Monday, December 5

To the desert

I've explored the coast, the mountains, rivers, bays, the highs and lows and caves of northern California and I would always choose water or fog over heat and piles of boulders, but since I've moved back to LA I've had a yearning to find out what the desert is really like.
I've gotten a pretty good idea of desert living from the ultimate sources:when Kime Buzzelli chronicled her move , and the hilarious and soothing tales of bigBANG Studio's years in Joshua Tree. But I really had no idea what to expect. To be completely honest, I was scared of the long stretches of open space. How odd that my anxiety was always focused on the fear of confinement, small spaces and closed doors, and then the idea of infinite space also made me cringe. I had this thought when I was still in San Francisco, when a trip to the desert was equivalent to the likelihood of a trip to the moon. Dumb, dumb anxiety-talk about not living in the moment.

Those fears are gone, but of course a general but mild apprehension of things still sits tight in my belly or throat or chest, wherever it's feeling most like kicking up its heels that day. But we set off early, and I put thoughts of peace and quiet in the front of my mind. Two hours later we were in the small town of Joshua Tree, ready to explore and hike all day.

desert finds

ricochet cafe
When we saw Ricochet's website and it looked exactly like the desert version of this charming wine country spot, we knew we had to go.( I'm still trying to find the southern California equivalent of Calistoga everywhere I go) Aprons on the walls, old hand made tablecloths, local art on the walls, and all kinds of cheeses and wines for sale, cuteness everywhere and the breakfast wrap was perfect.

We drove into the park at the Indian Cove entrance for a short hike. The ranger station board suggested you contemplate the balance of nature, to observe how life and plants can live in such conditions and still give off so much beauty. The most amazing part of the desert is the quiet. If you stop and make sure no part of your body or feet move, it's the deepest silence you will ever know.

doesn't this look peaceful?

The group camping sites are huge and nestled in boulders. One day...

And, in usual trip planning fashion, there was a lot more on our agenda. Next we went to Desert Hot Springs to try one of their spas. I just wanted a jacuzzi and a swim, preferably in mineral hot springs water. El Morocco Inn is probably the nicest spa in the area, but it's hardly the luxury I was looking for. I guess I'm incredibly picky when it comes to this sort of thing because Indian Springs in Calistoga is still my number one. But, we made the best of it and hopped from the jacuzzi to the pool, ate dried apricots, drank a big mug of tea, read trashy magazines in the sun, and almost fell asleep. It was a success and I felt super relaxed afterwards.

The only time I remember in Palm Springs is when I went to Coachella about 8 years ago and we were sharing a hotel with people we barely knew, I was wide awake in the morning so I set off walking around town and got lost in desperate need of a bathroom. This time it would be better.

I wanted a fancy drink by a pool, and dreams are easily delivered here:

We sat at the bar at The Colony Palms, watched people on their ipads and iphones while we nestled and were lucky enough to find that beauty floating among the bushes.

One more stop. I had to see what all the Ace hotel hype was about. I expected it to be a little more run down and sleazy because of the partying and toocool-ness that it attracts, but I was stopped in my tracks. Besides the mishap of J accidentally eating real bacon in a sandwich that was definitely supposed to be meatless, it was a perfect end to the day.

I do feel uncomfortable in a place that is so full of money and beyond rich people, but for a little classy relaxation Palm Springs is the jam.

Next time I'd spend more time being really quiet in Joshua Tree, sitting on boulders, and staring at the sun.


Dyan said...

so much beauty in this post and in every picture. i cannot get over the one of the big boulders plus dessert cacti. i'm glad you have found a new landscape to love! i'm the same in that i've never been to the desert. i think the one time i've even seen it was once on the drive to vegas but that doesnt even count i know.

mari said...

Maybe this means we'll have to take a road trip together out to the desert!
(I must confess that yesterday while thinking of where I wanted to go on a little trip I instantly thought of Big Sur. The coast, the trees-they are still my first love!)