January visit (brrr) to the Holy land (January 2001)
by Gary Sellani

I paid a quick visit to the operation near Groom Lake on January 12th, though I spent two days in Alamo waiting out the bad weather. Here is the trip report.

I drove to the front gate signs and never spotted a cammo dude. I pulled a U-turn and parked at "the lot", then walked back to the front gate sign are to get a shot of the sign with a snow covered Bald Mountain in the background. Still no cammo dudes. There was no wind at all. It was so quiet that you could hear the snow melt (OK, the water flow from the melting snow). I finally heard movement behind me and headed back to the parking area only to see a cammo dude parked a bit further down the road and on the opposite side. Having never seen the cammo dudes on "our side", I took a photo then decided to play into the cat and mouse game. I figured the cammo dude would head up the hill taking the road just past the parking lot if I headed back down towards the warning signs. Sure enough he did. I headed back to the truck to get the telescope to get a close-up of the security camera. The cammo dude drove to the usual perch near Hawkeye Hill. What was funny was due to the quiet I could hear the dude driving all over the place and even far away voices from the cammo dude radio.

I headed back to the truck and was about to leave but I heard a far away sound of a chopper. Figuring it was the security chopper, I waited and sure enough it was. [I never saw the chopper except on web sites, so this was fun to see it live.] I don't recall any tail number on the chopper and will check the photos carefully. The chopper came from the direction of Rachel, though it started much further away. It flew over me and headed beyond towards the rest of the front gate border, then returned after five minutes. I guess they were looking for my "ground support".

Heading back to the ET highway was pretty uneventful except for one fighter plane (F15 I think) crossing Groom Road about 3 miles ahead of me. The other weird thing was the Licoln County Sherrif passed me heading towards the front gate.

I paid a visit to the back gate to check out the new construction. I saw one large truck (a freight truck, not a small pickup) enter the area. I took a telescope photo of the radar , but the "thermals" had already started as it was around 1PM. While driving away from the back gate I ran into the Licoln County Sherrif coming the other way.

I headed towards Basecamp. I spotted the Licoln County Sherrif again exiting from a dirt road near N37.7 W115.853. Fortunately, he went the other direction. Seeing the Licoln County Sherif 3 times in one day made me a bit suspicious, but I can't think of any reason that I was involved. However, I will look up the Sherif freq and make sure I monitor it on my next visit.

I made an atempt to find Project Faultless. I ended up in this maze of DEO markers warning not to dig up the Petrolium laden soil, but couldn't find the road heading further up the hill. The roads were clear but there was light patchy snow on the ground, so perhaps that hid the road. No big deal, it ain't going anywhere, so I'll try another time.

Regarding the gate to Tikaboo being locked, this is not true. I checked the gate twice, once during the day and once at night. Still, I would use the route that goes past the ranger station since it doesn't have a gate at all.

On the way back to California, I took more photos near the X32 launch site at Edwards. This time I took photos from the communications hill rather than from just the spot near route 395. [N34.91639 W117.52447] Not only can you see the crashed planes nearby better from this location, but you can see the North Edwards facility as well.

I tried to find the Tejon RCS site but found some nasty no tresspassing signs instead. Oh well.

Hard to believe last year at the same time everything was clear and dry. I must of been 10 degrees warmer too.

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