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I can't tell if I like driving or if I like micromanaging my environment so much that I will tolerate driving in order to trick myself into thinking I'm in control.

Either way, I drove all day. We hit the Mojave Airport first. Word on the street is that the janitor gives airport tours in his van for $5 per person. Last time I went on a tour with him was 1999, and he asked my then girlfriend and I if we would like to accpet The Lord Jesus Christ as our Personal Lord and Saviour right then and there in that van. He handed us a little Christian tract, which I think my girlfriend kept. She was from Norway, and this phenomenon was strange and interesting to her.

I thought about asking his manager if we could have today's tour sans Jesus. But, it turns out I didn't have to. Tour Guy didn't talk about Jesus at all. He also didn't talk much about the airplanes, either.

For example, he didn't tell us much about how the Mojave Airport is a wrecking yard for spare airplane parts, or, that the airport is used quite a lot for unmanned airplane test flights. Luckily, I already knew this. So, I sparked up conversation and asked him loads of questions—all of which he answered.

I guess I was hoping for a more descriptive, assertive tour—stories and history and stuff. Instead he just drove us around in his van and answered my questions. [For example, he answered my question about what was the airport code for Mojave Airport. It's MHV.]

Tour Guy shared one interesting fact with us though: We weren't allowed to take pictures of the commercial jets that were being dismantled. Many of them still had distinguishing marks from the airline companies they belonged to. Photos of a decrepit jet hulls bearing the logos of Air Canada and Southwest might shed a less-than-glorious light on the airline companies, he explained.

It was like when I was five and my mom told me that my penis wasn't a toy for playing with, in that it only made me want to do it them more. I didn't, though. I mean, I didn't take pictures of the specifically forbidden planes. He seemed so nice. I wouldn't want to do something that might jeopardize his job. And, he let me take pictures of everything else. [The penis not being a toy is another story with an obvious ending.]

After Mojave we drove to the modern ghost town of Cantril. I love modern ghost towns because I understand their technology. I know what a mobile home is. I know what a refrigerator or glass window is. When I see these things rotting in the sun I can make some estimation as to the lives of the people that they used to belong to.

When I see an old ghost town with adobe or stone buildings I can't tell if they were built 50 or 250 or 5,000 years ago. And, I don't even begin to understand what anyone did inside of them. It seems like people did a lot of mining and saloon-ing in towns that were to become ghost towns. So, I imagine them doing that stuff.

We went to a few towns that are running neck-and-neck in the race to become ghost towns: Randsburg, Red Mountain, and Johannesburg. Entropy is taking over in these mining villages. There are more abandoned cars than useful ones. The inhabited houses look almost the same as the crusty shells in towns like Cantril, only here the windows aren't broken.

The saloon in Randsburg. It even appeared to be open.

The saloon in Red Mountain was definitely CLOSED.

Maybe broken windows is the last step before the place that was once your home and your world becomes a ghost town?


We visited the Trona Pinnacles. They're amazing. But, they're also nature, which makes them somewhat unentertaining by design. Also, I have no idea how to take interesting pictures of nature. So, if it's not entertaining and I can't entertain myself by taking photos, then I find a way to leave as soon as possible. Which I did.

After Trona we stopped into Ballarat ghost town. It's just a few empty shells of cars, a few smashed up houses, and a handful of collapsed of mud and stone walls where buildings once stood. There were some modern buildings, as the site is used as a campground for travelers and hordes of buzzing off-highway-vehicle vacationers.

The groundkeeper explained to us that the 'old Dodge bus' across the way used to belong to Charlie Manson. I looked across the yard and didn't see any bus. I only saw a truck. I asked him to point again, and he said, "That bus raht there. Ya see?" I didn't see a bus. He only had one working eye, so I figured he only had a 50% chance of being right about this.

That green bus right in front of you. Right there. Oh, the green bus that's actually a very small pickup truck! I was very excited that I could go take pictures of a truck that belonged to someone whose name alone would make my grandmother get all worked up and upset like a little yappy dog.

The sun soon disappeared behind the mountains, leaving me with the icy high-desert wind, ragged ribbons of road, and three more hours of dark driving before I'd get to Beatty, Nevada.