Possibly you’ve never been to Amboy, in the Mojave desert. If you’re heading to 29 Palms from Primm or Needles then you’re likely to pass through it. If not, not. It’s one of those desert towns in private hands that comes up for sale once in a while. I’m always tempted.
But even if you haven’t been there there’s a chance you may have seen it in the movies (not least the Rutger Hauer version of The Hitcher) or in photographs, not least this one by William Egglestone.
It’s the sign for Roy’s Motel and Café that makes you stop, get out of the car and walk around. I’ve never known the motel to be in business but some of the cabin doors have often been open and this time was a kind of art installation in some of the cabins, going by the name of the Matza Archives:
There’s also a school in Amboy, again long out of business, a kind of garage where I have seen evidence of people working on cars, and there’s a post office, and a public toilet which are thriving.
I can never tell if they’re really selling gas or not in Amboy, but the café/gift shop is reliably open and I always feel obliged to buy something even if it’s only a soda. This time however I had a treat in store. This Felix the Cat walking sticker:
The guy behind the counter said they’d been selling them for a while but they’d been slow movers until they’d had the bright idea of printing Amboy California on the bottom. Works for me either way.
If you’re serious and have 4 hours to spare you can go out of town and clamber up the Amboy Crater, which I have been known to do, and the proof of which is here: