Maybe it was a big cosmic joke. We’d waited so long to book the trip that our choice of cottages on all of the Finger Lakes combined was limited. Canandaigua and Conesus were booked solid. Ditto for Keuka and Honeoye. Skaneateles came highly recommended but our wallets couldn’t afford the rental fees there. That left Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake, neither of which I’d ever visited.

By the time we narrowed it down to cottages that had internet and allowed two dogs over 30 pounds each, there were three cottages to choose from and the one on Cayuga Lake in Aurora, NY won. We booked the cottage for a week in July.

Maybe it was fate that our vacation cottage just happened to be on the lake where the Great Ithaca Flap of UFO sightings had occurred back in 1967-1968. That wave of UFO sightings had changed my life. It began a lifelong series of UFO encounters starting in early childhood and continuing all the way into my forties.

The incidents had finally come to an end and I was able to sleep peacefully at night, something I hadn’t been able to do during the hot periods of UFO activity that always reached out and touched me as they passed overhead. Now we were on our way to spend a week where over a thousand sightings had been reported in a short span of time and UFOs had filled the skies for months. The little voice tugged at me on the wisdom of booking a vacation right under their very noses. Was I daring them to take me again? Was I crazy?

Driving up I-81 through Pennsylvania and southern New York took us through long stretches where you couldn’t even see a gas station sign near the interstate exits. All we could see was the dark, lonely highway with us being the only vehicle on it, and no sign that another human being existed for miles.


Once it gets dark out, visibility is limited to your immediate surroundings unless there is a light shining somewhere. There wasn’t. No lights. No houses. No gas stations. Nothing but darkness all around us and trees on either side of the highway that could have been the front for large expanses of forest. We had no way of knowing what was on the other side of those trees as we drove up I-81 in the darkness of night.

It felt as if we were the only people for miles driving that lonely stretch of road. Looking up through the windshield at the sky, I realized that we were the perfect target for a UFO. This was the scenario that UFO encounters were made for. The hair along my arms stood up with the goosebumps that suddenly appeared. This was crazy. What were we doing here?

Most of the drive through Pennsylvania and southern New York was dark and creepy. Where were all the people? Why wasn’t there anybody else driving these roads? Every now and again another lonely car would pass by but for the most part, we were all alone in the universe except for the UFOs.

We’d been on the road almost 18 hours as we made our way up Route 90 on the east side of Cayuga Lake toward our rental cottage in Aurora, New York. Where the interstate portion had felt isolated, this stretch of road late at night was creepier than any stretch of road I’d been on.

We could not see more than a few feet past the road on either side and all we saw was weeds, woods, and empty fields. If there were houses they were well hidden. This was a vacation spot so where were all the touristy businesses? As far as we could tell, there weren’t any.

A wisp of fog settled over the road limiting visibility even further. We were out in the middle of nowhere, driving up an isolated stretch of road on a foggy night in a known UFO hot spot. I had personally encountered UFOs and figured they probably had me tagged so if they were in the vicinity, I would absolutely be a target for them. I got a seriously bad case of the creeps.

A pair of glowing eyes appeared by the side of the road, and then another pair appeared beside it. They watched in perfect stillness as we drove on past, two deer in a field being the only sign of life.

We finally arrived at the cottage where thankfully, someone had left an outside light on for us. One lonely light on a dark night, we were drawn to it like the multitude of moths that had covered the door. There were thousands of tiny moths plastered to the front door, nearby walls, and all around the light. This could mean only one thing – we were way out in the woods somewhere.

Inside the cottage, the cheerful lights welcomed us and we got busy unloading the truck. Our two dogs sprang to life after snoozing all day and for the next hour, all thoughts of UFOs vanished in the busyness. Once the truck was unloaded we started exporing the two-storey cottage. We quickly found our bedroom upstairs, the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and guest bedroom.

The sunroom and deck area looked cheerfully beachy and we were eager to see the lake when the sun came up. As it was, we couldn’t see the lake in the dark. I desperately wanted to see the water so we took a flashlight and attempted to find the lake. It turned out that we were up on a small cliff with a fence preventing us from falling off. We didn’t explore further in the dark but I could see the moonlight reflecting off the water below. The sound of the lapping waves filled me with peace and we went back inside to go to bed. Morning couldn’t come soon enough as far as I was concerned. I wanted in that lake and I wanted it badly.


As we made our last pass through the downstairs before going to bed, we found a door we hadn’t yet opened. I was already heading up the stairs when my husband called me back down.

“Hey Sharon! You’ve got to see this! C’mereā€¦” You could hear the twinkle in his voice so I figured it was something really good. I went to investigate with him.

He was standing in front of a door, grinning from ear to ear. “Are you ready?” he asked.

With a bit of a frown I said, “Sure.” What was the big deal? We should be in bed. This could wait.

He slowly pushed the door open which made a VERY LOUD creaky noise. This was the stuff haunted houses were made of. Straight out of a spooky movie, in an isolated cottage at night on a lake where UFOs flew the skies, here we were opening a creaky door.

On the other side of the door was a black hole. He clicked on the flashlight and shined it into the hole to expose a set of rough wooden steps leading down into a seriously spooky looking basement.

“Close that damned door, NOW!” I ordered. “And LOCK it!”

He laughed. He’d gotten his pound of spook-flesh out of me. He’d never experienced an alien encounter as I had and I figured it would serve him right if our foray into their realm gave HIM a spook-night which he’d never forget.

The story of my many spook-nights is told in the book Alien Nightmares, which went live the week before we made this trip. One chapter highlights the Great Ithaca Flap of UFO sightings that had taken place in this very location decades earlier. Read it if you dare, but don’t read it before you go to sleep!

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Category: Travel, UFOs and Otherworlds