Tuesday, April 28, 2009


If you've seen the movie BAGDAD CAFE (filmed nearby) you get some feel for lonely towns. That movie drew me years ago to this end-of-the-world town where I met the famous Roy of the motel sign (seen in so many movies) and stayed the night in my van across the street. I come again to remember and feel its delicious loneliness. Roy is gone now and a hired hand operates the lonely station/snack shop/motel. Weekend route 66 nostalgia tourist keep the place just profitable enough to stay alive. Patrollmen do their first duty here and they too are lonely. One pulled us over just to talk to somebody
Interstate 40, 12 miles North, long ago bypassed it and now it has little reason to be.

And this is it: Exquisitely pure and colorful salt water just under a crusty layer. A cloride plant sucks this in, dries and sells it. A lovely foreigner took this photo.
All the rooms were empty. No guest.

And nary a customer at the counter.
This spunky stallion statue is the livelist thing in town.
No one attends this church anymore and it seems to droop in sadness.

We pause for lunch and a nap.

And then leave town to resolve this staggering mystery just to the East: Why would anyone build a gigantic gleaming white wall in the mountains, about a mile long and 500 feet highThe answer so stunned me that I prefer to keep its secret. If you must know, write me and I'll tell you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I COULDN'T HAVE GUESSED. I take this picture as a metaphor for my life. Do I have the gumption to go see?

Well for openers there were three flocks of sheep. None of them skiddish--taaaaking their sweet time to let me through. Why try to raise sheep in this forlorn, un-nutritious desert? The answer is directly in front of my truck---for the lambs. Nearly every ewe had a lamb. And that's where the money is. Water and supplemental feed has to be brought out here. The desert is just a cheap place to be. More interesting to me was who---who in this wide world would stay out here and look after them. Who can endure the loneliness? The answer surprised me.----Basque shepherds from spain and only they it seems have what it takes for this job. I saw a trailer in the distance.

This is half of what remains of the crossroads town of Rice, Ca.

And this is the other half. If I were the superstitious sort I may have been spooked at seeing my name on the wall---with instructions to pray. ( I do not) The left hand word is Lord I guess

With binoculars I saw this in the distance and went to investigate. Lots and lots of shoes tied to this fence. I think the desert evokes whimsey like this. I've actually seen an underwear tree.
34 miles is a ways to go for jerky.
Paul and I call it a day well off the road looking down on a dry salt lake. (dale)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I dared my friend Paul Styles to accompany me across Americas' deepest desert, the Mojave,
from Blythe, California to Death Valley---the hard way---North to Rice, Amboy, Kelso, Baker, Tecopa and Death Valley. He accepted!

I can tell this story thanks to my friends Mary Matzos and Jim Jaillette who sat me down to my new computer and showed me how to use it. There's too much story for one entry, so here's the first segment--Blythe to Rice, Ca. We decide to go wherever this road and a tankfull of gas will take us.
It takes us to the long forgotten ghost town of Midland, Ca. We prowl the streets looking a good place to camp.
Very soon we have pleasant company, the security guard and his wife who welcomed us, invited us to stay as long as we wished and told us the town story: Hundreds of people once lived here making drywall from the gypsum found there. They've lived here for 8 years and fallen in love with the place. A guard is needed because nearby are dangerous pits and caves the company feels responsible for. (attractive nusiance lawsuit perhaps) Also, the state ecological interest want the bat caves kept safe for the bats.

We settled in adjacent to a huge concrete slab and began to hatch a plan to bring our singles group out here for a dancing in the desert event.

This is Paul in his kitchen preparing one of his many delicacies.

The view out my back door

A classic bit of poetry sprang to mind as I look at these ruins:
"For the boast of hearldry and the pompt of power,
and all that beauty and all that wealth ever gave
awaits alike that inevitable hour,
for the paths of glory lead but to the grave."
Astonishingly, there is community spirit even out here. Several desert rats (they say it of themselves) live here and assemble often for pot lucks and games.

And I suppose people continue to be buried her. CMA stands for California Mineworkers Association.
The mystery is how they dug the grave in this rock.
I demonstrate to Paul my best moves. He smiled at my efforts.
Here's what I learned during this brief stop:
1. That silence and near-solitude can become addictive. The pictured couple said so---that a trip to town jangled their nerves and hurried them back to the quiet.
2. That the ecology movement has long arms, reaching even here, preserving a home for bats.
3. That legal concerns; vulnerability to lawsuits linger even after a corporation departs.
4. That thriving towns can suddenly die.
5. That the most solitary humans retain the need to connect.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Here are a few features and tricks I use to enhance my security and stealth; to make myself invisible or at least unnoticed. Hopefully nothing on the outside says "camper". I begin with the basics, concealing my septic plumbing. The discharge tube hides till it's needed.
Then it shows itself so I can attach my septic hose. A powerful mascerator then empties the tank in two minutes into a dump station within 25 ft.

This is one of my 6 windows in non stealth mode.

The same window in stealth mode appears to be a vent. I can still see through it.

I painted this letter to discourage theft, guessing that a thief would be afraid of being caught in his getaway attempt in a vehicle so easily spotted.
When I park in "iffy" places I often put this sign in my window. Who would steal a truck that needed an engine and transmission and had 214,000 miles on it?

In remote areas when I must leave my truck and trailer awhile, I leave a note on the door like
this hoping would-be thieves would think twice.
When I must park awhile on someone's property, I sometimes post a note like this to mollify the owner and explain my presence.
This is a motion detector which sounds an unmistakable alarm when someone comes within 35 feet of my rig. I stick it outside when I am in remote places. It comforts my sleep. (though once a passing coyote bolted me upright at 2 am)
This clever adaptation is useful in RV hostile parking lots, like some Las Vegas casinos. The long retractable eyebolt allows the door to open or close when in this position.
Then when it is withdrawn inside, it persuades any security guard that no one is inside. And I sleep undisturbed.
The palm of my hand is concealing a tiny piece of security which allows me to walk in otherwise dark and dangerous places with reasonable ease of mind.

I have other secrets which to reveal would destroy their usefulness. But soon I hope to photograph and share one of my cleverest---the wheel trick.