My yearly vacation to California to visit family & friends, and yet another roadtrip to Groom Lake and Tikaboo Valley.
After an action packed two day in Las Vegas at the MGM and The Excalibur, we set off after watching the Tournament of the Kings show, heading North up the 15 and catching the 93. The long peaceful drive, and the usual build up of adrenaline, landed us in Rachel at 1:30 am. As we hit the 375, or "Jackrabbit Alley" as I call it, it was a peaceful drive, that unfortunately yielded in the deaths of 5 jackrabbits, as they hopped out in front of me. My girlfriend Khalisa and I continuously looked up at the sky on our way in to Rachel, observing anything worth noting.
As we passed Hancock Summit, and came down into the valley, there it was...The nighttime glow over the peaks, of a seemingly busy Area 51. Glowing in a pinkish-orangish hue, the night sky was illuminated with an almost spooky glow. Man I wished I was already nestled on Tikaboo Peak and watching what "isn't happening at the non existent facility".
Our eyes were glued to the sky and the road, as we tried to be attentive the frequent thump-thump of the rabbits who seemingly wished to attempt fate that evening. Eventually, we did arrive in Rachel, and the peaceful, sleepy town looked still and quiet. Camping the night outside the AlienInn in our Grand Prix rental prooved very comfortable to say the least!!
Woke up the morning of the 16th, to a very sunny morning in Rachel, and at 8am, went in for breakfast for the 1st time at the Inn. Met Sharon and Pat, both of whom were very kind people. We sat for what had to be two hours or so, while they were nice enough to let me plug in my camcorder to get it all charged up.
Eggs, toast, coffee and orange juice were the order of the morning, as we sat, staring at the years of memorabilia on the walls, and the souvenirs. Sharon offered to take our picture with the 'family' of aliens sitting by our table :) I asked if Chuck Clark was around town to possibly meet him if he weren't busy, and she believed him to be in AZ but she wasnt sure. While eating breakfast, we heard quite the sonic boom, which rattled off of everything. Dropped my fork and walked outside, but couldn't see anything but sun and sky.
After finishing up breakfast and purchasing a couple souvenirs, we grabbed a map that Chuck Clark designed (a small paperback one) with a route past Paranaghat Lake to get to Tikaboo Peak. Before leaving Jackrabbit Alley, we came to the Back Gate Road near Rachel, and took that all the way to the back gate, as we saw a couple high altitude aircraft overhead. Kicking up dust, we stopped short of the back gate and pulled over. I had the camcorder and Khalisa had the camera. We were easily noticed as we got out of the car, an 1/8 mile short of the guardshack, as the CammoDude stepped out of the shack. Observing us observing him, I was readily recording the experience on video, assuredly much to his displeasure.
After setting up shop for the view, we turned around to head to Tikaboo, but not before making another pitstop to Coyote Summit, where we climbed to its peak. Having camping chairs strapped to our back, camcorders and cameras, we were careful of any snakes that might be sunbathing as well. Popping up our chairs, we sat, hoping to witness some air activity. From the BackGate, prior to going over to Coyote, we were able to see the facility on top of Bald Mountain.
After basking in the sunlight for a while, and seeing no activity in the air, we made the descent back to the car, and began driving all over Tikaboo Valley - heading down some dirt roads, and making the drive as we kicked up the dust on Groom Lake Road. We appraoched the border, while at times during the drive, having to stop as vewhicles in the distance approached us at high speeds. One turned out to be someone who may have been heading away from Steve Medlin's place, and one dodge stratus had a government plate on it. Continuing on, we approached the 25 mile speed limit sign, and there he was - sitting off to the right, on the ever familiar butte - a couple Cammos and their green Chevy pickup. Out came the camcorder to zoom in on their position. This time I was feeling a bit more prepared (see trip report for August 22nd, 2005)with having something to document the experience. Khalisa brought the car around the curve where the orange markers can be approached and the tripod cameras are visible. Not stepping out of the truck as they did last time to look at us, the truck didnt budge an inch and neither did they.
We were as always, careful not to attempt fate by crossing the boundary and thus meeting M16's or the Lincoln County Sheriff. We turned around, and zipped back down Groom Lake Road, seeing a chopper heading back to the base as we did. Being Red Flag and all, we hadnt seen yet any major air activity. We ended up finding another dirt road that interested us - in turn leading us the gate and fence marking Range 61 :) which in turn led to some more video and pictures.
Finally! Heading toward Alamo and still on the 375, there they were!!! 5 fighter jets!!! Heading from Alamo direction, and toward the Powerlines Overlook. One flew pretty low - low enough for me to see that it was an F-16. Which country it was it was we couldnt tell. Near going off the road, we came to a sudden stop to try and capture them on video. In the blinding sun, I wasnt sure how the quality turned out. Excited now - Lets get to Tikaboo. By this time it was 5 or so, and we were hoping to get the climb in before sundown. We headed back through Alamo, and on to Paranaghat Lake. The map indicated some road just past Paranaghat ( a right turn as you head south) and it crosses into the wildlife refuge. We werent sure if we had the right road or not, but we took it nonetheless. Leading us into the middle of the peaks, we werent sure where Tikaboo was, or even Badger Mtn either. It was 7pm, and then 730pm with sundown approaching fast. Making a 30 minute drive we never apporached a dead end of any sort. There was a what looked like a couple of places for cows to gather and be fed. On our way in we observed a white truck with a tank on the back and a blue Ford pickup behind him but that was about it. Disappointed, we gave up, not being sure which peak was Tikaboo, or if were in the right spot. Disgruntled, we head back north towards Caliente and Panaca, crossing over into Utah, and heading south for AZ and the Grand Canyon. Oh well - next year I guess!!!