Quirky sights from our desert travel guide "The Amazing California Desert." (Part 1)
We’ve included some quirky sights like the world’s largest thermometer, enormous steel-and-concrete dinosaurs, and a dome said to have been designed by aliens. Here are two of these interesting sights from our book.
“Big Josh,” formerly known as “The Mecca Cowboy,” is one of the statues known as “Muffler Men.” International Fiberglass Company of Venice, California constructed most of the fiberglass statues before closing in the mid-1990s. The owners of Joshua Tree’s The Station, a former gas station built in 1949, rescued the gentle giant from a swap meet. For years, he stood in the town of Mecca near the Salton Sea. There are a handful of “Muffler Men” still around, like “Chicken Boy” in Highland Park, California and “Mutant Man” in Yuma, Arizona. They were created in an era where roadside businesses needed to catch the eye of potential customers speeding along the highways. Come check out “Big Josh” and see what he’s holding or wearing. During the pandemic, he covered his face with a mask!
Integratron: Aeronautical engineer George Van Tassel was obsessed with UFOs. He built this dome structure after he claimed that extraterrestrials from Venus gave him the blueprint. He wanted the dome to promote time travel and be an “electrostatic generator.” Today you can reserve a spot to have a sound bath, said to relax and rejuvenate. If taking a break from your life and listening to the music of crystal bowls appeals to you, then this is the ticket. The Integratron is in the Hi-Desert town of Landers (15 miles (24 km) north of Highway 62 on Highway 247 /Old Woman Springs Road).
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Andy Herbach is the author of the Eating & Drinking series of menu translators and restaurant guides, including Eating & Drinking in Italy , Eating & Drinking in Paris , and Eating & Drinking in Spain and Portugal . He is also the co-author of Wining & Dining in Paris and
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