New signs at AZ West

IMG_8468While we are showing off the new HDTS signs, I also wanted to remember to post the signs that just went up a few weeks ago at AZ West.  With 35 acres all cobbled together – and with each parcel serving a different function – it’s becoming more and more important to help people find their destination on the property.

IMG_8471IMG_8474Skylar helped us figure out an economical way to build the metal frame and Randy Brill executed the router carving. Then Patrick and Marcus kept warm on a winter afternoon by digging 40″ holes and trying to get the whole thing leveled out in three directions.


the hq has it all…

IMG_8792 Last Thursday Patrick, our intrepid HDTS intern Ari, and Andrea erected and installed our beautiful new HDTS signs. The HQ is tucked around the corner off of 29 Palms Hwy – and we don’t have a lot of visibility to those taking the straight and narrow through Morogono Basin.  Plus lots of people don’t even know who we are.  A guy came in a few weeks ago asking if High Desert Test Sites is where we give tests to the homeschoolers!  Anyway, Randy Brill at the Sky Harbor Swap Meet came through for us once again with this suite of signs, hand made with a router.  And Patrick and Ari dug some REALLY deep holes right next to the sidewalk by the entrance of the HDTS HQ.
Like the sign says, the HQ sort of has it all.  You can check out our HDTS archive (both in book form and on a DVD), old HDTS publications and posters (including some really amazing hand made silkscreens by Jenny Nichols),  the most current driving map to existing sites, and lots of other really cool stuff made by HDTS artists and Joshua Tree locals that we are selling to help offset the costs of running the space.IMG_8801

Hot water

Solar showers are high on our wish list as part of the new kitchen and bathroom area in the encampment. In order to try some preliminary tests with solar hot water we temporarily repurposed one of the composting toilets as a test shower. To do this we connected four sections of 50′ black garden hose together, then we connected that to a shower-head, last we added in mixers to control the hot/cold ratio of the water – and walla… a shower!


Reports from our lone resident were that the shower was warm in the mild November weather –but not long lasting and hot.  I’m not sure if a long hot shower is even possible with a solar shower in November (average temps are in the low 50’s in the day), but it would be good to know if using the black hose is a better or worse strategy then using a black water tank.  Anyone out there have any good answers for this?




Marcus’s Poop


Among the new amenities currently underway at the Wagon Station encampment are composting toilets. Being total novices to the world of composting, we thought we’d start with simple toilets that use five gallon buckets to collect the poop, then composting it in an official composting area closer to the future vegetable garden. The toilet enclosures were actually a lot of fun to make – we started out with a minimal plan and a pile of wood, but turned out pretty stylish!


The composting bins were conceptualized by Ari (and built once by dry stacking) and then remade with mortar by David Baker.  Later on they will get a coat of white paint.  According to the Humaneur Handbook, the “compost” should age for a year before we use it – hence the two sided bins.  Cement block was used for the bins in order to keep out rodents (later lids will be added) and to keep moisture and humidity in.

Since all this happened in November, which is fairly late in the season, the only humanure guinea pig left living in the wash area was Marcus, our month long resident of the Magasin 3 Wagon Station.  By the time that Marcus traveled on he had left us a five-gallon bucket filled with pure goodness – stay posted for the results!