Sound Camp Preparation Trips:

"Almost a blog"

This is our hope:

To erase the mystery of what we have done. To make it a repeatable and potentially scalable experiment. For the weekend and really the month leading up to it is an owned experience by all who have been there, moved rocks, raked sand, visited, even spoken about the project away from the site.

This page will scroll and scroll. Layout/typos/grammar are not going to be particularly cared for here (since this program doesn't spell check). If you are curious read on, read on. Reverse chronological order.
April 20th 7pm Friday
Above is the kitchen site. RoutesAndMethods is designing a kitchen that 25 people can cut vegetables around all at once. Where three water basins can be used; first to clean vegetables, and then at the end of the meal to clean the dishes. Two gas stoves and a charcoal cooker also will face in so that a big conversation can happen among the large group of people while preparing meals. We hope to erase the line that a normal kitchen experience creates with size/scale as limiting features. SInce the kitchen is so frequently the hearth of a party, we are building that nature of humans into the structural design of Sound Camp.

On our minds::
1. the cost of thick strong lumber that will hold up over the years vs the inititial hope of creating a 20' x 8' slightly oval table
2. on saturday 4/21 pricing out the various solutions
3. the logistics of actually building this structure way off the grid and for cheap and for the time we are dealing with
4. wish we'd just built the darn top weeks ago and then figured out the base later
5. we could build it out of ply, but ply has a way of detroying itself over about 8 months
6. scrap ply from cold storage construction site could be the solution... except that bringing it in means we got to bring it out. There is the following idea... we could build it out of scrap would. Precisely as we want it. Build it in pieces that can be dismantled into about 4-7 sections and transported in the back of a pick-up truck. If we paint the top of the ply with state park brown porch'n'floor paint than it would be able to hold up slightly better. Wait if we painted it and used 2x4's screwed to the ply, then we could store the pieces vertically in a cove with a tarp. then when there is a weekend we can quickly reassmble the big kitceh, using the plywood tops combined with 2x4 supports. and if the whole thing was painted brown than it would and should work just fine out there. I in fact don't even think we would have any problems. In fact I thinkkwe could do it precisely as planned/hoped for, with size and cost no longer being an issue. Also the bonus is that we would be using all recycled material... dressed up with some paint. And heck if they are broken down into say 5 pieces than two people can easily assemble and desemble transprt and move to any location we want. The legs would be customized sawhorses that are prexisitng in R&M headquarters' woodshop.
7. As far as timing and logistics... we can make the thing in the studio next week. Infact we can make a portion... a test section tomorrow and bring it out in Jimmy's pickup on sunday morning 4/22. Okay here is the plan...for tomorrow:
8. Use one large piece of ply in the cold storage parking lot and scrap lumber (which can fit easily into Jimmy's truck) and some of the 2x4's to make a table top that we can bring out for the weekend. LEts even go ahead and paint the damn thing with some of my preexisting floor paint. Nothing fancy, just something to get us started. make it sturdy.
9. Also measure and cut 2x4 to fit into one set of the sawhorses that we have. For the big table we could get away with 4 suped up sawhorses to support the whole thing, at exactly the height we want it.

This should work. Infact as far as scheduling goes. By making it in Los Angeles on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday it would take a huge stress off of our backs. Also it could be a great way to use some of the materials we have been hording for so long.

The other big Project to figure out are the facilities for waste out in the desert... How to manage the crap of 60 people? Peeing is great behind a bush... but poo?
1. The two ideas which we are exploring right now... 1) rent a portopotty for the weekend, or 2) create a system of compost
2. the portopotty solution is simple. spoke with the kind folks at Arrow in JT and found out that for $71 we can get one porto for the weekend... no hassles. $91 for a loo with a sink. And for 2 or more the discount is about 15%. They need a few days notice.
3. The big downside is that it is a solution only for this weekend and for big weekends. It does not create a solution for small weekends where there are just a few people. The other downside is that the outhouse is an ugly thing to look at in this beautiful place. ALso, that it exports our shit using chemicals to process it... as opposed to letting it naturally break down.
4. the humanure compst toilet option! oh boy... talk about dealing with your shit:
April 24, 9:44pm, Tuesday
Jimmy and mp left the desert around 11am after getting quite a good deal done over the past three days.

On Sunday we had Adam Overton, Lizzie Tilles, Sam Zipper, Nell Baldwin and Libby McInerny all come out to help prepare the site. We made serious progress with the kitchen area plus defining some of the key camp sites. We made some paths (to protect critical high traffic areas), protected some small shrubs with rocks to make them less vulnerable, built up some rock retaining walls on the back side of the kitchen (which will also function as a seating area),extended the kitchen pad using sand and some rocks. The early fire pit in the lower area of the kitchen got broken down. In terms of camp sites we decided to rake and mark on ly the spots we knew would be primo sites (ie the ones in perfect little boulder hides, in sweet protected spots). We decided there were plenty of open and flat spots that people can find to lay down bags and tents, without raking and marking off. Thinking folows that it will be less damage to the land. No sense, raking tiny bits of grass away, when just as easily someone could bed down for a single night without killing the same grass). All in all there are about 20 cleared spots, plus the pads for the eventual movie theatre, plus the lower pad for the eventual cabin?!? Plus a ton of great sites that the more adventurous can sleep. We had some killer avo sandwiches for a late lunch, then we broke in the Botwsanian Pot Bellied Pot with three differnet kinds of beans (from a favorites farmer) with roasted onions. Oh boy they were good. Around 9pm we headed to pappy and harriets to see the thrift store all stars. Nell and Sam are a couple of great boogiers. Other things of note are that Adam, Lizzie and Libbie had never met each other until that morning when they loaded up into the car together. Adam and Lizzie are among the people who will be with us for the May 5-6 weekend. The other big thing we began testing was a composting toilet. On Saturday we buiilt a simple toilet box (from extra wood from the stairs of Cold Storage) with a hole in the top, plus added a simple white toilet seat. We primed it and painted it with some porch and floor paint we had around (extra from mp's studio floor). We used a five gallon bucket and some woodchips(that someone dumped years ago on the land). The woodchips keep the smell almost non-existteant, and when the bucket gets full, you put the lid on, then replace it with an empty clean bucket. (its always a good idea to start with the woodshicps at the bttom of the bucket). Actually it was our first task upon arrival... siting a location for it. We chose a spot by the upper movie theatre pad nestled in nezt to a rock and mesquite tree. Jimmy used some old ply laying around to make a little low wall around it. It was used and enjoyed by us all. One other great thing about having 7 people out there working all day was that we cleaned up lots of detritus and debris... namely the shot up drywall on the lower pad. After P&H's everyone left for home (three to LA and S and N back to Pomona College). The thermometer when Jimmy and mp go tinto their suped up sleeping bags was 38. The wind started at about 4am, and teh thermometer was down to another degree. After a few adjustemnts (using a rock to secure the tarp) got back to a cozy nights sleep.

On Monday at 11am we met up with Steve Walters (who lives in Joshua Tree and is comiing for the big weekend took a break from his kitchen's plumbing) at the intersection of Pipes Canyon road (pavement) and Acacia (the start of the 20 minute dirt road into camp). Steve, Jimmy and mp worked on revitalizing the pushed in rock wall where we (Norm, Eben and mp Quarried the big rocks for the kitchen two thursdays ago). Also we revitalized the lower kitchen pad, with scattered small rocks and defining a path from the parking area into the kitchen to allow that area to go back to nature... we also saved a few of the struggling bushes in that area. The other big job accomplished was adjusting the big rocks to fit the latest kitchen island design, plus creating some seating round the periphery of the kitchen. Also, we set out a few more little paths from the living room / amphiteare up to the sleeping areas. Before Steve's 6pm departure, the three of us shared a doctored bean, quinoa, chard stew at the end of the day. The chard was from the garden (it was about three bunches worth of chard). It was the second use of the large Botswanian Pot Bellied pot. It was mighty tasty and somehow creamy... oh right, in the small botwatan pot bellied pot we had roasted some onions in salty oil whcih then garnished with a half wedge of tomoato took the stew to the next level. After sunset Jimmy and mp went to see our new friend and local musician/artist Shari Elf take part in an open mic night at P& H's (she had told us baout it the night before). Mp was beat, but thouroughly enjoyed the range while drinking a beer, Jimmy fell for the whole night and had an almost existential experience getting inspried to write what he sadi was a number of poems. Can't wait. Shari's big song was called Fashion Risk and go t everyone participating. Once back to camp (the thermometer reading was warm 46) jimmy and mp got to talking about the amphiteatre and the fire pit and this one area which could (after a meeting with AZ) be used as a second fire pit, be used as a stage. We talked about doing an hour of power... where each of the 60 participants do something on stage for one minute... and at first we thought about making a second fire pit here with flames kissing the faces of the performers... but after mp went to visit the composting toilet, jimmy had a few moments to think about our interest in lightly treading on the space and also to litghtly tread on energy use, etc... He said that instead of burning up a bunch of wood plus maring up another area, we could just light the stage with flashlights... everyone could use their light (in a fixed position sitting on rocks) instead. The name sound camp is so great in that it gets us all to think in terms of sound. Mp slept a little roughly as he was super insulated in about 7 sweaters, three hats, a scarf, and three layers on the legs. It was perfect for the 37 degree night, but woke up hot... as a result though the sunrise was beautiful, but the carride home was drousy.

This morning before departure we did a final clean-up of camp. All the infrasturcture that needs to be done is done except for the kitchen countter top (which is in final design phases and needs to meet final approval from the HDTS team for both budget and design). Really there are two great options... more on that soon. The two options are way better than the ones outlined below! Will use big thick wood to make them out of the same stuff that state parks use for picnic tables. More in a few hours on this. Also figure out if we go with compst toiltets for the big weekend or do we rent the portopotty and let somone else deal with out shit.

m,ore soon and images to follow as well!
May 1, 9am
Sending out massive numbers of emails last night and today. DOing lots of planning and prepping and delegating. making it a team effort. Lots of lists and all sorts of fun.

emails include:
-email to foodies
-outdoors people

planning includes:
-menu planning to order from farmers

Shopping lists:
-for things everywhere from a second cooking stove to sea salt to a bunch of banana boxes

Four days in the desrt building the kitchen resulted in out first SOund Camp activity... lifting the 1200 lb table into place!

Getting excited!
May 5 Stop Motion Photos taken aurtomatically on a tripod:

The first order of business when everyone arrived at camp was moving thetable top into place. We could not have done it without you.

They day proceeded to get increasingly windy and cold.

People went to bed after a delayed dinner.

Participants also took photos (which we will link to shortly).

Future - SPRING 2008:

Silence Camp @ Sound Camp:

on a weekend yet-to-be-determined

Uncorrected @ Sound Camp:
on a weekend yet-to-be-determined

NEW!!! Add your comments, questions, photos to the blog!


Away-from-Work-weekend @ Sound Camp:
Jimmy and co-workers... April 5-6, 2008
Let's get the table off those saw horses and try out the new solar cooker!

Written August, 2007,

The weekend was mostly a success. The participants for the most part enjoyed themselves... though it is questionable what actually occured? There are lots of pictures which we have (as of 3 months later) yet to get up online. Also, everyone in attendance was given a personalized booklet with the outline for the weekend, safety tips, and the menu. The weather was windy, extremely windy (blow over your tent windy). We are not sure when, if, how something else might occur. A small group went out in June and spent the entire 2 days under the table sweating in the shade barely able to move due to the extreme heat.


SOUND CAMP: May 5-6, 2007
a RoutesAndMethods weekend

Hosted by High Desert Test Sites
at their newest and most remote location:

>>> Registration opened April 9, 2007 at 8pm <<<

Join us for a weekend exploring sound in a large, open space above Pioneertown, USA. Situated in the high desert, above Yucca Valley, Sound Camp is a project to test and play with the boundaries of sound and structure.

We will meet in town on Saturday May 5, 2007 at 11am and then caravan into camp. You will need to bring sleeping gear, a bowl, utensils and five gallons of water. All food will be provided for the weekend. We will caravan out of camp on Sunday afternoon. Space is very limited, so you MUST register.

Registration begins April 9, 2007 at 8pm. If you would like to send us an email to express your interest and to receive a reminder please email Further instructions for registration are below.


Registration will be a two step procedure:

1. After 8pm on April 9 you can send a registration request to with the names and number in your group.

2. We will then send you a confirmation email with a link to Pay-pal where you can make your payment of $25 per person. This registration fee covers the logistics of the weekend’s food.

Only after you have successfully registered via Pay-pal are you officially signed up. With current interest levels we anticipate space filling up very quickly, so please send your request promptly.

We encourage you to email us if you are interested in attending. Pre-emailing will NOT guarantee a space, but it will put you on a reminder email list.