Destination Pearblossom

"Dawn came up like thunder over California's central valley, but no one felt any distress.
The terrain looked like a make-believe desert of large brown dunes, in real life they were
only hills, brown with California's dead annual grass."

Publishers Note: We were delighted to hear from Olivia de Haulleville again in June 2005, after being out of contact with her for over 15 years. She wrote to us regarding the story, offering many new pieces of information which we were unaware of when the story was written in 1989. We therefore offer the story again with Olivia's annotations. Thank you Olivia.

The staff here at the California outpost of Undiscovered Worlds have been on the trail of a mystery for quite awhile now. This mystery just sort of happened we didn't go looking for it, it found us. The first clues came to light at the very beginning of the publishing enterprise. It started in a most innocent way when Hubert Collis sent the enterprise a children's audio cassette to market called "Crows and Kites." The first story on this was entitled The Crows of Pearblossom. It had been written by deceased Subud brother, Aldous Huxley. If you find this title a bit out of the ordinary for brother Aldous, you are not alone.

By one of those strange coincidences, however, Stephanie had just happened to see this little tale years back when it was still in print. Aldous wrote The Crows of Pearblossom for his niece, Olivia.

On the cassette, a refined (but enthusiastic) English accent narrates The Crows of Pearblossom and the feeling that Aldous himself is speaking jumps right out at you. Olivia, Aldous's niece who was living in Indonesia, heard that a children's cassette was being made and proposed the story herself. When the cassette arrived here in the states, a sheaf of letters was attached to the contract, of which the most interesting were Olivia's. The Undiscovered Worlds staff were to examine these communications many times, they contained quite a saga.


Olivia explained that this little story had been a legacy to her from her uncle, but one of the larger U.S. publishing houses seemed to perhaps be of the opinion that they owned the copyright. They had surrendered their interest to an English publishing house, who apparently granted use of the story, but the issue was a bit cloudy. For one thing, anything in writing granting permission for use of the story by either publisher was missing from the sheaf of papers. UWP immediately began an investigation. Crows was out of print in the U.S. but, was all the same in print by someone's American rep, a smallish enigma, which ended in the fact that no print could be located, even though there was supposed to be one somewhere? The next line of research was a bit tangential to the issue, but yes, there really is a Pearblossom, California. Small glimpses of Olivia's life kept peeping out of the more tedious business aspects of the communication. The Huxley's are an adventurous clan, and apparently, Olivia was no exception.

Olivia: An agent who previously was involved with Huxley's writings is presently negotiating with foreign reprints of The Crows of Pearblossom, (of which I am the legal owner).

Soon, UWP could resist no longer and wrote to Olivia directly. In reply, she remarked that she was very happy to correspond with us, but her correspondents "had a way of disappearing." She was herself the author of a small book and she began to explain its strange fate. She had managed to see her book printed, but what could she do from half-way round the world when largish numbers of copies began to disappear? For one example, a man (whom she named, but whom UWP will discreetly not) acquired 2000 copies and then just dropped out of sight. People disappear every day for many reasons, so UWP was not inclined to take this disappearance too seriously (at first). The book itself was mildly enigmatic, UWP learned that among other things, it contains a mirror and a pencil, definitely not an ordinary book. Olivia explained that while the man who had disappeared with the 2000 books might never be located, another 2000 copies were hidden somewhere in the Mojave desert.

Olivia: I doubt there were as many as 4,000 prints maybe only 100. Of those (that did not "disappear") I have about 20 copies left!

It was the last concept that was to linger on the mind of one of the staff, Rachman, who, as it happens, loves deserts. In his younger years, he never had the chance to experience very much desert, so he collects postcards with pictures of sand dunes and small scrubby plants or giant cacti. He has had all the rain, mist, cloudy skies, grass and other greenery he could stomach and today, being very quick to chill in even mildly cool temperatures, he dotes on the very thought of a desert.


UWP suggested to Olivia that we might be able to handle her book for her, and she responded affirmatively, leaving us the problem of how to locate the books. By writing to various people herself, Olivia managed to prompt a letter from a man who said he did have copies of Olivia's book and if we were interested, to just let him know. UWP wrote back with alacrity asked for the sample copy that Olivia had promised, declaring a very definite interest, but we never heard from him again.

Olivia: Olivier Boelln he died!

His letter somehow vanished into what we are still trying to think of as thin air. About then, UWP began to reflect that maybe Olivia was not kidding about "disappearances."

Before we could ask her, Olivia wrote she would have to leave Indonesia. She would try to visit her son who is a monk in an ashram in Nepal, but she confessed, she was unsure where she might wind up. She was sturdily cheerful, but she was having problems. It all had to do with a book she was writing about Indonesian mysticisms. As for her first book, Autobiography of a Fairy, it began to look like the Mojave might be the only answer.

Olivia wrote again to say that her visa had been revoked and she feared she would never be able to enter Indonesia again, where she had lived for 30 years, and where was she to go? Certain Indonesian authorities were determined she should not complete her book, she said. Her letter was written on the eve of another forced departure. UWP wrote in haste to the address in Nepal, but heard nothing for some time. Finally a postcard drifted in saying she was about to have an interview with the Dalai Lama at the ashram and there was a big celebration going on. She seemed happy, and had received our message. She wrote again in great haste, on the eve of another departure, just a copy of a letter to her brother in which she asked if she might take refuge with him, should the worst come to the worst. In an aside to us, she asked if we would be interested in publishing her new book which she was still determined to complete. We wrote back, saying by all means, but we have had no further word and are not sure just where Olivia is. Hopefully, she has wound up in a safe haven somewhere.

Olivia: Book is now published by iUniverse: Pilgrimage to Java History of Esoteric Buddhism … (a VERY mysterious book!) available through Amazon.Com.

When the location of the Subud national congress was disclosed as Riverside, thoughts of the nearby Mojave and Olivia's hidden books drifted across our minds. There had been a long silence from Olivia, but she is not the kind of person one forgets in a hurry. Riverside was not far from the small town of Pearblossom. We traced it on the map and decided to at least stop off in Pearblossom.

Olivia: Well, not exactly next door!!!

The day before our departure, although we did not recognize it at the time, an unfortunate development took place. On a quick dash to Berkeley, the air conditioning in the car inexplicably started emitting clouds of black smoke,


terrorizing the occupants, who managed to pull over and shut it off, certain that the car itself was lost. The air conditioning now had a pungent charcoal smell and didn't work to cool the car, but no cause could be found for those clouds of genie-like smoke. (If any of you have had a similar experience that would explain this in ordinary mechanical terms, we would be anxious to hear?) There was no time to even consider doing anything about this before the trip, but the car seemed to be fine in all other ways.

On the night of departure, Rachman and Hartley put the books in the trunk, and wedged our items of personal gear into any crevices left and soon also filled half of the backseat. When they were done, it was discovered that the back of the car now sagged down in a strange way. Do not imagine that books and magazines are light. Paper, though normally considered a light weight material, is quite like lead when packed tightly.

It was 2 a.m., and we knew a slightly later arrival time was in the cards, but we didn't mind. So it was that the intrepid explorer club trio set off for Riverside, but in everyone's secret heart, Pearblossom bloomed brightly.

Highway 5, the fastest road to Los Angeles and Riverside, was fairly empty of traffic, a good chance for putting as many miles as possible behind us. The first gray light of approaching day found everyone in good spirits. Dawn came up like thunder over California's central valley, but no one felt any distress. The terrain looked like a make-believe desert of large brown dunes, in real life, they were only hills, brown with California's dead annual grass. It was about time to pull into one of the T & A's and fill the tank. There was nothing that remotely resembled shaded parking in these concrete oasises, but no matter, a cool breeze was blowing and it looked like smooth sailing. The crew was too cheerful to want to stop for breakfast, but the relief driver took over the wheel.

The sun appeared as a brief bright green flare on a dune-hilltop, jumped above the horizon and started to torture the left eye of the relief driver, who stubbornly maintained that "it shut out too much to put the visor over on the side window." After hours of a normal colored sun, the visor finally was put on the car's side window and sun glasses which wrapped completely around the face seemed less urgent.

Olivia: BTW, witnessing the sun's "green flash" is a rare and auspicious occurrence!


The relief driver, however, was withering fast, so we pulled off for breakfast at a T&A with flowering bushes, a large curio and gift shop, and banks of video gaming machines. The Old West-style restaurant offered Rancher's Omelettes, Trail Blazers Breakfasts, Chuck Wagon Delights, and Pack Saddle Breakfasts. The UWP crew settled for Pack Saddles.

Another change of drivers brought us to signs indicating that the Grapevine was imminent. The confusion created by all the warning signs about north and south caused the first wrong turn to be taken, but a handy turn around was found and we were back on a south bound road at about 45 miles an hour. It became obvious that 45 miles was the absolute upper limit of our Ford Granada, to the vast annoyance of more powerful cars. As the altitude came closer to 4,200 feet above sea level, one began to pray for that final summit to be reached. (For those unacquainted with California byways, the "Grapevine" is the name of the stretch crossing the San Gabriel mountains which border Los Angeles on the land ward side. The grapevine climbs a bit abruptly before it plunges down toward Los Angeles.)

The map had been checked carefully and it was only a matter of turning onto Highway 38 to reach Riverside via Pearblossom. Highway 38 converted to an unassuming two lane stretch across a very welcome flatlands. Could Pearblossom be very far? No signs graced Highway 38 telling us of the nearness of this or that, Highway 38 simply went on and on (and on).

The temperature was now decidedly hot, dusty, and the highway strangely empty. We were very many-miles alone, but began to be accompanied from the roadside by tall cactus-like trees with a strange humanoid appearance. These eerie plants stalked the desolate flat terrain as far as the eye could see, reminding one of that old science fiction film, Day of the Triffids–particularly the part where the characters wake up and find the alien bloodthirsty Triffids growing all around the house. Mountains rose on the horizon beyond–would they have to be crossed in order to reach Palmdale, or one of those other pleasant little towns on the map?

Someone had written something about these bizarre "Triffids," who semaphored to each other across the barren sands.

They were sometimes mistaken for human figures? Probably only by unfortunate souls, who had ventured into this desolation and lost their way. One of the Triffids, was bending over a large book reading to its fellows, a mile away, another conducted a silent plant symphony.

A miniature cyclone of sand, only about five feet in diameter whirled high up into the skyóthe name of that came readily to mindódust devil. And finally, Joshua Trees! Of course, the Triffids were called Joshua Trees. Their incredible profusion dazed the mind, a plant army stretching across these barrens as far as the eye could see.

It was very, very hot now, with no road signs to even identify the highway. At breakfast, we had decided not to stop until we reached Pearblossom, but the driver made a silent private vow to stop at the first sign of shade and give the car a really good cooling off very odd there were no other cars on this road. Finally, another vehicle began to play long distance tag with us. The driver debated pulling over in the blazing heat, but it did not seem too good an idea, we'd lose even the hot wind from the partly open car windows.


Rachman, the English member of the crew, began to wonder out loud where we'd get the date milkshakes he'd been told about. (Better not to mention just now that this had been in Twenty Nine Palms, a different kettle of fish altogether.)

Olivia: FYI Twenty Nine Palms is the home of the largest Marine base in the U.S & (most unfortunately) is NEXT DOOR to where I presently reside!!!

The driver laid back a bit to let the other vehicle catch up–a jeep with a strange insignia on its side and prominent CB aerials. It passed quickly and we were alone again among the Joshua Trees.

New phenomena–concrete pillars about a foot in diameter and six to ten feet tall appeared along the roadside and could sometimes be seen far off in the middle of the Joshua trees. Odd looking towers, they were obviously man made, but unattached to anything, and serving no visible purpose. Perhaps we had strayed through a space warp and were in an alternate universe or on another planet.

Olivia: THANKS FOR NOTICING the desert is littered with strange electronic phenomena which most people just seem to take for granted!

A brief dusty sign informed us that we were in a "desert conservation area." Obviously, they were having no trouble with the conservation effort. Owners of the Sahara, Gobi, the Dead Sea, etc., may just have a shock in store. Southern California may be about to call for a competition for the title of "most desolate place in the world"that Joshua Tree ridden plain would win the contest hands down.

Olivia: No longer presently, the desert is in the perilous danger of ORV/OHV traffic vast clubs of dune buggies and off-road vehicles leave the cities on weekends to rape the desert for entertainment, destroying the slow-growing vegetation, terrifying the wildlife and often killing themselves as well.

A surrealistic jolt to the already embroiled state of mind a city street sign on this desolate roadside something was supposed to be Ave. 123. But there were no buildings of any kind on Avenue 123, and skipping over a small scrape of some kind in the sand, there was also no avenue. Well, of course, the map had called this the Antelope Valley, but obviously, and for good reason, there were no antelope either. Usually such terrains have straight forward descriptive names: The Devil's Anvil, for example, Blast Furnace Flats, Joshua Tree Barrens, Desolation Valley, (the name Death Valley is already taken by another spot in the Mojave).

Olivia: The Devil's Punchbowl, actually (located nearby Valyermo where the St. Andrews Abbot of Belgian monks escaped from China hold their annual Autumn Art Festival. My Belgian mother (sister to Aldous first wife, Maria) is buried in their backyward).

It was getting a little hard to breathe the hot dusty air. A few vehicles finally appeared on the road, it seemed wise to observe their strategy, maybe they were accustomed to this desert trek. Perhaps they actually lived down at the end of one of those street signs which continued to appear at twenty to thirty mile intervals, marking nothing the eye could see. Some of the cars pulled to the side of the road and lingered in the blistering sun. It looked like a poor example to copy. Were they cooling their motors? God only knew, none of them seemed to be asking for help. And of course, other cars might slip through a space warp too.

Civilization was finally reached a small but real city bleaching in the sun loomed up. "Loomed up" is an exact description, sprawling car lots, and rug merchants appeared high on the horizon much too close to the freeway. The whole place seemed to hang in midair. No citizens moved on those shadeless streets. Very likely, the shadeless residences contained air conditioning systems that were state of the art and no one, who did not have to, would come out into this inferno. A few cars from this metropolis–where man was never intended to live–sluggishly joined us on a Highway 38 that now transformed into a wide and multiple lane freeway.

The first road signs appeared, indicating the danger of turning toward the LA freeway system instead of Highway 38 which the map still promised would take us straight into Pearblossom. In the confusion of avoiding the danger spots, the name of the floating metropolis was confused and lost. We were now on a multiple lane freeway looping through some very hot mountains. On their slopes, abandoned human dwellings and now small modern ghost towns, could be seen. Pearblossom had surely gone by without so much as a small green sign to signal that you had passed it. Very likely Pearblossom had been one of those small ghost towns and no longer existed as it had in Aldous's day.

The driver was prepared to press on, Los Angeles was still amazingly far away. A sign saying, Pearblossom Highway, 1 mile, swept by. A mile is very short by freeway, and no ramp leading to Pearblossom Highway was seen and a mile had obviously gone by. The driver pointed out that a "Pearblossom Highway" and "Pearblossom itself" could be two different things altogether, totally unrelated to each other.

Olivia: FYI - the Pearblossom Hwy. (Hwy. 38) is known as the "Killer Highway!"

Rachman began to fidget seriously. He realized, he said, that he was not going to have a date milkshake and he'd really wanted one. Also, he pointed out, this might be the only time we passed this way, and how would we feel if we didn't make a real effort to locate Pearblossom? He was informed that date milkshakes were available in Twenty Nine Palms which did not even vaguely resemble what we had been through. But this only caused him to remember that he also wanted to see Palm Springs and he knew, he said, he wouldn't, not on an awful trip like this. His protests became more vociferous with every passing mile.


There was nothing for it, finally, but to turn off this looping freeway that was carrying us along on its swift current toward Riverside. We turned into a fair sized scattering of buildings on the mountainside. A woman who lived there, insisted that there really was a Pearblossom. She said the freeway was marked wrong, and everyone made that mistake. She also said we had somehow left Highway 38, perhaps back at the hanging city, and our only recourse was to head back north along the same freeway, where, she assured us, it was all clearly marked. We were grateful to that small nameless town, even though when we tried to get into the only shade by the gas pump, a cowboy in a pickup truck swung quickly in front of us. Probably it was what is called a "cow town." Other cowboy types were at the gas station hosing off their pickup truck radiators and themselves with the only water hose.

There was more desert before we reached Littlerock. The driver was for pressing on to Pearblossom, but a cry from the UK member, indicated that there had been a sign saying date milkshakes were for sale on the other side of the highway. It took some maneuvering to get back, but we arrived at a place called Charlie Brown's. Apparently all of Littlerock had also closed in on Charlie Brown's. The reason for the attraction was soon apparent. Charlie offered espresso, cappuccino, whole wheat croissants, apparently an organically oriented sort of fellow, and there was every flavor of milkshake the mind could devise. When the end of the queue meandered past Charlie's dried fruits and fancy dates was finally reached, date milkshakes were duly ordered. Touched as we were by this citadel of civilization in the wilderness, we did not linger long, all the seats, never mind the shaded ones had already been taken.

Olivia: Littlerock is where I attended grammar school before I was sent off to Happy Valley School in Ojai, run by Krishnmurti's mistress Aldous wife's best friend.


It was a several million more Joshua Trees before we finally entered Pearblossom. Alert that Pearblossom might not extend very far, we quickly swung over to avoid leaving prematurely. The UK member expressed distress as a sign saying, "Pearblossom Park," had been passed before we could get over. He wanted to turn back to Pearblossom Park at once. But the rest of the crew were for driving very slowly up the street we were on. An incredible sight lay ahead, a real tree shaded this small tree at the corner. Ever so slowly, hoping not to disturb anyone, the car approached and eased into the shade. Everything was quiet along this street, and one marvelous feature of the town stood out. Pearblossom residents favored shade, they industriously encouraged bushes, trees, all kinds of shade bearing ornamental's. We were charmed to see a bird bath in the same yard from which the copious shade tree grew. Local birds were equally charmed and bathed happily in this good Samaritan's generous desert hospitality which sheltered under the same tree. We were a little nervous that the house owner might come storming out demanding to know what we were doing in his shade, but no one seemed to take notice. The bird bath suggested we might have come straight to the house that the Huxley's had once occupied. But there was nothing to mark this, if it was so. Rachman declared that the park was where we'd see memorials and plaques dedicated to Aldous Huxley.

Olivia: ALAS the moment of truth has arrived ALDOUS NEVER LIVED IN PEARBLOSSOM!!!! but in Llano, which is the next town. Since at the time there were no other houses available in Llano, the nearest house available was in Pearblossom, approx. 15 miles away.
Llano is near the remains of where of the Oneida Colony once resided, outlined in Aldous essays: Ozymandious. Their practice of coitus interupptus may have influenced my subsequent research into Tantra.

It might be possible to drive back to the Pearblossom Park road along the street in front of us, but, the driver announced firmly, that there was no way that the car was going down that small desert road among the Joshua Trees. The park road was reached and gingerly, the car turned down it, with another firm reminder from the driver that we were not going down this road for any distance. There was no need, as it turned out, Pearblossom Park was quickly spotted. It was only a small children's park with swings and a slide. We agreed to park briefly on the roadside so Rachman could "get up close to one of the Joshua Trees." The recollection that the Huxley story had mentioned rattlesnakes, however, kept him from exploring too extensively. From this road, Pearblossom could be seen green and shady in the ghastly heat in the middle of a Joshua Tree wasteland. Rachman returned to the car dissatisfied, but a rattlesnake was a rattlesnake. We moved on slowly.

Olivia: I personally have never experienced the "Pearblossom Park!"

At the bottom of this road, a large black bird flew in front of the car, bringing us to an abrupt stop. Another sprang up from bushes surrounding a corner house. Distantly, but definitely, a caw could be heard. From a Joshua Tree, the big fellow who had flown across the road surveyed us curiously, his black beak and blue black feathers afire in the sun. He was a most dignified creature, perhaps it would have been more proper to call him a raven, rather than a crow. But by any name, there could be no doubt that he or one of his ancestors had inspired Aldous to write his story. Even in our heat besotted conditions, it was quite a moment to see those big black birds on the wing in the desiccated air of Pearblossom.

Well, if the crows stilled lived in Pearblossom, some of the residents should recall Aldous, or his niece whose family name is de Haulleville. We stopped at the local store to make inquiriesóusually, small towns are very conscious of their famous. But no one in Pearblossom knew that Aldous Huxley had ever been among them. Those we questioned seemed startled by the very suggestion of the Huxley family. We could not even get to the subject of Olivia's books, an atmosphere of resentment bordering on hostility or suspicion quickly developed. We lingered outside the store, but obviously, we could not start knocking on the doors of private houses after the reaction in the store. We had come to a dead end in one way, in another, we had not. We had actually seen the crows of Pearblossom.

Olivia: My brother Siggy STILL occupies the ORIGINAL house where we were brought up in Pearblossom on Ave. V-14. He is a blacksmith and maintains an "art gallery" of metal scraps and collected junk where he creates artistic metal works for affluent Hollywood clientele.

Well, this was only our first foray into the mystery. At least you can see that we are not just desk bound publishers here at the California post. We often hear the call of the open highway. For the foreseeable future, we will be in one place hunched like medieval monks over our computers until the books and the next issue of the magazine are ready. When they are, we will shake off the dust, break camp and our little caravan will set forth.

I wonder where that ribbon of highway will take us? To the mystic allure of the Southwest, Arizona, land of the Sunbird, New Mexico, the land of enchantment, the four corners tablelands where the Hopi and Navajo still live a part of their traditional life? To Mt. Shasta, where people say they are receiving messages from the lost city of Shambhala? Perhaps even down the clove scented back roads of ancient Java? Wherever we go, be sure that we will spread our carpet on the ground to display the brightly colored wares designed and sculpted by you. Like those clever Semitic traders of yore, we will bargain and get the best price we can. And when all is done, we will return, bringing new wares in trade, to share our profits and stories with you.

Olivia: How bout coming to visit MEE on Yucca Mesa in Valley Valley 10 miles from the Integraton gathering place of the UFO enthusiasts who held annual "Spacecraft Conventions" at Giant Rock 25 years ago.


Copyright© 2007, Undiscovered Worlds Press