For those of you who have signed up for the BLDGBLOG/Atlas Obscura “expedition to the geoglyphs of nowhere” trip tomorrow afternoon, March 20, part of the first annual international Obscura Day, I wanted to touch base briefly about what will actually occur out there.
First of all, I’m excited—I think this will be a lot of fun, and I look forward to meeting lots of you and exploring the abandoned geometry of a city that was never fully built in the first place (and about which you can read a bit more here). Even CNN is excited, writing that nearly “200 people have committed to a trip to California City, California, a planned city in the middle of the Mojave Desert that was never finished. It is now home to about 15,000 people, many of whom live within a surrounding network of crumbling roads, the vestiges of the abandoned city plan.”
Second, it looks like at least 182 people have signed up for this, which I assume translates into roughly 75 cars making the journey—that’s a substantial caravan. That being the case, our initial meet-up in the parking lot of the California City Rite Aid—as the current plan now stands—will actually be quite hard, if not impossible, to manage.
So I think we need to activate Plan B: we will still arrive via that Rite Aid (9482 California City Boulevard) at 1pm tomorrow, and you should still use it as a place to get something to drink or whatever else you might need (and there’s a fast food place next door if you need a bathroom break), but if you do not actually speak to me, or to anyone else, for that matter—perhaps because you are a misanthrope attracted to abandoned cities in the desert—don’t worry: just head out of the city, going northeast along Randsburg Mojave Road, onto 20 Mule Team Parkway. Here’s a link to the most basic map of that road.
At that point, to be honest, you can just do whatever you’re going out there to do: make films, take photographs, record sounds, write blog posts, Tweet things, interview people, do cartwheels, read Ballard and meet your future best friends. Fly remote-control airplanes with small nose-mounted cameras over the failed glyphs of a forgotten real estate dream. Build kites. Assemble simulated Iron Age tumuli in the dirt and gravel and dedicate them all to Anselm Kiefer. Establish a makeshift geothermal drilling operation and cause an earthquake. Call your mother.
This is not a guided tour, and we are not experts. This is a kind of documentarian flash mob, and together we’ll produce the largest archive of contemporary California City photographs that exists anywhere in the world. We can start by filling out this Flickr group—but, again, feel absolutely free to do your own thing and save your own photographs wherever you choose to do so.
Finally, a brief bit of legalese—sorry, but I need to cover this stuff, too:
I understand and acknowledge that my attendance at and participation in Obscura Day is voluntary. I assume full responsibility for any injuries or damages resulting from my attendance at and participation in any related events or activities, including responsibility for using reasonable judgment in all phases of participation and travel to and from any event location. By attending an Obscura Day event, I, the attendee, in full recognition and appreciation of the dangers, hazards and risks inherent in such activities, do hereby waive, release, indemnify, hold harmless and forever discharge JPSF LLC., its officers, agents and employees, from and against any and all claims, demands, liabilities, causes of action, losses, costs and expenses of any nature (including, without limitation, attorneys’ fees) resulting from damages to personal property, personal injury or death, arising out of or relating in any way to my attendance and participation in these activities. I acknowledge that I have read and understand this entire Waiver of Liability and Release, and I agree to be legally bound by it. I further acknowledge that I am over the age of 18 (at or above the age of majority in the jurisdiction in which I reside, if different from 18). If not, I understand that my attendance and participation in any event is expressly conditioned on the acknowledgment of this Waiver of Liability and Release by my parent or legal guardian.
So bring sunscreen, fill up your gas tank, wear comfortable shoes, don’t forget some water, and I will see you out there in the middle of nowhere.