Getting Older in Joshua Tree

We recently spent a long week in the desert southwest exploring and also celebrating my birthday/yearly mid-life crisis. Here are a few pics of and a few paragraphs about my new favorite piece of America.

Ah Vegas. We have been to Vegas a number of times and we rarely get more than a few pictures. That is by design.

Ah Vegas. We have been to Vegas a number of times and we rarely get more than a few pictures. That is by design.

The lazy man's view of the Bellagio fountain. It's hard to take a good photo while drinking a 2qt frozen drink.

The lazy man’s view of the Bellagio fountain. It’s hard to take a good photo while drinking a 2qt frozen drink.

After spending a few days giving our money to strangers in Vegas we grabbed a rental and headed south to the California desert. Our original plans were to spend three days hiking at Joshua Tree National Park, but the government shut-down-shit-show ruined those plans so we scrambled to find state parks in which to stretch our hiking legs. We had the best luck at Anza Borrego Desert State Park just west of the Salton Sea, and at Big Morongo Canyon state preserve on the western boundaries of Joshua Tree NP. Our base of operations during this portion of the trip was at the 29 Palms Inn, a small oasis cluster of adobe huts at the edge of town looking over the northern ridges of Joshua Tree. If you are ever in the area and are seeking out the kind of lodging that Georgia O’Keefe would approve of then look no further than the 29 Palms Inn. The restaurant on the premises is probably the best in town and has nightly live music – we lucked out on the nights we were there and heard some of the best fiddles from both sides of the Atlantic – Holder & Smith rule the earth.

I love that mid-century modern look at Roy's on Rt 66.

I love that mid-century modern look at Roy’s on Rt 66.

The Motel is closed but you can buy some really expensive gas there.

The Motel is closed but you can buy some really expensive gas there.

Hey guys in Washington, F__K You! You sort of ruined my birthday plans and I think that's a dick move.

Hey guys in Washington, F__K You! You sort of ruined my birthday plans and I think that’s a dick move.

A Joshua Tree just outside the park boundaries. The hotel provided us with a few places to hike but the area was so limited we covered most of it before lunch.

A Joshua Tree just outside the park boundaries. The hotel provided us with a few places to hike but the area was so limited we covered most of it before lunch.

Forget Me Not cabin at 29 Palms Inn.

Forget-Me-Not cabin at 29 Palms Inn.

A heron doing its business at the oasis pond. A touch out of focus but not bad for hand-held in low light.

A heron doing its business at the oasis pond. A touch out of focus but not bad for hand-held in low light.

We had a good view from our window. The stars at night were spectacular - once the fire burned out the darkness was profound.

We had a good view from our window. The stars at night were spectacular – once the fire burned out the darkness was profound.

From within the courtyard. One could sunbathe sans clothing if they wanted.

From within the courtyard. One could sunbathe sans clothing if they so wished.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is just west of Salton City and it is huge. It is, however, very desolate and was recently damaged quite a bit after the remnants of Hurricane Manuel swept through.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is just west of Salton City and it is huge. It is, however, very desolate and many of the trails were washed out when the remnants of Manuel swept through.

A little slot canyon on the Calcite Mine Trail at ABDSP.

A little slot canyon on the Calcite Mine Trail at ABDSP.

Big Morongo Canyon just before the rains came. Who knew you should bring rain gear to the desert.

Big Morongo Canyon just before the rains came. Who knew you should bring rain gear to the desert.

The artist studios at 29 Palms Inn.

The artist studios at 29 Palms Inn.

View of the 29 Palms Inn from the artist studios. There was also a small native burial ground nearby and whenever you walk by it everything seems to get quiet.

View of the 29 Palms Inn from the artist studios. There was also a small native burial ground nearby and whenever I walked by it everything seemed to get quiet.

Sunset at 29 Palms Inn.

Sunset at 29 Palms Inn.

Just a view of the desert on the drive back to Vegas.

Just a view of the desert on the drive back to Vegas.

Despite our original plans falling through we made the best of our time and got to see a lot more of southern California than we expected. Since we had more free time during the hiking portion of our trip we spent a lot of it talking with locals over various alcoholic beverages and I came away with a sense that if the government shutdown continued for a long time or the apocalypse came that the people of the high desert would be ok – they’ve managed to muster an existence out there under the sun and I have a special appreciation for those who make the best of their lot in life.

The strip on our last night.

The strip on our last night.

© Peter Molgaard and Afield Book, 2012-2013. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photographs and original content without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that permission is granted and that full and clear credit is given to Peter Molgaard and Afield Book with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. If you would like to use any of the imagery displayed you may send your requests to molgaardpmo@gmail.com

One thought on “Getting Older in Joshua Tree

  1. LOVE Georgia O’Keefe. We just watched the Lifetime movie based on her life. Might have to add this area to my bucket list of places to visit before I die.

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