Return Visit to Rachel, Nov 2022
by Morgan

I recently returned from Rachel, NV and surrounding area- this was probably my fourth or fifth time heading out there. Starting to lose count. As an aviation enthusiast and dude who just loves the middle of nowhere, it really is a special place.

This time around I brought my brother with me, and two friends from Arizona (we're coming from CA) who met us half way in Death Valley. Spent the night at the Amagrosa Opera house, did a little day camping, and made the long trek to Rachel. My preferred method of getting over there is to basically drive by Palmdale/Skunkworks, up towards CA's Red Rocks, by Edwards AFB and then through all of Death Valley. Then spend a night in DV, maybe check out Devil's Hole and then head up "the long way" to Rachel through Goldfield, past Tonopah TR, etc. I really love this route and explaining to people just how freakin' huge these sites are. Driving for hours without seeing another car. "Wow they really don't want us over here, huh?!" Then upon return you just jet to Vegas for a shower and some gambling at the Bellagio or something by way of 93.

It was freezing at night, so we just set up a nice little day camp spot near-ish to the Black Mailbox. Cooked some burgers and played guitar and listened to our Whistler TRX-1 scanner which was picking up a bunch of chatter from Dreamland airspace and TTR- "Ranchhouse to Merlin!". Sounded like they were doing ops all day. We could hear it all crystal clear. (I recorded it all if there's any interest in listening). My friends, I think, were a little skeptical that we would "see anything", but those fears were quickly assuaged as we drove in and saw tons and tons and tons of contrails. Then we watched the stars for a while, which is by far my favorite part of coming out here. Then someone pointed out to me I still had my sunglasses on...

Once the cold started to get unbearable we took off towards Little Alie'Inn where we booked one of the big rooms. Had some drinks and snacks and had a blast renting out all the old conspiracy VHS tapes they had. Highlight of the trip has to be waking up at 2:22am on the dot, hearing the wildest "wobble wobble wobble" sound and then BLAM!!!! gigantic sonic boom which shook the entire trailer and our beds. Shortly after we heard another one. I was praying my friends were awake to hear it. Suddenly from the next room and the bed next to mine- everyone goes "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!??!". So fun. Obviously it woke everyone up. Wish I had been outside to see some of the night ops but it was absolutely freezing.

Anyway, just wanted to write up our little visit. Hope to meet some of you some day. I think I'll try to come back for Red Flags. Either way I've been averaging about one visit a year since I first came by. Love this place.

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