While at a reunion in October 2007, my friend Angus from the UK asked me if I would like to join him in going up to Area 51 the next day, since I had never been, and the rest of our group was going on an already overbooked trip to the NTS. I have spent the last 5 years as a fascinated observer, and decided to jump at the chance to go. After all, this was the mecca of Area enthuisasts and researchers, and now we would be THERE! (Or next to it as possible!) Joerg and Peter Merlin gave us lots of advice the night before.
My wife Rafeena, Angus and I got an early start from the hotel that morning, and made sure we had plenty of water, and life supplies and of course, munchies as well, and we were off. Angus had been there, but last time, alone, so he had a basic idea of what to expect. My wife slept most of the way, and Angus and I chatted about everything and anything until we got to the 375 turn off. My mind began to swim about all we were not going to see, and MAYBE see something we could talk about later. That turned out to be the trip itself.
Once we got in sight of the the Front Gate road, on the ridge, I felt a sense of awe! Here we were, finally, to see it all first hand, and now we could say "we've been there." At the top of the Groom Road, Angus told us to guess how long the road was. I said 5 miles, my wife said 3 miles...you know the rest! We bounced along the road, kicking up lots of dust for the Cammo Dudes to see,joking that the free range cows were probably Cammos-incognito and arrived at the Front Gate. We stopped WAAAAY short to get our bearings, and give the dudes lots of time to check us over. Angus (sorry about this dude) needed to de-fuel after the long drive, and went behind a rock just out of sight of the Cammo Dude on the hill. We heard a car honk, and I almost de-fueled on the spot. We figured the Cammo Dude didn't like Angus getting out of view and my wife and I continuing towards the gate. We stopped about 15 feet short and began taking pictures. I didn't take any pictures of the truck or the direction of it since I figured, we leave them alone, and they'll leave us alone. It was only on guy in the truck anyhow. Angus and I went up the hill right of the signs and gave the Cammo Dude a good look. That's where Angus discovered the new camera tower that was posted in October. I stood in awe, and so happy to finally be there.
The desert was beuatiful and quiet, and I felt like I was in the best place on Earth. I picked up lots of souvienier rocks (Area 51 rocks for friends!) and we started to head back down the hill. My wife Rafeena stayed in the jeep. We were joking we hoped Aliens didn't abduct her, but the laughing stopped when we heard something approaching very fast from the main highway. As we got closer, we saw a Jeep Cherokee, and I nearly de-fueled again. We got down to our truck the same time the Jeep did, tinted windows and all. Two young guys got out and it was just tourists like us. We talked for a minute, and off they went.
We piled in and headed back toward Rachel, but made a wrong turn, and ended up about 500 feet from Steve Medillin's gate. We made a u-turn, and no gunfire was heard. We got to the mailbox, took some pics and off to back gate and then Rachel. We drove up to the back gate, and got out. We noticed the cameras picked us up right away and followed us around. At one point Angus went one way and I the other, so the camera followed the one probably easiest to shoot first (just kidding). We heard loud talking from the gate house about sports. There was a major traffic jam as 3 vehicles in 10 minutes pulled up. The Cammo Dudes didn't get out of the guardhouse and made everyone come in to get checked. At one point we laughed becuase one of the Cammos RAN to the out house ducking both in and out. All the vehicles occupants waved backed at us except the last one wearing a Marines T-Shirt. The guards kept thier loud chatting, cameras followed us, we snapped some more pics, grabbed more rocks, and on we went. Just as we were leaving, we heard a very loud jet overhead and saw only a silvery reflection.
We stopped at the Hwy 375 sign and took pics. I was in awe of the silence. I feel quickly in love with the place I had always wanted to visit. We drove around the "town" and to the A'Le'Inn and it was just like I had pictured. A lady there was talking about a Bobcat they had to shoot for getting to close to the homes. We ordered Alien Burgers with the secret sauce. My wife wasn't as adventurous and spoiled the sauce surprise by asking what it was..(newbies). It was an AMAZING burger. We bought souvieniers, took a few more pics and headed back to Vegas. We stopped in Alamo to get Gas, bathrooms and munchies. A couple of guys obviously coming from the base stopped in with a white Gov't truck. One looked civilian and the other was a young military type. Also getting gas was a flatbed tractor-trailer that had 2 all white, brand new vehicles on it. One was a tow truck with RED lights on top...Hmmmm.
We got back to Vegas and shared our adventure with Joerg and Pete. It was an experiance I will never forget.