Bottle It Up

I’m very much the kind of person who when I read about something, or hear about something that I think I might enjoy, I write it down, and then make a plan. How soon can I get to wherever or whatever I’ve just found out about? What stands between me and it and how to I make whatever that is go away? Time…distance…there are as few limits as possible. (If there were NO limits, I would have been to Cuba and Australia/New Zealand already and be talking about that time I went to Iceland last week.) That being said, I do the best I can, and do a pretty good job of it. Not a humble brag, I just prioritize adventures.

It was while working on a piece about a bottle garden in Tennessee that I stumbled upon information about one in California along Route 66. The timing was perfect as I was headed to LA for a concert.

(Concerts are one of my favoritest excuses to travel.)

The Bottle Tree Ranch is a couple hours east of LA in the Mojave Desert. Totally doable.


Found objects AND puffy clouds. I was sold on this day right out of the gate. We wandered, taking pictures and getting closer looks and marveling every step of the way.

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So much to see! And I was enjoying discovering the littlest of trinkets and the most recognizable of objects used in the most interesting of ways. I knew from my research the Ranch is owned and was created by a man named Elmer. His house sits at the back of the property.


But Elmer wasn’t outside. It bummed me out to think I wouldn’t be able to meet him. Like the adventure wouldn’t be complete. I walked around the house and into a side yard that’s not as set up. And then I turned around to see Elmer walking out of his house.

What followed was an amazing conversation (which shouldn’t shock anyone). He told me his dad started the bottle collecting, but never did anything with them. Elmer’s more than made up for that. We talked about the bottles. We talked about the found objects. We talked about raising kids (“do it with complete honesty – lie about nothing, not even Santa Claus”). We talked about seizing moments and doing what you want. We were the kindredest of spirits. But my friend K thinks I liked him most because he looks like a gnome.


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