Friday, April 12, 2019

Joshua Tree

Our best friends, Justin and Rachel, are what I'd call "desert people", meaning they love the desert. I never really understood this because I'm more of a "water" person and the whole thing about the desert is that there isn't any water. Like, would you go the beach if there wasn't an ocean right there? No. But still they insisted that we needed to take a trip to the desert so I could experience it and then I'd get it.

Well I'm here to publicly announce that the desert is, in fact, quite magical and that I fell in love with the high desert of southern California. 

We stayed in Joshua Tree, just a little ways outside of the National Park. Every morning I would wake up early to watch the sun rise and every evening I watched it set and there was something therapeutic and circadian about that. You don't get that in the piedmont of the southeast, really. The desert sun is a thing all on its own, just like the prairie and the tropics have their own unique sun. I liked that. 

I always thought of the desert as desolate and therefore less interesting but I found that it's impossible not to be in awe of the organisms that have adapted to such a harsh environment. Desert species are resilient and bold. The ravens are charismatic and the cholla cactus leave behind woody skeletons that look like artwork. 

The desert biota have a deeper appreciation for water than I ever could and can thrive with even the smallest inputs. We were fortunate to arrive just after a meager snowfall, so the wildflowers were bursting from the ground and the Joshua Trees were filled with creamy white flowers (something that only occurs when water conditions are just right). Palm trees and song birds flourish in the small oases that are scattered sparsely across the landscape and you can actually trace the watershed through the unique patterns that have shaped the topography of the Mojave. 

I don't typically write this much but I was just really taken by this place. I'll include a list of my favorite spots at the end and if you haven't made your way to this corner of the globe yet, I hope you'll consider it!

We drove in from L.A. and took the long way through Angeles National Forest. A beautiful ride and a fun drive. 

We stayed at an incredible Airbnb. I'll link to it here in case you're interested! 

I mean, look at that sunset! I took this from INSIDE our house. 

And here's where I'd watch the sun rise each morning while I read and did my morning yoga. 

Hidden Valley

Hall of Horrors

Cholla Cactus Garden

Pioneer Town

We made an early morning trip to see the Cholla Cactus Garden at dawn and it's probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed. How these cactus can look so different from dawn to high noon is incredible! 

Keys View

Lost Horse Mine

Joshua Tree flowers! 

49 Palms Oasis

Arch Rock

This is my first dab so I guess I'm officially irrelevant... 

Los Angeles was the greenest I'd ever seen when we came out of the desert. I think it was a combination of the rains making everything actually green and the fact that we'd been in the desert for a week. 

Honestly, I still can't believe how much I loved this trip. I was fully expecting to feel "meh" about it, which I realize sounds really stupid but I'm just being honest with y'all. 

Now I'm ready to see some other deserts! I'm thinking Colorado Plateau maybe? We'll see! 

So here are the places I highly recommend if you make the trip out west: 
  • Jelly Donut
  • The Country Kitchen- this may have been our favorite place. Get the french toast. 
  • Pappy & Harriet's - this is in Pioneer Town and there's usually live music (famous people supposedly stop through here all the time for impromptu shows) but MAKE A RESERVATION! the wait time can be stupid.
  • Joshua Tree Coffee Company
  • El Ranchito Taco Shop- this is closer to Palm Springs but if you get hungry and you're on the south end of Joshua Tree NP, it's well worth the drive. 
  • Hidden Valley- this isn't really even a "trail" per se, more of a nice walk but I think it's one of the most beautiful spots in the park.
  • Arch Rock
  • Skull Rock
  • Cholla Cactus Garden
  • Keys View
  • Hall of Horrors
  • 49 Palms Oasis- This was my favorite hike! 
  • Pioneer Town- not much was open when we visited but it's just a fun and festive spot. 
  • Hoof and the Horn- Shopping
  • The End- Vintage shopping (I thought things were a little pricey but they definitely have some awesome pieces!)
  • And here's our Airbnb (<-) if you're interested! 
Have you been to Joshua Tree? Did I miss something major? Let me know! And if you're planning a trip and have questions, feel free to reach out or DM me on Instagram! 

On to the next adventure and all that.. 

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