Conspiracy to Have Fun

Thinking of checking out Colorado's gorgeous scenery this summer? Maybe some mountain lakes? Elk? A raging river or three? Go ahead. Have fun. That's exactly the type of thing THEY want you to do. They being the pleasant little folk known as the CIA, the Illuminati, the corporate/alien overlords and/or those powerful spirits from beyond the grave! What these secret schemers don't want you to realize is that Colorado houses numerous sights where those "in the know" can peek behind the curtain of conspiracy. But as any Scientologist can attest, enlightenment can be expensive. So here's an easy guide for a low-budget day trip that will help you understand the hideous, hideous truth of our reality without breaking the bank.

We begin our tour at the place widely recognized by conspiracy buffs as the most sinister public-transport terminal in the world, Denver International Airport. What makes DIA so great isn't the modern, easily navigatible interior; it's the fact that conspiracy theorists of all persuasions can find something in the airport to reinforce their exotic worldview. The theorizing begins in the main terminal, with the two colorful murals by Denver artist Leo Tanguma. Are these depictions proof of an international Masonic effort to poison the masses via poisonous chemtrails, a disturbing showcase of what will happen to the earth after the Mayan calendar date of 2012, or evidence of a massive underground military base beneath the airport where reptile-like extraterrestrials feast on the corpses of JonBenét Ramsey and Columbine shooting victims? You decide — that's part of the fun!

While driving away from the tented main terminal, look to your left and behold the freaky, thirty-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture of a rearing mustang. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have got nothing on this bad boy. The recently installed creature actually killed its creator, New Mexico artist Luis Jimenez, when a piece of the beast broke off and crushed him to death in 2006. Word now is that the cursed sculpture is haunted by Jimenez's ghost. How's that for public art!

Now head toward the skyscrapers of downtown Denver, to the office of the Colorado Secretary of State at 1700 Broadway, where Mike "Manchurian Candidate" Coffman unknowingly awaits orders on how to rig the Colorado primary this August via electronic voting machines. Coffman, a lifelong Marine who returned from an active tour of duty in Iraq in 2006, made headlines in December when he suddenly decertified electronic voting machines in some of the state's largest counties, calling the contraptions inaccurate and unsecured. Then in February, Coffman said the machines were okay — and he later took a position against paper ballots. A mild-mannered military man returns from abroad and begins making inexplicable, seemingly unconscious decisions? Sleeper agents in Florida put the Queen of Diamonds in the Oval Office in 2000, why not again?

Think about it while heading northwest of the city toward the sprawling remnants of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, where the U.S. government spent almost forty years building triggers for nuclear bombs and tossing barrels of radioactive waste onto the surrounding plains as if they were empty Coors cans. Discuss the massive coverups, peace protests and the groundbreaking 1989 FBI raid while having a burger at the Rocky Flats Lounge, 11229 Highway 93. Maybe you'll run into a few of the plant's former employees who became ill after years of exposure to hazardous materials and who're still waiting for their court-ordered payouts from the government. Buy 'em a beer.

Now turn south to Sedalia, where the Scottish-style Cherokee Ranch & Castle sits on a bluff overlooking the mountains. The property, long home to Tweet Kimball, was built in 1924, and longtime local conspiracy theorists like Stew Webb insist that the Bush family and the Knights Templar have been holding annual solstice parties there for Satan, complete with human sacrifices. According to Webb, a reporter with a national television news show captured footage of one such ceremony in 2002 but was quickly arrested and later committed to a Colorado mental ward. The castle was also used as a location in the 2004 John Sayles movie Silver City, which starred Chris Cooper as a very Dubya-like politician named Dickie Pilager who was embroiled in murder and political corruption. Coincidence?

Keep driving south to Colorado Springs, where NORAD is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary as the operational headquarters of the military industrial complex, conducting 24-hour monitoring of America's enemies and Santa. Back in 1958, during the Cold War, the command center was built on springs inside of Cheyenne Mountain so that it could withstand a nuclear blast. According to conspiracy theorists, its most recent accomplishment was on September 11, 2001, when NORAD coordinated the hoax that made the world believe that the twin towers were brought down by foreign terrorists rather than functionaries within our own government. The facility also houses a supercomputer with artificial intelligence that Matthew Broderick once beat in chess.

To close off the day, make the roughly three-hour drive to the UFO Watchtower near Hooper in the San Luis Valley. Judy Messoline built the ten-foot-high platform in 2000 and claims to have seen hundreds of alien aircraft in the night sky since then. With its gift shop and bizarre sculpture garden, the Watchtower has hosted thousands of human visitors. If you can stop your mind from spinning after so many conspiracy-filled experiences, a good night's rest is in order. Unless that's what THEY want you to think.