Bottle Tree Forest


A forest of slender trees with strange, translucent leaves rises from the desert next to Route 66 in Oro Grande, Calif.:






The Bottle Tree Forest — which evokes memories of the late, great Hulaville — is the handiwork of Elmer Long, who spends most of his time expanding his recycled orchard of trees crafted from found objects; hunting for new specimens to display; and visiting with the tourists who come from around the world to photograph his creations.


Every now and then, visitors contribute to the display: A friend found the roadrunner-shaped piece of driftwood above and decided Long’s forest would make an ideal habitat for it.


The forest’s many branches provide a welcome perch for real birds, too, as the sparrow in the above photo discovered.

As with most magical places on 66, I can’t really explain the Bottle Tree Forest. I can only show you pictures — which can’t begin to do justice to the weird beauty of vibrant sunlight filtering through colored glass at every turn — and suggest that you put it on your list of future vacation destinations, because it’s a truly spectacular variation on your usual garden-variety dementia concretia, and its creator is one of those gloriously eccentric visionaries without whom Route 66 would be just another American highway.


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