I haven’t written about this previously, as I generally don’t cover things “alien” on this site. But all this nonsense that’s going around about a raid on the top-secret base—which isn’t top-secret at all since everybody on the planet knows about it, but it is certainly secret-ive—has got me to thinking that maybe it’s time. You see, I actually have been to Area 51, as close to it as any civilian can get without getting shot. For this reason the proposed plan to “raid” the place has me rolling my eyes harder than most folks. I realize even more than most just how ludicrously stupid the mere idea is. (Yes, I know it’s all a big joke, but you know there’s bound to be at least one idiot who actually tries it.) Read on, then, to hear the true story of my visit to the world’s most infamous clandestine facility.
To begin with, the site itself gives a whole new meaning to the term “remote.” There are paved roads for part of the way, but there is nothing around. I find the desert beautiful. In fact it is hard for me to conceive of any natural scenery *more* beautiful, but it is a desolate beauty. And if you have to stop to pee, you’re kinda up the creek, unless you wanna do it on the side of the road. Except, luckily for me, there is, on the way out to the base, a golf resort, of all things. They have a nice little clubhouse and the folks there were nice enough to let me use their bathroom. After that, there’s nothing, nothing at all until you get to the Alien Research Center, a delightfully quirky little tourist attraction there specifically to cater to those rare tourists determined enough to make the drive out that far.
(Just look for the tall metallic alien out front.)
(Yes, I did buy myself a bottle of Alien vodka there.)
Then it’s miles and miles more of beautiful nothingness along the “Extraterrestrial Highway”
until you reach the community—it’s way too small to call it a town—of Rachel, Nevada and the wonderful Little Ale-Inn, a tiny restaurant, bar, and motel.
I stopped in and had the world-famous Alien Burger.
Now consult the maps below.
At the Little Ale-Inn I got directions. Just head south and turn down the first road on the right. Sounds simple, no? In reality the roads out there branching off the Extraterrestrial Highway are all gravel are not marked; in some cases it is generous to even call them roads.
I drove right past the one I was looking for and ended up turning down the “Mailbox Road,” named after the legendary Black Mailbox of UFO lore. The mailbox isn’t there anymore, but the “road” is.
You have to drive at the most maybe fifteen miles an hour or you’ll shake, rattle, and roll yourself into a concussion. I’m not exaggerating. Granted I was driving a standard rental car and not a Hummer or an SUV, but whatever you’re in, if it’s moving across the ground, you’re not going to be able to get up much speed. It takes a looooooooong time to get where you’re going, and there are no signs, no landmarks, nothing to help you find your way.
I went past the corral area shown on the map and ended up on one of the side “roads.” This road stopped at a gate.
This wasn’t much of a gate and it wasn’t manned. It looked more like a cattle gate than anything military in origin. I honestly wasn’t even sure if I’d found the boundary line for the base or just some rancher’s property. I turned around and headed back. It wasn’t long until the white SUV appeared.
Everyone who’s read about Area 51 knows about the menacing white SUVs. They’re totally unmarked, but they show up if you get too close to the parameters of the base (which is itself huge). I was at this time still not sure I’d found the base and I thought at first the SUV—I never even saw where it came from—might belong to some rancher. As I was having to drive so slowly, I pulled over to the side of the trail (it wasn’t a road at this point by any stretch of the word) out of courtesy, to let the guy pass me. THE SUV STOPPED TOO. WAITING. It was then that I knew. I smiled broadly and continued on my way. The SUV escorted me back to the crossroads back at the corral, where I saw another SUV heading south and hauling ass. There were maybe four other civilian vehicles out that day doing the same thing I was doing, hunting aliens. I can only assume one of them had gotten too close. When *my* white SUV saw that I was headed back in the direction of the highway, it turned off. I waved to the driver but I don’t know if he saw me. It was a “chase” only in the way that OJ got “chased” by the police, but I *did* get escorted away from the area!
I drove back to the Little Ale-Inn for more directions. The second time I found the right road, labeled on the map as “Back Gate Road.” More driving at 10-15 miles an hour with nothing to see anywhere except magnificent barrenness—until after a few miles the gravel road suddenly turned into a paved road, as the proprietors at the Inn had told me it would. (“Do NOT try to go past that line!” they’d warned me.) Now I knew I was getting close. I drove on, passing a pair of large flatbed trucks heading out the other way. And then I saw it ahead of me: the gate. And the guards. Armed guards. I’d made it. I was at Dreamland. Area 51. I didn’t take any photographs at this gate, as there was a sign, a big sign, stating that photography was illegal. And I did mention the armed guards, right? So, yeah. I turned around at the gate. I could get no closer. The Groom Lake facility proper lay beyond, out of sight, a little to the south. I was so close.
There were signs all over the fencing, by the way, informing would-be trespassers that, should they cross that line, deadly force was authorized. Those exact words. Deadly force. And they weren’t kidding. I wasn’t any kind of enemy of the State. I was just a weirdo tourist with an overexaggerated sense of adventure. But if I had been out there that day for nefarious purposes, my chances for success would have been the same as those of an ice cube left exposed on one of the sunbaked rocks of the Nevada desert.
See, then, why the idea of anyone “storming” Area 51 is so ridiculous? Those nitwits wouldn’t even make it through the desert far enough to get shot!