High Desert Test Sites , cofounded and directed by Andrea Zittel, is a nonprofit arts organization based in Joshua Tree, California. Started in 2002 by a loosely knit group of collaborators (Andrea Zittel, Andy Stillpass, John Connelly, Shaun Regen and Lisa Anne Auerbach), HDTS has since hosted the work of more than 450 artists, 11 expansive site-specific programs, and 25 solo projects.
As a conceptual entity HDTS is dedicated to “learning from what we are not” and the belief that intimately engaging with our high desert community can offer new insights and perspectives, often challenging art to take on new areas of relevancy.
To challenge traditional conventions of ownership, property, and patronage. Most projects will ultimately belong to no one and are intended to melt back into the landscape as new ones emerge.
To insert art directly into a life, a landscape, or a community where it will sink or swim based on a set of criteria beyond that of art world institutions and galleries.
To encourage art that remains in the context for which it was created - work will be born, live, and die in the same spot.
To initiate an organism in its own right-one that is bigger and richer than the vision of any single artist, architect, designer, or curator.
To create a center outside of any preexisting centers. We are inspired by individuals and groups working outside of existing cultural capitals, who are able to make intellectually rigorous and culturally relevant work in whatever location they happen to be in.
To find common ground between contemporary art and localized art issues.
To contribute to a community in which art can truly make a difference. HDTS exists in a series of communities that edge one of the largest suburban sprawls in the nation. Many of the artists who settle in this area are from larger cities, but want to live in a place where they can shape the development of their own community. For the time being, there is still a feeling in the air that if we join together we can still hold back the salmon stucco housing tracts and big box retail centers. Well maybe.
Who We Are
Lisa Anne Auerbach
Shaun Caley Regen
CURRENTLY ADMINISTERED BY
Vanesa Zendejas - Acting Director
Elena Yu - Programming Manager
Kristy Campbell, Emily Endo and Sydney Foreman. Thanks to Elizabeth Carr and Zena Carr at the Sky Village Swap Meet! RIP Bob Carr.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
David Knaus - Chair
Andrea Zittel - Director Emeritus/Treasurer
Aram Moshayedi - Secretary
High Desert Test Sites is grateful to The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Tides Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation - Arts Regranting Program/Inland Empire at The Community Foundation, Strengthening Inland Southern California through Philanthropy, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Ranch Projects, Sky Village Swap Meet, and our generous donors for their support.
When HDTS was founded in 2002, part of the original mission was to run on zero budget and generate relevant and rigorous programming through the most efficient means. Fourteen years later, the socio-economic climate has changed—Joshua Tree has changed—and the world has changed. HDTS artists have always been resourceful, but we are increasingly aware that an important part of showcasing and supporting their work is compensating them for their time, efforts, and ideas.
Bringing our audience such programming also wouldn’t be possible without the small, paid staff who we rely on. Each event that we host requires hours of planning, managing, and communicating—from finding the right site for an artist, to sourcing volunteers, to updating our website and managing the books.
Together, along with countless dedicated volunteers, we’ve managed over the years to:
- Showcase the work of over 450 artists and presenters
- Host 11 large, site-specific programs
- Support over 25 solo projects
- Produce 10 publications
- Host a monthly book club
- Maintain a local presence with our HQ
- Host workshops and community events
- Pass out hundreds of maps to HDTS sites
- Build a Desert Archive
- Provide an online resource for those interested in local sites and projects
As a small arts organization, in a rural community, we heavily rely on the support of our donors both from the High Desert region and beyond. Every contribution, large and small, helps support the staff and artists in continuing to offer more immersive and intimate experiences and exchanges between critical thinkers from many different walks of life.
(Please use the "add special instructions to the seller" box in PayPal to let us know if would like your contribution to directly support a specific upcoming project.) You can also mail a check to High Desert Test Sites at P.O. Box 1058, Joshua Tree, CA 92252.
Thank you so much for your support - any amount helps!
Although many of our projects are only temporarily sited, some are permanent and are located throughout the Joshua Tree region. The best way to find these works is to follow the directions on our current HDTS driving map.
The HQ at the Sky Village Swap Meet
The HDTS HQ is temporarily closed. We hope you'll visit us when we reopen (as soon as it's safe to do so)
The HDTS HQ is a visitor's center and creative hub where artists, craftsmen, visionaries, and friends engage with the high desert community through creative projects and performances. You can pick up a copy of our driving map to HDTS projects and other local sites of interest at the HQ every Saturday from 9 am–1 pm—and please check our website regularly to see what special events we have on the calendar.
The HQ is collectively run by a small group of volunteers who review and accept proposals several times a year. We are open to a wide variety of projects to present at the HQ, but are particularly interested in work that engages with our local community (who have a strong presence at the Swap Meet), encouraging their participation in a contemporary practice. Proposals are accepted via email and are reviewed about once every three months.
Directions: 7028 Theater Road (just off Hwy 247, right behind Barr Lumber), Yucca Valley, CA 92286; 760-365-2104
*Email us if you'd like to get involved with the HDTS HQ at Sky Village Swap Meet!
Ok. So I'm excited about the next HDTS event. What should I bring with me to the desert?
You are awesome. We love your enthusiasm. Bring plenty of drinking water and snacks. Bring sunscreen and a wacky wide-brimmed hat for extra protection in the bright sun. Bring a sweater or jacket, as it can get chilly at night. Bring lots of cash.
Cell phones and mapping apps don't always work out here, so be sure to look up directions and print out driving maps ahead of time (many addresses in the desert don't register properly on cell phone mapping applications, and service can be spotty).
Please remember this is a fragile desert environment. Leave no trace! Be prepared to haul out everything that you haul in.
I am coming to the desert this weekend, is there anything up to see?
Most of our current HDTS projects are short term or temporary, but you can download the current HDTS driving map for directions to ongoing HDTS projects and points of interest.
When is the next HDTS event?
Check our website as we do list all upcoming events well before they happen and you can also sign up for the HDTS mailing list to stay abreast of HDTS updates, events, and projects.
Does HDTS have a physical space? Where are you located, and what is your operational structure like?
HDTS is a conceptual project as much as a physical one – so while we have a full schedule, almost two hundred acres of land at our disposal, and a (small, part-time) staff - we do not have a physical roof over our heads. Because our mission supports work that actively engages the world at large, we like to spend as much time as possible out in that world.
We have a small core team who all work part-time on the project. We do lots of work remotely on our computers, or driving around out in the desert, and then tend to meet up in Andrea’s studio when we need a big table and things like envelopes, scotch tape, and a stapler.
You are welcome to visit the HDTS HQ at the Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley, open Saturdays 9–1PM.
How can I get involved?
We periodically need help assisting artists with their installations. This may include hard labor, sweat, and blisters, but installations are generally a lot of fun, and a good way to meet people. If you are sturdy, reliable, and up for the task, please email us, and we will let you know about upcoming installtions.
You can share information with us about a destination that we should check out, or an inspirational figure who we might be interested in researching.
I'm interested in proposing a project - are you accepting proposals, and what kind of proposals are you looking for?
We are not taking project proposals at this time, except for projects done at the HDTS HQ at Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley. Programming at this site is geared towards a diverse local audience, and due to its unique swap meet context we ask all artists to visit the swap meet at least once before sending in a proposal.
OK - I’m confused... What's the difference between A-Z West and HDTS?
A-Z West is Andrea Zittel’s home and land in Joshua Tree, dedicated to her life practice and special programs. It includes her home, studio, A-Z Wagon Station Encampment, and the Institute of Investigative Living. The activities that go on at A-Z West are primarily related to Andrea's practice and are separate from HDTS, but at certain times A-Z West will expand by hosting HDTS programs/installations/artists.
High Desert Test Sites is a non-profit support entity for artists whose practices explore the intersection between contemporary art and life at large. The HDTS sites include many different pieces of land used for projects and programming. These include A-Z West, as well as other parcels scatted throughout Pioneertown, Joshua Tree, and Wonder Valley.
I love what you are doing and can see that you are a small program desperately in need of resources - how can I help support HDTS?
How do I contact a High Desert Test Sites representative?
Send us an email at email@example.com. Sign up for the HDTS mailing list to stay abreast of HDTS updates, events, and projects.
Twentynine Palms sits at the west end of the Morongo Basin. The town of Twentynine Palms is perhaps best known for the nearby Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. It is also the site of the 29 Palm Oasis (around which the 29 Palms Inn was built) and it has over twenty-five murals depicting the history and native elements of the area. Not too far from 29 Palms Inn is a small Indian reservation belonging to the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians. There are no coffee shops in Twentynine Palms (as of this writing), but a plethora of establishments where you can get massages and Marine haircuts.
The Twentynine Palms Public Cemetery was founded in 1934 by a World War I veteran who had moved to the desert in hopes to improve his health after the war. The cemetery is 30 acres and buries about 50 people each year. The first person to be
The cemetery is quite austere. Rows of graves rest in long, slightly raised white plots. Individual graves are framed by bricks and filled with small white rocks. Well-manicured trees and bushes dot the spaces between the graves.
There's a rose garden on the property where visitors can rest on a memorial bench that reads:
Those who love the desert
Those who have lost a loved one
Those who need a quiet place to think
In memory of:
The pioneers of Twentynine Palms and to those who have followed them to this final resting place...
Remember them for their good deeds and the happy times they made possible
5350 Encelia Dr, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
The 29 Palms Marine Base (officially The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center) is the largest Marine Corps facility in the country. Within the area's 932 square miles, military training and weapons testing is performed in association with other branches of the Armed Forces. 50,000 marines train at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center every year. The base has nearly 2,000 structures, most located in the community of Mainside, and employs around 28,000 full-time personnel, military and civilian.
History of the Base:
In 1950, with the Cold War and US involvement in the Korean War, the need for large-scale live-fire training grew. Camp Pendleton Base in San Diego looked to the interior high desert for expanded facilities and selected the abandoned Condor Field, a World War II era Army and Navy glider base located in the area now called Mainside. By 1952, the first large-scale, live-fire field exercises were being conducted. The exercises gave Marines an awareness of the facility's significant potential and foreshadowed the large-scale combined arms exercises (CAXs) for which the base is now known.
In 1976, an expeditionary airfield was added to the base's rapidly growing infrastructure. The base's name was changed to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in 1979. The airfield and surrounding Spartan accommodations for visiting units was nicknamed "Camp Wilson". It was during this time that plans for the Combined Arms Exercises were conceived. Supplanting an earlier exercise known as Desert Palm Tree, the new CAXs were remarkable in two respects: the practice of combined arms, and live-fire and movement during the exercises were unprecedented in scale. Just as noteworthy was the creation of a Tactical Exercise Control Center with the primary purpose of controlling, instructing and critiquing the exercises.
As of 2000, there were 8,413 people, 912 households, and 904 families residing on the base. The racial makeup of the base is 70.3% White, 19.6% Hispanic or Latino, 10.4% African American, 3.1% Asian, 1.4% Native American, 9.5% from other races, with 5.1% from two or more races. Out of the 912 households, 73.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 94.5% are married couples living together, 3.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 0.8% are non-families. The average family size is 3.4. The median household income is $29,594. Males have a median income of $14,111 versus $17,014 for females. The per capita income for the base is $12,615. 12.1% of the population and 11.9% of families are below the poverty line.
"Mojave Viper" and "Enhanced Mojave Viper":
Major live fire training for the invasions of and subsequent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are conducted at the 29 Palms Marine Base through a program known as "Mojave Viper". Initiated in 2005, this training program became the model of pre-"Operation Iraqi Freedom" deployment training. The majority of units in the Marine Corps undergo a month at Mojave Viper before deploying to Iraq or a mixed training venue using the Mountain Warfare Training Center for Afghanistan. In 2009 Mojave Viper added security and stability training programs, known as "Enhanced Mojave Vapor". The "enhanced" version boosted counterinsurgency operations, such as interactions with civilians and tribal leaders.
Bringing together as many as 5,000 troops at one time in live fire combat exercises, with artillery, tank, and close air support in use for training, the base was unique in creating a sprawling "Combat Town," the first of several simulated Middle Eastern villages, complete with a mosque, an "IED" Alley," and other immersive elements and close-quarters combat scenarios in which communication, coordination and maneuvering can be major challenges. As of 2011, these ersatz cities (known as MOUTS -- Military Operations in Urban Terrain Training) had grown to roughly the size of central downtown San Diego and cost the government $170 million to construct. It comprises 1,560 structures made of both concrete and modified shipping containers (no two interiors are alike, which adds to the training challenges) and there are seven separate mock urban districts spread out across 274 acres of desert. In addition simulating the stress and chaos of close house-to-house urban combat and street fighting training, Marines are instructed by their trainers (known by 29 Palms troops as "coyotes") in how to search for escape tunnels, hiding places, weapons caches and other dangerous factors of urban warfare. The facility has networks of underground tunnels, a manmade riverbed, dozens of courtyards and compounds, a fake marketplace, cafes, homes, and shops. In addition to playing the role of enemy combatants, the enactors help create scenarios for training in humanitarian relief efforts, peacekeeping, and police work.
The MOUTs include:
• 7 districts, each providing different challenges
• 38 basements
• 81 spider holes concealed by floor hatches
• 88 multi-story concrete buildings in the city
• 216 faux power poles
• 274 acres of cityscape
• 997 acres total
• 1,250 multi-story cargo-container buildings
• 1,560 buildings in Range 220 (CAMOUT) and Range 630 (Afghani village)
• 1,866 feet of tunnels
• 5,325 feet of chain-link fencing and 9,150 feet of courtyard walls
• 10,705 feet of faux conduit to simulate aboveground power lines
In the past some 1000 role players (many of them Iraqi or Afghan expats or émigrés to the United States fleeing the wars, violence and social upheaval of their home countries, as well as other foreign nationals or naturalized citizens) role-played as Iraqi or Afghan civilians, while current and former US military personnel played the role of insurgents and "enemy combatants". Beginning in 2013, a process has begun under the leadership of the incoming commander, Brig. Gen. George Smith Jr., to transition to the Marines themselves to take on the roles of indigenous locals during "urban operations".
In August 2008, The Marine Corps submitted a land withdrawal application to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for appropriating approximately 422,000 contiguous acres (1,710 km^2^). It hopes to expand the base by two-thirds in coming years to allow for larger live-fire exercises with an expeditionary brigade of perhaps 15,000 Marines. Off-road enthusiasts have criticized the proposed move into Johnson Valley, on land controlled by the BLM. Much unexploded ordnance, shrapnel and other hazardous materiel dot the terrain, making unauthorized travel in the training areas dangerous.
The area of Twentynine Palms was settled in 1867 by a band of Chemehuevi, whose descendants formed the Twenty-Nine Palms Band. The reservation now consists of two geographically separate sections, with the main one in Indio and the other in the city of Twenty-Nine Palms. The Twenty-Nine Palms portion of the reservation occupies 402 acres adjacent to the city of Twentynine Palms but their headquarters are based on the reservation in Coachella.
A Chemehuevi Burial Ground in the city of Twentynine Palms was officially established in 1976 when an acre of land containing fifty to sixty graves, one half mile south of the intersection of Highway 62 and Adobe Road in Twentynine Palms, was conveyed to the Twentynine Palms Park and Recreation District by Congress. In 1909, fifty to sixty marked graves were reported on the site, including the grave of Old Jim Boniface, leader of the tribe, who died in 1903 at the age of ninety. Other marked graves included thirteen of fourteen children of Jim and Matilda Pine, possibly victims of smallpox, and Mrs. Waterman (tribal name: Ticup), who was beaten to death by Willie Boy after she threw his rifle and ammunition into a pond. After the Willie Boy incident, the tribe left Twentynine Palms and went to live with the Mission Creek Reservation. The State of California declared the Chemeheuvi Cemetery a Point of Historical Interest by the State of California in 1974.
In 1997, the tribe established the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians Tribal Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency. The tribe's EPA manages all environmental protection programs on their reservation, including improving water quality.
In 1995, the Twenty-Nine Palms Band established the Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella, and in 2014 the Twenty-Nine Palms Band established the Tortoise Rock Casino in Twentynine Palms.
*culled from online sources
The 49 Palms Oasis trailhead is about a fifteen-minute drive from Joshua Tree proper. While so close, this area seems so different from Joshua Tree. Off the highway you begin to wind into the desert, you never pass a visitor center or a gate, you ease off the main highway and pretty quickly find yourself at the trailhead. It reminds me how tenuous civilization seems out here. The gas stations, the 29 Palms thrift store, and the "Jelly Donut" advertising date shakes all disappear so quickly.
I usually welcome the sight of other cars at a trailhead. I like to avoid the kind of traffic you find at really popular hikes in the park, but I do love people watching. I got to the trailhead at 8am, in the second week of May even the lizards seemed too hot that early in the morning. Starting my walk on the trail, big, dark chuckwallas gave me lazy looks over their scaly shoulders.
As I was beginning my hike, an older couple was finishing theirs. They were the first dataset in my 49 Palms Oasis hiker algorithm. Their kit was solid; camel backs, extra water, and covered from head to toe. They flawlessly executed trail etiquette, they stepped aside on the narrow path so I could pass, we greeted each other cheerfully, they expressed some good-natured exhaustion and excitement about the beauty of the hike they'd just taken.
Further in, a middle-aged woman passed on her way back to the trailhead. She had a faint European accent, hiking shorts, sunglasses, a hat. She seemed maybe a tad overconfident but well outfitted and prepared.
As the day wore on and got hotter, the hikers starting their walk seemed to get younger and less prepared. The final couple I passed fulfilled the equation. They were headed out, tank tops and shorts, all black, sunglasses but no hats, and one plastic water bottle each. I wished them well. I think I landed somewhere in the middle of all of them. The sun was already searing overhead, it was well before noon, and I was happy to be heading back.
As a person who grew up in and lives in a city, going into the wilderness seems totally separate from my everyday life. It's easy for me to forget that trails like these are maintained and designed spaces, too. Descriptions of the hike to the 49 Palms Oasis warn you that it's uphill - both ways. You begin hiking and with moments of rest find that it's actually true.
The initial vantage is a sprawling view of the town of 29 Palms, neat, regular buildings, grass lawns and desert surroundings. Perceived distance seems almost meaningless here, where the town seems so miniature, so close, and endlessly far away at the same time. So often, on this hike and others, a cursory survey of the landscape reads quickly as desolate. Isolated plants seem a little weak and striving, with belied moments of diversity and abundance. Zooming in to a yucca flower I find a whole world of bees, beetles, and flies covered in pollen, buzzing and working. On the way to the 49 Palms Oasis I had a familiar experience, the bright sun bleached my view, it blended everything into a sandy, muted shade. I stopped to examine some yellowish blossoms and found an island of vitality. A tiny lizard scurried into the shade, stopped, blankly looked back at me, raised up on its hind legs, and nonchalantly gobbled up one of the flowers.
On the trail, as you descend off the highest point, the town disappears and you're isolated in a little valley, red barrel cactus almost blend in with the other scrubby plants. Once you spot the first one they're everywhere. At around the halfway point of the hike, for moments you can glimpse the shaggy, miraculously green palm oasis just as soon it slips out of view. Where everything seems alien, the unexpected glimpse is so strange it briefly makes the whole landscape seem mundane.
Once at the oasis, the shade is a revelation. It's cool, with maybe a little moisture in the air, though thinking back on it that seems like a fantasy. The swaying palms manifest the desert wind in a dreamier way than sand in your food, your own hair in your face, or the wind farm in the San Gorgonio Pass ever could.
Trailhead and parking lot at the end of Fortynine Palms Canyon Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Just south of the 29 Palms Highway, between Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, there’s a three mile round trip hike to an oasis called 49 Palms. Whether there are actually 49 palms is up for debate. Regardless, whatever number of palms constitute the oasis are breathtaking, particularly from a distance, in contrast with the surrounding dry, brown desert. 49 Palms is one of five oases officially recognized as such by Joshua Tree National Park.
The 49 Palms trail is open for day use only. Don’t be deterred by the sign warning of those who have died on the trek. It’s an easy three mile round trip, with a 300-foot ascension each way. As always, bring water, wear sunscreen, and a good sun hat. Keep an eye out for big horned sheep running the ridges along the trail.
At the base of each palm, there are small bluish black pools of water. While they aren’t big enough to swim in, they do lend a gentle, refreshing coolness to the breeze.
Trailhead and parking lot at the end of Fortynine Palms Canyon Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
This is our new favorite spot. Since we moved to Twentynine Palms and have endured many weekends of major house renovations, we've found ourselves sometimes eating here several times a week. They have pretty great Mexican street foods, tacos and burritos yes, but also gorditas, tamales, and my favorite: huaraches. This bulky shoe shaped pad of a tortilla is topped with guisado or whatever you want and creamy green sauce which is just so satisfying. They also have a great selection of aguas frescas, cucumber is the best, sprinkled with chia seeds. The folks that own it are also really sweet.
6244 Adobe Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
This little Japanese diner across the street from Jelly Donut is surprisingly good. More izakaya style than sushi bar, I would recommend anything fried or in hot stew form, especially the Japanese curry. It's tiny and wouldn't win the cleanest joint in town, but honestly who cares. On the David Lynch movie set spectrum I would give it an 8 of 10.
That octagonal sign prompts a programmed response in most people. But, a somewhat conflicting message can mess with our mind, create a feeling of chaos.... or unleash liberation.
This "stop" sign on the 29 Palms Inn property has a curious story involving a philosophical (and regular) patron, a stop sign installed in the wrong location, the mysterious fading of the sign a few years later and its eventual conversion to a piece of playful - and cosmic - contemplation.
The sign can be found just inside the orange pillar entrance to the 29 Palms Inn.
I was surprised to learn that there are over 35,000 museums in the US. Surprised until I thought not about the Guggenheims or the Smithsonians, but of all the little oddball museums scattered along highways and in rural towns. I recalled a recent visit to the Old Schoolhouse Museum in Twentynine Palms. The Museum is also home to the Twentynine Palms Historical Society. I visited on their open research day, Wednesdays from 9am to 12pm.
They loved that I was there, loved seeing younger people care about history. It's kind of like a social hour for the retirees in the community. It didn't seem like anyone was getting anything done. I picked up bits of odd conversations about coin shows, flea market deals, Miss Twentynine Palms pageants, outhouse races, cooking turkey (it was around Thanksgiving) and what seemed to be a very serious dilemma my table neighbor was having as to whether or not she should bake her house neighbor a cake for his birthday... he had after all made a point to tell her that it was coming up soon. Impossible as it was to focus on anything I was reading, I enjoyed the tid bits.
The schoolhouse embodies the resilience and perseverance of early desert settlers. In the summer of 1927, a group of homesteaders drove from Twentynine Palms to the county seat in San Bernadino to ask the county for a school. The request was scoffed at. The superintendent of schools said she had seen it happen all to often in desert communities: homesteaders don't last more than 2 years. There weren't very many families in Twentynine Palms at the time, and only a few had children. But, the community agreed, if they weren't going to get county money, they would build one themselves. And they did. Bill and Elizabeth Campbell gave 5 acres on the corner of their lot for a school, and others pitched in labor and materials. There was no monetary, people gave what and how they could.
The Campbell Ranch is what is now the Roughley Manor Bed and Breakfast. The Campbells were prominent early homesteaders, who amassed a vast collection of Native American artifacts and carefully archived them. Much of their collection is in the Joshua Tree National Park archives (I wonder how the native community here feels about that). I'm not sure exactly when, but at some point after 1944, the schoolhouse - by then a derelict building - was scheduled for demolition. The Twentynine Palms Historical Society intervened, and bought the building for a dollar from the county, then paid $20,000 to move it where it is today, across the street from the Twentynine Palms Inn. The members of the historical society knew what a feat the school had been to build, and couldn't see it torn down.
I went over with the intention to sift through any information I could on Anna Poste. Anna Poste and her husband (who would eventually become a judge in the area) came out in the 1920s to homestead. She was a creative person, loved to paint. When she got way out to the desert and didn't have access to paints and brushes, she made them. She used natural local materials for her paints, and used her dog's hair to make her brushes. I was really curious what she was using to make her paints. I inferred that she was probably using the sludge from polishing stones. The woman who enthusiastically told me all this couldn't remember how she came upon the information, and no one else in the room knew where it came from either, it was word of mouth as far as I could tell. So it goes with local history. Looking at the range of her palette and wondering how she got all those vibrant colors, and wondering how we're all imagining her story, how different the proclivities might be, the varying experiential connections to how we each identify with that tale...
What I love about historical societies and small museums is that they are places where informal, stream of consciousness learning can occur. In the last few years I have had a little experience teaching undergraduate students. Although for the most part hard workers, in general they seem to only work towards a right answer. There is a hesitance to spend time doing something that may not lead to "results" or, an A. I see this as a consequence of standardized testing, of middle and high school teachers having to teach towards these kinds of tests rather towards the development of curiosity, innovative problem solving, and enjoyment in the process of trial and error. I wonder how, for the next class I teach, I can develop a project that will require this kind of exploration, and investigation of the local through oddball museums and historical societies, outside of the classroom...
6760 National Park Dr, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
We went to Smith's Ranch drive-in in Twentynine Palms on a Thursday, but apparently should have gone on a Friday, date night for all the local Marines. We got to the drive-in early to get a good spot. If you have a truck (we don't) bring cushions to make a big outdoor sofa.
We are both from England and the drive-in was quite a novelty!
4584 Adobe Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
If you go through the main populous of 29 Palms, a little further, then south to Baseline Road you'll find a clump of scrap yards. Views of rust covered and gutted Studebakers are free, and parts for 70's hot rods and random current junkers are cheap. While scrap yards are not uncommon, the desert backdrop magnifies the bizarre nature of the gathered wreckage.
Desert Storm Homecoming & Victory Parade by Chuck Caplinger, 1995,
Desert Cycle Works, 6177 Adobe Road.
The Oasis of Murals in Twentynine Palms was started in 1994 by a local Merchants Committee which then in 1995 evolved into the non-profit Action Council for 29 Palms Inc.
B y 2014 they had commissioned 26 out-door murals that illustrate the history, flora and fauna of Twentynine Palms and the neighboring Joshua Tree National Park. The murals have helped to spawn a renaissance in the community, creating new art events and art venues, attracting tourists and restoring a sense of community price.
Mural Brochures and the Oasis of Murals book are available at the Twentynine Palms Visitor Center and Art Gallery, and at the Chamber of Commerce.
We started out our evening with Thai Food from Thai Cafe in 29 Palms. Pad See Ew, Massaman Curry, and gigantic plastic water glasses. Chris Veit, Lisa Sitko and Douglas Amour and their friend were sitting at the adjacent table. Chris said that Thai Cafe was one of his favorite places in 29 - so we felt like we had chosen well. After dinner we thought we were too tired from eating curry but Katy said, "lets just go for 30 minutes." It's easy to find the Casino - it's on the north side of Hwy. 62 back up against the hills. Don't look at a map - just look for the ultra bright halogen parking lot lights. Follow those. The casino has a classy parking lot with several Tesla charging stations and is landscaped with palo verde trees and terraced parking tiers. Only about a quarter of the spots were full - but it was a Monday night. We debated the quality of the tortoise rock logo - one in favor and one not. Oddly I (AZ) was the one in favor. There was also a huge valet drive through parking area at the entrance which made it feel like we were about to enter something the size of a Costco - but instead the interior of the casino was surprisingly small. For the most part it was filled with a plethora of slot machines in every style and theme. Because the slot machines were electronic you could load in a dollar bill and play penny slots, nickel slots (our choice), or random higher amounts that seemed a bit more dangerous. I spent $2 and won $8 - and finished leaving satisfied that I was $6 ahead. Katy spent $5 and won $5. The slot machines dispense tickets with the winning amount and you have a choice between going to the cashier for a human interaction or using an ATM-like cash dispenser. If you are a card player the casino has card tables for Texas Hold'em Poker and Black Jack. Minimum bids are $5, $10 and $15. There is also a Spanish language table, as well as a virtual poker table with an animated dealer on a flat screen TV.
The rear of the casino has a generous area sectioned off for a bar that Katy describes as comedically sleek. There is a restaurant that is sort of a snack bar with hot dogs and a veggie wrap and a self-serve soda station. Last but not least there is a gift counter with a selection of different colored polo shirts with the tortoise rock logo, cigarettes, and sunglasses. Also the one other significant factor is that because the casino is on native land and outside of California jurisdiction, smoking is allowed - so it's smoky inside. Maybe not as smoky as a techno bar in Berlin in the 1990s - but for some the smoke may be a factor. There is one small bank of slot machines that are labeled "non-smoking" but the air quality doesn't seem any different in this area. The Casino is open 24 hours.
73829 Baseline Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277