When the government decided that they needed a secluded place to test out top secret aircraft, they could not have made a better choice for the location of Area 51. If you are ever in Nevada and have free time and feel the need to drive out into the middle of nowhere, visiting Area 51 may be an interesting activity.
My journey starts in Alamo, Nevada. Alamo is a small hole of a town that consists of one gas station/grocery store/fast food place, a couple of churches, and a couple of hotels. I stayed in a place called the Alamo Auto Motel and was quite pleased with my lodgings. It is a small hotel that has not been renovated since the mid-Seventies judging by the decor but it was clean and quiet. They did have a very noisy security camera that I am pretty sure was fake. It was motion sensing but did not kick in until I was almost out the door. If that was a real camera, they need a new one.
Anywho, I left Alamo and drove fifty-three miles to Rachel, Nevada. If Alamo was a small town, Rachel was nothing more than a trailer park. In all actuality, that description is fairly accurate. Basically, Rachel exists because Area 51 exists. There is a gas station, and the Little A'Le'Inn. If you go to Area 51, you must go to the Little A'Le'Inn. It is a restaurant/bar/gift shop that resides in a small kind of dumpy building but the people that run it are extremely nice and helpful. There are all sorts of Area 51 merchandise and doodads to be had. I had to play tourist and buy a couple of shirts and a shot glass. When I travel to new places, I like to get shot glasses and post cards. While there, I had lunch which consisted of the yummy Alien Burger. It was a cheeseburger with special sauce on a hoagie bun.
After snapping some pictures and asking for directions, I left Rachel and headed for Groom Lake Road. Finding Groom Lake Road is kind of a challenge if you do not know what you are looking for. The road itself is indistinguishable from the other dirt roads around the area save for one fact, it is wide enough to allow for a fully loaded semi to travel on it. There are no signs indicating the name of the road, just a stop sign. Happy that I was able to locate the road, I headed on the final leg of my journey to Area 51. The road is made of pretty loose gravel and you kick up a ton of dust when going down it; I think this was purposeful because that way they can see that they are going to have visitors. The road goes on for about fifteen miles and during the drive, I have never felt more like I was being watched, which I was.
The security around Area 51 is creepy. First off, there are motion sensors built into the ground. If you look hard enough you can see their antennae sticking out of the ground. They sense vibrations and sound I think. Secondly, as you go up the straight dirt road, you are able to see the glint of metal on a hill. The object producing this glare is a black Ford F150 truck with a security guard armed with high powered binoculars watching your every move.
At the end of the road, or as close to the end as any civilians can get, is a cluster of signs. The signs basically state that you are approaching a military installation and that photography of the area is prohibited. Oh yeah, you are also warned that if you go past the gate, security personnel are authorized to kill you. So being the law abiding guy I am, I whipped out my camera and began snapping pictures. The security staff very seldom bothers the nerdy tourists that approach their gate and don't really mind people snapping off a couple of pictures here and there. The only other thing of note is the fact that when you approach the gate, a security camera in the sage brush on top of a nearby hill turns to watch you as well. There is also a wide area of antennae and other electronics taking note of your visit. It is kind of unsettling.
After that, I left and went back to Alamo where I watched TV for the rest of the night. All in all, it was a fun adventure but a tad creepy. There is not a lot to see so if you go, do not expect to be dazzled by the showmanship of the area.