Rachel is a little one street town bordering Area 51, AKA Dreamland, the secret military base where the US government developed and tested various fighter jets. Only recently did the government even acknowledge the base's existence. Since the 90's interest has grown and fallen about the base, and people have spent many hours theorizing about what went on there. TV and radio shows like Art Bell's Coast To Coast AM or the X-Files helped fuel the alien crazed that happened in the 90's. While still off-limits, the base is said to be shut down.
Today, Area 51 no longer has the cultural pull as it once did, but during those UFO fueled days in the 90's Rachel and the Little A'Le'Inn became a Mecca of some sorts for UFO buffs. I had never made the trip there, but I felt it was atypical something American worth showing to Yuko on our trip. I planned this trip not only to be fun but also to help explain a little bit about where I come from: geographically, culturally, politically.
Rachel and the A'Le'Inn represents many things about America, the desert, and the way I think. There's the capitalistic chance to make a dollar anyway possible--look at all that Obama stuff out now, this is the same. There's the Jeffersonian / Libertarian distrust of our government that is symbolized in the entire UFO myths and the "research" which is done over the site. There is the landscape and quirky art that comes from the desert. There's also the humor ("UFO Self Parking" or "Aliens:?") that is equally honest if you believe in UFOs or not.
I was an Art Bell listener from around 1994 or so when I was in High School. He broadcast his show from the then little town of Pahrump, NV. Listening to him talk of UFOs and the desert influenced me into my love of the deserts, Nevada, detritus and the like. Going to Rachel, even for the 15 minutes we spent walking around the Little A'Le'Inn was a treat and a part of my introduction to America.