This trip to Dreamland really started in my head about 4 years ago....
I had always been fascinated with the strange and mysterious things going on inside the Groom Range. So, a buddy and I set out for Rachel, NV on Thursday, Oct. 2nd, around 8:30 pm from Santa Barbara, Ca. I took three cameras, a Nikon 5005 with a 28mm wide angle lens, a Pentax SLR with normal 28-80 lens, and a Cannon EOS A23 with a 400mm super zoom lens, for the really tough shots atop Tikaboo Peak.
We arrived in Las Vegas around 2:30 am on Friday, and set out directly for McCarran International Airport. It took us another hour or so to find the Janet terminal, which was on the far side of the airport. The terminal parking lot was virtually empty, with only a few cars parked there. All of the white Janet Boeing 737's were parked on the tarmac. We proceeded to drive by the terminal gate's back and forth to see if we could catch a glimpse of anything. There were two guard shacks on either side of the gates, with all windows on the shacks tinted.
Around 3:30am, all of the sudden hoards of cars started flooding the road and drove right up and through the guard's gates, and into the parking lot. What was eerie was that every car turned off it's headlights as they approached the guard shacks. Now this went on for about an hour, non-stop cars in line like machines pouring into the parking lots, and on into the terminal. There was a gas station right before E. Diablo Dr, and we both drove up to ask the gas station attendant if he knew anything about the terminal. As we were inside talking to the gentleman, a couple men walked in and bought some coffee and food, and hopped into their cars and drove into the parking lot of the Janet terminal. They didn't say anything to either the clerk or each other, but seemed like normal everyday people.
As we left the gas station and drove back onto Haven St. we continued to take photos, and get footage of the cars. I actually got some very detailed shots of the workers walking to and boarding the Janet flights. The planes were very quick to load and take off, not like your normal commercial flights, which take hours. As we were perched atop my truck, I noticed a Black SUV, either a Suburban or Tahoe speed by my truck and into the dead end of Haven St. He then backed up and turned around, parking across the street from my truck. A light went on inside the SUV, whose windows were all tinted, even the front ones, and saw a man taking down my license plate number. My buddy turned off his camera and told me we should leave immediately. But, I thought that I would stay and get some shots of the vehicle, and of the man. I saw no posted signs preventing us from being on the road, nor taking pictures of any kind. He finished taking my plates down and then sped off back into the Janet Terminal building parking lot.
I decided that we were obviously not welcome there, and started to make our way towards Rachel. We pulled along Highway 93 to sleep, as it was already getting light outside. After waking up only 4 hours later (10am), we felt rejuvenated again. Unfortunately, my truck had started to sink overnight in the sand, much like quicksand. We were stranded for 2 hours there until a very nice trucker from the Home Depot came and hauled us out, but not after getting his own forklift stuck as well.
We made it to Alamo soon after to stop and load up on food and supplies. The people here by the way were so very helpful in assisting us on where to go, thus far. We continued on to Highway 375, or E.T. Highway, which was very nice and open to drive. We finally reached Rachel around 2:30pm on Friday, and went straight to the Little A'Le'Inn to eat and talk to the wonderful people there. The food was good, but the people were even better. All of the pictures inside the store were beautiful. I had on idea so many famous people had visited the place, and even Bob Lazar?! We camped out in front of the restaurant for a couple of hours, just sitting and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Then, out of nowhere a rumbling came from the Northeast, and passed quickly but without being able to see any aircraft. Seconds later, three loud booms were heard to the south, and it shook the ground that we were sitting on. This happened about four more times all within 20 minutes of the first one. It was some sort of bomb testing that was probably being conducted on the TTR (Tonopah Test Range). We never did see any of the aircraft, but could hear them very well.
We decided to set out for the Black Mailbox and Groom Lake Road. The mailbox must have been painted recently, because there wasn't that much writing on it. Needless to say, we kept the ink off it, and just observed. We headed down the road, passing the water tank on the right, and the corral on the left. Fifteen minutes later we finally made it to the border of the restricted area, where sure enough a Cammo Dude was perched atop a hill directly even with the warning signs. I was so amazed to finally see a real Cammo Dude in person. He was sitting solo in an older white Jeep Cherokee. What I noticed on the way around the hill before hitting the border, right in front of me was a flashing light that went on flashing for about 10 seconds, and then disappeared. Probably a way of letting the Cammo know somebody was coming. I was looking for the road sensors, but never saw any. All along the ridges were cameras perched, watching what seemed our every move. The feeling I had was very scared, and also a little worried, even though they cannot do anything as long as you are on public land. This is the road where the Bus comes in and out, carrying workers from town to the Base. I was sort of worried that the bus might come barreling around the corner, which was blind to us, and not be able to get out of the way.
We got a lot of good shots of the cameras and the Cammo Dude, but he as usual put up his sun visor to mask his identity. He actually seemed to be shunning the camera's and telling us with his hands to get out of the area.
We left the area and parked off Highway 375 to sleep again that night. On Saturday morning we decided to drive out through the National Wildlife refuge, and see what kinds of trouble we could get into. The road that took us 70 miles back into the middle of what is known as Desert Lake, a dry lake bed close to Dog Bone Lake, dead ended with a sign that read "No Travel Beyond this Point". We were so disappointed in that we couldn't go any farther. We were looking for Tikaboo Peak, but in turn passed the dirt road that led up to the peak. There was a sign that read, "Locked Gate Ahead', and we took that as if we couldn't get through. All in all, the trip was a great success in terms of pictures, and we even had a little scare with the run in with the Government vehicle. I hope to travel back to the area sometime soon!