May 11, 200608:01 AMThe Life
UFO@Integratron: Giant Rock
May 11, 2006 - 08:01 AMSo I left the Retro UFO Space Convention to drive through several miles of sandy dirt roads, hoping to find the Giant Rock under which George Van Tassel had lived, before he was instructed by space aliens to build the Integratron. On the way, I passed an encampment of rowdy-looking dirt bikers and ATV enthusiasts. The rock itself (supposedly the largest single boulder in the world) lived up to its name - compare it to those trucks on the right:
But it's difficult to really appreciate the rock's looming emotional impact from these photos. I thought I'd try for a different angle, by climbing up the rocky hill next to it (note the guy standing in its shadow):
After putting the lens cap on my camera, I noticed a weird-looking pink snake slithering nearby and figured it was time to get the h*ll off that hill. During my hasty climb down, I saw this ATV approaching from the west:
It turned out to be the advance guard for a huge group of dirt bikes, quads, ATVs, pickups, sand skimmers, dune jumpers, you name it. The drivers were gathering in the shadow of Giant Rock to compare tattoos and swill beer. The outrageousness of the men's body markings was surpassed only by the ferocity of the women's tatts, so I approached the impromptu tailgate party with a fair amount of trepidation:
"Do you folks know anything about snakes?" My voice was nearly drowned out by the general hoo-hah.
One of the women took pity on me and repeated my question in a loud bellow, followed by an even louder belch. Raucous laughter ensued, and a massive hairy dude walked over: "Yeah, I know snakes. Why'd you ask?"
"Well, I saw an strange pinkish snake, about four feet long, up on that hill, and I was wondering if you knew what kind it is."
He towered over me, menacingly: "You'd say it was pretty large?"
By this time, all eyes were on me: "Yes."
I could smell his rancid breath: "And it was flesh-colored?"
After what seemed like an interminable silence, he said: "That sounds like the dreaded California Bed Snake."
Through the gales of laughter and renewed belching, I thanked him for his expertise and backed away carefully.