Unidentified patrons sip and stare into space, waiting for a signal from the mother ship as Kevin Pilley flies into Rachel.

"See that? That big glowing silver hubcap-like thing with windows and that flashing cigar-shaped thing?" asks Dave, pointing up into the Nevadan night sky.

I shake my head.

"No, me neither," he says, going back into the bar and pouring me another double "Beam Me Up Scotty".

It's the house speciality and is made of two parts "Jim Beam" whisky and one part "7 Up".


Allegedly, according to its creator, it causes the same effects as a 24th-century transporter system without the hassle of actually beaming anywhere.

The Little A'Le'Inn is in Rachel, two hours from Las Vegas and right in the centre of "The Extraterrestial Highway".

The 157km road, which stretches through the joshua trees, sage brush and wide open spaces of the Nevadan desert, has had more UFO sightings than anywhere on Earth. It is close to the super-secret Nellis missile complex, otherwise known as "Area 51" or "Dreamland", a test site for high-tech hypersonic surveillance and spy aircraft, and some believe alien craft are being test-piloted there.

True to his trade, Dave is sceptical.

"All sightings have been at night. Some are birds with the moon reflecting off them. Some are shooting stars, hydrogen gas clouds, satellite debris or the after-burn from high-altitude jets. Sometimes it's easy to mistake the tail-lights of a car in the distance as something.

"Once, what someone claimed was a shiny metallic spacecraft from another solar system was the door of their neighbour's garage which was ripped off by a high wind."

But the believers outnumber the doubters. Dave wipes the bartop.

"I've had folk in here claiming to be from Orion or Epsilon Booles IV.


"I had one woman show up with tinfoil antennae on her head because she didn't want to miss a signal from the mother ship. You get all sorts and I guess some dudes do get a little thirsty and hungry and want to rest up a bit after they've been travelling 14 trillion light years. After all that, you just want to sit down quietly with a drink and stare into space."

Rachel is a collection of trailers surrounded by the Jumbled Mountains in the middle of the Tikaboo Valley along Highway 375. It used to be called Tempiute and Shady Grove, but was renamed in memory of the first baby born in town who died in 1980 at the age of 3. A sign outside town says "Rachel. Population. Humans: 8. Aliens: ?"

On the fly screen door to the inn is another, which says: "Kneepsheep Nknock Ip Nknook" - this, for those not fluent in conversational alien, means, ufo-logically speaking, "UFO crew members and earthlings welcome".

The house speciality is not grilled roadrunner but an "alienburger", which comes with "all the secretions". Dave adds it has been known to cause strange pulsations and oscillations.

An old guy sitting next to me at the bar starts telling me all about F-112s , "Dark Stars", D-21 "Drones" and SR-71s, too.

He tells me how he's been buzzed by Blackhawk helicopters when he has got a little too close to the S-4 base at Paoose Lake. The elderly gentleman warns me not to go down Lake Groom Rd.

"Get too close to the perimeter fence and you'll trip the ammonia and heat detectors and pretty soon two white Cherokee Jeeps will appear up there on the rise and some buzz-cuts in fatigues and shades will be scoping you out, talking into their wrists and sending your plate number and description to the Pentagon.

"It's an automatic $600 fine to trespass beyond the fence. The sign says 'Deadly force is authorised'."

His tone of voice italicises the "is" and capitalises the "authorised".

The entity called Dave calls last orders. He wipes the table tops one more time.

"I haven't had a big light over my home yet. And I haven't served someone who's got one finger way bigger than the rest which glows when they get excited."

He looks up at me.

"However, you do get some blow-ins who are kinda spooky-looking."

Getting there: Air New Zealand flies twice daily to Los Angeles from Auckland, increasing to three daily services from December - March. Local carriers connect to Las Vegas.