Moved here this past fall; completely fueled by romanticism. It’s been a trip.
Leaning towards moving here.
Lauren Wayfaring II: Epic Integratron Adventure
In 1947, George Van Tassel, a respected aeronautical engineer and test pilot, moved his family to Giant Rock, CA to open a small airport and cafe. His property included the Giant Rock itself (a 7-story tall freestanding boulder, once sacred to Native Americans). In 1953, Van Tassel began a series of weekly meditation sessions in caverns dug beneath the rock. These sessions, he claimed, led to UFO contact and, eventually, a visiting saucer of extra-terrestrials who came to Van Tassel inviting him into their starship and bestowing upon him a technique for rejuvenating life tissues. The following year, George and his family began building the Integratron, per spec of the Venutians.
Van Tassel continued on in his way, hosting UFO conventions and communicating with aliens. I encourage you to check out the website if you want to learn more about Mr. Van Tassel— he was quite a guy.
No this is not a blog about UFOs, or UFO theories.
The Integratron Dome has flourished in its own right. Built over a magnetic vortex in the desert, the Integratron Dome is a 38’-high, 55’-diameter geometric space. According to the website, there is a significant spike in the Earth’s energy field in the center of the dome. They say that the combination of this amplified energy and shape of the space “create a space in which visitors can experience energy beyond the normal visible/ audible spectrum.” It is the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the U.S.
I had first come across the Integratron at the Crossroads Cafe in Joshua Tree (5 stars). My friend Mia and I were were enjoying the low light, bottled beer, and vegetarian fare when a woman at the counter, sensing that we were not desert dwellers, asked if we had visited the dome. We had not, so she gave me a postcard flier. This postcard sat in my car for about a year and a half until I was perusing Rolling Stone and read an article about the Fleet Foxes and how they recently discovered this rad place in the desert where “the notes sound like they are coming from inside your mind…it was the closest thing to a pure psychedelic experience I’ve ever had.” I was provoked. I wanted to go.
About a forty minute drive from Joshua Tree, the dome is located on a compound of small structures— trailers retrofitted for visitors to stay in, a small office, a hammock pagoda, a small stage and newly built mini-dome to serve as a bar. The current owners have done lots of work maintaining the dome and building up the grounds, which are available to rent for large parties and events. It’s definitely weird, like engaging in a dream world because you’re curious and want to know what other treasures your subconscious is gonna spring on you.
The man who runs the place introduced himself as Tron. He was joking, but his earthly name has skipped my mind, so Tron it is. After giving us the rundown of the history, the Venutians, Giant Rock, time travel, the construction of the dome, he shrugged, “I mean, no one really knows what we’re doing,” regarding the actual operation of the Dome. The specs the Venutians gave ol’ Van Tassel included a massive labyrinth of copper pipes— meant to channel the energy into the center of the dome, and an outer ring around the center that is meant to spin and activate the time travel mechanism. Tron never did figure out how to get the thing to spin.
The interior of the Sound Chamber is very soothing. It is a circular, domed room made completely of a reddish wood. There are intermittent windows, portals to the bizarre desert landscape outside of the cocoon of the dome. On the floor are a number of mats, each point towards the center, on which we laid to commence the sound bath.
Tron tells you to focus, focus on your breath, focus on clearing your mind, focus on the sound. And then he begins to play the bowls. The bowls are a series of 9 quartz crystal bowls that are each tuned to a different shakra. They are “played” by rubbing the rims with a special pad. Think about running your finger along the brim of a crystal wine glass. It is that sound AMPLIFIED.
I closed my eyes and started breathing. I tend to have trouble quieting the mind during these exercises. This time though, there was this sound— this massive, bending, stretching sound that wrapped around me, passing back and forth between my ears. It is like swimming in a pool of powerful shifting currents. At points it gets so loud you wait for pain, and then they dim and change again. This goes on for a half an hour. Occasionally you’ll feel the energy focus on a different part of your body— your fingers tingle for awhile or you feel pulsing on your face. I attribute this to the shakra tuning— although I don’t know that much about it.
At one point I must have dozed off. I remember not being able to focus and having urgent passing thoughts about lordknows while this crazy sound is going on, and then at once a very loud, halting tone blasted through all of that other noise and left me with a big, black hole. It sounds crazy, but that’s the only way I can explain it. All of a sudden I got very focused and there was nothing but the notes of quartz crystal.
When we all came to, it was like waking from a nap. And we stretched and smiled and looked at each other and from time to time there was a low “wow.” And the evening light on the desert was pink and bright and the lines of the shadows were exact and I felt very light, and very calm. Integratron Dome, whatever you are, I hope we meet again soon.
Lauren Wayfaring I
In an effort to consolidate an online presence, here are some experiments with travel writing:
Having some time to kill in Maine during the dead of winter, my boyfriend—Jake— and I decide to head north. Our destination being West Penobscot Bay.
I imagine that the coast of Maine looks fragile from satellite, like old frayed paper disintegrating into the ocean. As we make our way east, we weave up and down thesescraps of land. Our first stop is Popham State Beach, a hook of land that juts out into the ocean just south of Phippsburg. The wind stings my bare cheeks as we trudge through the sand guessing at which blustery whitecap is actually the famed beach break. It’s a bit eerie standing alone on a remote beach in wintertime; all of the driftwood, bright scraps of rope, and broken shells seem like they’ve been here for a hundred years.
We drive along the endless bays passing by thick forests and homes dwarfed by 20-foot pyramids of lobster traps hovering in each yard. Jake’s got a hankering for oysters and dark beer, so we brake for lunch at the Newcastle Publick House in Damariscotta. I had the haddock Rueben, which I’ll be reminiscing about for a long time. Jake orders a dozen Angry Al’s oysters (Charbroiled and topped with bacon, spinach, gorgonzola, and hot sauce. Amazing.). The original habitants of the central coast— the Abenaki Indians—also indulged in the local shellfish. Their legacy resides in a 2500-year-old dump of oyster shells along the shore of the Damariscotta River. One such deposit, the Whaleback Shell Midden, was more than thirty feet deep and more than 1650 feet in length. As I sip my stout, the light hits the bay just right, and the bridge that connects Damariscotta with neighboring Newcastle couldn’t be more charming unless it were running a campaign (best bridge?) but we have to move on. I vow to visit the original Reny’s on my return.
Part of the reason we came to this stretch was because I wanted to see Wyeth country; I wanted to know if the central coast landscape—the yellow fields of long grass and bleached wooden barns— had the same milky glow as it does in his paintings.
We cruise into Rockland, home of the Farnsworth Art Museum, one of the nation’s largest collections of paintings by the Wyeth family and our destination for tomorrow. We weigh our numerous Bed and Breakfast options (very vacant on a January weeknight; less so in the height of summer) and are won over by the promise the fresh pie at the Berry Manor Inn— available to guests any time. I mentally commit myself to a slice of cherry, but for now there’s daylight to burn and more coastline to see.
If Epcot Center had a New England stop on it’s World Showcase, Camden would be the inspiration. I envision actors in full rain gear hauling nets from an imaginary sea; aged lady bar backs telling pirate stories as they hand the kiddies a mouse-ear bowl of steaming chowder; and rows and rows of the quaintest homes—shingled and shuttered with garlands of bright buoys. We drive through the center, remarking to each other about the loveliness of it all. The road winds through town between the Camden Hills State Park and the rocky shore. The Abenaki called this area Megunticook, meaning “great swells of the sea,” in reference to these hills.
Jake parks the car in an empty lot surrounded by thin winter trees. With no snow, we find a trail to the coast, balancing ourselves on large shaky boulders as we make our way down to the water. As we stand on that rocky shoulder, we take in the great blue basin: the tall tree stands of Islesboro, Dear Isle and North Haven; the swirl of the channels passing around and between. Perched along the top of the cliff is a swing set, so we ascend the cliff and end our day midair and side by side, pointing our legs out towards the bay and at the many islands beyond.
downtown Detroit, via laurenmccauley
Lake Michigan, via laurenmccauley
For anyone who’s dealt much in stock licensing.
“Look at my power as a barrier” says the watermark, “I am fused with this image. I own this image. If you want this to change, you must prove you believe in the ownership of information by paying a small offering to my church of commerce.” 123RF exists because the users do; their collective photo offerings give 123RF shape, viability, power, and income. A small percentage of this income is returned to the photographers for their faith. By contrast, your typical torrent hungry web sinner, an unbeliever, sees the watermark a stern warning. “Repent!” says the watermark, “embrace our corporation and you will be rewarded.” IMG MGMT: Stock Photography Watermarks As Presence of God, Kevin Bewersdorf
Mississippi: Some of our interview sets…
Look! New formatting.
Let’s see if this keeps me engaged.
the good stuff.