I took my time driving out and just enjoyed the scenery in the desert. I made a stop at Alien Jerky for a few photos, then stopped at the E.T. highway sign for a few more. Driving out over Hancock Summit, I could see Groom Road in the distance. I passed the road and continued to the Black Mailbox and spent a little time there just taking in the view and enjoying the silence. It always amazes me how quiet the area is, the silence is almost deafening.
After spending some time there, it was on to Rachel and the Inn. I stopped at the Inn for lunch, and it was extremely quiet in there. The bartender was nice enough, (I didn't catch her name), but I got the impression that things may not be going so well there. Later in the same weekend I saw that they had posted that they would be reducing hours of operation until further notice, I hope that they make it.
After having a burger, it was then on to the back gate. The road was in decent shape but seemed a bit rougher driving than in previous trips until I hit the paved section just before the gate. After rounding the corner, there it was. I pulled over and stopped for a bit to take it all in. For some reason, probably my imagination, it just felt a bit uncomfortable this time. I didn't see anyone, and no sign of activity at the gate itself, but again I just had a weird vibe about being there this time for no real reason other than my gut feeling. I hung around for 20 minutes or so and decided that it was time to go. The last time that I was out here I got the horn treatment from the gate, but all was quiet this time.
Driving back out to 375, there was no other traffic on Back gate road, so hit 375 and made a right heading back towards Mailbox Road. I stopped at the box again for a few minutes and headed down Mailbox Road and on to Groom Lake road. As I was driving down the road, I saw a dust cloud approaching from the direction of our favorite base, and sure enough it was a Cammo dude heading the opposite direction at a high rate of speed. We passed each other, I waved, and that was that. I passed the warning sign and arrived at the front gate. There was a Cammo truck parked up on the hill in the usual spot, but they didn't seem to pay me any mind as I made sure not to give them any reason to. Spent a few minutes there and headed back out.
On the way back out, I turned off at what I assumed to be campfire hill and made my way to the top. I could see the cammo truck in the distance perched up on there hill, and just spent a while taking in the view of the area. It was getting late in the day, so I decided to call it a trip and headed back up the road to the highway. As I was nearing the highway, I again saw a cloud of dust coming from the base at a quick pace and could see that it was a White bus behind me. I had never seen it before so to me this was pretty cool!. I eventually reached 375 again, and started the drive back to Vegas, already planning my next trip out.
Next time around I'm planning on spending a night in the valley car camping and hopefully will see some air traffic. This trip out there didn't seem to be anything in the skies over the area, but it was a great day overall.