Morongo Valley, California
5/25/2019 to 6/05/2019
Danny's week-long Space Saloon "Fieldworks" Workshop and Clean-Up After.
Saturday 5/25/2019 We packed up and started the drive to Morongo Valley this morning. It's about 30 minutes away from where we were staying in Desert Hot Springs. The road up to the house where we are putting the trailer is very bumpy, full of road ridges and as dusty as you can imagine. It's slightly better than the road we had to use last year, but it's still a very slow, uncomfortable ride. We are parking the trailer in front of the house towards one end. I have to admit, I did not have an easy time backing it in. There's a small dirt driveway that goes onto a concrete patio. I had to pull the truck all the way to the front of the patio and try to back it up. The dirt area was anything but level. I unattached the truck once and we put all the leveling blocks I had underneath but it wasn't enough. So I scavenged some concrete blocks that were laying around the house, reattached the truck and put the concrete blocks underneath, too. It took us a while but we were able to get the trailer level. After we set up, we drove the truck back down the dirt road and up into Yucca Valley and went to Harbor Freight, Tractor Supply, Walmart and Home Depot for more tools and supplies. Later on our way back to the worksite, we stopped at Yucca Rental again and pick-up a mortar mixer. I should mention that this year's site is actually two different houses situated about 100 yards apart. The students and a few instructors are staying in one house (named Merlot) and the rest of the instructors and the two caterers are staying in the other (named Sonoma). Danny and Rebecca are staying on cots in our trailer. Today Charlie and Dina (the caterers) were fixing the group dinner which consisted of vegetarian chili, cornbread, and a slaw salad. After dinner, the instructors gave a lecture in the small barn behind the Merlot house and then it was bedtime.
Sunday 5/26/2019 Danny asked us if we would mind driving one of his friends (also an instructor) into LA this morning and drop him off at the LAX Airport. We needed to leave around 7:45 in the morning, so after breakfast, we began the 138-mile drive to the airport. It took us about three hours to get to United Airlines, Terminal 7 where we just dropped him off and said our goodbyes. The return drive had more traffic and we encountered a couple of jams which took us a little more time on the return trip. When we got back into Yucca Valley, we stopped at Harbor Freight and Home Depot for more tools and supplies and also made a quick stop at Big 5 Sporting Goods for some darts. Danny discovered a dart board in the garage and hopefully, it will provide some entertainment for the students and crew. We dropped off all our purchases at the storage container and took a hike around the grounds to see how much progress the workers made today. We also walked up to The Merlot house which has the barn behind it. Rebecca was working with some of the students on art projects. The weather all day had been cold (57 degrees) and extremely windy, there were even moments of light rain. Maybe it was nice for the crews who were working hard, but it wasn't pleasant at all for us. Later we sat down to a dinner of chicken, rice, and salad. After dinner, the instructors had another lecture for the students while we took showers and settled in for the evening.
Monday 5/27/2019 We woke to a much warmer and nicer morning. We had a light breakfast and afterwards we met Danny and Rebecca at Home Depot to buy some more tools. It seems they are always remembering something they need. After Home Depot, Danny and Rebecca went shopping for some groceries and Rose and I went to Tractor Supply to buy a 6' x 2' deep circular metal tub. It didn't fully fit in the bed of my pick-up truck but I was able to put it in well enough to get it back to the worksite. They are using this in their sister project higher up the hill. They haven't begun that project yet but will in the next day or two. The instructors and their crews are getting into high gear now, really working hard and putting in long hours. There are two photos of Charlie the caterer, one she was outside frying vegetables and potatoes for breakfast burritos and the other photo from the end of the day. The photos of the red painted plywood are going to be a third project. You'll have to wait for the finished products to find out what they become.
Tuesday 5/28/2019 The crew needed water at the top of the hill where they will be working on the second project. Rose and I walked up the hill and connected several hoses together in order for them to have enough hose to make it to the top. We were keeping our fingers crossed that there would be enough water pressure to make it from the bottom to the top. Luckily, it seems to be working. We strolled around and took some more photos of their other two project sites. We loaded the auger we rented into the pick-up truck and returned it to Yucca Rental. We also stopped at the local lumber yard and purchased some more plywood and 2 x 4's and several other supplies. When we returned to the project site, I used the pick-up truck and loaded up many bags of cement mix and drove it closer to where they were working with it. Charlie was making pulled pork for dinner using her smoker machine. One of the photos below shows the clear tubs that we used to wash and dry the dishware after every meal.
Wednesday 5/29/2019 I began the day by filling the plaster mixer and my generator with gasoline. After breakfast, Danny asked if I could use my pick-up truck and drive their materials up to the top of the hill. I told him no because my truck isn't four-wheel drive and I'm sure I wouldn't be able to make it up that steep, sandy hill. So he called Tina, who is one of Rex's employees, and asked if she could use their four-wheel-drive truck to do it. She agreed and when she arrived, she and Danny made a trial run to the top of the hill to see if it was manageable. They were successful and the crew began loading up her truck and made several runs to the top with lumber, concrete, and machinery. Later on, Danny, Rose and I made another supply run to Home Depot for lumber, Walmart for some misc. items and Stater Bros. Grocery store for a truckload of soft drinks and alcohol. Our last stop was to Dollar General for bags of ice. We had a late dinner and weren't done cleaning up until after 10 pm and then it was back to the trailer for showers and bedtime.
Thursday 5/30/2019 After breakfast this morning, we took a hike around the three major projects and took pictures of their progress. Danny and I had to move a dumpster (it was in front of another dirt road) because someone put a chain across the original drive we were using to haul supplies up to the top project and we had to find an alternate route up the hill. Later we drove Rebecca and a couple of the students to Rex’s other property so they could take advantage of the swimming pool. This property is called Hidden Passage and it’s where we stayed for last year’s workshop. We picked up some more ladders and Danny scavenged through Rex’s junk pile looking for items they could use for their projects.
In the afternoon, Rebecca and her group of students were working on a short movie for their project and they had the entire group of instructors, students and us walk up the hill to the project they call the gymnasium. When finished it will have a 6’ wide by 2’ deep swimming pool. We all had to hold our arms up over our head and form a line while we walked up the hill with Rebecca leading the way. It was fun to be a part of it. They filmed additional scenes with the students and at the end of the workshop party, everyone viewed their film.
We were having another late dinner so before we ate, Rose and I took a hike to the very top of the hill, past the gymnasium project, and enjoyed some more views of the area. After dinner, the group walked up to the barn at the other house and had a lecture for the students. We stayed behind the dried the dishes and cleaned up the dining area. We had a good laugh though just when we were finished and ready to head back to the trailer for the evening. A young police officer pulled up in his patrol car and got out to ask us what was going on. A neighbor called the police department and said he thought a cult had moved onto the property. The police officer was extremely nice and understanding once we explained what was going on. Everyone laughed about it when they heard the story from us the next morning.
Friday 5/31/2019 Today was another very busy workday for everyone. The instructors and the students are hustling to finish their projects before tomorrow’s unveiling for the public. Danny had to take an afternoon siesta because he was so worn out. Everyone worked far into the evening. After a very late dinner, Rebecca and the gang surprised Fruzsi with a cake for her birthday.
Saturday 6/01/2019 Breakfast began in the usual way. We have to fill the containers with hot water for the dishwashing station and then after everyone eats, we clean the dining area so it’s ready for the next meal. After breakfast today, Gian and the students from Thailand had to pack up and drive to the LAX Airport for their return flight home. They weren’t able to stay for the public showing of their projects later today because their school director insisted they be back in class on Monday. It was a shame that they weren’t able to enjoy the exhibition of their hard work.
The public arrived in the afternoon and the crew leaders led them to their projects and gave an oral presentation of the project and the ideas behind it. They began with the Ebb and Flow project (the red curvy, wooden project). Everyone enjoyed climbing and sitting on top and were amazed on how sturdy it was. They moved on to The Dots project. (kind of like a playground for adults) You are able to walk up a slanted walkway covered with yoga mats and enjoy a swing or a hammock. They also installed artsy items they created from Rex’s junk pile. The last stop was the gymnasium at the top of the hill. Several team members demonstrated how to relax in the now water-filled pool.
The guests then enjoyed some dinner and conversation. When the sun went down, the entertainment began. Danny hired a fairly newly formed band who played until around 10 pm. Rex felt that loud music might upset the neighbors, so they had to stop by 10. The band spent the night in a rented motor home on the property. Later in the evening, after the guests had departed, the crew watched a video presentation of their projects and we enjoyed the completed movie that Rebecca and her team created. Then they had their end of the workshop party. I’m sure they had a great time but we returned to the trailer for some sleep.
Sunday 6/02/2019 After breakfast, the remainder of the group (with the exception of Willis, Zeno, Danny, Rebecca and Rose and I) packed up and left. Willis is a carpenter and he brings a lot of his own tools and equipment with him so he had to sort through the on-site storage container and locate his personal supplies and load them into his van. He left when he was finished. Zeno was the videographer and drone operator and he had some work to complete. The rest of us just began going through everything and putting it in the storage container. We also had to stack all the chairs and dining tables in the garage eating area and help the caterers load everything into their vehicles. We carried most of the garbage cans and bags into the garage because the dumpster was full. It was evening before we took a drive into Yucca and found a Popeye’s Chicken for dinner that was still open. The restaurants all seemed to close early on Sundays.
Monday 6/03/2019 Today’s mission was to load up all the unused material we could possibly return to the local builder’s supply and Home Depot. Rose and I left early for the first stop which was Home Depot. We unloaded everything onto a lumber cart and wheeled it in only to find out at the return desk that their computer system was down. We brought everything back to the truck and continued on to the builder’s supply and made our returns there. We took a chance and drove back to Home Depot and luckily we were able to make the returns. We are leaving today and needed to get everything returned.
On the way back to the trailer, we met Danny, Rebecca, and Zeno for breakfast in Yucca Valley. They were heading to LA, so after we ate we said our goodbyes. We’ll see Danny again on Tuesday. We drove back to the trailer, loaded up more tools and supplies and made one last trip to Danny's storage container. Then we packed up the trailer for the drive back to the KOA in Desert Hot Springs. We were the last ones to leave.
Tuesday 6/04/2019 Another project the students worked on were life-sized styrofoam cut-outs of cacti and other shapes. They painted them a lime green and placed them throughout one section of desert behind one of the houses they were staying in. We didn't even realize they were working on this project until we saw a video of them at the end of the workshop party. On Monday morning before they left for LA, Zeno went out into the desert and collected all the styrofoam forms. Danny asked if we could bring certain ones to his prior school (Sci-Arc) in LA because the person who created the project wanted them. So, we loaded them into our trailer along with a plywood lawn chair she made to bring them with us when we drove into LA to pick-up Danny. The remainder of the styrofoam forms we had already dropped off yesterday to be saved in Danny's storage container. We left Tuesday morning around 9:30 am after we loaded the styrofoam and wooden chair into the truck bed and a few pieces went into the back seat. We needed to tie down the styrofoam pretty well or we would have lost everything on the LA freeway. Danny was meeting us at Sci-Arc so we could drop off the project. He had just dropped Rebecca off at the airport for her long flight back to Thailand. I think Zeno left on Monday to return to his home country of Germany. We met Danny and brought the project into the school and then we went for lunch before we began the drive back to the KOA at Desert Hot Springs. Once back at the KOA, Danny did a load of laundry, then we finished the day off with a round of Putt-Putt of which Danny was declared the winner.
Wednesday 6/05/2019 Danny needed some new tennis shoes so we found an outlet mall not too far away and made a run to the New Balance store. We only walked around for a short while before we went back to the truck and took a drive into Palm Springs. Wendy house sat here a few years back and she recommended a little restaurant called The Chicken Ranch. We decided to try it for lunch and it was very good. After lunch, we drove to the nearby cinema and watched the Elton John bio-movie "Rocketman". It was a good movie although quite similar to the storyline of Freddie Mercury's bio-movie "Bohemian Rhapsody". Upon our return to the KOA, we lounged in their three hot spring pools and enjoyed a swim in their very warm pool.
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