Wheeler Pass and Rachel (April 2006)
by Joe Buchman

Click to enlargeAfter a fun week in Vegas (for the National Association of Broadcaster's convention), I decided to spend a couple of nights camping in the desert and looking toward the sky and our favorite non-base.

Late Saturday I headed into Parumph, then up Wheeler Pass road at dusk, in my 1998 Roadtrek RV (built on the Dodge maxi van) past the charcoal stoves, on what's marked as road 601, to 510, which merges again with 601, past trough springs (now well past dark), to a almost flat enough to park for the night spot just west of and a bit above the pass at N 36 23.4698 by W 115 47.8604.

Click to enlargeUsed a 60x spotting scope on a window mount, but didn't see anything that seemed to be flying, or anything else unusual. Just past (North of) the highway (marked by the headlights of passing cars) to the (left) western edge of what I could see to the north, I observed what appeared to be a fenced area with about a dozen lights illuminating the border area, to the east of that was a red constant-on beacon (similar to the flashing red beacons I've seen atop radio station towers), to the east of that was a building with some parking lot lights, lights shining through windows, and several constant-on red beacons apparently marking the top and mid point of about six towers. To the far right, from my vantage point, I could see another red beacon apparently far off in the distance. I didn't stay up very late, went to sleep about midnight. The next morning I could not make out the area that appeared to be fenced with lights illuminating the border. I could see the other building, but not the towers. In the distance, halfway up a ridge, was a very bright, apparently reflective bit of metal.

Click to enlargeMet several guys on four wheelers who were a bit surprised I'd gotten my small RV up there, and were quite certain I'd not make it down to Indian Springs on Wheeler Pass road, which becomes Cold Creek Road.

The drive back to Pahrump took a bit less than an hour, on mostly gravel road which I think any passenger car could make (excepting perhaps a Corvette or the like).

Click to enlargeSunday night I camped out in the desert not far off Highway 375. It always amazes me how quiet the desert is there. Watched the area to the west for about 4 hours, but saw nothing unusual (if you can accept the massive glow of Las Vegas to the south as "normal").

Had breakfast at the A Le Inn on Monday and met tourists from Bombay India, London England, and Buffalo NY in the hour or so that I was there. Walked outside into two sonic booms! Someone said they were flying F-22s which they said can make mach 1 without lighting the afterburners. Later I saw three very narrow contrails parallel to each other and the afterburner lit on the one to the right. I tried to take a picture but the afterburner went out before I could grab the camera.

Overall a very fun week. I recommend all the Circque Du Solei shows highly, but O at the Belligio most of all. Lance Burton is terrific but I vastly preferred his much smaller show at the old Hacienda. Hypnosis Gone Wild at the Stardust was fun as well, but nothing really compares to just sitting in the desert with a spotting scope, even if "nothing happens" other than a quiet contemplation of one's place in the Universe under a sea of stars . . .

Joe


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