So leapfrogging back over the last inexplicable post, remember when I said that we go to Europe for castles, history, sexy accents and beer, and that they come here for the amazing landscapes, New York City, sexy accents, and... um. Definitely not the beer? Well, Death Valley has a castle for those of us who can't go to Europe whenever we want, and in case Europeans get homecastlesick. On our way out the next morning (after a fabulous night in the 50s-fancy Furnace Creek Inn thanks to a room upgrade) we hit Scotty's Castle.
Scotty was a con man who convinced some rich dude to invest in his non-producing gold mine, and the rich guy built the place so he could be near his investment. By the time that the gold mine fell through and Scotty had disappeared, Rich Dude had discovered that the desert was good for his health, so he stayed.
Yup. That small outpost of humans just outside of Area 51, Rachel Nevada. In fact the long route from Death Valley goes north, east, and then south for about 300 miles and circumnavigates the gigantic military installation which houses Area 51 as well as the Tonopah Test Range where if you look at it from google maps, you can see the hundreds of gigantic craters left from the nuclear bomb tests they were doing all throughout the 50s.
Of course we stopped in at my favorite American diner, the Little A'Le'Inn, for lunch. Damn fine cuppa coke, alienburger, and shoestring fries.
On the last occasion I visited Rachel, I was stopping in at the Inn when this crazy ass Donnie Darko-lookin' storm rolled in out of nowhere, and I got a cool shot similar to this of this tow truck and Inn sign out front.
After lunch, I chatted up the employees and asked them if they'd mind if I published the shot, if I ever had the oportunity. There's this whole thing about property releases that the sign in the photo necessitates. So the owner, Pat Travis, was in and she came out and asked to see the picture. I pulled out my laptop and showed it off:
And she said she'd sign a release on the condition that I send her a copy to hang in the diner! She may have simply been being polite, but she does have a lot of stuff hanging on her walls in there so there's a good chance that any future visitors will see my picture in there. And in any case she signed the back of a card for me so, it's a win-win.
From there, Julie and I headed over to Area 51.
The famous black mailbox. It's funny because lore had it that it was some sort of secret drop-off box for Area 51, when in fact it's just a mailbox for a local rancher named Steve Medlin. He has had to take extreme measures to make it secure because people keep vandalizing it; he's repainted it since the last time I was here.
I have this juvenile glee for taking pictures of signs that say photography prohibited, and then pulling out my zoom lens for close-ups of seeeeeecret things. Like this strange alien-shaped spy device looking down on us from a hilltop.
Rumor has it that if you step one toe over the border into Area 51, these guys will rush down and arrest the fuck out of you and take you to a local county jail, where you have to pay a $500 fine. Kind of not so scary... If I had a bunch of money and I wanted to risk losing my job I'd seriously consider making a break for it, just for laughs. I've been cuffed by military types before; it's more funny than intimidating.