"Take the back way!" everyone told us. (The back way goes along random roads and Twentynine Palms Highway, rather than on the 15 through Barstow.) People we knew advised this separately, without consulting each other, and so we were like, all right. Going off the beaten track is fun, it's what we do. (At the reception, a couple of friends informed us they had been told specifically not to take the back way. Huh.)
The back way was interesting. For a long time it was the kind of drive where we said things like "Slight right? That wasn't a slight right. It was straight!" "God, I hope this is the right way. We won't know for another twenty miles, because that's when we should run into another street sign." "I deduced this was the right way because that guy in the car back there was looking at a map, so he must have been lost on that other road." Right.
Miraculously, though, we didn't get lost (that happened in Palm Springs, after the reception, at night, in a place with no streetlights, driving in an unfamiliar car).
Cruising through Twentynine Palms, I was keeping an eye out left and right for interesting stores that I would return to on some other trip to thrift. There seemed to be several. Then I saw this:
We didn't have time to stop there on the way, so I vowed to take the back way home, though it meant braving rutted two-lane roads and possible wrong turns, and more than 100 miles of no services, AND in and out phone reception. I had a list of books and authors I couldn't find in the library, and I was going to seriously PERUSE.
So, on the way home, we stopped here. I left my husband in the car with the windows rolled down so he could catch some extra sleep. He'd partied pretty hard at the reception. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine," he said. "Don't let anyone steal you," I said (he always says that to me when I wait in the car at gas stations). And then I went in to find books.
Immediately, I found a copy of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, which I've been meaning to read. Then I turned the corner and found the SF section.
This place was filled to the brim with more books than I've ever seen in another used bookstore. Obviously, this is the kind of place where you have to search behind the front row, and carefully, or else a bunch of books might fall on your head. And possibly some shelves might collapse.
I found some Tanith Lee novels, including Electric Forest, one I'd been searching for specifically. There was SO MUCH SF. Look at those pictures. Holy crap.
The store went on pretty much forever. (I heard a cat meowing from upstairs or somewhere. It sounded like a Siamese.)
Way in the back there were a lot of historical, language, war, and other types of books it's doubtful anyone will ever buy. Those poor books. I can't help but feel sorry for them. There was modern stuff too, of course: Twilight books, Harry Potter, Stephen King, Dean Koontz. And other stuff. So much. LOOKS AT THOSE SHELVES. They are stuffed literally to the ceiling.
Here was my final haul:
(Sorry for the crappy quality. I took it on my phone at home.) (The top book I actually got at Keep On Bookin in Palm Springs.)
My husband woke up and stood by patiently while I took pictures of the store. And then it was bye bye, books. Hello, desert.
This was pretty much the view the entire time. Also this, just because:
I saw two more bookstores to check out whenever I decide to take an impromptu trip to the High Desert/Low Desert (I'm not sure where one begins and the other ends). Four hours along sketchy back roads just to browse used books? Totally worth it to me. But I might drop in on a music store or secondhand clothing store just to get more out of my mileage.