Upon entering room 8, I froze in astonishment and blurted “My god,” as a chill went up my spine. My girlfriend and the hotel manager stared at me in shock as if I’d seen a ghost…I had. It turns out that an original framed art print next to the bathroom and the hotel room mirror are only the two original artifacts in the room. The print, by unknown artist Dick Swift, was the image that Gram saw while laying in bed during his two-day stay in this room. I have had the exact SAME print for 30 years in my bedroom and see it every night. What are the freakin’ odds of that?! Especially since only 50 were printed in 1963, it felt like seeing a ghost. I came to learn Dick Swift (1918-2010) lived in my ’hood, Long Beach, all his life and his remaining estate of artwork is available at annexgalleries.com (P.S. they don’t have a David and Bathsheba that’s in room 8…watch for mine on eBay.)
We settled in with a bottle of Jack and watched Grand Theft Parsons, a must during your visit. Legend has it that burning candles while looking into the circular mirror and calling out Gram’s name evokes his spirit. I couldn’t keep my eyes off David and Bathsheba, but I can guarantee that after enough Jack Daniels, spirits will appear.
The room is filled with all things Parsons and respectful visitors have left behind picks to drumsticks. A gold cowboy hat donated by a famous artist hangs over the mirror. On the relocated shrine right outside room 8 are artifacts honoring Gram’s musical contributions. A thick guestbook inside the room chronicles visitors’ thoughts and experiences over the years and is full of fascinating prose, poetry, and art. A reoccurring theme is a knocking sound in the dead of night, with no one to be found. That evening we experienced an amazing double-rainbow accompanied by a spectacular sunset—thanks Gram. Waking to a searing desert hangover, a massive double-veggie omelet breakfast at the Route 62 Diner was the cure. It’s a cool ’50s-style diner replete with Seeburgs at every booth and motorcycle memorabilia fills the walls.
Hey Mr. Spaceman
Homeward bound we visited a bizarre structure called the Integratron built by Dr. George Van Tassel. He was one of the leaders in the UFO movement of the ’50s and held annual “Spacecraft Conventions” at Giant Rock for 25 years. He built the Integratron, a 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, all-wood structure originally designed as a rejuvenation and time machine, but it was never actually turned on, George died before it was finished and his original plans lost. Only 10 miles from Joshua Tree, Parsons, an avid motorcyclist, would have surely visited this mysterious place many times. Perhaps inspiration for the Byrds hit song “Mr. Spaceman.”
Angels or Demons
So is the ’12 CVO Road Glide Custom heaven sent? Unequivocally yes, with a few minor criticisms. The heavy breather cramped this 6-foot, 1-inch, rider’s right leg and the stylish stitched seats suffer from the typical fashion-versus-function dilemma for serious 200-milers. My biggest bitch is the gimmicky gas gauge. Its mirrored surface makes it impossible to see in the reflection of the daylight sun. Ultimately the ’12 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Custom CVO possesses unique attributes that must be experienced to be appreciated. And are the spirits of John Potter, beheaded prostitutes, and Gram Parsons still traipsing about taking tickets from an endless procession of amateur ghost hunters? Unequivocally yes, whether it’s the energy of believers laser-focused on a specific location or lingering remnants of lost souls, these haunted hotels also possess very unique attributes that must be experienced to appreciate. Sleep well.