If I were ever going to see a UFO, I figured it would be in the desert. Then, last Tuesday while innocently driving through In-Ko-Pah, near Desert Tower, that rock edifice standing lookout over a moonscape of red boulders, wrecked pickups, and broken dreams, I spied a small fleet of flying saucers parked on the side of the road, as if refueling.
U-turn to the frontage road, where, in the middle of nothing and nowhere is what could be the abandoned set of the ‘60s TV show, Lost In Space. I nose around to see a van with the words “Coyote’s Flying Saucer Repair and Rescue,” stenciled on the door. Within the van is the cutest pair of ETs you ever saw, relaxing in the desert sun.
A massive, possibly threatening dog puts me on alert as she wanders over without barking. Turns out the dog is friendly, and I later learn her name is Luna. While I clicked a snapshot of the van, a voice booms out, “Take all the photos you want. You can sit in the big one [the biggest of the flying saucers] if you like. I’ll show you around when my coffee break’s over.”
Driving up in a cart that was used to issue parking tickets in its past incarnation is a bearded, joyful mountain, and a missed opportunity for Hollywood to reveal a character not seen since The Treasure of Sierra Madre. This is Coyote. Inviting me into one of the five or six trailers scattered over his 16 acres he begins my instruction into his world of U.F.O.s. When I ask if he’s pulling my leg, he grabs hold of my foot and yanks on it, laughing heartily, before stating, “I just like flying saucers; it began even before seeing The Jetsons and Lost in Space.”
Everyone is welcome to stop by and visit Coyote on this little landing strip located on In-Ko-Pah Rd in Ocotillo. The tour is free, although donations are not discouraged. For no extra fee, he might even give you a ride in one of his favorite craft, a black jeep with a flying saucer firmly tied to the roof. “When I drive this through the desert at night with my headlights off, and the lights on the saucer turned on people have one of two reactions. They slam on their brakes and flip a U to get a closer look, or I see their dust as they peel out.”