Thursday, May 2, 2024

Aliens in the Desert

Wendall -- every other Thursday

James and I headed to the California desert last week to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, revisiting one of our favorite places, the Integratron.


Me on our first trip to the Integratron in 2011.

You have to love a place with a sign like this.

Although we’ve spent several anniversaries in Palm Springs over the years, this time we headed to the other side of the 10 Freeway to Joshua Tree, on the edge of the Mojave Desert, to stay at the historic Joshua Tree Inn. 


Biggest pool in Joshua Tree. . .

One view of the courtyard.

The Inn, which dates back to the late 1940s, is now best known for Room 8, where Alt-country rock legend, Gram Parsons, who played with the Byrds and formed the Flying Burrito Brothers before a promising solo career, died on September 19, 1973 at the age of 26.



After his death at the Inn, his manager managed to steal his body from an LA Mortuary and tried to cremate it at Parsons’s favorite place in the National Park, Cap Rock. If you want to know more about the singer’s life, death, and connection to Joshua Tree, you can find an excellent LA Times article here:


We didn’t stay in Room 8, but Parsons’s spirit is everywhere on the property. The walls of the lobby and lounge feature memorabilia and a stack of guest books, where fans have written messages to the late rock star over the years. 


Shrine to the singer in the courtyard.

Pictures and articles about the singer hang on most of the walls.

The Inn is built like a horseshoe around the gardens and pool area, and we were lucky to have quiet guests and lots of privacy during our stay, not to mention the chance to drink

coffee while we watched the sunrise over the Mojave.


Room 8 is at the end of this walkway.

Looking over the valley towards Joshua Tree National Park.

The purpose of our trip, though, was to revisit the Integratron, which was placed on the National Park Services Register of Historic Places in 2019. James has written several articles about this unique place, we’ve visited it twice before, once with family on New Year’s Day, and since it promises spiritual and physical rejuvenation, we thought it would be a good place to start our next twenty years. . .


With cousins on a chilly New Year's Day.

It's not near anywhere! And GPS doesn't quite work. . .

The property is located deep in the desert, 20 miles north of the Joshua Tree National Forest, and built at the intersection of five ley lines, which some believe are lines to guide alien spacecraft.  According to the website: “The location of the Integratron is an essential part of its functioning. It was built on an intersection of powerful geomagnetic forces that, when focused by the unique geometry of the building, concentrate and amplify the earth’s magnetic field. Magnetometers read a significant spike in the earth’s magnetic field in the center of the Integratron.”


The building was conceived of and built by George Van Tassel, an aeronautical engineer who worked for Lockheed Douglas Aircraft and as a test pilot for Howard Hughes. He also helped lead the “UFO Movement” and hosted their annual convention for 25 years. He spent 18 years constructing the building, and credited the design to “Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions from extraterrestrials.” He claimed the building was “capable of rejuvenation, anti-gravity and time travel.”  It also has extraordinary acoustics, which is why the building is now used for Sound Baths, which include a talk about the history and healing properties of the building and a 45 minute performance on 22 Tibetan sound bowls. 


The "sound bowls" are gorgeous.

Regardless of your feelings about magnometers or extraterrestrials, it’s hard to resist the pull of the building itself, or its setting. The property includes sculptures and shrines, not to mention a “Hammock Village” where you can rest before or after your Sound Bath. 


Hammock Village!

The sculpture garden.

It's a beautiful structure, built entirely of wood—no metal or nails of any kind—with a central column for support in the middle of the first floor. A pull down ladder leads upstairs, where the roof centers on a skylight. 


View from the entrance.
The central column downstairs.

The ceiling and skylight on the second floor. where the sound baths happen.

The mats are laid out around the room.

All participants lie on covered mats, with their heads pointed towards the center. I’m sure the experience is different for everyone so I won’t try to explain it, except to say that as soon as we had finished, we decided it’s something we should do once a year from now on.


We'll be back.

We figure Gram Parsons would approve.









  1. Perfect symmetry everywhere. Thanks for sharing

  2. Thank you, Kwei! I realize it might have put me in the lunatic fringe!

  3. From AA: WOW! Wendall, how beautiful. How romantic. Truly a place to go loony over!!!

  4. This looks wonderful. We visited the Joshua Tree National Park on our recent trip- lots of warnings about snakes. Back at base, the guide asked us what we thought of The Joshua Tree and somebody quipped that it was good but they preferred Rattle And Hum.

    1. Ha! We were only there for two nights, so we didn't venture into the Park this time. At least you can drive through if you want -- fewer snakes!