We tossed around a few different ideas when we were planning our first wedding anniversary trip; Napa, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo. When Patrick suggested the desert, it just felt right. We booked a couple of nights in Joshua Tree and drove off into the sunset.
Well, I guess we started driving mid-morning, but we did arrive in time to see a gorgeous desert sunset. The almost-full moon was up over the sparse landscape, too, which was very cool. As soon I stepped out of the car the heavy, blessed quiet pressed in on me. "It feels different here," I thought.
And this was the desert studio. It had air conditioning and heating, a living room with a plush sofa, reclaimed wood furniture, a handy kitchenette and a loft bedroom. A horse lived next door, just behind that fence in the background. We were warned not to engage the horse, due to a persnickety horse owner.
We were really impressed by these chairs, this lovely deck and the beautiful pergola enclosing a barbecue and hammock. The property owner built them all herself. It really had everything you'd need to kick back in the desert, while being within a pretty short drive of the main drag (and its many attending saloons.)
Here we are in our first few minutes on the property, checking things out. Although we were quite comfortable there overall the studio wasn't without its drawbacks. The heated bathroom, which included a super cool rock shower, was located inconveniently across the property. I don't know about you, but having to climb down a wooden ladder and walk three house lengths away to pee at 3 a.m. is not part of my ideal vacation. Even so, I'm 100% happy that we stayed at the studio instead of at a hotel. I truly feel like we got a taste of what it's really like to live in the desert.
One night Patrick built up a big fire in the oil drum fire pit and we made s'mores in the utterly still, dark night. You could see for miles and miles in every direction.
Sometimes I wonder if I could live in the desert. I do find it utterly beautiful. But it's a relatively unchanging beauty, and this is about as green and flowering as it gets.
Joshua Tree National Park is a treasure. Lots of well-maintained roads and trails of all difficulties and terrain. There's a definite sense of timelessness there, and the feeling that visitors would've seen exactly what you're seeing hundreds of years ago.
I'm glad we came in very early spring. Even on a perfect 75 degree day the sun felt strong and hot and we were grateful for the random cool breezes that drifted into the valleys. During summer the place has to be absolutely boiling.
One night we took a jaunt over to Palm Springs for dinner. The city itself is a strange oasis. This is a place of rocks and tumbleweed and a million years of heat, and yet we've pumped in water for golf courses and resorts and lined the place with sunglass stores and Starbucks. But I will never forget seeing the wind farms at sunset, set on white sand and going on forever. We saw a couple taking their engagment photos there. How cool is that?
The desert is a place full of surprises. It is full of life, but the kind of life that us city and suburb dwellers don't usually encounter. You feel simultaneously like you've seen this all before and like you've been transported to another planet entirely. It's a little strange. It's really, really cool. What is it like to be born and to grow up there, I wonder. It is a unique place. A jewel of subtle eternity.