Arrived at the California coast in Santa Monica at 147pm local time Monday, 13 minutes ahead of schedule. I have started driving north on the Pacific Coast Highway. The photo is looking out at the Pacific Ocean from the hills above Malibu.

There is a High Surf Advisory in effect for today and tomorrow so I expect to see lots of surfers. The part of the coast where I am now is like Atlantic Beach back in North Carolina – it is aligned west to east. Normally when you stand on the beach on the Pacific and look out at the ocean you would assume you would be looking west, but here you are actually looking south.

There will be beaches looking west as I get closer to Oxnard, where I am staying the next two nights.

Travel Day

No photo.

Monday is a travel day, as I will leave Yucca Valley late morning to drive out to the coast, just north of Los Angeles.  Sunday I made a big NASCAR-type lap (counterclockwise, but not quite setting a lap record) around the perimeter of Joshua Tree National Park on what were all marked as scenic roads.  I’ll post pictures and tell some stories from my day yesterday when I get out to the coast.

By the way, my first post this morning is my 600th post to the blog!  Almost 100 of those are from my current trip.  I think I ended my trip last year with post 508.



Coachella Valley

Saturday I went back in to Joshua Tree National Park to visit areas of the Park I didn’t make it to on Friday.  Among them was an overlook called Keys View, in the Little San Bernardo Mountains in the west side of the Park.  From there, at an elevation of 5,458 feet, I could look southwest across the San Andreas Fault and see many towns in the Coachella Valley.

Here is a 7-shot, left-to-right panorama from the overlook at Keys View:








Palm Springs is located directly under the tallest mountain you can in the distance (Mt. San Jacinto, 10,831 feet elevation) in the 5th photo above.  Looking right-to-left you can see where Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indio and Coachella are.

It was hazy, a combination of local smog in those various cities, smog from nearby Los Angeles which gets channeled down this direction, and two small wildfires currently burning south of Indio.  Nevertheless, is was a spectacular view.




About 10 miles north of where I am staying in Yucca Valley CA is the little town of Landers.  About 7 miles northwest of there, out in the desert near the base of a small mountain, is Integratron.





This structure was built in 1959 by a man named George Van Tassel.  Among others things he was a Ufologist (think little green men), and claimed to have once been abducted by aliens.  Based on what he claimed he learned from these “space visitors” he designed a gizmo called in Integratron in 1957.  After raising money at UFO conventions, and convincing billionaire Howard Hughes to invest some of his money, he built this building out in the desert near Landers to house his invention.

Mr. Van Tassel claimed that, among other things, he could time-travel, experience anti-gravity, and experience youthful rejuvenation by using his device.  Now I think that’s a bunch of hooey, but he firmly believed in this and had a loyal band of followers and spoke and wrote about it extensively

Mr. Van Tassel died in 1978 and after that the facility changed hands many times and fell into a state of serious disrepair.  A family bought it in the early 2000’s, fixed it up, and on April 23 of this year it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.  The cupola is 38 feet tall and 55 feet in diameter.

The current owners claim the building is acoustically perfect.  They now conduct sessions where they perform “sound baths,” where people pay to be in the building for an hour, laying on mats on the floor, meditating to the sounds of quartz bowls generating soothing sounds.

Here is part of the 1230pm “class” entering the building on Saturday.  I tried booking a reservation before I left Durham a few weeks ago and could never get their website to function properly.  I didn’t think to check it again until about a week ago when I was in Pahrump, Nevada and the month of June was almost completely booked.  At almost $1,000 per hour every 90 minutes, many times a day, the current owners are doing quite well!


30 people per group can reserve time to have a “group session” (private sessions are even more expensive).  Anthony Bourdain, who died just a few days before I posted this, did an episode of one of his shows on CNN here a few years ago, and was one of their more famous attendees.  I admit I was willing to pony up $35 of my own money to try it out, but even with last-minute cancellations, no slots opened up for the 4 days I was in the area.


(Photo credit: Rice Fishey Horiz)


Photo credit: Rice Fishey Horiz)

Integratron angel is here

(Photo credit: angelishere on

The soothing sounds (harmonic frequencies) are apparently made by rubbing oil around the rims of the quartz bowls, similar to rubbing your wet finger on the rim of a wine glass.