I've had a long time fascination with Area 51. There was no way I was going to drive from Utah back to Southern California without a quick stop at Groom Lake.
I thought it was pretty ironic, but I was able to enter Groom Lake Road on my GPS unit and it immediately calculated the route for me. Ironically it also called Groom Lake Road "51". After watching the YouTube videos and some of the trip reports on the site, I wanted to have my own experience seeing the Camo guys looking at me from the Hill. Furthermore I had packed away a delicious roast beef sandwich from Subway and icy cold Mountain Dew in my cooler and wanted to enjoy it as a picnic while sitting right at the boundary line. As I turned down room lake road I began to shoot video from my high def camera which now appears on YouTube here:
The video is rather long, but it's a more-or-less real time drive down Groom Lake Road shot with a GoPro HD camera. Put on your own tunes and re-live this vicariously....
As I drove in, I stopped several times and observed what appeared to be the Camo guys in the distance driving slowly near the corral and watching what I think were horses on the open range. On the south side of the road in several places I observed what appeared to be manhole covers set into square concrete cubes that sat several feet above the flat desert floor. Any idea what these are about? I was able to observe firsthand the strange fishbone like cuts in the road I had observed using Google Earth. These are clearly used to drain the road during heavy rainfall, as they channel water from side ditches along the road into the desert itself rather than something shady.
I was looking hard for for a Joshua tree with a video camera or morel likely, one of the remote sensors that I've heard described here, but I was unable to see any such thing. After about 20 min. of driving I arrived at the small valley that leads right up to the boundary. As I pulled my red 2011 Camaro into the turnaround I could see the Camo guys on the Hill and he began to move towards me. Once they saw me turn around away from the boundary, they parked and began to observe me. I too brought along a pair of image-stabilized Canon binoculars and proceeded to spend the next 15 to 20 min. looking at them, looking at the security at the boundary, and observing some of the sites I can be seen from this vantage point. One thing I noticed is large pair of radar domes located on the mountain and appeared to be between the gate and the Groom Lake facility. I've tried to find these Radar domes using Google Earth but have not been successful thus far. Perhaps someone here can show me where those are located.
After a few minutes, I ate my sandwich and was continuing to observe this scene when I heard in the distance the sound of a propeller aircraft approaching. The sound grew louder and louder - until it became nearly deafening. As I moved into the middle of the road and began to look around somewhat frantically I turned south and saw a UH – 60 PaveHawk helicopter approaching me at a high rated speed about 100 feet off the deck. (I've since learned that this is the typical welcome committee from the USAF security forces located at the base - if they really want to get your attention). The helicopter went by perhaps 100 feet away I could clearly see the faces of the pilots and in the back interestingly I saw two men wearing T-shirts and shorts and sunglasses. WTF??
I threw up the shaka as they passed over.
After the helicopter flew past, I hung around for another 15 min. or so continuing to observe - kind of hoping that another helicopter would come by or something else would happen. But it was again so quiet I could hear the bees buzzing and I had to keep on moving down the road - so I headed out.
After I've driven about 75% of the way back to highway 375 I noticed a dust cloud coming up behind my own car at a rapid rate of speed. I slowed down enough to observe a white Ford Explorer with black tinted windows driving behind me. He continued to follow me once I reached the ET highway and headed back to the south. After a couple of miles, I simply decided to pull to the side of the road to let them pass. As they went by I noticed the windows were so dark could not make out a thing; there was a antenna on top of the car and some type of indistinguishable logo.
My thoughts on the whole experience are:
All in all it was a great time visiting such an iconic place.