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    Posted March 22, 2012 by
    Rachel, Nevada
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel photo of the day

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    Not too long ago, I was fortunate enough to acquire $9 tickets to fly to & from Las Vegas on Spirit Airlines. While there-- so I wouldn't squander my money on gambling and all-you-can-eat buffets, I ventured forth on a couple of interesting tours.


    One of these went out to Area 51 in the desert outside of Nevada. Area 51 is the stuff of legends and has been featured in many films and documentaries. It is the most famous secret military installation on the planet; some might call it "The Real X-Files."


    The Area 51 tour visits the "Black Mailbox," which is a famous site for ET viewings and so is the nearby area where UFO radiation has been said to have deformed a Joshua Tree Forest.


    It's fun to stare at the heavily armed Air Force guards hanging out in their fortified trucks beyond the perimeter fence. Test your eye for detail by searching for hidden detection, motion and listening devices, and scan for assorted cameras mounted among the cactus plants. Should you "accidentally" cross the perimeter into Area 51, some say men in black will teleport to you directly and slap some cuffs on you for trespassing on government property.


    Don't forget to scan the skies for UFO activity – maybe some ETs are searching for lost kin. That would be the purported dead aliens & spacecraft the government has presumably secreted below Area 51 that contain the remains discovered at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1948. Yes, that is right: there are said to be dead aliens (and maybe some alive ones) right down there below Area 51.


    A sign that caught my eye: "The use of deadly force is authorized." The feds mean business here.


    Even though it is supposed to be hush-hush and no picture taking is allowed, there is something supremely alluring and mysterious about Area 51. The heaviness that hangs in their air here is oppressive and soul-sucking.


    Therefore, I was very pleased when the tour left Area 51 and stopped at some campgrounds called "The Cabins." They are three rustic, one-room stone shelters built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. Nearby is a small shaded area with some rustic camp tables and benches. While trying to decompress from Area 51, I glimpsed the sweetest little squirrel sitting on a rock watching me. He (or she) was hungrily eying my bag of Sun Chips I bought at the Indian Reservation truck stop.


    Since I am quite partial to cute squirrels, I asked my tour guide about them. He told me they are called antelope squirrels. These ground squirrels live in desert and very dry scrub areas. Since it's very hot, the Antelope Squirrel has a special adaptation. It is able to resist extreme weather conditions and can survive body temperatures over 104°F.

    But the question of the moment was: could I resist the innocent glances of the squirrel towards my bag of chips? The answer was no, and soon, not just one, but a whole horde of antelope squirrels literally came out of the rocky outcrop and starting glancing my way.


    Since I did want to eat my Sun Chips, I wandered over to the covered trash cans, where there was a warning sign posted: DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE.


    I fished around in a couple of the trashcans & found some hapless tourists had left behind a whole big bag of those scoop chips and I also found a long-n-the-tooth bag of wheat bread! It was party time! While the rest of my tour group was traipsing around the hot, dusty trials looking for space aliens, I enjoyed a nice picnic with my new squirrel friends who certainly enjoyed the bounty of carbohydrates I feed them.


    Disclaimer: Now if any of the Park Rangers from Nevada read this iReport, I am prepared to disavow any & all of the things I have just said.


    The antelope squirrels are sweet & adorable. They were not afraid of me in the least. Even some mama squirrels brought their little ones out to grab a snack. I am used to the nasty tree squirrels we have here in San Diego that are grabby and aggressive. The Nevada Area 51 ground squirrels are much better mannered & gracious.

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