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Post details: Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower

Ever since I saw "The Close Encounters of the Third Kind", my favorite sci-fi flick of all time, I wanted to visit its legendary landmark: the Devil's Tower in Wyoming.

Unfortunately, the prominent rock doesn't exactly advertise itself along a major touristy route. You won't run into it on the way from Vegas to Grand Canyon and don't expect much luck if you drive from Denver to Yellowstone either (although this time you won't be astronomically far from it). This natural obelisk rests in the middle of a garden variety prairie, in the northeast corner of Wyoming, far from anything even remotely photogenic. No wonder it took 20 years before I could finally unleash my eyes on its daunting slopes - a feat accomplished when I was hiking around Rapid City, SD, some 150 miles East.

But this deliberate detour was worth every gallon of gas. The tower looks great from every distance. First you spot its commanding presence from miles away and the closer you get the more dominating it becomes. Just before you make a turn from the state road 24 into the park, it reveals itself in its awe inspiring presence and you realize that it is all you ever dreamed it would be: massive, stark, majestic, slightly intimidating, triumphant, perennial, breathtaking, elegant and mysterious. A petrified chord from a Beethoven symphony. If I was an alien, I would totally land here.

I have to admit that as we walked around it I was secretly wishing we would hear the famous 5 tone sequence from the movie, and see some lanky extra-terrestrial life-form looking for a final approach. But I also wondered if our little planet would actually be worth their time, in other words if we'd pass their muster for intelligent beings. Sure, we gave ourselves a lofty tag "homo sapiens", but are we really as smart as we think we are. Just look at our actions with a bit of perspective: we kill each other over some gunk oozing from the ground or when we believe that our God is more worthy than the one our opponents worship. On a good day, our financial system resembles a shaky Ponzi scheme which benefits those who control it without much regard for the needs of the whole community. And our priorities are still royally messed up - instead of devoting most of our resources to improving our knowledge and technological abilities, we spend tons of money on shiny trinkets that we put on our bodies or complicated organic molecules that we inject inside them to get high.

It is entirely possible that one day some alien scouts from a distant world far away will indeed wander into our Solar system and after having successfully traversed those vast intergalactic distances, which are notorious for the complete lack of motels and gas stations, these weary ambassadors from the Outer Space will park their fusion propelled vehicle at the geostationary orbit and tune in to our TV and radio signals for a few weeks. What worries me about that scenario is that after watching a couple of evening editions of CNN News, they will look at each other and their gray eyes will say: "Meh...". And they will never come back.



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