17 years ago this week... The Mojave Phone Booth Expedition

January 26, 2016

16 years ago this week, Mike Hsu, Ian from real Rock TV, a documentary film crew, and I left Boston, and headed to the loneliest phone booth in the world, the Mojave Desert Phone Booth. A phone booth you ask? Yes, before everyone had cell phones, there were phone booths everywhere, including in the middle of the Mojave. It was installed long ago, as a way for miners, who were working in the nearby Borax mines, to be able to call home. Over time, the mines all closed, but for some reason the phone booth remained. In 1999, I discovered the phone booth, and it's number, on this new thing that came out... the internet. I called it every night during my show, which was 7p-midnight at the time. I called every night for months, and before the millenium, someone answered. We called him Desert Chad, a surfer from Cali, that heard about the booth, and drove out to the middle of nowhere to see if it was real, and to answer it if it rang. He kept a journal of the calls, and where they came from. After I put him on the air, a ton of people from Boston started calling, to see if I was crazy, lying, or both. Shortly after New Years 2000, a documentary film crew from LA, headed to the booth, with the idea of making a 10 minute short documentary about it. When they arrived, they met Chad, and looked through his call journal. They saw calls from around the world, and heard stories about how over 50 people had ventured to the booth, on New Years Eve, to spend what could have been the Y2K disaster, in the desert. The crew came up with the idea of a full length movie idea, about 4 people, from 4 corners of the globe, who called the phone that week, and following their journey to the booth, and to meet Chad. I was the first of the 4 people chosen. 

We came up with the Mojave Phone Booth Expedition idea. We got a truck, and Expedition, since we needed 4WD to get to the booth, we got sponsors to help with hotels, food, and gas. I convinced Mike Hsu, who was part of the Hill-Man Morning Show at the time, and Ian Barrett from Real Rock TV to come with me. The mission: To drive cross country, document the entire thing on video, broadcast live along the way, and meet WAAF listeners who listened to our online stream, if they could find us.

The film was never completed. The raw documentary files have been uploaded onto youtube by the crew. You can check them out here

16 years ago this week, we left for the Mojave. It was a life changing 2 week trip, that still is one of the best times of my life.

The phone booth has since been removed. It got so much attention, that Pac Bell was afraid the campers would destroy that part of the desert, and they removed it. All that remains are the poles, and a cement slab, where the loneliest phone booth in the world once stood. Long live the booth!

 Here are some of the best places, and memories.

Our truck. We beat the hell out of this thing! That's Louie the Lobster on the grill, he was our mascot, and pops up in lots of the pictures.

We stopped at the Cadillac Ranch.

The largest freestanding cross. This place was freaky, just ask Mike Hsu! 

The Bates Motel, this place was freaky too!

Here is the documentary crew.

The London Bridge

We saw the funniest things along the way.

We hit a snow storm at the Grand Canyon. It was 2", but people were freaked out. We drove 80MPH right through it.

The Hoover Dam. Nice water levels back then huh?

Vegas of course!

and we all started to go a little crazy!

Ian tried to fly.

We visited the UFO museum in Roswell. WE ARE NOT ALONE!

We had to stop for steak in Texas.

WE MADE IT!

 

Then, it was time to meet Chad, and camp in the desert!

 

I've never seen so many stars!

 

We met the rancher that lived nearby, he even took us to his house.

 

and the family of Emerson Ray, the miner who asked Pac Bell to install the booth in the first place.

They showed us pictures of the history of the booth.

 

We corrupted the Doc crew... They will never be the same!

 

Again, things got a little weird.

We slept when we could

Stopped at every FedEx along the way, to send tapes home for the WB56 news.

 

And always stopped to enjoy the amazing sunsets!

 

And, we even managed to get some work done!

And before we knew it, we were home!

Can you imagine, with cell phones, 4G, wifi, facebook, twitter, instagram, streaming, gps, and all of the other things that we have now, that we didn't have back then, how amazing this trip would be, if we went today?

I loved every minute, and would go again tomorrow!