ut on the road, heading to Reno and Fernley, Nevada, for Thanksgiving. We were going to Reno for Thanksgiving with my extended family who live there. Traveling to Fernley was to visit the National Cemetery and my parents grave sites.
The National Cemetery is a dedicated site that sits on high desert land. The area is covered with tumble weeds and other desert plants. I’ve only been there in cold weather months so I know it to be cold and wind swept. It suits me.
The VA buries veterans at the cemetery closest to them. In New Orleans it used to be at Chalmette, where the Battle of New Orleans was fought during the War of 1812. But, it is full. So, my next resting place is in Slidell. But, by buying the farm and living there, I’ve upgraded myself to the pinnacle of national cemeteries. Arlington.
Not that I’ll care.
Fernley was just a little desert town when I buried my parents about 18 months apart. I almost didn’t recognize it this time. FEDEX built a huge distribution center there. You know what happens when a big company moves into a little back water town. The town explodes. The people are flush with cash. New people move in. All the funky little businesses are gentrified out of business.
When I buried my parents, and returned to visit their graves I drank coffee at a little cafe where the waitress greeted everybody with, “Hon, sit anywhere that you want.” It’s gone, replaced by a Starbucks with counter help that misspell your name. Every single time.
This is Area 51, or a gateway to it. True believers think there are captured space aliens here. They think the government uses them for experiments. Try going on the fenced off land. You won’t get 500 yards before soldiers armed to the teeth riding in Humvees turn you back to the public roads. They are authorized to shoot to kill. That’s just how serious they are.
The soldiers are intense because Area 51 is a skunkworks. Experimental planes and rockets are developed there. Most never see service and are left in the far reaches of the barbed wire desert. There are also conventional planes, B-29s and the upgraded version called the B-50. There are probably others. They were used to test experimental things. They are left to molder and rot in the desert. They don’t rust. The desert is too dry for that.
The little rest stop in the picture with the pink building is fairly well known. You can buy gas there. You can buy food to go there. You can eat in the cafe there. Or, you can visit the cathouse in the back. You know, “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.”
Everything is expensive so I usually refuel closer to Las Vegas. I do stop to make pictures. And, some times I buy road food, No. I don’t go to the backroom. I pass no judgement on those who do, but I’m not that guy. Besides, my co-driver would kill me. But. I am a guy who enjoys road trips. I haven’t taken one in over two years.
You know why.