I woke up in a beach town on the west coast, at 4 a.m. and drove to a desert city called Palm Springs a couple hours away. It was barely dawn, in a pick up truck, with a friend named Van, on the way to an empty swimming pool, at a defunct nudist colony, where rumor had it, a man was stabbed and killed at a party, and the local Sheriff’s had shot the pool up with assault rifles, and bulldozed it into oblivion.
As a kid I had seen a golden image of Dave Clymer carving over the stairs on a bicycle in this dried out beast. wearing a stars and bars motorcycle helmet, it was some kind of iconoclast that changed my perspective from that point on. 20 some odd years later, I find myself trudging up 30 minutes of off- road trails in a truck, at sunrise, soon after learning someone had unearthed this relic.
There were 3 of us in the truck, and 3 people already there, staring off at the storm rolling in, they decided to get down the desert mountain road before the rain washed it away, and my friends an I took a couple slippery laps in the pool as it started misting. Slick layers of spray paint became total hazards when the rain came, and the pool was already scary, so we aimed our sites down the hill, westward towards another legend.
By the time the storm hit, it was still early morning so we decided to bee line it for Phoenix to the infamous Love Walls, an old TV studio in another desert, home of the former Dick Van Dyke Show. It was a few hours across the I-10 to a suburb north of Phoenix, and we drove through the gnarliest sandstorm I had ever witnessed, motorcyclist were hiding out under bridges to avoid being sandblasted off their bikes, and visibility was about 20 feet. Quite a contrast from the rain we were escaping.
After some off shoot navigation we could see the love walls, behind a shopping plaza, some yellow crime scene tape, and a couple of parked police officers at it’s entrance. We found some parking, snuck in the back way, and rode our bikes up the giant steep transition, once a photo studio of auto advertising and swimsuit models.
Today it smelled of burnt embers, and extinguished incendiarism, as the ground was flooded with water from a fire department. I only know that was where the water was from because the same police who were guarding the entrance, found us riding bicycles there, and asked if we were involved with the arson they were investigating just a few hours earlier. They were not pleased to see us on the crime scene they were supposed to be watching over, ran our ideas, and soon ran us off the property, luckily with our liberty in tact.
Humbled by two epic spots, the elements and a little dumb luck, we rejoiced in the adventure and drove to Tempe to get dinner, before planning another mission. Not soon after the walls were plowed, never to be ridden again, and we’d soon be back east, thinking about these kinds of treasures reclaimed by progress and time…