It wasn't your typical family outing. One weekend in July of 1999. Where else, but in the southern Nevada desert near Rachel and Area 51. This is where the Cammo Dudes and surveillance cameras probably got a good look of a junior interceptor -about three feet tall. No, not a gray, but a little girl donned in a Teletubbies outfit, peering through binoculars she could barely hold.
That day we got a "portrait" of a cammo dude and a photo of his subsequent escape in a trail of dust back to the safety of the guard shack. Our "family" was comprised of myself, my fiancT, David, my two children, a family friend and Joerg.
David and I had only begun to travel to the southern Nevada desert in the spring after discovering we had something in common-a fascination and curiosity about the area and it's Lore. I have always been interested in the unexplained, UFO’s, sci-fi, and unsolved mysteries. David is an avid sky watcher and very knowledgeable on all types of aircraft.
It was on a previous trip to Rachel that we had the pleasure of beginning a friendship with Joerg. My journalistic and inquisitive nature always prompts me to strike up a conversation with all sort of folks. Joerg was one of them. Most visitors to the area are just as inquisitive and ready to talk about sightings, conspiracies and the military-not to mention the local Rachel gossip.
On this July weekend we all decided to take a drive out to the border. Our previous visits around the perimeter included the north gate, the Groom Lake Road entrance and the southern gate. This time we followed Joerg beyond the Freedom Ridge trailhead into "roadblock" canyon. This is where he was once visited by patrolling helicopters and his vehicle was surveyed.
Our friend, Kristina was armed with her 600-mm lens, ready to shoot (pun intended). After driving a short distance we came upon the "natural" barrier on the Freedom Ridge trail formed by supposed falling boulders. Funny, for such as "natural" barrier, the boulders were neatly lined up to create a perfect obstruction, making vehicle access impossible. Vacating our vehicles, (and locking them, of course) armed with cameras, binoculars and water, we walked around the boulders up the trail.
We walked about 500 meters and came around the bend to the warning signs. Joerg pointed out the orange markers and we proceeded to walk up the hill to the south, stopping at a rock outcropping. We saw surveillance cameras in the distance and had a slight view of Freedom Ridge.
While the rest of the group decided to hike a little further up, my daughter and I made ourselves comfortable on the rocks. It struck me in an odd sort of way as absurd. Here we were, a mom and her little girl on top of this outcropping near the border of the base so steeped in mystery. I was busy watching the rest of our group through the binoculars while my daughter was combing her barbie doll's hair.
I couldn't help but think.....are the security personnel listening to us? Can they hear my daughter say, "Where are the airplanes?" Can they see each and every one of the teletubbies on her shirt or the color of the doll's clothes? Hmmm, interesting, kind of unnerving. But we weren't doing anything wrong. We were within our rights. We did not cross the line. And, I would never do anything to jeopardize my children's safety. When the rest of the group got back they reported just seeing cammo dudes' vehicle on the ridge as well as the surveillance cameras.
We then drove to the Groom Lake road border and parked on the side. Of course, there was one of those ever-present white Jeep Cherokees sitting on the top of the hill-- a monument to secrecy.
David and my daughter stayed with one of the cars while the rest of us opted to drive up the little hill to the north and then walk through the small canyon under cammo dude hill. The canyon and parts of the hill are not off limits to the public, but you must keep a keen eye on the orange markers that run up the side of the hill to make sure you don't cross the line.
Joerg guided us gingerly up the hill. Through the binoculars and the camera lens we could see only the top of the vehicle and the light bar, but it still presented a good photo opportunity. We went a little further. Joerg was a little unsure and we began to make our way back to the car. However, it was such a good chance for a photo he couldn’t resist. He aimed that lens right at the face of the cammo dude and shot.
We quickly scurried down the trail to the car. We could hear all kinds of commotion going on. The dude knew he was caught. He sped away in a trail of dust that looked like a Kansas tornado. Out of nowhere another cammo dude vehicle appeared and perched himself on top of the hill... another monument.
We made our way back to the other car. David was there, sitting calmly, reading Bob Lazar propaganda. He told me later he was contemplating using that document in case he ever ran out of toilet paper. My daughter was playing in the dirt. Both totally unaffected by the situation.
We felt like we just came out of an X-Files scene. To those of you who have never ventured into this area, don’t. But, seriously, be very careful and mindful of the security forces at hand. Never cross the boundaries. Heed the warning signs and the orange markers seriously. While you’re there, enjoy the simple beauty of the area and what nature has to offer. There’s nothing like a desert sunset and the fresh smell of sagebrush.
Connie (aka "The Groom Lake Tattler")