Contact in the Desert: “I Want to Believe”

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Contact in the Desert, hosted by Conscious Creation Productions, is a Conference held yearly in regards to the possibility of extraterrestrial life and all aspects surrounding it. For four days, believers and skeptics gather at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Joshua Tree, California to discuss their beliefs and experiences. The people are friendly, the environment is beautiful and the panelists fascinating to listen to.  People from all walks of life gather to discuss whether or not alien-life exists; Metalheads sat down with Flowerchildren, Skeptics with Veterans. As my father attended a conference like this in the 1970’s, I was fascinated to see what new information my generation could provide.

That being said, the conference appears to be divided among three camps: groups who believe the government is hiding everything regarding Extraterrestrials from us, those who believe that our greatest achievements were accomplished with the help of offworlders, and those who really just wanted an excuse to drink organic juice while smoking weed in the desert. This division was seen no better than at the vendor fair. While there were several vendors at the Conference, most of them were selling crystals,  Bohemian style (aka Hippie) clothing, juice and natural cures. There was a great deal of jewelry, Alien fan art and symbolic items as well. This area was separate from another area near the retreat’s sanctuary which featured signing station for the panelists as well as their books for sale.  Many of these panelists also had private lunches and meet and greets for people who wanted to ask more in-depth questions.

Friday night featured an Experiencer’s Mixer where attendees could meet each other and some of their favorite speakers in a quiet setting. Speaker Robert Perala and DJ Marvin Jordan welcomed guests with music from Paul McCartney and other 1970’s favorites. I got to meet Nick Redfern, a prolific writer in the areas of extraterrestrials and cryptozoology. People flocked to Ancient Aliens’ Giorgio Tsoukalos, and his crazy hair. He was happy to talk photographs with folks and was an all around kind man.

While there were panels Friday, Saturday held the largest draw. George Noory, the radio host of Coast to Coast AM (an incredibly popular radio program about the unexplained), made an appearance to host a panel on Saturday entitled “Extraterrestrial Influence and The Seeding of Our Galaxies.”  As his radio show ends at 2:00am and he is at least 2 hours from the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, he apologized for his limited time and made sure to keep the audience laughing.  The panel featured the well-known Ancient Aliens Host Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, the esteemed writer of Chariot of the Gods Erich Von Daniken, Dr. X from the Phoenix City lights aka Dr. Lynne Kitei, Jason Martell and Marshall Klarfield. People packed in to try and find shade in the desert, many pulling their folding chairs together under the large amphitheater awning. Noory joked that people often mistook him for Tsoukalos as conventions and so now he would just wear a wig an claim that he was.

Possibly one of the most interesting panels was entitled “Government Cover-Up & New Disclosures.” This panel featured former Congressman Merill Cook of Utah, Stephen Basset, Nick Pope, Grant Cameron, Roswell Researcher Donald Schmitt, Richard Dolan,  Astronaut Story Musgrave, Joseph Buchman, J. Andy Ilias, and the Emmy Award-Winning documentary film maker Linda Moulton Howe. Dr. Kitei sat in for this panel as well.  Joseph Buchman talked about his time working on the Disclosure Hearings as well as his website: www.thepeopleofearthapologize.com . Buchanan is under the belief that if we as a people would just stop committing insane atrocities against one another maybe other lifeforms would want to check us out. Much of the panel discussed whether or not Obama would be the president that finally broke the news we have been visited by other worlds and to whether or not past presidents had this information. They also discussed what happens when the Department of Veterans Affairs does when it denies soldiers benefits after encounters.

Due to his popularity, Eric Von Daniken held a second seating for his panel “Extraterrestrials in the Ancient East” out under the stars. This was despite a few technical difficulties. His speech on what lies in the Ancient Pyramids and the ancient writings of Sumerians was peppered with a few words in Swiss German as he worked with an assistant to scroll through the slides. Many of the panelists at different talks cited Von Daniken as being their inspiration for starting research into extraterrestrials. It was a fitting way for the father of Extraterrestrial and Ancient History studies to spend his 80th birthday.

Each night also featured a film screening for independent films in regards to Extraterrestrial life. These films included Travis: The True Story of Travis Walton, Packing for Mars and The Montauk Chronicles.

For many people, Contact in the Desert is a dream come true experience. They are welcomed with open arms and allowed to express their beliefs without being accused of wearing “tin-foil helmets” That was a common theme repeated throughout the panels. Many of the panelists are licensed doctors, respected researchers and former security officials.  While not all agree with one another about the nature of extraterrestrial life, all agree that we are not alone in this universe.

Some things we learned this weekend:

  • Bring a Chair. Towels are great to sit on, but there are red ants and creepy crawlies. Also, if you are above a certain age it make it very difficult to stand after you’ve been on a towel all day. The conference only has a few chairs and does warn you to bring your own.
  • Bring a great deal of water. While they have fill up stations, it’s nice to be able to have water with you.
  • Sunscreen is a must. A hat is a serious plus.- As someone with a skin tone that is almost impossible to match makeup to because I’m pale as a ghost, being out side from 9:00am- 10:00pm took a serious toll. While I was coated in sunscreen, the hat really helped protect me from ending up with a burnt face.
  • People become deeply offended when you use “conspiracy theory” when discussing a “government cover-up.”
  • Be prepared to be inconvenienced while parking. The volunteers are sweet, but we had to move our cars no less than three times for “firelanes” that didn’t exist or the sudden decision that an area wasn’t wide enough for parking. People ended up parallel parking in such awkward ways that it felt like an obstacle course when one left at the end of the night.
  • Camping on site is an option, but a local hotel offers a shower, a comfy bed and air conditioning.
  • Always arrive early if you really want to see a panel. Often, you will find yourself seated outside listening to outdoor speakers to catch up on whatever is being said or viewing it on a screen.
  • People will smoke weed, no matter if you tell them there is no smoking on premises. During the Von Daniken panel in the evening, I found myself staring off towards the rented cabins and seeing a variety of small lights pepper up from folks who thought they were unseen. The tell tale choking coughs were also a dead giveaway.
  • If you are unable to attend the conference, but really want to see a particular panel, you can order it from http://citd.cartloom.com/shop/category/4678/dvd in the coming weeks.
  • People will talk to you and share their beliefs. Keep an open mind.

The conference continues until Monday, June 1st.

Here’s a gallery of photos from the weekend:

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