I came across a slightly tongue-in-cheek post I thought was worthy of bringing in the New Year. I say tongue in cheek because I should imagine the American and Russian nuclear missile silos are even more off limits. But then who am I, the intrepid armchair traveller to argue with Husna Haq who wrote about these secret places?
My 4 Secret Places
Menwith Hill, Near Harrogate, North Yorkshire
The RAF Menwith Hill Base exists to monitor a Russian guided missile attack on Europe, or America. Although built in 1954 as a cold war strategy it is still the largest electronic monitoring station on the planet. Jumping over that fence could be as dumb as announcing a bomb on an aircraft. Urban legend has it that the US National Security Agency links directly to it to eavesdrop on any call, fax or email anywhere in the world.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Spitzbergen Island, Norway
Following a most unfortunate act of all-out nuclear war, there would be huge tracts of land stripped of vegetation and with seeds irradiated beyond use. Svalbard Global Seed Vault has the sole purpose of acting as the international repository of every seed from every gene bank on the planet.
To my way of thinking, we might need it after global warming peaks. The authorities chose the heavily protected place for its zero tectonic activity, and permafrost that would protect it from extreme heat. As a South African I should think it is mighty cold out there. I would give this one a miss.
Ni’ihau Island, Hawaii, United States
The story behind Ni’ihau Island is less dramatic and more pleasant climatically. The 70 square kilometre island belongs to the descendants of a wealthy plantation family who bought it from Hawaii’s King Kamehameha in 1863. They repel all boarders. Even US President Franklin D Roosevelt got short shift when he wanted to headquarter the United Nations there. The Robinson family like things simple on their fiefdom.
The 130 residents may travel by horse or bicycle only, and have neither telephones, nor running water, nor plumbing. On the upside, their children can canoe to another island for education, and they live free in their homes with solar electricity. Of my four secret places, this is surely the most bizarre. You certainly will not need a hire car if you go there for there are no roads.
Area 51, Nevada in the United States
If anything, this place on Route 375, the so-called Extraterrestrial Highway is even more private than the Vatican secret archives that hold the personal records of popes dating back to the 8th Century. Officially, Area 51 is just another American aerospace research centre where they develop high-speed fighter aircraft.
The government only admitted Area 51 existed in July 2013 following a Freedom of Information Act petition. Every document relating to it has ‘top secret / sensitive compartmented information’ status. If you are near this, the last of my four secret places, I cannot recommend you to ask anyone for directions. They could be aliens from outer space looking for Groom Lake where they may have landed.