Dallas, Texas
How do they train ostriches to race, and who originally thought of the idea? I have no clue, but when I read in the program book that the 2013 State Fair of Texas had ostrich racing, I knew I had to check it out. One of the birds proudly puffed its feathers and showed off its "#1" emblem to the audience after the races.

#13) Day Trips through East Texas
A few times throughout the year, my sister and I randomly decided to start driving eastbound on one of the highways - sometimes out of boredom, sometimes on a specific quest (to find Cluckingham Palace, for instance), and sometimes just out of love of the open road.

Posted by rachwells 21:44 Comments (1)

The Thankful Traveler

Of course, I am thankful for my family & friends, good health, having a job, having everything I need. In addition to all of those wonderful things, here is my list of the top five things that make my life extra sweet:

#5) Local Favorites: I love to travel (clearly), but I also love East Dallas, where I spend the majority of my time. Hanging out at White Rock Lake, thrift shopping near Ferguson Road, eating delicious brisket at Raymond's BBQ, photographing the changing seasons at the gorgeous Dallas Arboretum. There's no place like home!

#4) Chilling Out at NorthPark: Whenever I need time to myself, I go to NorthPark. I know, I know, why would I go to Dallas' busiest mall to have alone time? Well, I usually go on Mondays or Tuesdays after work when NorthPark is significantly less crowded. I get dinner at WhichWich, I browse the stores, and sometimes I read on my iPad while sipping a Starbucks coffee. This tradition has been one of my favorites over the past three or four years - I can either think of nothing at all as I look at the new season trends, or sometimes I really start thinking about where I want to go next in life. I always leave feeling refreshed, even if I don't purchase with a new pair of cute shoes or another blouse (but sometimes I do!).

#3) Late Night Drives and Sonic Drinks: My sister and I have a long-running tradition of hitting the road late at night while talking and listening to music. Sometimes completely silly, sometimes deep conversations about future hopes and dreams. Always a good time, complete with Ocean Waters and Vanilla Dr. Peppers from Sonic...and listening to singer-songwriters, folk bands, or cheesy pop tunes from the '80s and '90s, depending on the mood of the night.

#2) Things That Make You Laugh: Last night, my sister and I had dinner with a friend at Torchy's Tacos in Casa View. The three of us wore our holiday "best" - bright red sweaters with embroidered snowmen, Christmas trees and snowflakes. The best part: A man came up to our table and asked us if we were having an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party (of course we were!). He said he had noticed my sister's sweater, which has a huge white duck and actual jingle bells on it (yes, it is that amazing), and apparently, that "festive" piece of clothing gave us away. We all had a good chuckle over it - I'm glad that someone not only noticed, but actually asked us about it.

#1) The Best Travel Year: In the year 2013 alone, I have traveled to Montreal, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego and through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. My most prolific travel year to date! Sometimes I still cannot believe I was able to do so much traveling this year, but I have lots of photos and amazing memories from each trip. It doesn't get much better than doing what you absolutely love, and for that, along with many other wonderful things in my life, I feel so grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by rachwells 19:45 Comments (1)

Dallas Living, Still Traveling


I had the best summer of my life - exploring, writing and photographing my way through the Southwest - and then I came home to start the next chapter. Although I unpacked my car and suitcase three months ago, my journey did not end there. What happens in life after travel? How do you make your way back into "the real world" after being on the road for an extended time?

Well, in my case, there is no "normal" anymore, but I think that's a good thing. My life is messy and complicated, yet I truly appreciate the blessings that I do have because I honestly work very hard for them. Right now, I work, and in my spare time, I focus on my own projects, namely, my photography blog Write Shutter Speed, which I (re)launched in late September. I know, the site is a work-in-progress, just like me as a person, but I am very glad to finally see it going.

Yes, I am living back in Dallas now, but I still make time to go out of town. My sister and I still do random day-trips through East Texas. On one Saturday in mid-September, we both decided around 2:30 p.m. that we were bored and wanted to go driving. Two hours of driving later, we made it as far east as Mineola (just for the heck of it) and then returned home. A month later, we embarked on another East Texas road adventure. This time, it was in search of – wait for it – “Cluckingham Palace”. We did barely miss the Fire Ant Festival in Marshall (darn!), but I suppose there always is hope for next year.

Wow, I sound like such a country gal in this particular blog post. I guess I am settling back into the Lone Star State just fine. A couple huge differences though: First of all, I am much more comfortable with road trips than I used to be. Truthfully, in the past five years, I used to dread the idea of driving hundreds of miles in a cramped car to go somewhere. Fast forward to the year 2013, those inhibitions are pretty much gone, and I actually look forward to any excuse to go on the road. In fact, I am in the beginning stages of planning my next major trip – a road trip – which will be to both Marfa, Texas and Roswell, New Mexico, aiming hopefully to go in Spring 2014. More details to come!

As for the future? Now more than ever, I am comfortable with unanswered questions. I do not have to have everything figured out all at once. I work, I write, I photograph, and I travel. It is not always glamorous or easy, but I do it because it makes me happy. Travel and adventure are part of my DNA – it is not something I can brush off. It is that irresistible urge to see and experience what is new and unique, to see what the sun looks like under a different horizon.

P.S. I cannot tell you how many times, I wrote, deleted, re-wrote and re-deleted this blog post over the past few weeks (and, um, months). Darn writer’s block! But I did finally press “Publish” this time, because I think these words adequately express where I am and where I am going (literally and figuratively). I think I am officially unstuck now!

Posted by rachwells 20:42 Comments (1)

My Summer On The Road: Final Thoughts


I realize that I never explained in this blog how my big summer adventure began. Why did I leave home to travel across the Southwest and stay in L.A. during the past couple months? Here is the abridged version of the story, as best I can explain it: In May, only a few days after I returned to Dallas from an awesome trip to Seattle, an exciting opportunity presented itself. I was not expecting or planning for any of this to happen. Change found its way into my life, and I decided to go for it.

Three weeks later, I packed everything I could fit into one suitcase, plus my laptop and my DSLR camera. Then, I drove my poor little Toyota Yaris with the help of a very nice friend across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and into California. It was very fun and very stressful, but I will always fondly remember that journey as a trip of a lifetime.

For two months, I stayed in the L.A. area close to the beach, which was awesome. In fact, it was only a 35-minute walk to the ocean from my hotel. Many times, I would relax at the coast, and then read a good book while drinking coffee at various local coffee shops. I also explored various parts of L.A., mainly focusing on places where I had rarely or never previously visited. I'm so glad that I got to know the South Bay beach cities, Long Beach, Mid-City L.A., Silver Lake, Echo Park, Griffith Park and Culver City. I also got to revisit some of my favorite places, like Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Los Feliz, Pasadena and Whittier (where I used to live for four years).

Did I come to L.A. this summer with the intention to stay permanently? Yes. Did it work out? No. My big plan FAILED. Yes, I put it in capital letters because I am not hiding or sugar-coating it. I take full responsibility for my actions. I knew I was taking an enormous risk when I gave up my job and health insurance and moved away from my closest family and friends. It was very hard. At times, I felt homesick, scared about my uncertain financial future and lonely.

That said, did I have an amazing time in L.A. and on the road? Yes, absolutely. If I have "failed" this summer, I am failing with an enormous smile on my face. A wise man named John Wayne once said, "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." That is exactly what I did this summer. I drove 1,500 miles, and I gave it my best shot. In the process, I had a fantastic time exploring L.A. and writing about my adventures in this blog. I also proved to myself that I can face and overcome enormous challenges. It is not easy to completely uproot your entire life twice in one summer, but it sure is fun and exciting!

Just a few days ago, I returned from a super fun road trip with my very nice cousin who helped me drive from San Diego to Dallas. During this road trip, I relaxed and literally thoroughly enjoyed the ride across the desert of California and Arizona, the lovely town of Santa Fe and into my Texas homeland. I let go of worrying about absolutely anything, and I fondly reminisced everything I experienced over the past few months - living out of hotels, traveling from one place to the next, exploring exciting sites and cities. Sometimes, I stop myself and think, "Did this really happen? Is this really my life?". I pinch my left arm and remember that I really did get to live the life of a wandering traveler over the past few months.

I am so grateful to have had such a crazy, wonderful life-changing summer adventure. From the bottom of my heart, I thank my two driving buddies who took time out of their busy lives to help me follow my dream, my family & friends who supported me through this huge transformation, and everyone else who helped and encouraged me along the way this summer - all of you know who you are, and honestly, THANK YOU!

So what happens next? Truthfully, I do not have a 5-10 year long-term plan at the moment. Right now, I am taking things one step at a time as I start over and rebuild. Okay, I really am starting to sound like my own coming-of-age Lifetime original movie, but that is okay, hopefully there is a happy ending! One thing I do know for sure: I will keep writing, photographing, traveling and chasing after adventure...and I look forward to every single minute of it!

Posted by rachwells 20:29 Comments (1)

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