I just got back from one of the most amazing adventures of my life. And if you know me, you know that’s a strong statement! But this really was up there.
It all started when one of my readers messaged me, asking if I wanted to meet up and camp out by some hot springs sometime. Meet up with some random guy in the middle of nowhere?! Sure, why not? It’s the Wonderhussy Way! After all, I go out to the desert with strange men for photo shoots all the time — why not do
it simply for fun?
Actually I’m being a tad facetious — I did sort of look the guy up (well, emailed back and forth with him, anyway) and we did talk on the phone a few times. He seemed pretty cool — a traveling musician who frequents nude beaches, and who also happens to live in his van. A real Jack Johnson type! Anyway, he seemed legit enough…and besides, I was SO ready for an adventure that I would have said yes to just about anyone — it had been awhile since my last desert adventure, with my frenemy Alex. (I usually go adventuring with guys — not because I’m looking to hook up, but simply because I know few adventurous cool chicks who want to do this shit with me.)
Anyhoo, I suggested we meet up at Deep Creek Hot Springs, near Apple Valley in the high desert of southeastern California. I had been there once before, and knew it to be a fantastic spot…and it’s pretty much halfway between Vegas and the area where this guy happened to be at the moment, so it worked out. So we arranged to meet out at Deep Creek on Monday afternoon.
Of course, nothing in my crazy life ever works out as planned — I ended up staying out really late on Sunday, working a gig as the craft services lady on the set of an NHL commercial featuring American Idol winner Philip Phillips. I am the last person you want running the crafty table at a shoot — I ate half the snacks and junk food!! But it was a fun gig — we shot some scenes at the fabulous Neon Boneyard, where they store all the old casino signage of yesteryear, and then we shot inside the old PURE nightclub at Caesars, which they had just closed for remodeling.
Being in there was a trip! Back in its day, PURE was the shizz — mobs of people out front, throwing hundreds at the assholes at the door for the privilege of getting in and spending hundreds more on booze. The amount of money that changed hands in that place was mind-boggling — the bottle waitresses made bank; in fact pretty much everyone in there was raking in cash. So much so, that the IRS had to step in at one point and investigate, LOL! I even met my ex-boyfriend in there, which should have been a big red flag, since our relationship ended badly with me up to my balls in debt from a house he advised me to buy (which mess I have thankfully resolved, after 4 miserable years).
But anyway, after 9 years of operation, PURE’s popularity was waning, so they closed it down and will reopen bigger and better, under a new name, next year. But every day it remains closed costs the hotel something like a billion dollars in lost revenue — so they wasted no time in knocking down the walls and starting with the reno. At the time of our shoot there, it had only been shut down for a few days, but the place was already gutted!
Anyhoo, Philip Phillips was nice enough (actually really nice), but the shoot went way late, so I got kind of a late start the next morning on my journey to Apple Valley. To make matters worse, I accidentally followed the wrong directions, and ended up coming in the back way, over the mountains up by Lake Arrowhead — which area is astonishingly beautiful, and which is now on my list of places to go check out!
So I ended up not rolling into Apple Valley until almost sunset. But fortunately for me, the guy I was meeting — we’ll call him “Jack” — was also running late, so it worked out. I got to our rendezvous point before him, and sat on my tailgate drinking wine, watching the sunset, until he finally rolled up in his van just before the sun went down. You know how you can tell pretty much right away if you’re going to like someone or not? Well, this fool rolls up in his hippie van, windows down, with a shit-eating ear-to-ear blindingly-white grin, radiating sunshine and happiness, like, “Heyyy! Let’s go!!!” and I knew we were going to get along juuuuuuust fine. Relief! He was basically the polar opposite of my frenemy Alex, who can be pretty dark and grumpy.
Anyway, we convoyed up the rest of the dirt road to Bowen Ranch — the easiest trailhead to the Deep Creek Hot Springs is located on private property, but the people who own it are super cool and only charge $5 per person for day use, and $10 per person for overnight camping. There are no toilets or running water, just open desert out by the trailhead that descends into the canyon where the hot springs are…but they give you this awesome J.R.R. Tolkien-esque map, which is worth the $10 alone. The last part of the road to the parking/camp area is pretty rough; my 2WD truck was able to handle it fine, but Jack had to be pretty careful in his VW van, although he made it OK by going slow.
We rolled in just before dark and set up camp on a bluff overlooking the trail — well, I set up camp, anyway; all Jack had to do was park his van, and he was ready to go. You know how I’ve been wanting to buy a Scamp trailer? Well, seeing Jack’s VW van made me think twice — it was awesome! Self-contained, no fuss, no muss…just enough room for the essentials. I always thought it would be better to have the option to unhitch and cruise around, but now I think it might be better to have all your shit with you at all times. Hmmm…anyone selling a van???
Anyway, Jack offered to let me sleep in his van (it has two bunks), but I demurred, figuring he would just try to get in my pants (even though Deep Creek is a nudist spot, and I wasn’t really even wearing pants). I had told him ahead of time on the phone that I wasn’t looking at this as a romantic hookup — just a campout. Fuck, I do this kind of shit all the time — I can’t be sleeping with every dude I camp with!!! Besides, a) I have a low libido and am hardly ever attracted to anyone…and b) he mentioned something about having been staying at a girl’s house lately, so I figured he had a girlfriend. Either way, to set things straight I set up my little one-person tent in the shadow of his van, and was good to go.
By now it was totally dark, but the moon was almost full, so there was plenty of ambient light and we set off on the hike down to the hot springs, which are located in a canyon down a fairly steep 1.5-mile trail from the camp area. The trail is pretty smooth and sandy — in fact, we did it barefoot — but does get a bit steep at parts, so you have to be careful, especially in the dark. But we had headlamps, so it was pretty easy.
The trail descends into the canyon and comes out onto a sandy beach area by the creek, which you have to wade across to get to the springs on the other side. On my previous visit, it was January, and the water was pretty deep and icy fucking cold — actually kinda fun, making the hot springs even more of a reward. In fact, all along the hike I had been warning Jack about this freezing wading part…so imagine my surprise when the water turned out to be super warm and awesome in the summertime! I’m telling you, this place was amazing in winter…but was M A G I C A L in the summer.
Adding to the magic, the entire canyon was bathed in this crazy ethereal silvery moonlight, making it really look like a mystical, sacred place. Now, I am a total hard-assed atheist cynic who doesn’t bandy about words like “sacred” lightly…but I’m here to tell you, if there is magic in the world, it’s in places like this. I can’t imagine what it was like for Jack, seeing it for the first time in that light. Awesome!
There were about 25 people hanging out down there that night — you’re not supposed to camp out overnight at the springs themselves, but apparently people do anyway. As long as you clean up after yourself, it’s cool — the real trouble is from all these day-users who leave beer cans and trash behind; the hardcore overnighters are much more respectful and into preserving the springs.
Once across the creek, I couldn’t remember where the real trail was, so we scrambled along in the dark through the rocks until we came upon a tall, super-thin Zenlike old man with a white ponytail and a super-deep, quiet voice who was kind enough to give us the lay of the land. I think he’s a regular down there or maybe even lives there, I don’t know. All I know is he was fascinating to look at, almost like a wizard, and I wanted to take his photo so bad, but didn’t want to come off as a looky-lou, so we just kept going, headed for the beach on the far side.
The next guy we came upon in the darkness held out a bong and said, “Hey, do you guys smoke weed?!” That’s the kind of place this is! From there, it was on. I think everyone was on drugs down there — weed, ecstasy, mushrooms — but it was all totally peaceful and cool; people just tripping quietly in nature. Except this one poor kid tripping balls on ketmamine, who kept circling around asking us where he was, what was in his hand (a GoPro camera), and if he was dead. LOL! The best part was, the GoPro was on the whole time…and that has to be the most awesome footage ever. Finally, a good use for a GoPro! One of my readers sent me one a while ago, and I haven’t been able to figure out a good use for it, since I’m not into extreme sports. Now I have an idea!
Anyway, imagine sitting in this amazing hot spring on the edge of a river, in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of night, with nothing but moonlight to light the scene, after a bong hit from a stranger and a glass of wine, totally naked and talking machine-gun style with some guy from the Internet you only met two hours ago. That was magical!
Jack and I really hit it off right away — I know I said this about my frenemy Alex, but Jack really is the male me: good-looking, charismatic, free spirited and somewhat directionless. It was kinda freaky, but it made for excellent and abundant conversation. We drank wine and blabbed away until around 3am, then hiked back up the steep-ass trail to our campsite and passed out.
Anyway, I only got a few hours of sleep before the sun baked me out of my tent in the morning — I thought I had set it up on the shady side of the van, but apparently I miscalculated because the sun was shooting dagger-rays into my eyeballs from the time it came up around 6am. If you camp here, be advised — there is VERY little shade, and it gets hot as fuck in the summer! I dragged my sleeping bag out and tried to sleep in the shade of the van, under an umbrella, but it was pretty crappy going, so eventually I gave up and started the day. Jack was making fun of me for refusing to sleep in his van with him, but like I said, I only met him the day before, and he appeared to have entanglements. My name might be Wonderhussy, but I don’t give it up that easy!
Anyway, Jack made a fantastic breakfast and then we packed up and hiked back down to the springs for the day. They were even more beautiful in the daylight! Lush and green and shady, with birds and butterflies and dragonflies buzzing around over the sound of water rushing over the rocks — it sounded exactly like the intro to Pink Floyd’s “Grantchester Meadow,” a song about some guy getting baked in the English countryside. Some things are universal, I guess.
I laid out my sleeping bag in the shade on the beach, and we spent the day soaking, snoozing, smoking weed and chatting with the other hippies down there. Deep Creek is located along the Pacific Crest Trail (a trail that goes all the way from Mexico to Canada, which many people hike every year), so we met some resting PCT hikers as well, which was really interesting for me, as I’ve read a few books on the subject and am possibly interested in doing it myself one day. The hiker in this photo is Louis Mayer Maude, all the way from New Hampshire, and this was his first time on the West Coast! Can you imagine?! Welcome to the West…where we know how to live!!!
Everyone was cool, and almost everyone was naked. I love places where you can be naked in a completely non-sexual way — naturism! There is no place like that in Vegas — here, if you’re naked, it means you want to swing (and I hate swinging). But in Deep Creek, it’s different. Hell, I was on my freaking period the whole time — my tampon string was dangling down, and no even even blinked!!!
That being said, I guess just being in that environment around all those bare genitals gets people fired up, because around 5 o’clock shit got freaky — one guy was jerking off in the bushes, looking at a naked black guy stretched out on a rock…who later went over and gave it to his girlfriend, right there on the beach in a little cluster of trees. Far out!!! Thankfully, aside from a few lewd remarks, Jack was pretty classy and never molested me.
Around that time, we ate some mushrooms, and went for a walk back up along the creek to this beautiful, peaceful lagoon. I swear, I’ve never seen such beauty!! I felt like the guy in that Small Faces song “Itchycoo Park,” where he eats acid in the park and cries because “it’s all too beautiful.” It really was!! Jack spent about an hour taking astonishingly beautiful nude photos of me with his iPhone — if even these crappy iPhone pics came out this good, imagine what you could get with a real camera. AHEM!!! Any photographers who want to go out there, hit me up!!!
I took a bunch of really cool photos of Jack as well, but unfortunately he isn’t quite as free spirited as I am in that respect, and asked me not to post them. In fact, he didn’t even really want me to write about him at all, which really knocked me back — I hate when people are ashamed to be associated with me, ya know? It happens now and then — people think I’m fun and awesome, but don’t want their wife or boss or girl whose house they’ve been sleeping at or whoever to know they were with me. Fuck! I am an exceptionally good person, and I’m not doing anything wrong (except drugs) — so why the shame, people? It makes me feel dirty, and really hurts my feelings, to be honest. So you’ll notice I have concealed Jack’s identity with Jack Johnson (the musician)’s face — he doesn’t care for Jack Johnson’s shtick at all, so I figured I could at least exact a small amount of revenge that way, however petty and meaningless. It was a real bummer though, because all the people we met kept asking how long we’d known each other, and when I told them we’d just met the day before, they were blown away: “Wow, I thought you guys had been together forever! You’re like one person!” And it was true. Plus, he leads such an interesting life that I am dying to write about it…but I guess I’ll honor his request, because like I said, I’m an exceptionally good person.
Aside from that, the only other bummer was all the trash and litter down there — people had left all kinds of crap behind! Beer cans, tequila bottles, food wrappers, half-eaten bags of potato chips. I mean, really?!? Who hikes all the way down there to do that?! Jack and I bagged some of it up, but didn’t pack it out with us But at least we tried. Also, the other bummer was a two-foot rattlesnake that came slithering along in the gloaming — we gave it a wide berth and were fine, but you really have to watch yourself!
By now, it was getting dark, and the moon came out — even fuller than last night, bathing the entire canyon in fabulously beautiful silver light. We soaked in one of the cliffside pools with the Zen wizard guy and this bisexual dude from L.A., the one who was jerking off earlier to the naked black guy. I think the Zen wizard was gay too, because they both kept looking at Jack, who seems to be one of those people everyone wants to fuck…but they kept the party polite, and we had a great time soaking and talking. The moonlight reminded me of that song from the movie “Babe,” so I treated everyone to a performance:
“If I had words to make a day for you,
I’d sing you a morning golden and true
I would make this day last for all time
and give you a night deep in moonshine.“
That song pretty much summed up the day, for sure. Awww! I love that movie
But it was getting late, and Jack had some steaks up at camp he wanted to grill…and I knew we had to get out sooner or later and hike back up the trail. Nothing gold can stay! I stalled as long as possible because I didn’t want it to end, but eventually the thought of steak and wine won out, so we bid our adieus and hiked back up the trail, naked and barefoot in the warm desert night, and made a bad ass steak dinner with a fantastic salad and lots of wine. Despite the entreaties of Jack to “just sleep in the van!!” I moved my tent to the shady spot in front, and slept great
The next morning we had to decide where to go next. Jack didn’t have a gig until Friday night, and I didn’t have one til Saturday evening, so we were in no hurry. I was fine just staying at the springs, but Jack wanted to check out Lake Arrowhead or another spot in the area, and brought up the idea of checking out a nudist resort in nearby Palm Springs. I was open to the idea — I’ve been to nudist resorts, and they’re OK, but I have a friend in Vegas who’s been telling me about this place in Palm Springs, so I was kinda curious to check it out, depending on price. Well come to find out, there are a few resorts in the Palm Springs area, and Jack initially wanted to check out the one with a “younger” clientele, which turned out to be a seedy swingers’ paradise. NO, thanks! I am just not into being hit on by sunburned douchebags in gold chains, ya know?!?!?!
We finally agreed to go to the Desert Sun Resort, which is the one my friend had told me about. It’s popular with an older crowd but is a solid no-swing zone, so it sounded much better to me. For $90 each we could stay the night in one of the rooms, plus use the facilities all day and until 4pm the following day. I didn’t really want to lay out $90 when I could stay at Deep Creek for free, but I was curious, and had always wanted to check out Palm Springs…and also, a shower really sounded good, so I agreed, and followed Jack down to Palm Springs.
Now this was my first time ever visiting Palm Springs, and it was pretty cool — all retro mid-century architecture and palm trees and gay guys, etc. The Desert Sun resort is right in the middle of town, a sort of walled fortress to protect the delicate ballsacks and labia within from prying eyes on the street. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, and there are three pools, jacuzzis, volleyball and tennis courts and a workout room. Hanging out there is like being a tiger in an enclosure at a zoo — all these water features and shit to keep you busy, but you can’t leave the enclosure. Grrrrrrrr!!! I much prefer a natural outdoors experience, but that being said, it was a pretty nice place.
Since it was midweek, and summertime (temps in the 100s), the place was fairly deserted — there were one or two other couples hanging out, but that was it. So we took showers and ate some of my patented pot cookies, getting baked in the sun by the pool and pretty much wasting the afternoon away. After dark, we got dressed and walked around downtown Palm Springs and had a burger, still pretty much high as kites, and then went back to the room.
Now is when shit got real: there was only one bed in the room, so I pretty well expected some hardcore molesting to go down…and to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t that upset about it, because Jack is pretty good-looking and I felt a real attraction to him, which is really rare for me (I’m hardly attracted to anyone). But I was uncomfortable with the fact that he had these entanglements, even though he swore it was an open relationship, so I fended him off for around 3 hours, expecting him to finally give up and go to sleep.
First he just wanted to hold my hand, which was fine, except for that it turned out to be the most intensely erotic hand-holding I’ve ever experienced! I’ve never been a big hand-holder, so I didn’t realize how many nerve endings you have in your palms and fingertips and whatnot. The simple act of hand holding can be super intense, I’m here to tell you! It was a trip!!
Anyhoo, I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I fended him off for quite some time until finally caving, to my eternal shame and self-loathing, and giving up third base. (I don’t think he even really wanted to go to 4th base, because then he’d have some ‘splaining to do back home — this way, he could pull a Bill Clinton. Lame, and super depressing position for me to be in.) I felt really shitty about giving it up, but I honestly couldn’t help it; I really was attracted to him — he had the right pheromones or whatever, and I liked him as a person, too. Fuck!!!!
Anyway, I slept surprisingly well after that (I usually can’t sleep for shit if someone else is in the bed with me), and we got up in the morning for more lounging by the pool. Things were slightly awkward, but I had brought some champagne and orange juice, so a few mimosas cleared that right up. We met this super cool couple from L.A. out at the pool who are working on a reality show about naturists/nudists, and of course I gave them my info so they could hook a sister up. Jack was a bit more reticent about appearing nude on TV, but you know me — IDGAF!!
We were allowed to stay at the resort until 4pm, at which time I planned to drive back to Vegas by way of Wonder Valley, so I could stop in at the Palms Restaurant for a burger or something, and say hi to my fabulous friends there, the Sibleys. But Jack decided to go to Hollywood that night to meet up with his publicist, and see this amazing Canadian rockabilly act called Petunia and the Vipers, and he invited me along.
Now, I had no reason to be back in Vegas til Saturday (this was Thursday), and a jaunt to Hollywood sounded fabulous…but my conscience was telling me NOT to go, that it was a bad idea to hang out with this guy one second longer. I already liked him way too much; who knows what would happen next?! So I sobered up with the intent of driving home when we left the resort. I was in a pretty shitty mood about it, but I felt it was ultimately the right decision. That didn’t mean I was happy about it, though
But Jack kept badgering me to come with him, and after talking to the L.A. couple for awhile I cheered up and had a change of heart, and decided Fuckit, I might as well go have one more fun night. It’s better to regret doing something, than to regret not having done something, right? All I had to lose was my self-worth and dignity, and that ain’t worth shit anyway. So I followed the hippie van down the highway to L.A., feeling somewhat like I was running away to join the circus. The circus of broken hearts! Ah, Hollywood.
After getting a burger in Hermosa Beach, we cruised up to Silverlake to this amazing old-timey little club called El Cid, where Petunia and the Vipers were playing. They were freaking awesome!!! It’s basically this one yodeling rockabilly Slim Whitman-type guy and a backing band, but let me tell you something…that kid can yodel! His voice is amazing!! It didn’t hurt that he was super handsome, either, and all tricked out in old-time cowboy gear. Sweet!!
L.A. has a big swing dance/rockabilly scene, so the place was packed with dressed-up kids dancing and doing all these fancy moves. I can’t dance for shit, but the groove was so infectious that I had to get up and at least start jumping around. Now, please keep in mind that I had just been camping in the desert for three days, and hadn’t expected to go to a rockabilly show in L.A., so I was severely underdressed, in my trusty WalMart shorts, a tank top and flip flops. But I went in the bathroom and rigged up a mighty rockabilly conk, so I at least fit in somewhat.
Anyway, it worked too well, because some French guy asked me to dance!! I’m a horrible dancer — I mean, horrible — so I demurred as vehemently as possible, but he kept insisting that he was a “dance instructor” and could show me. So, in the spirit of the moment I let him drag me around the floor, and tried not to step on his toes too much. But every second was excruciating for me, and I couldn’t wait for the song to end. If you ever see me out and about where there’s music playing, for the love of God don’t ask me to dance!!! I MEAN IT!
Then Jack and I did a sort of drunken reel (I don’t think he’s much better at dancing than I am, if at all) and we spent the rest of the night drinking and carousing and smoking weed on the patio with various kooky rockabillies, until last call at 2am. Living in Vegas as I do, I always forget there’s such a thing as “last call” — what a quaint, antiquated custom! But we had to leave the club, so we stumbled out onto Sunset Blvd. and back to where we’d parked our cars.
Now, whenever Jack does gigs in Hollywood, he has this one secret location he found to park his van, on a quiet side street overlooking the ocean and the Santa Monica Pier, where he can sleep overnight without being bothered. So I grabbed a few things from my truck, and climbed aboard the hippie van to get a taste of the vandwelling lifestyle. It was bad ass, and now I’m addicted!
To get to our overnight spot, we basically cruised all the way down Sunset Blvd, passing all the douchey nightclubs and hotspots that line that strip, blasting all kinds of weird music from Alison Krauss to AC/DC (like me, Jack has eclectic tastes in music). We rolled up to a stoplight by the club 1OAK, and I looked over and noted “Oh, there’s Ron Jeremy,” like it was the most natural thing in the world. He was standing on the sidewalk with some crackhead-looking methhead chick, and Jack rolled down the window to let some AC/DC waft in their direction. Ron Jeremy was not interested in the slightest (two hippies in a van…meh) but the crackhead’s ears perked up like a dog hearing a bag of potato chips being opened! Then the light turned green and we cruised off, but it was one of those funny, surreal moments that make life so interesting…ya know?
Anyhoo, we got to the secret parking spot and peed in the bushes and brushed our teeth and stuff, then went to bed. Of course now there was little question there would be some hanky-panky, but again, I won’t go into too much detail. Suffice it to say I went to 4th base and finally gave up the old wonderpussy — all of it, all the way, much more than I usually do — and shockingly, I don’t really regret it. Life is short and shitty, so sometimes it’s best to grab whatever fleeting moments of pleasure/happiness come your way…even if they leave you with an overwhelming melancholia in the morning. But whatevs — melancholia is a cloak I wear on a near-daily basis, so one more day of it ain’t gonna kill me. Although it did kill my dad (he committed suicide), so I guess I should be a little bit careful.
Anyway, after this bizarre intimate interlude in a van parked on a backstreet of an upscale L.A. suburb, I fell asleep in a tangle of arms, legs and confusion…and slept astonishingly well. I woke up to the sound of the surf far below, and now I got to see what a typical morning in the life of a vandweller was all about: get up, piss in a bottle (well, I didn’t — I waited til we got to a bathroom, since I didn’t want to pee in the bushes in broad daylight) and then head down the hill for some delicious gas station coffee and a vigorous toothbrushing on the beach. This particular beach had nice bathrooms, so after finally peeing I ran into the ocean and took a fantastic, invigorating saltwater bath. It was so frustrating to be in the middle of Santa Monica, and thus unable to go in nude…but I still managed to do it topless, so I guess that made it better. Still, I really missed the freedom of Deep Creek
Alas, all good things come to an end, even this trip…and after drying off, Jack drove me back down Sunset Blvd. to my truck, and we parted ways. He hit the road off to his next gig, and I drove back across the desert to Vegas. I hate saying goodbye to people, and it was an exceptionally awkward one at that…but who knows? No regrets; I had a fantastic time, and had plenty of time to mull it over on my drive back through the Mojave.
Around Victorville I stopped to pee, and was sorely tempted to go back to Deep Creek for the night…but by now the spell was broken, and my practical nature had already resumed its stranglehold on me. Live practical, dream magical! I continued on to Vegas, and even went to a Bikram yoga class when I got home….to sweat out all the bullshit oxytocin in my system. Did it work? Only time will tell…
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