Traveling to area 51
We left sunny Palmdale California and said goodbye to our friends John, Donna and Rosie as we embarked on our epic quest to reach Area 51 outside of Las Vegas Nevada. We’d swung by their place for an afternoon, but ended up spending two days.
It’s great to pop in, and pop out, of our friends and families homes as we travel! John was showing us some photographs that he’d taken over the years, and the pictures from Elmer’s bottle tree ranch just caught my eye. I’m nothing, if not a racoon at heart, always reaching for the shiny and glittering objects.
Elmer’s bottle tree ranch
So, en route to Las Vegas we stopped and visited Elmer’s bottle tree ranch in Oro Grande California. Visiting Elmer’s is our kind of stop on the side of the road. It’s quirky, it’s a little bit off the beaten path, and it’s not a huge time investment. We are nothing if not eager to keep moving down the road. We wandered around for about thirty minutes and enjoyed the cacophony of bells, wind chimes, a child playing, and the wind blowing.
If you walked in a straight line from one side of the ranch to the other side, which you couldn’t, I guess you could cross it in thirty seconds. When you add in all the sights and sounds, it may have taken ten or fifteen minutes to make a cursory pass from one side to the other. They’re just SO much to look at in every direction. It’s well worth a stop if you’re in the area.
We swung through Las Vegas to see one of my previous co-workers who has since left the company we worked for and relocated to Las Vegas. It was fun to hang out with him for a few hours and chat. It was interesting listening to Wes talk shop, I’m now nearly two years removed from my last job, and some of the stresses are just gone. I recognized, and identified, with his concern out over the cost of Cobra health Insurance.
I’ve met up with a few, but not too many, previous co-workers in the past two years when we’ve been in Portland. It hasn’t been due to a lack of interest on my end, but more due to lack of time on our end. We’re running hard these days when we touch down in Portland. As time goes by, I’m less focused on that job and more focused on the next adventure, whatever that may be.
Anyway, back to Vegas. We’ve been to Vegas before, and we’re not huge gamblers. We do enjoy the buffets though! Sadly, we didn’t even pause in Vegas for the buffets. We’re not yet ready to venture back into the Casino world with Covid just yet. We were preparing to exit Vegas when Cupcake decided that she wanted a little love and attention. A mere $800 and a day later we were back on the road and headed for…..Area 51!
Area 51-What is it?
Let’s insert a Wikipedia summary: “Area 51 is the common name of a highly classified United States Air Force (USAF) facility located within the Nevada Test and Training Range. A remote detachment administered by Edwards Air Force Base, the facility is officially called Homey Airport (KXTA) or Groom Lake, named after the salt flat situated next to its airfield.”
Over the years there have been many differing reports about citizens seeing strange lights, spaceships, UFO’s, “whatever” in this area. I don’t have a dog in the fight. Others though, are very focused on what happens in and around Area 51.
I must say up front that I do however believe in little green (or blue) men: When I consider that the universe has hundreds of trillions of galaxies, with 21.6 sextillion planets, (21,600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) it seems pretty safe to assume that one of those planets has some sort of intelligent life on it. With our luck as Earthlings, when we finally meet them, they’ll be in the middle of their equivalent to an annual presidential primary.
Area 51-Where is it?
It’s in the middle of freaking nowhere, that’s where it is! OK, so finding the location near Area 51 wasn’t really all that challenging. We input Little A’Le’Inn into the GPS and off we went towards Rachel Nevada, population 54.
The map doesn’t necessarily do the drive justice. Cupcake, and her occupants, fare much better at slower speeds. It’s all about the road conditions. Going too fast may equate to Cupcake’s occupants wearing their morning cup of coffee. The driver actually fares better at this game because they can see, and are paying attention, to the road ahead. The passenger, God love em, may not remember to look ahead down the road before lifting the cup of coffee towards their mouth. (Oh my gosh, I do have to share with you: Noelle was the passenger recently and forgot to survey the road conditions ahead and took a swig of coffee. The pothole, or whatever we hit, caused severe bouncing in the cab Noelle’s cup was nearly vertical above her mouth and coffee came gushing out. I, ever the mature fellow that I am, howled with laughter and nearly wiped out Cupcake through my tears.)
In any case, just because a map says it’s going to take us two hours to arrive means nothing. We generally take the estimated time, add 50%, and call it good. So, we were banking on a three to four hour one way drive. We’d need to spend the night!
Area 51-Extraterrestrial Highway!!!
All was uneventful until we turned East off 93. I nearly erupted with glee at the sight of highway 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway! I didn’t know whether to wind my watch or shit my britches! Of COURSE we had to pull Cupcake over and take a picture!
The Extraterrestrial Highway sign itself is somewhat iconic. It’s a popular place to stop and snap a photo (Just like we did!) and slap on a sticker. Unfortunately, it became so popular that the State of Nevada removed it in September 2019 ahead of the “Storm Area 51-They can’t stop all of us” event. The Storm Area 51 event attracted around 2 MILLION online RSVP’s, so the state of Nevada was (understandingly) a tad nervous about all the potential traffic. With all the traffic, everyone would want a picture with the sign, big traffic back ups, plus everyone trying to steal the sign. (It’s the most stolen sign in Nevada.)
The sign, with all the stickers, had us talking about stickers again. We’ve been to so many places like this where stickers are just all over the place. In some places stickers seem to be welcomed, but we’ve no stickers to affix. Perhaps we’ll roll out some stickers with our logo at some point in the future to gleefully slap onto points of interest and our families forheads.
(On a side note: There’s a lot of good twitter questions right now about how Area 51 has better security than the U.S. Capitol.)
Anyway, back to the sign. We snapped our picture with the NEW Extraterrestrial Highway that’s like ten or twelve feet off the ground! How Awesome is that picture?!?
The Extraterrestrial Highway earned it’s name in 1996 after the release of Independence Day. (Independence day has scenes from Area 51.)
Area 51-Little a’le’inn
So down the Extraterrestrial Highway we traveled, until we reached Little A’Le’Inn. I may have been so excited that I danced a little jig in the parking lot…
The sign outside says it all, “Welcome Earthlings”, and welcome we were!
We ambled inside and found a smattering of alien/UFO “stuff”. I had a great time looking at all the little trinkets and doodads. We purchased a few items, but didn’t go too crazy. While I might enjoy alien “stuff”, I’m not sure that I want to start sending it in the mail to all our friends and family. (OK, OK, I did purchase a few items and sent them to friends. Don’t tell anyone and it’ll be our secret.)
Area 51-Down a long dirt road
We threw ourselves at the mercy of the staff at Little A’Le’Inn and asked for directions to the ACTUAL Area 51. It was pretty short and sweet. Go back the way we came on 357 about a half mile and look for a stop sign on a dirt road on our right. Turn there. Go nine miles. That’s it.
So we traveled down the dirt road for nine plus miles. It was a combination of dirt and pavement. The sales guy at Little A’Le’Inn said that the road would start as dirt and then turn into pavement after about two miles. It sounded very mysterious. Our recollection is that it was a dirt road for about seven miles, and then it turned into pavement.
In either case, be it by dirt road or paved road, we arrived at the entrance to Area 51. What did we find? Not much! Did that dim our enthusiasm? Oh heck no!
After spending about fifteen minutes taking pictures at the entrance to Area 51 we left and headed back towards town. There really isn’t anything to “do” once we’d taken our pictures. I suppose we could have pulled out the lawn chairs and popped a cold one, but….it really did seem like we were being watched. There’s camera’s all around, and the signs, and the barbed wire, and the weird vibe So, leaving seemed like a good option.
We returned to town, literally went to the other side of state highway, and followed another dirt road about seven miles up into the lowland hills. We were seeking a good spot for stargazing, but we ended up nestled between a bunch of hills. The next morning we left the hill country and returned to the beginning of the International Highway.
Area 51-ET Fresh Jerky
On the way out of town we stopped at ET Fresh Jerky. As was true yesterday, again proved true today, one of us was WAY more excited about Area 51 and it’s crazy assortment of UFO/Alien accoutrements than the other person! We wandered into the store and met Cyril.
Cyril has lived in the Valley for generations and his grandpa had the first car in the Valley in 1934, a Roadster. The Roadster pulled the sled that made the road to Vegas. We chatted about Cyril’s mom too. This is one of the things that we really enjoy about meeting folks while we travel. Just hanging out and chatting!
We loaded up with quite the assortment of goodies and went outside to snap some pictures. Cyril came out side and gave us photo suggestions and even took a few pictures for us!
After saying goodbye to Cyril we hit the road and headed for our next adventure. (I’m thinking we may need to find a way to include Roswell in our travels, but don’t tell Noelle just yet!) If you have a recommended adventure for us, leave us a comment below.