Day 2 – Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah
Ever since witnessing this amazing celestial event on November 18, 2009 at 12:07 am from our balcony in Las Vegas, Jason and I have put countless hours researching and hoping to one day be able to search for this meteorite. Well, today WAS that day!!!
After having breakfast, fueling up the truck and ATV, and stocking up on supplies at Ridley’s supermarket, we left Ely Nevada for the 3 hour drive to Callao Utah. Just after passing the Nevada/Utah border on Highway 50/6, the road to Grandy/Callao was on the left. We were surprised to find out that it was a well maintained dirt road, not a paved road. This didn’t slow us down though, as Rick has a lead foot (LOL) and we were all eager to set our eyes on the massive Dugway Proving Grounds (DPG) dry lake bed. After about a hour, we came up over a rise, and there it was Dougway Proving Grounds….what a beautiful sight!!! We stopped to take a few pictures of the Callao sign and almost got ran over by some crazy girl on a motorcycle. This was our only impression of Callao, as there wasn’t anyone else around. We then headed to the spot where I calculated we might find some meteorites from the Utah fireball.
Now, I have spent 8 months watching all the video I could find of this fireball. I have read numerous comments on local Utah TV news station websites, watched other meteorite hunters triangulating the terminal burst on YouTube, and spent hundreds of hours pinpointing video camera locations and flying over DPG from different angles on Google Earth. All this effort to try to figure out just where pieces of this meteorite might have landed. I kept hearing over and over again how it most likely landed on DPG, a top secret Army base where access is all but impossible. But, according to my calculations, this meteorite or parts of it could have fallen in areas where it could be recovered. So this trip was to see if that was possible.
Plan A for day 2 was to take this road to get closer to the DPG dry lake bed, about 5-6 miles from this sign. But as you can see, that wasn’t going to happen. **Just a side note: We were prepared and aware at ALL times to stay on public BLM land and not trespass on DPG or break the law at any time. We had all the GPS coordinates of the DPG boundaries pre-loaded in our GPS units.** Since we didn’t want to trespass, we decided to go with plan B which was to drive up the road to Gold Hill and find a dirt road that would take us down towards the lake bed.
We found this dirt road and followed it down about a mile and a half until it turned to the left and ran parallel to the dry lake bed. We found a place to park and decided to make this our starting point. We strapped on our Snake Gaitors, grabbed our magnet poles, and proceeded to start our search for the Utah fireball. I think I can speak for Jason and Rick when I say how excited I was to finally be on the ground searching for this meteorite!
We decided to walk about 10 feet apart through the bushes and drainage arroyos towards the dry lake bed to try to grid a path without missing a possible meteorite. As we we were beginning to learn, this area is vast and could take a lifetime searching this area on foot. We didn’t use the ATV because it would have been hard to find a path down the arroyos and the small cliffs before you actually get to the dry lake bed.
We had hiked about 5 miles, still about 1.5 miles from the DPG boundary. Suddenly, 3 F/A-18 jets flew overhead. We really didn’t think anything about it and kept hunting. About 10 minutes later they flew by again, this time even lower!!! This got our attention and we decided maybe it was time to head back to the truck. Just then a single jet came from a different direction a fired 5 flares in our direction. This was enough warning for us, we made a beeline straight to the truck. They flew by a couple more times and must have been satisfied that we were leaving.
We decided to head to our hotel in West Wendover to evaluate what we had learned. We took the back way out, which took us thru Gold Hill. This old mining town still has an active gold mine with a few modern residences, and a few remnants of the old ghost town.
No meteorites were found. We originally planed to spend 3 days searching for the Utah fireball, but decided to take what we learned to plan a return trip in the fall. I now know what it’s going to take to find this meteorite….and I will be back!!!
Up next, day 3, Sonny Clary’s Meteorite Men dry lake bed.
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