I've been visiting this site for about a year and half now. Ever since, I've wanted to take a trip out to area 51. A couple of months ago I was in Vegas for the weekend with family and friends. When I mentioned my great idea to them, they thought I was nuts and I caved in to peer pressure. Ever since I've regretted it.
A few weeks ago, I got an assignment at work that required me to be in Southern California for the last weekend of September and in Vegas for Thursday and Friday of the following week. Me, being the dedicated employee that I am (really!), immediately thought of the extra three days that I'd have out in the Southwest on the company's tab and I immediately decided that I was gonna head out to Groom Lake.
I decided on heading out there on Wednesday. Tuesday night and I'm a little nervous - WTF was I doing driving 3 hours into the desert all by myself? But I knew that if I didn't do it, i'd regret it. At 8:30AM on Wednesday morning I packed up my maps (from dreamlandresort.com), my GPS, my aviation transceiver, and headed out of my hotel in Henderson. I check the tires on the Ford Escape rental and the oil and everything seemed in order. I stopped at Walmart and bought two gallons of water, a box of Clif bars, and a small American flag.
Onto interstate 15 I went. The lands around Las Vegas get desolate really quick - I started debating the wisdom of this whole thing again but pressed on. Coming up on the interesction of 15 and Highway 93, I made my Go-No Go decision and turned onto the Great Basin highway. What a lonely place! Not a soul in site.
After about 40 minutes I came up on the intersection of Highway 93 and Route 168 where there was small construction crew working on God knows what.
Quickly stepped on the gas and after about 45 minutes, the bustling metropolisis of Alamo and Ash Springs were upon me. There are some ruins of an old Casino at the intersection of 93 and 318. This is where you turn to your left with the Casino to your right.
After about a mile, the road splits again with one being the begginning of 375. There was a strange looking blacked out bus under the trees but I don't think it was the Groom bus (??). I looked everywhere for the ET highway sign but I couldn't find it anywhere. One of the locals confirmed that this was in fact 375 and off I went. After a few hundred feet, there was a sign for the Little A'Le'Inn... "This must be it" i thought.
Another 35 or so minutes of Desert and we start climbing up to the Hancock summit, and all of sudden... there it is!!! Groom Lake Road down in the valley.
But first, I needed to get through Security! And he wasn't budging.
I continued down 375 passing the turn for Groom Lake road and stopping at the black mailbox. Apparently someone though it'd be cool to spray paint it. >:( Stopping to take a few pictures, I realized I was probably the only person for miles... there wasn't a soul in sight or a sound to be heard. For someone who grew up in the craziness that is NYC, this was at the same time surreal, scary, yet peaceful. I managed to capture a really cool 360 image.
I got back in my car and headed towards Rachel. After passing Coyote summit, I could see Rachel in the distance and it was a few minutes until I hit the town. I pulled over to take a picture of the ET Highway sign.
To the east, were some abonded mills. I thought they looked kinda cool.
Finally, after all this time of reading about the place, there it was... the little A'Le'Inn. It was everything I imagined it would be!!!
I headed inside and there they were, THE ALIENS!!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! ;o
I chatted a bit with the two nice ladies and they made my "Saucer Burger"... I bought a few gifts and headed back down 375 to finally head onto Groom lake road.
I stopped by the black mailbox again to check my cellphone (didn't work) and I set my transceiver to 121.5MHz... I don't care how many ATC facilities I was gonna scare the crap out of... but I got lost on these dirt roads they would know about it! All of a sudden, another car comes down the highway and stops at the mailbox to take some pictures. "What a coincidence!!!" I thought. I asked the older couple if they were heading out to the border and they said they were... "Great I thought!" Now I won't be alone.
They went first and after what seemed like eternity on the dirt roads and a dust storm to make Saudi Arabia jealous behind us, we made it to the Gate. I was like a little kid in a candy store. I couldn't believe I was actually here. We both parked in a gravel area off the road about 50 feet from the sign. I don't know if we could or couldn't park there, it was before the border but the Cammo dude was already on the hill when we get there and he didn't seem to mind. We talked for about an hour while parked there and took pictures of each other near the signs. The lady waved like a maniac to the Cammo dude and he waved back!
You know, I thought to myself... only in America is a secret military base 200 miles from anywhere a tourist attraction. But that's why I love America! I headed up a little hill right next to the gravel parking area where somebody had had a campfire recently. From here, you can see Groom lake road bend behind another set of hills and dissapear. This is as far as you and I will ever make it to Area 51. I took the little American flag I had bought earlier and planted it on the hill. If you see it up there, let me know!!
We both then took off down Groom Lake Road heading back to Henderson for me at least. As I stopped at the stop sign at the intersection of Highway 93, I took one last photo. I saw the dust cloud of the older couple behind me and... WHAT!!! another dust cloud a long way behind them. I don't know who it was but it obviously was someone coming out of the base! I jumped back in my Ford and took off!
All in all, the whole thing took me about 7 hours. It was worth it and I definately want to do it again, spend the night, and climb Tikaboo peak. I had great fun and I, hey, I met someone with similiar interested in the middle of the desert.
Driving back, I stopped in alamo to fill up on gas. I took a picture of an American and Nevada flag on a post and thought... "You know... we Americans have some pretty nifty stuff in the middle of nowhere!"