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.