Vintage in the desert

Last weekend my husband and I attended a workshop on making tiny houses, in Joshua Tree, CA, at the Atomic Trailer Ranch. There’s a lot of information in that sentence and even more questions — What was I doing? Where? And why?!!

Tiny houses are cool. I’ve got an interest in them. People should have options on alternative housing if traditional housing is too expensive or they want to live more simply. I wanted to go to a workshop to 1) listen why people were choosing to go tiny, 2) learn options on how they are built (on a trailer or on a foundation), and 3) how tiny houses are integrating into communities.

The workshop was organized by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen and his brother Dustin who travel around the country, touring and filming tiny houses. Deek wrote a book called Microshelters, and he and Dustin are experts in making tree houses too. The workshop was a couple of days in the desert where we could have hands-on experience building a tiny structure. Even though I’m not interested in a tiny house of my own at present, the experience was interesting and I enjoyed it.

Joshua Tree in California is a special place. It’s named after the Yucca brevifolia plant that is native to the Mojave Desert in the southwest part of the US. Now in spring it’s beautiful — warm and dry, but when the breeze picks up, pretty darn cold! Of course Joshua trees are everywhere in this area, but also there are plenty of beautiful desert plants filling in the landscape.

The ranch where the workshop took place is called the Atomic Trailer Ranch, and is the place of the artist Cary Ezoll who spends some of his time there in the desert, and the other half in the Los Angeles area. At his place in Joshua Tree, he created “the bottle house”, a structure with walls that are made with glass bottles. Deke made a video with a little tour of the place, if you’re curious.

But what I absolutely loved was all the old automobiles, old car and tractor parts, street signs, motel signs – some still with working neon, and all kinds of vintage bits and pieces scattered all over his property. It was such a treat to walk around the whole place and find interesting things to see along the way. Here are some of things I photographed:

I loved the way Cary placed old pieces over the land, being careful to let the vegetation shine through.

There were signs like this one you could see in the daylight.

And then others that looked amazing at night.

My favorite piece had to be this wagon.

Parts of the wagon tongue were patented in the 1790s?!! I’m not sure if I’ve interpreted that correctly.

Still, I wonder what it was used for.

At the end of our workshop, we headed back into town and had dinner at a place called the Rib Co., where they had, you guessed it, lots of different kinds of ribs. Our evening entertainment was competitive bean toss, on ESPN2. Say, what? Bean toss? Yep. You don’t see that every day.


4 thoughts on “Vintage in the desert

  1. Thank you for the fun travelogue! Does the Atomic Trailer Ranch offer lodging or space for one’s trailer? It seems like a time-traveler’s experience- very cool!
    Re: your questions about the purpose of that truck. I’m wondering if it carried cotton bols (cotton still inside the dried leaves when picked from the plant)? I think they could be big enough not to fall through the spaces, especially when it was newer. Then the truck could drive over a low bin and open the flaps to let the cotton bols out at a cotton cleaning and processing factory. I have no idea, but it’s a fun puzzle question 🙂

    1. Thanks for thinking with me on the wagon, Kimberly. It looks like it was made industrial strength and is probably extremely heavy. I’d think they would have used wood — something more lightweight — for the cotton process. I was thinking more on the lines of transport for coal or rocks, but who knows… . 😉

  2. Wondering if it was used for mining something from somewhere? Heavy duty for holding ore and rocks holding ore? California Gold Rush and all that …? DH says he camped in the Joshua Tree region as a Boy Scout – had lots of fun exploring the region. So, are you ready to build yourself a Tiny??

    1. I’m thinking about it, Barbara, but not a tiny house on wheels. It would probably be a small structure on a foundation. It’s fun to imagine. Hopefully I’ll get there some day!

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