Wednesday 1st October 1997
“Tomorrow’s headline is going to read ‘UFO Abduction of 2 Aussie Tourists…’ Just kidding!” I said to Jay.
We both laughed a bit nervously.
“Who knows what could happen” he replied.
We had got up early, too impatient to wait for breakfast unless you count the small packet of Oreo cookies. It meant we had got an early start but that got wasted when we took a wrong turn. We had to back track to get onto Highway I15 before we were finally on our way. It was a glorious morning heading North with the mountains on the horizon.
We turned onto H93 and the distant mountain ranges started coming closer and fanning out either side of us along the highway providing an ever changing panorama of colour.
“I like the Mexican cactus.” I said to Jay breaking our silence. The cacti had started dotting the desert landscape shortly after we had turned onto H93; they stood guard over the desert’s secret.
We stopped for petrol and snacks at the tiny little town of Alamo, little more than a group of houses clustered around the petrol station, the centre of town life. It had all kinds of souvenirs about Area 51. Even the counter had a map stuck to it showing how to get to Area 51.
After Alamo we finally turned right onto State Route 375 heading towards the little town of Rachel.
Just after Hancock Summit, we were stopped by a Highway Patrol. They had been driving toward us. They flagged us over and asked us to pull over to let a really wide load through.
We had pulled over to the shoulder of the highway wondering what could possibly be coming. We got out of the car to stretch our legs and waited. A short time later a big truck carrying a huge piece of machinery drove towards us. Jay tried to identify what the machinery was as it passed us. We wondered where it had come from and where it was going. There was nothing out here but desert. We managed to take a photo for our album.
The officers had stayed in the area and waited for the big truck to pass, once gone they got back into their vehicle to pursue it and overtake it and warn off the next vehicle it would have to pass on this lonely stretch of highway. We also got back into our rental car and kept speeding towards Rachel hoping to keep to our loose schedule.
We arrived in Rachel about 12.30pm. We found the Information Centre; it was a bright yellow old style caravan with the most enormous satellite dish beside it and antennae and aerials of all sizes on the roof. We chatted to Sam who was manning the office. Sam told us to be careful, to obey the warning signs and to take them seriously. We purchased a map with hand written directions to Nellis Air Force Base along with some other souvenirs. The office cat yawned and stretched then strolled over to inspect us.
We found the Little Ale’inn in the centre of Rachel. The plaque from the movie Independence Day took place of honour outside the door to the inn. We entered and had lunch. Before we left we had a look at the movie memorabilia on the walls.
Following our map, we turned off the highway at the white letterbox and onto dirt road, cacti and blue sky going on forever. The map told us the letter box used to be black until the owner got fed up with tourists and painted it white.
We continued to follow the directions for the next hour or so until we spotted the big warning sign telling us that we were about to cross over onto government land. A cattle grate positioned between the two hills and the warning sign was the only indication that we had reached the boundary to Nellis Air Force Base. Looking up to the top of the hill on our left, we could see a white jeep Cherokee and two dudes dressed in their camo gear armed with AK47s. We had been told about them back in Rachel. Further along the hillside were tripods with cameras pointing down towards the “gate”.
We quietly got out of the rental car and read the sign warning off trespassers and advising that “any” force necessary would be used to detain those that did not heed these warnings.
Jay decided that he would like to see if he could get a reaction from the camo dudes. He gently stepped onto the cattle grate and started to walk over it onto the government land. There was no movement from the camo dudes although it felt like a thousand eyes were trained on us watching our every move, waiting for the movement that would tip the situation over the edge.
I gripped Jay’s arm and dragged him back off the grate. I said that the photos we had gotten today would be enough proof.
We got back into the rental car. I started reading the instructions on the map in reverse to get us back onto the highway.
After a little while, Amy said, “You know they must want to keep whatever it is really well hidden. No-one would go to all that trouble if there was nothing there. Why waste the money, time and energy denying everything and calling the people speaking out conspiracy theorists? Why buy back all the useless desert land that gave the public access to view the longest runway in the world? There must be something there. Probably not what we want but something anyway…”
Jay replied, “I don’t think this trip was a pointless exercise. It has answered some of our questions. It was good to get away. I can’t wait…”
We both stared out at the desert and the sentry cacti as we bumped along the desert track back towards the highway.
* * *
Sam read the front page of the Las Vegas paper. The headline for Friday 3rd October was, “Missing Australian Tourists. A rental car was found abandoned on State Route 375; there was no sign of the missing Australian tourists. The search will continue north today along the highway.”