Having whetted my appetite for cheesy road trips, I couldn’t resist driving up to the High Desert for a couple of days and exploring Pioneertown. It started out as a 1940s film set for Westerns, and is now a tourist attraction in the desert. It’s got a motel, a Roadhouse bar with great music, and streets with names like Annie Oakley Drive and Rawhide Row.

IMG_0012Did I mention I’m in the United States? IMG_0018Yes, I have flung myself around to the other side of the globe on a whim. That is how I roll. Spent a few weeks in Canada, then flew down to SoCal to see a couple of friends and acquaint myself with the desert and um, commune with the silence in my soul or something. The silence is, I have to say, amazing. You can hear for miles.

It took me all of five minutes to wander Mane Street [sic] with its fake Old West shops, barbers etc., all of which were closed, and its sign advertising the regularly scheduled stampede, which I think occurs in tourist season. (I’m not sure whether it is the cows or the tourists that form the stampede itself.) I then wandered further, and found Pioneertown’s true attraction: a mad junk garden created, presumably, by some local resident. Statues, bits of rubbish, a row of old typewriters, a cross on the ground in shards of dry wood. It captured the spirit of the place more than the film set. Although the fake town is somehow ok too. Authenticity is overrated. IMG_0043

And there, in the midst of the garden, surrounGuanyinded by her own geometrical arrangement of junk, I found a statue of Guan Yin, and I paused for a while to say hello. The Goddess of Mercy smiled at me in the desert. I need a bit of mercy after my recent quixotic endeavours. So thanks for that.

Today I plan to see the Joshua Tree National Park. I’m trying to programme the address in to the Sat Nav, but I am having problems. Turns out the streets have no name.