Tag Archives: chillbillies

Toward the middle of America: Taos, Texas, The Ozarks, and Tennessee

The middle of America, the kinda lower middle. Think beef rather than corn. This was the part of our driving journey across America that we didn’t have all that much to look forward to, driving through was simply something that had to be done.

What becomes interesting is when you don’t have any plans or expectations that frees you up to search around, talk to locals and find the things that interest you.

Taos, New Mexico

I had visited Santa Fe previously and knew that I loved Northern New Mexico, but Taos still found a way to blow my mind. If you took all the high desert of Joshua Tree and replaced all the hippies with cowboys, you’d be close. Knowing that Julia Roberts lives in Taos, I had this vision of a heavily wooded, private kinda place. But Taos is open, no fences, no hills, no trees. But you can easily become secluded in this much space.





Fritch, Texas

An overnight between two long drives and we’ve finally hit humidity, the thing that struck me most about the change in air moisture is the noise of bugs. You don’t realize how quiet it is in the southwest due to the absence of insects chirping away.


Ozarks, Arkansas

Taking a delightful detour to visit an area of America that I hadn’t even known about in my planning. The northwest of Arkasas is spectacular, probably the most surprising area of the trip so far. Just for the record, it’s pronounced Ark-an-saw, not Ar-kansas.



Sound quality below isn’t the best as we’re attending a concert for the opening of the Eureka Springs Jazz Festival.

DSC_0713 DSC_0722 DSC_0736

Parkers Crossroad, Tennessee

Another late-night stop as we try to drive long distances to get to NYC. Driving all the way across America is always going to test your love of driving.

We quickly stopped at Graceland in Memphis and I graffitied Elvis’ wall.


Touring the Southwest: Trestles, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, and Santa Fe.

Our journey actually begins, it’s not just an idea anymore. It’s important to set a good tone for a trip, habits developed in the initial stages echo throughout the journey.

San Mateo Campground

We take a couple of days to surf in San Clemente, about an hour south of our home in LA.

San Mateo CampgroundSan Mateo CampgroundSan Mateo Campground

Joshua Tree

We try to get zen in Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree Joshua Tree Joshua Tree Inn Pool at Joshua Tree Inn DSC_0489 DSC_0507

Grand Canyon

Arriving at night, we stay overnight at Mather Campground.

Grand Canyon Mather Campground Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Lodge at Grand Canyon

Santa Fe

After a few days on the road we find an area that’s easy to fall in love with.



Ghost Ranch DSC_0575 DSC_0610


Packing the car and leaving. Chillbillies getting on the road to Nicaragua.

We’re getting ready to leave, everything has to be packed and cleaned. The house is about to have some strangers move in and we’ve got to get out.

Like all great journeys the real hard work is before you leave. To get the car ready I built a sleeping platform box for our Honda Element, purchased a Thule rooftop box and an ARB awning, to give us some shade while camping. I had yet to install the entire setup until the night before our departure. Our Chillbillies motto is: be vaguely prepared, man.

In the first leg of our trip, we’ll be driving from Los Angeles to NY state, where we will be staying a month in the Catskill Mountains.

4 days before departing Los Angeles.

With 4 days to go everything seems to be falling into place.

3 days before departing Los Angeles.

Cleaning and putting everything in its place.

2 days before departing Los Angeles.

My friend Matt drops by to help with packing our Thule rooftop box.

Pack’n and chat’n.
Thule Summit
The Thule box as full as I could possibly make it.

1 day before departing Los Angeles.

Driving to pick up my new surfboard from Evolved Surfboards.

Evolved Surfboards
THE boards, together at last!
Honda Element with camping equipment.
First install of our complete setup finished late at night.

Departing Los Angeles.

We leave, but only as far as Huntington Beach. I return my surfboard because it’s too big.

A few moments before we leave, saying goodbye to our home for 9-months or so.
Evolved Surfboards in Huntington Beach
Waiting for my surfboard problems to remedy themselves in in a Huntington Beach park.

Visit The Integratron

Out in the desert  near Joshua Tree, if you look from the hills above Landers, you might wonder about the bright white dome out in the flat basin. Short answer: It’s a circular, sonically balanced room where people gather to listen to the quartz bowls, whose sound is a fusion of spinning helicopter blades and whale song.

Visit the Integratron

So here’s the lowdown from Wikipedia:

The Integratron is a structure designed by ufologist and contactee George Van Tassel. Tassel claimed the Integratron was capable of rejuvenation, anti-gravity and time travel.

He built the structure following instructions provided by visitors from the planet Venus.

The Integratron’s workings rely on the generation of strong “intermittent magnetic fields.” Van Tassel claimed the Integratron is intentionally constructed atop a powerful geomagnetic anomaly and its construction is entirely of non-ferromagnetic materials.

Get that. Good. Now let it go. To truly experience The Integraton one must not question the practice but instead open your heart to the experience. Which is exactly what I set about to do.

Arriving is like finding a Mad Mex set: The white orb perched as if ready to return to outer space adjacent to an empty courtyard of sculptural seats constructed of repurposed trash. The setting creates space to focus the mind.

Visit the Integratron

Visit the Integratron

We enter the dome, our voices deepen with resonance echoed by the half-sphere above. We choose mats with a view to the perfectly blue sky. The wind outside had been driving me crazy, blowing in whistling gales so strong they can be heard while driving, inside the dome is silent other than the whispers of other time-travelers.


When the quartz bowls begin, I close my eyes and turn my palms toward the ceiling. I begin a series of the most lucid dreams I’ve probably ever had. The magnetic fields do their work on me while I sleep. I wake a few minutes before the bowls finish their song, as though I’ve been summoned back to consciousnesses.  Do I feel different? It doesn’t matter. I participated and now I encourage you to do the same. Become one of us. Visit the Integratron.