Adventures in Joshua Tree (Californi-yah part III)

One of the greatest adventures in life is doing things you never pictured yourself doing. When you put yourself outside of what you consider your “comfort zone”, you grow. You also get perspective…

For those who don’t know me well, I am not a full blown snob, but I have pretty high standards for “things”. For example, I like to be at a comfortable temperature, I like fine dining, food for me is not a means for survival but for enjoyment, I appreciate flowers and nature but prefer sleeping indoors. Maybe it’s Goldie Locks syndrome but I believe things should be justttt rightttt … and this experience was a prime example of why you can’t define your fun by an all inclusive Caribbean package of porridge.

Picking up from our dinosaurs we knew that we had to get to our destination before sunset. There were two reasons for this, first because the gps didn’t pick up the actual location of our next Air BnB in the Joshua Tree National Park, and second so we could see a kick ass desert sunset.

We made it just in time to locate our desolate hipster wagon!

It was breathtaking.

Not only was the location prime, but the actual airstream was surprisingly spacious.

I used to romanticize camping as a kid, since my parents never went camping, my friends liked to camp and I had absolutely no idea what camping was. I asked for a tent one year for my birthday and that tent became my permanent fort in the yard. I had tea parties with all my favorite stuffed animals, but never entertained the idea of sleeping inside of it… and as an adult, I still don’t really have any interest in sleeping in a tent. Joseph, my better half, lives to camp in the woods, he goes 4-5 times a year. So, this was my version of camping,

Glamping!!

Before we got there we picked up the essentials at Whole Foods… you know…

Filet mignons, macrons, burrata cheese, craft beer and rosé…. and yes avocados…

It was valentines weekend, don’t judge.

A couple of beers and a thousand glamour shots of the airstream later… the wind picked up…

We bundled up and got settled in. If you are still paying attention, you might be wondering how we came to find this place or why we came at all… It just so happens, we planned this (I hate to use this word but) epic journey through the southern part of California, from LA to San Diego to Palm Springs, this was our next stop on the self-guided tour.

The Goals of Jtree

Each destination had with it a set of hopes, dreams and long winded Wikipedia explanations. I had planned 14 pages (respectively) of careful opportunities to see the most cool shit we could see.

Here are the major take aways…

1. Stargazing- in winter, in the desert, with my love in an airstream.

2. The airstream. (Coolest place I’ve ever slept)

3. National Park touring, Internet research told me it was pretty drivable and we got to see the major highlights without killing the entire day.

We arrived in the evening, set up our camp site. Put some layers on and enjoyed a cozy but pretty brisk dinner ala desert.

It was a pretty fabulous dinner I won’t lie. In fact I think drinking rose out of a tiny mason jar might have made me feel closer to god. Or maybe that was the California vibes… either way it was a rad dinner filled with luxury. Glamping is definitely the only way to go!

We proceeded to lay on the deck with winter jackets on, socks, boots, a comforter, and pillows to look for shooting stars.

We successfully experienced our stargazing glory!

I passed out from a combination of wine, red meat, sugar and overall exhaustion. It really was a rad experience, I highly recommend it!

When I woke up, this was my view, mountains of beautiful Joshua Tree granite and a deserty paradise.

Joshua Tree Mornings

Someone once said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That person must have started with Joshua Tree Coffee.

We ate, collected ourselves and got the final thousand pictures of the airstream, it really was the happiest place on earth.

The most luxurious breakfast in the desert. Made by me, Martha Stewart’s wannabe -child. Avocado toast, fried egg (microwaved because my resources were limited), leftover filet sliced up and topped with tapitito hot sauce.

Best. Breakfast. Ever.

The coffee though, was amazing!!! If anyone is interested, here’s the link to this coffee if the gods Joshua Tree Coffee Co. It was strong, smooth and literally my favorite no nonsense coffee since the amazing bulletproof coffee in LA.

Okay… enough airstream pictures, but do you understand the cool factor? I hope.

National Park virgin no longer!

Joshua Tree being my first, ever experience, in a National Park, was pretty perfect. Mainly because, Joshua Tree is the youngest National Park in the country, established in the 90s just like my cool kid attitude.

We named this first stop: gorilla rock.

This desert playground was not like what I had pictured in my head… no the cacti were stubby and there were Trees!

Joshua Trees are pretty much gods way of saying, ” you might be tripping on peyote”. The feeling here is serreal though, like something out of imagination…

The Joshua Trees came in all shapes and sizes, so many in fact that it was hard to decide which one was our favorite.

They look like pine trees married with palm trees, but yes they are spikey.

I couldn’t help feeling light here, like all the troubles of the world weren’t real, just adventures in the gumdrop forest of Joshua Trees.

Admittedly we didn’t spent as much time as one could while visiting but we had more adventures ahead…

The must see spots:

1. Keys View

2. Skull Rock

3. Cool Joshua Trees

The good news, again, was that the J Tree spots we picked were extremely drivable. The reason we limited our adventures here, is because we had a 5 hour drive to Death Valley thereafter. I could lie and say we started bright and early but we only arrived in the park at about 11:00am. We aren’t morning people.

The sky is so big, and the world is so beautiful. If I were reading this I would be planning my next vacation ASAP!

Site number one: Keys View

This location overlooks all of Coachella valley and I have once again tested my dramatic fear of heights.

This wasn’t a long hike, it was drivable and a short walk to the overlook point. I loved the pictures I saw of these incredible landscapes on Pinterest and on Instagram and all the places I searched prior to arrival. I was so excited to see this point… it was amazing.

Terrifying.

But amazing!!

The smile is hiding my complete concern for falling down into that valley… irrational but possible!

So there are a few more photos from this beautiful experience and then I’ll move on…

The daredevil himself… sitting on the edge of this crazy mountain.

We walked around embracing this larger than life experience, me a little more carefully, than my counterpart. In keeping with my usual attitude in life, risk adverse.

Site number 2: skull rock.

It looks like a skull and…. that’s about it, nothing more to see here!

There are tons of other places to see and go.

We didn’t have a lot of time and honestly had we had more time, there would be way more pictures, and adventures to be had here.

The landscape was just amazing. You ant imagine how peaceful the desert is until you’ve experienced it.

The desert of Joshua Tree is magnetic. Something about the energy is calming for your soul. I absolutely recommend experiencing this incredible place.

See the cactus garden for me!

Next up: Death Valley… and we started on the road to the largest national park in the US.

So long for now Joshua Tree, we will be back!

Hello scary but amazing Death Valley !!!!

A few hundred miles into the wild west we began. It was mid day, with our sites set on adventure….and our eyes on the road ahead.

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Travel, Even if it’s nearby.


Something about being in a new place fills your soul and your core with this uneasy, excited, butterfly, poop feeling. It’s like you are going up a roller coaster and you know it’s going to be exciting and thrilling. Being in a place you have known and you are revisiting somehow gives us that same sentiment. It’s like Boston for me. I spent many many days and nights in Boston. When I return something inside me awakens. It’s as if my skin is on fire and my heart is awake. It’s a great feeling.

When you travel, even close by, you look carefully at things.  You see things differently, with rose colored glasses. The effects of stopping and smelling the roses my friends, is overall life satisfaction.

You start to see those familiar signs on the highway, and pay your final toll, then you see Fenway and suddenly it all comes back.” I remember why I love this place”.  When you finally arrive it’s like a rush of adrenaline and you can’t wait to explore the places you have been and try new ones as well.

I suppose traveling and love have the same general feeling. It’s exciting and new and always makes you feel kind of queasy, in a good way. There is something  about planning a trip that just fills you with new opportunity. The chance to explore is probably a fundamental human need. It’s on the same scale as creating something or leaving your mark on the world.

I have often wondered how people I know can simply drop their real life in exchange for a backpack and go to Europe with no plan. That idea sounds insane, that is not the kind of trip I could take. It’s too passé.

I would love to be able to travel, as most people would, but on my own terms and with certainty that when I return I have a schedule to get back to. It’s important to have balance in life and getting a backpack and going, indefinetly, is not my idea of a good time. I admit I’m too high maintenance for whimsical ideas like that. I need to know my hotel is clean/ has good reviews and I have a general itinerary so I don’t go totally crazy trying to organize myself.

Being free isn’t what I’m good at. I suppose those people have some kind of ingrained spirit that allows them to let go of reality and live in the moment. This is great, but when you go back home how can you settle down? Once you fly how can you go back to walking? I don’t think you can. It’s like caging a wild bird. They might stay in their cage but they will always try to escape. I’ve met many untamed people like this and they are often the most interesting and sad. They are restless and nothing makes them happy, unfortunately for their partners they have to constantly restrain them. It’s always a fight for freedom in their minds. I have known many free-birds and while I am envious of their “wing-it” attitude I am certain they will never find home, or be happy in one place for long.

It’s strange to feel at home in so many places. I feel at home in my condo, at my father’s house where I grew up, in Rhode Island in many places, parts of Boston, and in certain people’s homes. I don’t feel like traveling without knowing at some point I will sleep in my own bed. Travel is like a roller coaster, you go up while you get to where ever you are going you get to the top and you feel enlightened by the new-ness of it all and as you descend it’s exhilarating to have had all these experience and finally you get home with your feet on the ground. It’s a safe and comfortable feeling but you always want to do it again. It was awesome. You carry the experience with you at home and with those you encounter. You wait impatiently, until your next roller coaster ride. All the while knowing you still have home. Home is always my favorite place, no matter where I am going or where I have been.

Maybe I like feeling grounded, maybe it’s because I’ve made “home” a place of refuge surrounded by comfort. Or maybe traveling is better done in doses so you appreciate every moment. Being home we plan for the places we will go, being away makes us value our lives. It makes us humble and it keeps us human. The feeling of returning home is just as exciting as arriving in a new place or even a familiar place. That feeling is what we love about life. It’s taking that deep breath of fresh ocean air or smelling th burning fireplace in the living room. It’s a feeling like love.

Travel often in life, and remember where you came from, for both are worth the ride.