Sunday, February 16, 2014

Area 51 ~ 9/24/13

About 2 1/2 hours out of Vegas is the super secret, often conjectured about place known as Area 51. We checked out of our Vegas hotel in the morning, and before we headed to our hotel in Page, Arizona, where we would stay for the next 5 nights, we went to see what we could see. 

The landscape we drove through was sparse, desolate, and beautiful. There's not much in between Vegas and Rachel (the closest town to Area 51), so going with a full gas tank is essential.
 Finally a sign that we were getting close.
Unfortunately for us, this place was closed.
We finally came to what we believed was Groom Lake Road, the road leading to the front gate but we continued on to be sure. Sure enough, we next came to the Black Box, long considered to be the mailbox for Area 51, and yes, it's now painted white :-)
According to our map, the road stretching out behind the mailbox intersects with Groom Lake Road but we drove on to find the back gate road and the town of Rachel.
We passed what we thought was the back gate road and shortly thereafter hit the very tiny town of Rachel, which features the much photographed restaurant, Little A'Le'Inn.
We ordered and enjoyed the world-famous alien burgers.
Now it was time for Area 51, and we took the 10 mile drive in on the partially paved road just outside of Rachel to find the back gate. And here it is.
We didn't get out but took these pictures from the car. Signs warned against taking photographs but it was irresistible.  We didn't see anyone around the buildings but weren't taking any chances. One brief stop and we were back heading to the main highway to find the front gate. We passed the Black Box again but weren't confident that the road did intersect with Groom Lake Road so we drove on.

Important to note ~ there are no road signs or markers of any kind. We knew there were three roads in and after seeing the back gate and the black box road, we knew this road had to be Groom Lake Road. And it's a dirt road all the way (15 or 20 miles). The dust became so bad it started coming in through the air conditioner. So we traded off between sweltering in the car or sucking up dust.
We passed a few cars coming the other way and saw them coming from miles away due to the dust being kicked up. And I'm sure Area 51 security likes it that way (supposedly there are road sensors as well). We finally got close to the mountains seen in the background in the above photo and spotted a white vehicle up on a hill. We drove around a bend and there we were.
There's no gate here, just the signs, the camo guys up on the hill, and the imaginary line in the road. Allegedly there's a guard house just around the bend but we didn't venture forth to confirm. We did get out for some photos and then took that long, dusty road back, satisfied that we had made it here.
It was a great adventure and we were happy we took the time to experience it. One of these years, we will make a trek to Roswell, just because.

National Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas ~ 9/23/13

This museum was located back towards the hotel so from the Mob Museum, I grabbed a cab this time and arrived pronto.
It's an interesting conglomeration of bomb development and testing, life in the 1950s, and Area 51. Some exhibits were more interesting than others, but here's a smattering of the museum's contents, from the silly to the serious.
It's very striking how lightly people took the atomic bomb testings back then, even providing scenic overlooks.
And, the much more serious.
 Tests still continue but now underground ~ a little scary.
Ground Zero Theater allows visitors to experience a simulated bomb blast ~ more than a little scary.
There was a lot of scientific detail and information and, frankly, it was too much detail for me.
The last exhibit was Area 51, part factual and part fanciful, including the alien, but no photos were permitted inside.
Lastly, as always, was the gift shop, where the clerk was originally from Michigan :-)
This third stop of the day was my least favorite but it does have a few fascinating displays. Tomorrow we leave Vegas and head to the real Area 51.

The Mob Museum, Las Vegas ~ 9/23/13

A few blocks away from Neon Boneyard Park, lies the Mob Museum, three stories chock full of artifacts and historical information ~ organized crime, wire tapping, prohibition, and much more.
Walk in and you are greeted by this gentleman.
The building is the old Federal Building and it contains the actual courtroom where Kefauver hearings were held back in 1950 & 1951. Las Vegas was 1 of the 14 hearing locations.
Picture of Virginia Hill of Bugsy Siegel fame during a hearing.
There is a lot of history about the early casinos.
The Museum acquired the St. Valentine's Day Massacre wall and show a short movie about that day back in 1929.
 It's a little macabre, but here's the wall nonetheless.
And while on macabre ~
More mob history ~
Another wall is devoted to famous movie mobsters.
 And naturally, the last stop on the museum tour is the gift shop.

Upon exiting, I saw this sign that on
another day might have tempted me.
But today I had one more stop to make,