Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Living Desert: A Birthday Retreat

First, I must say a very heartfelt "THANK YOU" for all of your kind birthday greetings!  I swore off the evils of technology for a very long time (I have always been a bit of a late adopter) but truly, there is much good to be found out there on the world wide web - especially connecting with awesome people like you guys!  THANKS!!!

I wish I was one of those bloggers that was a consummate editor.  I am inspired by blogs that show a few highlights through beautifully composed photographs and leave me wanting more.  I wish I left you wanting more but, alas, that is a birthday wish that will never come true.  I just can't help but share every last detail of our adventures.  

When it comes to birthdays, I actually have a much better time celebrating other people than celebrating myself; the answer to that problem is to simply slip away in the night to a remote destination...but not so remote that we can't be home in an hour or two.  I prefaced my desert birthday plans by saying that I wanted a western/cowboy theme to every celebration but, as you will see, I'm a poseur and many of our activities were decidedly un-cowboy.

Exhibit A
The World Famous Crochet Museum - Joshua Tree, CA

We were hipped to the World Famous Crochet Museum by our pal Crystal Lee at Nakedcowgirl Vintage.  Since we were in the area, we couldn't pass up the chance to pay our respects to the peace-nick poodles and the happy hippo.  If I were a shady-type of character, the hippo probably would have come home with me; the museum has a key left in the lock so visitors can enter at will - with that kind of trust placed in me from the start, I just couldn't bring myself to take it. Yes, the WFCM may not be cowboy but it is a little bit of wacky tacky heaven.

The Country Kitchen, now that's looking a little more like it.

What does a hungry cowpoke order at the Country Kitchen?
A crispy tofu, peanut salad, of course.  De-licious!

After the Country Kitchen, we started getting a little warmer in our pursuit of cowboy activities.  Having had our lives changed and our world enlarged by attending the largest square dance festival in the American Southwest last year, we knew that revisiting the square dance subculture was a definite bullet point on our weekend itinerary.

The festival is held at The Riverside Date Festival fairgrounds.  With a decidedly
Arabian theme; the smash-up of cultures is wacky tacky perfection.

Lea Veronica (left) became our new friend and a sewing mentor for me.  She makes all of her own dresses and gave me all kinds of tips for making perfect ruffles!  The couple on the right was an outstanding example of the homemade, couples' ensembles that make the festival something extra special!  They had an under-the-sea/mermaid theme!  I seriously think square dancers should be the heroes of the next Christopher Guest movie.

Shields Date Ranch - Indio, CA
A must-do as Shields' dates are the only dates I ever get.

I'm hoping that it pays to advertise...

Up to that point, we had seen much of the populated desert, but we wanted to feel truly out in the middle of nowhere.  We headed south by southeast for the real living desert (unofficial/not associated with the botanical garden)!

No matter how desolate the area, the hand of man is always present.  Industrial
 supplies and giant metal sculptures make for picture-perfect roadside photo ops!

I think that I was checking to see if they were Dromedaries or Bactrians???

My other car is a grasshopper.

As a Scorpio, it seems to me that I should have
had my picture made with the giant scorpion. Fail.

Crossing under the highway and rising and falling through the desert floor, this snake/dragon/desert monster is HUGE!!

I'm not a really dragon guy, but the level of detail and artistry is pretty incredible!

The father, the sun, and his faithful companion Spirit.
The desert is a holy place.

Is Spirit the creepiest dog you've ever seen, or what?

See what I mean?  This mosaic is awesome!!!

The desert isn't all spiritual beauty, however.  Plenty of dirty, rotten, filthy, stinkin' liars have made their way through this arid clime, including Peg-Leg Smith.

"Peg-Leg Smith Monument Register, Erected by Desert Steve, Feb. 12, 1949"
Desert Steve sounds like he should have a monument of his own!

According to the Lonely Planet website,

"The Peg Leg Smith Monument This a monument to Thomas Long 'Peg Leg' Smith: mountain man, fur trapper, horse thief and liar. Around 1829, Peg Leg passed through on his way to LA and supposedly picked up some rocks that were later found to be pure gold. Strangely, he didn't return to the area until the 1850s, when he was unable to find the lode. Nevertheless, he told lots of people about it, and many came to search for the gold and add to the myths."

The tradition when visiting the monument is twofold.  First, seekers of gold must add ten rocks to the mounting rock pile.  Second, visitors must leave a note or memento in the mailbox. 

"Let those who seek Pegleg's gold add ten rocks to this pile"
You better believe I added my ten rocks; this fool needs gold!

Mary's contribution to the visitors' log

"Liar's contest first Saturday in April"
I told everyone they could definitely count on me for the big Liar's Contest.
I think I've already won the contest...I'm not going.

Feeling a little penitent for our lying, covetous ways, we found one of those
 meditation maze/labyrinths so we could spend time pondering our misdeeds
 and Peg-Leg Smith's bad example.
Mary was a little slower to reach enlightenment than I.

One would think that reaching oneness would make one less susceptible to entering places of unholy and unhealthy vibrations, but we just had to see the sea.

Mr. Tiny and Mary testing the camera's timer at the Salton Sea Beach Marina

The Salton Sea is many things, not one of them is "a great place to go have a nice fish dinner."  It is eerily calm and I would be loathe to eat anything there, let alone fish.

The strangest sight is seabirds in the middle of the desert; giant white pelicans floating serenely in a foul-smelling, desert lake is weird.  The unearthly haze that hangs in the air is even weirder than the smog to which we have become so accustomed.  Weirder still is the moment when one realizes that the shoreline isn't strewn with leaves, branches, and the usual flotsam and jetsam of the sea; it is strewn with thousands and thousands of rotting, festering fish carcasses!!!  I guess that accounts for the smell... 

"Fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads..."

I call this one Nemo.

Walters Restaurant & Lounge "Where Nice People Go"
Would you believe that in tiny script at the bottom of the sign it read, "to get
killed and turned into some kind of horrible loose-meat sandwich?"

It seemed odd that the large, readable "Salton Sea Beach" sign was
partially covered by a smaller sign reading "Salton Sea Beach."
Truthfully, there is nothing about the Salton Sea that isn't odd.
  The desert is weird!!!

Yeah, it's weird, but I could live an anchor house.

Or the Sea & Sun Motel - they have COLOR TV!!!

Yes, friends, I love the desert, I am not a cowboy (darn it), and I had a swell birthday weekend.  It did take multiple showers to remove the residue of the Salton Sea, but I would happily go back and visit all over again.  As always, we did our best to see a lot but if you think this post covered everything we did, then you have another think coming.  Stay tuned for even more desert fun!!!


Mr. Tiny

p.s. As a light bit of housekeeping, you are cordially invited to follow us on Facebook and Instagram at wacy_tacky.  Who's poo-pooing technology now?  More importantly, we really appreciate your following along and we invite you to tell your friends, neighbors, and loved ones about all the good times we have here.  Remember, when we reach 150 official blog followers, there will be an awesome giveaway!!!  We just need ONE MORE!!!  We can do it and you can help!  Thanks!!!


  1. Happy late birthday to you! : ) WOW, what a birthday celebration. I could do just one of those things and be as happy as a clam - you really whooped it up! Perfect from start to finish....and hello! adding square dancers to the mix? Wowee!

    1. Thanks Eartha!!! In the end, it's all about the square dancers, isn't it? Really, can't you see Catherine O'Hara an Eugene Levy in full square regalia? I'm pitching the idea to Christopher Guest.

  2. Happy Belated Birthday!! Thanks, as always, for sharing your fantastic pictures!

    1. Thanks Suz!!! And thanks for saying my photo are fantastic!!!

  3. Happy belated birthday, buckaroo! It looks like you had yourself a rootin’ tootin’ time. And oh my lordie, the Living Desert looks amazing! I’ll have to make my way out there soon. As always, I enjoy your hilarious narration, and I’m perplexed, even downright perturbed, that more folks don’t follow your delightfully entertaining blog.

    1. Thanks Crystal Lee!!! You got the ball rolling with your reporting on the Crochet Museum! Truly, I'm grateful for the folks that do follow along and I really appreciate your support!

  4. Wow, what a spectacular trip! Those giant metal sculptures are brilliant, and the lake looks so beautiful and serene - it's hard to imagine that it stinks! Heheheh! I'm glad you have a super duper birthday, and I look forward to reading about the rest of the birthday extravaganza! xx

    1. Haha...yeah, don't let its serenity fool you into thinking that it won't send you into olfactory meltdown. It is stinky! Thanks and have fun this weekend!!!

  5. oh i can so relate to wishing i was better able to edit. i have gotten better, on my old livejournal i would post 70 pics plus at a time! now i can hardly get it under 20 per post. i wish i was good at just picking the BEST ones, but whatever, i love long posts so some people probably love my super long ones too.

    I want to to go to the crochet museum SO BAD! Those poodles! Your trip is wonderful so far. Exactly the kind of trip I would like to take! I can't wait to take a big trip out west!

    1. Make the crochet museum a stop on your west coast road trip; there were a lot of bottle-bodied poodles but not all of them had "NO WAR" pins.

      My real problem is my lack of editing and my lack of skill in photography. Hahahaha!!! I guess if I can't give you a few amazing photos, I'll give you a million mediocre ones.

  6. both you and your sister are adorable!!!! I love each and everyone of your post! Always interesting and fun!

    1. Oh boy! I don't know about "adorable" but thank you very much!!!!

  7. Well color me jealous!!! 3 of my favorite things!!! A weird museum, square dance dresses, and The Salton Sea. I have ALWAYS wanted to go there. Looks like an AMAZING time! And I'm with you. I could totally live in a rusty anchor house. Thanks for sharing.


    1. I think we should come up with some sort of exchange program; you come and explore the desert and I will go and explore the South! I see blogs from the South and it seems like there is so much to see!!! One day I'll get out there!

    2. Done and DONE! You'd enjoy it for sure. There is lots of really weird and random tackiness to be seen for sure. I think I'd make sure your first stop of South Of The Border in Dillon, SC. Look it up if you've never heard of it. It's RIDICULOUS.

    3. Since I only live an hour and a half away from it, I plan on doing a post about it soon.

  8. This looks like so much fun. I need to get my booty out for a desert road trip very soon!

    1. It was fun and yes, you should! There is so much weirdness and wonder there - I LOVE IT!!!

  9. Happy (belated) birthday to you!!! Looks like a terrific celebration!
    I'm staying in Palm Springs and headed out to Joshua Tree just next week-- I'm so hitting up the crochet museum!! I also had my first date shake this evening, and am jonesing to visit the date farms!

    1. Thank you! I am so happy for you that you get to enjoy our version of winter. If you're feeling a little homesick, take the Palm Springs aerial tram to the top of the mountain; there is sure to be snow up there. Actually, you should go there anyway, it is awesome with beautiful views of the valley!

  10. Happy Belated, Mr. Tiny! I love this post -- I've always wanted to visit Borrego Springs, and you've inspired me to make a trip to the desert. The Crochet Museum must be a must-see! And Shield's is one of my favorite things about Palm Springs. The back patio on a Sunday morning, before everyone gets there, feels so 1940's glamorous. And I work for Lonely Planet, so I squealed with joy when I saw that! Hooray for Mr. Tiny as always!

    1. Isn't Shields wonderful? Have you watched the "Romance & Sex Life of a Date;" the little theater is wonderful! I'm so glad to know someone who works for Lonely Planet - I'll keep in touch!

    2. And also did I mention wonderful?

    3. Mr. Tiny, you tell me where your wacky tacky adventures are taking you next, and I'll send you a guide. I just love your blog so much -- even more than "Romance & Sex Life of a Date." I watched it twice!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

    4. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours too! You are too kind! I will definitely do that - I hope you know what you are getting into; I might be bugging you quite regularly. Thanks!!!

  11. I want to go to everywhere you described in this post! Happy belated birthday! I can't get over the mermaid matching costumes, the smaller salton sea sign over the larger salton sea sign, and "my other car is a grasshopper". Thanks for taking us (vicariously) into the desert with you! And please share ruffle making secrets of the true disciples of ruffle making ASAP...inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Thanks Lisa! You guys are more than welcome along on any of our adventures. I think the ruffle secrets deserve an entire post of their own - stay tuned!!!