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Painting: Lost Dutchman's Lights

This is a painting I created from my own firsthand recollection of the following incident. My boyfriend, our other friend and I had gone out to see the sunset at the Weaver's Needle Vista just outside of Lost Dutchman State Park near Apache Junction, Arizona, on Sunday night, July 24, 2011. When we got there we found neither sunset nor stars, just big nasty-looking thunder clouds turned pink in the twilight. It was about 7pm when we got there. Even though it was clear we weren’t going to see any stars, we had driven all that way and decided we might as well stay a while and hang out. To cut a long story really short, we three collectively had our first close-up UFO encounter that night.

At least three (but probably closer to five or six) massive balls of light floated across the open desert, from the area of Flat Iron Face (the big mountain at the base of the Superstitions) toward the city. They looked like fire, almost gold-orange on the outside, white at the center. They didn’t float in a straight line, but looked almost as if they were bouncing across the desert (but never touching down fully). At one point one started coming toward us. At another point, we saw one start to come our way from a DIFFERENT direction than the others, from the back of the mountains off to the left of where we were facing, when a plane entered into the area from the direction of the city (the opposite side). The thing just DISAPPEARED. And as each of the others crossed the open desert, as soon as they reached the ridge of smaller mountains dividing where we were from the city, we could see them apparently dematerialize into a shower of sparks, like off a 4th of July sparkler. After the plane scared off the last one, we didn’t see any more from that spot.

It had started sprinkling rain just before we saw the first one, and by the end of the sighting it was pouring. Eventually we calmed down enough to decide to leave, probably around midnight, and my friend and I got out of the back and then almost immediately back into the back and passenger seats, respectively, but my boyfriend lingered outside the driver’s door for a second, asking us, “Do you hear that rumbling?” We had no idea what he was talking about, so he told us to get out of the car. Sure enough, there was this low rumbling sound coming, seemingly, from WITHIN the mountains. It was indiscernible from inside the car, but as soon as my feet were on the actual pavement it was obvious (and frankly, really terrifying, considering the circumstances.) It didn’t sound like anything I had ever heard, so the only way I can describe it is a cross between an engine the size of the entire mountain and a purring cat of about the same size. The three of us, having had enough brushes with unknown realities for the night, did not stick around to find out what it was, but I can confidently tell you that it was definitely not thunder.

--Shannon Harden


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