Elmer RIP my friend. I loved meeting you back in the winter of 2010 when my wife and I did a California-Arizona Route 66 trip. I was very excited to see the Bottle Tree Forest, buy didn’t realize I’d meet the genius behind it. I was saddened to hear of your passing.

Elmer R.I.P. my friend.
Elmer Long 1946-2019

I was exploring your creations when I saw smoke coming from a small shack. I approached the shake wondering if someone actually lived here. As I got real close you came in to view with your arms full of scrounged wood.

You gave me a friendly greeting and we dove in to conversation. I learned you love the Bible and were quite well versed. We then talked about your creation.

Bottle Trees

Stop Sign Bottle Tree

I was impressed when you told me that most of these bottles came from your hikes through the desert. In my mind I could see you going on treasure hunting treks and coming back to your property with your booty.

As I looked around I could see your welding equipment, and envisioned you welding up a rack. Eventually, the rack would hold dozens of bottles arranged to look like a makeshift Christmas Tree. After all, everyday is Christmas at the Bottle Tree Ranch.

Elmer RIP

I Came Prepared

I came prepared with some toys I was going to photograph for my grandchildren, and then I would give them the toys along with pictures of their toy. When I told Elmer of my plans he smiled and thought that was a neat idea.

Action Figure on a Piece at the Bottle Tree Ranch
Action Figure on a Piece at the Bottle Tree Ranch
Little Critters on Bottles
Little Critters on Bottles

It’s too bad my grandchildren will never meet you in this life. They would have loved that.

2017 Tour

In 2017 I was nearing the end of a 30-day tour of Route 66 with my friend Paul Bardotz. We met a young couple, nursing students, who we had fun photographing.

Nursing Students We Met at Elmer's Ranch
Nursing Students We Met at Elmer’s Ranch

While we were talking to them and taking pictures, I caught you out of the corner of my eye.

“Hey, you two,” I said to the young couple, “come over here I want you to meet the mastermind behind all of this.”

I then introduced them to you. It wasn’t difficult to remember your name because Elmer is what Ham Radio Operators call a mentor who teaches them about radios. You struck me as a wise old man whom someone could learn a lot.

When the couple wandered off, you and I got talking about God’s commandments. I knew from previous visits you were a Bible reader. We exchanged scriptures we had memorized. You said something about the importance of memorizing verses from the bible.

Paraphrasing a line I once heard, and applying it to you, I said, “You know Elmer, there are only two scriptures you need to memorize.”

You looked at me very perplexed as if you were thinking, “What does this young man (comparably) know that I don’t know?”

Elmer - September, 2017
Elmer – September, 2017

I smiled and said, “That’s right. Only two — The old and new testaments.”

You laughed with a twinkle in your eye and I knew even though we’ve only met a couple of times that we were friends.

Elmer RIP

Paul Gets to Meet Elmer

I was excited that my friend Paul would get to meet you. Our Route 66 trip was more about the people we were meeting, and you were no exception. We talked quite a bit about your having seen you. It was a highlight of our trip.

Yes, Elmer RIP My Friend

Yes, Elmer RIP my friend. There’s no doubt in my mind you were greeted by loved ones and our Saviour when you passed through the veil of death.