On the long road that cuts through the Mojave Desert in Southern California, there are a variety of cacti, twisted Joshua trees and the very rare desert tortoise. South of Mojave National Preserve and north of Joshua Tree National Park there is a toppled tree on the side of the road that is just a bit more colorful and notable than others. I’m not sure if this particular tree is known by any particular name, but I’ve come to call it the shoe tree.
I’d love to know the shoe tree’s story. Who threw the first shoe onto the tree? Was it intentional or did someone throw a shoe out a moving car window in frustration? Now covered in hundreds of flip-flops and tennis shoes, hiking boots and slippers, the shoe tree has become a collection of wearable graffiti. Some shoes are worn with peeling soles and tattered laces. Others look new enough to sell in a second-hand shop. All of them, in some way, have a story to tell.