Monday, April 29, 2013

Article :: Integratron near Joshua Tree has cool vibe


This story is taken from Sacbee / -- Root

Discoveries: Integratron near Joshua Tree has cool vibe


LANDERS – So, apparently, my body, or "carbon unit," is running dangerously low at the cellular level. Unless I "change frequencies" in my electromagnetic field, I will die, someday.
You, too, of course.
The aliens, as well as some scientists, said so.
We all are like cellphones that get only one-bar reception – two, if we're particularly spry.
What's needed, I'm told, is to plug in and "distort the space-time continuum" by lying in a "rejuvenation machine" that essentially is something of a cosmic battery charger in a primo geologic and magnetic spot here in the high desert of Southern California.
As extraterrestrials once told a "connector" named George Van Tassel during a "visitation," if you build a conductor of negative ions at this precise location north of Joshua Tree and near a giant rock called, well, Giant Rock, people will plunk down $25 a shot to try to give their waning cells a little goose.
This is not New Agey, folks; it's other-worldly.
So, whattya say? You with me?
Are you ready to temporarily suspend disbelief and climb to the magical second floor of a huge, white parabolic ediface called the Integratron, to lie supine for the better part of an hour while listening to the reverbrative echoes of music from quartz crystal "singing bowls" whose eerie notes correspond to our seven chakras?
I knew you'd be game.
About a dozen other "amoebic life group" members joined me for a "sound bath" on the handsome, impeccably polished Douglas fir floors, supported by mats, Navajo rugs and an open mind about such things as a higher consciousness, other life forms and the healing properties of acoustic alchemy.
These must be people interested in aural sects, you're probably thinking.
But you'd be wrong.
These were nondemoninational grandmothers in white tennis shoes, moms and dads with teenagers, the occasional 20-something. No one reeked of patchouli and there was nary a dreadlock in sight.
I spoke with visitor Tammy Ishibashi, husband Todd and teen son John before entering. They were hardly the crystal talisman types.
Ishibashi said they saw the Integratron featured on the Travel Channel show "No Reservations" and thought, what the hey.
Not even our musician- docent-cosmic facilitator Drayton ("no last name, please") looked the part of seer; he wore jeans and parted his short hair on the side. It was only when he talked that things got a little metaphysical.
By the way, the above phrase bracketed by quotation marks came from Drayton's prefatory remarks before putting pestle to his singing bowls and making beautiful (and loud) music.
At times, his talk was a lot to wrap one's head around. But we seekers listened carefully as Drayton's soft-spokenness bounced off the curved wooden walls and swirled around us.
"The original intent of this building was to rejuvenate human cells, so that we could eventually live for maybe 50 more years," he said, "(Van Tessel) asked (his alien pals), 'Why in the world would you want to?' They said, 'You need to wise up and save your race.' I think that time is coming soon. All humans need to be happy again and eventually die with love in their heart and a smile on their face, or they miss the whole point.
"We're not spending any time in the out-of-body school of life and, subsequently, we're giving our solar system and our galaxy in this sector of the universe a headache."
Head nods, all around. But a little part of me could only think: 50 more years? Gee, and you think we've got a major headache funding Medicare and Social Security now? Just wait until baby boomers live to 140.
"So," Drayton continued, "your electromagnetic energy field is the same diameter as this acoustically perfect sound chamber, if you're a healthy adult. That would be 55 feet across, measurable by your electric footprint. … This is truly an international power amplification point. These bowls get flying around and your (magnetic) field is having its way with it, raising the frequency of everything. You may have shown up stuck in your attennae, but (the sounds) are going to go through your body faster than you're hearing them because of the density properties of water."
Wait, he was losing me. I was an English major. Don't go throwing science at me.
Fortunately, I had boned up on the history of Mr. Van Tassel, his Integratron and the supposed magnetic properties of the area by checking out the website. Let me boil it down thusly: Van Tassel was an aeronautical engineer by trade who moved to Landers in 1947, became a leader in the UFO movement and had a visit from a saucer from the planet Venus in 1953. Shortly therafter, on the advice of the aliens and inspired by the work of Nikola Tesla and other scientists, he devoted his life to building a "time and rejuvenation machine and an anti-gravity device."
Van Tassel died in 1978 at age 68 (just a wee bit short of 150, alas), but his dream of extending life and finding psychic harmony with the universe has lived on with a dedicated group of adherents, including the current owners, the three Karl sisters.
But back to Drayton. Just when he concluded the science portion, he started to brief us on what we'd experience, so as to quell any anxiety.
"You're going to float this way and that way to check out what's going on," he said. "And you'll realize you're filling your field up with your awareness and you're stabilized somewhere between awake and asleep, which gives you access to time-space … where your little 6 or 7 ounces of spirit go flying out of your head at night when you rest these carbon units (sleep, I think he meant). We're not allowed to remember where we go when we get back. A flash here and a flash there, perhaps. So, that's kind of it."
One last thing, actually: It seems the body gets so relaxed and rejuvenated during a session that people tend to fall asleep. Snoring, however, is verboten. It kind of harshes the mellow of your fellow seekers. In fact, any noise in the Integratron is amplified way out of proportion, so try to not even sigh loudly.
OK, enough jaw-flapping. How about some sound?
For 23 minutes, Drayton played the bowls deftly and sublimely. Sound did, indeed, bounce off the walls and vibrate to my very core. It was the most visceral experience I've had since the time I ate bad clams at Fisherman's Wharf.
Seriously, though, it was a trip. A late-afternoon desert wind kicked up and, combined with the vibrations, truly made this an echo chamber. When the 23 minutes were up, Drayton encouraged us to spend the rest of the hour "bathing" in the lingering good vibes.
Afterward, I admitted to Drayton that I did, indeed, feel more relaxed.
"You feel like Jell-O, right?" he said.
Well, a bit.
As she left the Integratron, Tammy, too, was impressed but not ready to fully commit.
"This is why I'm never good at meditation," she said. "I can't turn my brain off."
Her disbelief, apparently, never was fully suspended.
But me? I can feel my dying cells perking right up.


Cost for sound baths: $25
Call for sound bath times: (760) 364-3126
Directions from Joshua Tree: From Twentynine Palms Highway east, turn left on Sunburst Avenue, right on Golden, left on Border. Follow Border and continue until the pavement takes a hard left, about 6 miles, and becomes Reche Road. Continue into Landers, about 6 miles. Less than 1/2 mile past the Landers post office, turn right onto Belfield Boulevard. Continue about a mile to the Integratron. The entrance will be on the right.
Call The Bee's Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145 Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis.

Joshua Tree enchanting in its magical, quirky way


This story is taken from Sacbee /

Joshua Tree enchanting in its magical, quirky way


JOSHUA TREE – Deep in the desert, searching for enlightenment at a spot called Samuelson's Rocks that is unmarked on any map, all I find are shaggy, gnarled trees that give this area its name, bulbous monzogranite rock formations and the triad of cholla, creosote and prickly pear that scar my legs and test my resolve.
Wait a moment. Did I just say all?
Have I, after a mere four days at Joshua Tree National Park, become so inured of these wondrous surroundings that I have ceased appreciating the geologic and floral delights to be experienced?
Perhaps. And that's a shame. Because, if a visit to Joshua Tree teaches you nothing else, it should foster an abiding affection for the hidden natural abundance in what the uninitiated may see as a vast and arid open space bereft of possibility.
This connection to the landscape is why the multitudes come to the high desert: to climb and to hike, to camp and worship at nature's altar, to seek spirituality and artistic inspiration, to trade the claustrophobic city for a bigger piece of sky.
I am trying – really, I am – to become such a seeker.
I have spent two nights in Room 8 of the Joshua Tree Inn, the place where country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons overdosed on alcohol and pills in 1973 and where musicians and fans still gather to pay homage.
I have trekked deep into the Wonderland of Rocks, where forests of Joshua trees exist peacefully amid mounds of monzonite quartz stacked so precisely, if precariously, that even the staunchest atheist might suspect it as the work of an unseen hand.
I have driven beyond the galleries to the fringes, where "outsider" artists have assembled found-material sculpture "environments" that incorporate the land itself as both canvas and object.
Yes, I have done all that. But here I am on my last morning, wandering in the desert, looking for a small cluster of rocks upon which a Swedish immigrant in the late 1920s named John Samuelson carved philosophic messages.
Somehow, the trip will seem incomplete without finding these stone tablets, even if (or maybe especially because) they were the work of a crank with ideas far outside the mainstream.
Joshua Tree, after all, is that kind of place. It brings out a guy's contemplative and quirky sides.

The Grievous Angel

The story is one of those wonderfully macabre rock 'n' roll death-scene legends.
On Sept. 19, 1973, Gram Parsons, later hailed as the godfather of Americana music, had retreated to his favorite hangout, the Joshua Tree Inn, with a stash of morphine and tequila before embarking on a national tour.
After his overdose in bed in Room 8, his body was sent to Los Angeles International Airport to be shipped to his native Louisiana. Parsons' agent stole the body, drove it back to the desert and cremated it (or tried to, at least) atop Cap Rock at Joshua Tree.
Since that day, Parsons' fans have made pilgrimages to Cap Rock and left offerings, which National Parks rangers have routinely removed. So several years ago, fans switched focus to Room 8.
It is, by far, the most popular room at the Joshua Tree Inn, said worker Marsu Wild, as he handed me the key and walked me along an outdoor corridor.
Not 3 feet from the door is the unofficial memorial, consisting of a 4-foot granite acoustic guitar with "Safe at Home" carved along the neck and a beneficent sun at the sound hole. Pilgrims have added totems ranging from tequila bottles to corn-cob pipes to flowers, crosses and candles.
"The guitar just went up last year," Wild said. "A local sculptor did it. We had no idea it was coming. One morning, we came by and it was there. We just saw footprints leading to it. But this is a good place for it."
Indeed, the Joshua Tree Inn has become something of a haven for rockers and their minions. Wild pointed to the room abutting Parsons'.
"That's Emmylou's (Harris) suite," he said, referring to Parsons' paramour. "Next to that is where Donovan used to stay before he got a house out here. That's Robert Plant's favorite room. Oh, and Lorne Michaels conceived the idea for 'Saturday Night Live' out by the pool."
Room 8, though, is not so much a hotel room as a mausoleum, sans corpus. Framed posters from Parsons' stints with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers have been accessorized with guitar picks, ocotillo crosses, tequila labels, signed drumsticks, scrawled love notes and red lipstick traces from kisses.
"That mirror over there is the only artifact left from when Gram died here," said Wild, sensing my relief that they've changed the bed since 1973.
"A lot of musicians like to stay here. They leave their music behind. We have them sign the guest book."
A woman from Toronto writes that she named her son Gram. A man named Michael writes that he brought an old-fashioned turntable and played records of "songs you'd like and hope I did you proud." The Fuller Family wrote: "Gram, we drank, were merry and flooded your floor. We always have a good time here."
Out near the pool, Philip Miller, a Parsons fan from Los Angeles, said he always stays at the inn when he visits. He likes to hike the trails and take photos of the rocks, the sunsets, the stars.
I found him taking photos of Parsons' shrine.
"This is why I originally came out," Miller said, "for the lore, the legend of Gram Parsons. I just read Keith Richards' autobiography, and he said he used to go cold turkey from the heroin with Gram in bed here. They'd get clean and then eventually go back to it. Gram was an interesting character. I'm going up to Cap Rock again tomorrow to shoot that."

Rock legends all around

Don't even try in a week's stay to cover all 794,000 acres of Joshua Tree, 70 percent of it designated as wilderness. Instead, pick your spots based on your interest.
Many come to climb the big rocks. The most popular and challenging spots are at Hidden Valley, about 14 miles southeast of the visitors center, with climbs ranging from relatively easy to difficult.
"Hidden Valley is the climbers' place," said Gary Chandler, who through Joshua Tree Outfitters sells and rents climbing and camping equipment. "There are hundreds of climbs within walking distance of the campground. The farther you go, you get to what's known by climbers as the real Hidden Valley – the best climbs."
Climber Les Walker of Idyllwild had just rappelled down a rock face, preparing to take a group of novices for a session.
"Joshua Tree gets some of the world's best climbers," he said. "But there also are a lot of great rocks for people just getting into it. You don't want to have a novice try Intersection or Old Woman first time out."
Hiking, however, is relatively easy for most, provided you bring ample water (yes, even in the early spring, when the temperature hovers just under 80). Trails range from as short at a half-mile to as long as the 37-mile Riding & Hiking Trail that extends from the Black Rock Canyon entrance to the Oasis Entrance.
Many of the trails are flat with soft, sandy surfaces, but some killer climbs await.
Perhaps the most popular route, the Boy Scout Trail, combines flat, sandy stretches and challenging but not lung-busting climbs with views of the Wonderland of Rocks. It's a 16-mile out-and-back, but many choose to camp along the way and make it an overnight excursion.
Hiker Lynne Tremkilbach of Akron, Ohio, chose that option.
"I've never backcountry-camped before, so of course, I chose to do it by myself in the desert," she said, laughing. "I camped out last night, and it was wonderful. It's just so beautiful out here. This is so not Ohio."

Art blooms in the desert

On a 7 1/2-acre parcel about 5 miles north of town, where the roads cease to be paved and handsome houses give way to shacks that give way to trailers, one of Southern California's famous "outsider" artists has created a world unlike Ohio or any other state.
It's called Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Desert Art Museum, and it's a trip. About 40 art pieces, some as small as a refrigerator, others as massive as a building, dot the landscape. From found metal, burned or decayed wood, old tires and pipes and discarded electronics, the late Purifoy built elaborate, often politically pointed, outdoor sculptures here from 1989 until his death in 2004.
His work has been exhibited at mainstream museums such as the Getty, Whitney, Oakland and California African American museums, but Purifoy had said the proper place for his sculptures is the desert, where the process of decay becomes part of the work.
Installations range from the silly to the sublime, often touching on social issues. One of his more famous works is "Kirby Express," in which old vacuum cleaners, baby carriages, smudge pots and swamp coolers are affixed to bicycle wheels and placed upon railroad tracks. It represents, according to the Noah Purifoy Foundation, "a symbol of hope and progress for the well-to-do, built by the poor (symbolizing) lost hope and dreams."
Purifoy's may be the most famous of the desert's art installations, but it is far from the only one. Among the pieces belonging under the umbrella organization called "High Desert Test Sites" is Sarah Vanderlip's piece that welded two aluminum discs together to shine like a crystal egg amid the boulders; Shari Elf's "Art Queen" gallery in town that features outdoor work, and the kitschy "World Famous Crochet Museum" inside an old Fotomat-type building.
Even some of the hotels are as much art projects as commercial dwellings. Two San Francisco exiles, Mindy Kaufman and Drew Reese, have turned a five-room motor lodge into a gorgeous throwback called Spin and Margie's Desert Hide-a-Way, with handmade tile floors and walls, as well as artwork in rooms and in the courtyard.
"We wanted it to be fun and reflect what we loved about road trips, which is fun and kind of quirky, like us," said Kaufman.
Quirkiness, it seems, blows through this town like a tumbleweed.
"Artists move here, well, maybe because it's not expensive," Elf said. "And a lot of us love having the freedom to do what we want with (our) property, do all sorts of crazy things."
Sometimes, the art pops up at you unexpectedly.
While driving on a dirt road way northwest of Joshua Tree, near the settlement of Pipes Canyon, my eye caught a glint in the desert. I pulled over and followed the shiny light. It was a giant orange arrow, at least 30 feet in height, pointing down into the sand. Next to it was this message, nailed to the post: "You Are Here."

No direction home

But I am not there – meaning, I have not yet found Samuelson's Rocks. The morning has worn on, it's warming up, and my water bottle is running low.
I was warned it's not easy to find the rocks – it's not an official National Park site, so there are no directional signs and no trail – and 45 minutes into my search, I'm getting mighty frustrated.
I try to remember what Chandler, the Joshua Tree Outfitter owner, told me.
"The reason the park won't tell you is because it's a private in-holding, but there are a couple of pullouts on the road about two miles from Quail Springs (picnic area)," he said. "Head southwest and you'll see a dark mound a couple of miles across the desert. It rises about 200 feet. Walk toward that."
I have done as told, but I'm lost. Three separate rock clumps have proved absent of inscriptions. Somehow, I have gotten turned around. Amid my wanderings, I've scraped my knee on a yucca plant and rivulets of blood run down my leg.
I'm just about to admit defeat when I decide to walk another 100 feet and see another rise in the landscape. I squint and spot marks on a boulder. I run through rocks and prickly pear and find them.
There are seven stones with chiseled rants against God and man, Herbert Hoover and Henry Ford, as well as other deep thoughts. It's akin to 140-character Twitter messages, sans spell-check, from a previous generation.
One of Samuelson's all-caps ramblings strikes me as relevant, especially to a Joshua Tree visitor. I take out my smartphone and capture it for my screensaver:


• Directions from Sacramento: Take Highway 99 south to Highway 58 east in Bakersfield to Highway 395 in Born. Go south on 395, turn left on Air Base Road, then right onto the National Trailways Road, continue to Highway 18 for 23 miles. Continue on Old Woman Springs Road for 41 miles, then turn left on Buena Vista Drive, then a right on Yucca Mesa Drive. Make a left on Highway 62/Twentynine Palms Highway and go 2.5 miles to the town of Joshua Tree.

• Crossroads Cafe: 61715 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760) 366-5414.
• Pie for the People (pizza): 61740 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760) 366-0400
• Ricochet: 61705 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. (760) 366-1898.
• Natural Sisters Cafe (vegan): 61868 Joshua Trail, Joshua Tree. (760) 366-3600.
• Joshua Tree Saloon (live music): 61835 Twentynine Palms Highway Joshua Tree. (760) 366-2250.

• Website:
• Entrance fee: $15 day use, good for seven days.
• Campsites: Black Rock, Cottonwood and Indian Cove campsites: $15 per night; Belle, Hidden Valley, Jumbo Rocks, Ryan and White Tank: $10 per night.
• Round-trip distances for popular hiking trails: Cap Rock (0.4 miles); Boy Scout Trail (16 miles); 49 Palms Oasis (3 miles); Lost Horse Mine (4 miles); Lost Palms Oasis (7.2 miles); Mastodon Peak (3 miles); Eureka Peak (10 miles); Ryan Mountain (3 miles).
• Popular climbing spots: Hidden Valley campground (Echo Rock, Echo Cove, Intersection Rock, Old Woman Rock).
• Samuelson's Rock: (Note: It's not on National Park maps, nor is there a trail leading to it). From the West Entrance Station, go on Park Boulevard, which turns into Quail Springs Road. Park at a small dirt turnout 2.3 miles before you reach the Quail Springs Picnic Area, and walk 1.3 miles southwest to a cluster of rocks. Alternate route: Park at Quail Springs picnic area, take the Quail Springs trail west for about three miles. Look to your left for a cluster of rocks.


• Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Desert Art Museum. Directions: From Twentynine Palms Highway in downtown Joshua Tree, turn left on Sunburst, right on Golden, left on Border, right on Aberdeen, left on Center, right on Blair Lane.
• Art Queen/Crochet Museum:61855 Palms Highway Joshua Tree (behind the Joshua Tree Music Store);
• Behind the Bail Bonds (crystal egg): Directions: Take Twentynine Palms Highway east from downtown Joshua Tree to Neptune Drive (turn right at a yellow bail bonds sign). Drive up a dirt road, veering left, park next to the power lines as the road ends.
• Andy's Gamma Gulch Parcel: Work from several artists in Pipes Canyon, north-west of Joshua Tree. Take Twentynine Palms Highway West toward Palm Springs. Turn right on Pioneertown Road. Go 7.5 and turn right on Pipes Canyon Road. After 2.2 miles, turn left on Gamma Gulch, a dirt road. Go 1.6 miles and turn right at a dirt road with a sign that says God's Way Love. Drive 1/2 mile, park on the side of the road and hike east into the brush.
– Sam McManis Call The Bee's Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145 Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis.

The Integratron - Landers, CA

It's difficult to describe The Integratron so I'll just invite you to check out their website and say that it's a must see destination. If you are visiting on a weekend when the sound baths are happening you definitely should check this place out. Mystery, UFOs, magnetic vortex, extra-terrestrials, architecture, engineering, acoustics, vibrational therapy and much more all rolled into one place.

Stage for various performances and events

Hammocks and shade waiting area

Giant Rock - Landers, CA

There are many stories and legends about Giant Rock but even without those - one of the worlds largest freestanding boulders is a sight to see. About 7 stories tall, this boulder was once the roof to a cave house that was dug out from under it. Everyone has their own version of what really happened to the occupant. Some say he was a German spy or a smuggler, but he was definitely a unique desert character. He died under mysterious circumstances when authorities arrived to question him. Somehow the dynamite that he was storing in his cave home detonated, killing him and creating a mystery. Did the police set off the explosives with a tear gas canister or did he detonate the dynamite himself? You decide.

Ask me for directions

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Noah Purifoy outdoor museum of assemblage sculpture

This is one of my top recommendations for people who want a unique Joshua Tree desert experience. Pictures and words can only do so much to convey the experience of a visit to the site. You just have to experience it to appreciate it.

Ask me for directions

Route 62 Vintage Marketplace in Yucca Valley

For me, this is THE top vintage marketplace in the Joshua Tree Gateway Communities. That's saying a lot since there are many top quality vintage shops in Yucca Valley. Stop by and say hi to the owners - Dawn and Dennis - I love these two, they're like family! I have probably purchased half of my vacation rental furnishings from this shop. You never know what you'll find. The prices are great, the selection is constantly fresh and changing, it's always an adventure just looking around. Seriously, this is my favorite vintage shop of all time.

Owners: Dawn & Dennis Blevins

Location: Rt 62 Vintage Marketplace
               55635 29 Palms HWY
               Yucca Valley, CA 92284

Phone: 760-365-4330

Hours: Mon - Fri: 10AM - 5PM
                  Sat: 10AM - 5PM
                  Sun: 10AM - 4PM