Go Solo In Joshua Tree
Where, When & Why
What does it take to embark on a road trip for one? In the immortal words of Anna Stern, "Confidence, Cohen...". She wasn't wrong. Was she ever? Apart from the atrocious hair extensions, no and neither was I for picking up my hire car and heading out on the open road.
Having never been to Joshua Tree but hearing only the most incredible things about it I had to go and see for myself, by myself. Armed with a one-way ticket to the zen dome, the result was nothing short of spiritual.
Driving is a blast, and challenging. Mostly fun though, probably because I didn't get stuck in any heinous traffic on my road trip from LA to Joshua Tree and onto Palm Springs.
Classic rock and fast food ads filled the airwaves as the city blurred into mountains into desert, and my car-aoke skills got a severe workout on route to the Zen Dome. There are many times I ended up on dirt roads and every time I thanked my past self for getting the additional cover from the helpful lads at Hertz Culver City, not that I ever needed it but the peace of mind was worth the extra cash.
Embrace Your Zen
Angel Chen is a remarkable woman and Air BNB host. Her home, full of art, movie memorabilia and air purifying plants, is as warm and welcoming as she is.
I don't sleep well when I'm in a new place so I was thrilled she was also staying in the Zen Dome during my over night visit. Knowing she was upstairs with her very good boy Romeo completely relieved any potential anxiety.
Maybe it was beers, bath and books. Maybe the sunsets and star gazing. Whatever it was down to this peaceful & beautiful desert igloo was the perfect desert hideaway and my biggest regret was not staying longer - the same could be said for Joshua Tree as a whole.
See The Park Your Way
Hands down, best decision I made whilst in Joshua Tree was booking in a trail ride at Knob Hill Ranch. My guide, Lauren was a dream; brimming with knowledge of the local area, flora, fauna and most importantly, the menu at Pappy & Harriet's in nearby Pioneertown.
Knob Hill Ranch is the only stables in the area who take trail riders into the national park and given my tight time budget I opted for the short west loop trail ride. My steed Tommy, was sure footed and a lot of fun, and seeing the park from this perspective made my trip all the more special. On a day as clear as we had, spotting Big Bear Mountain in the distance wasn't out of the picture either.
After earning my P&H mac n cheese (see below), and triple checking my map, I had a park to see and a north to south route to complete by sunset so high-tailed it out of Pioneertown leftovers in tow (I was very thankful for these later).
Don't Miss Out On Pappy & Harriet's
Wash down their signature mac n cheese with a heady combo of silver tequila, lime & soda (heavy on the lime & soda). You won't be disappointed.
Obviously you don't need me to tell you how dumb drink driving is. You're out in the desert solo, look after yourself.
Skull Rock, Cactus Gardens, Cottonwood Spring
Spoiler: I completed my north to south route and ticked off all the main spots I wanted to see in a day. The park and surrounding area is huge and teeming with quirky off-road oddities so it took a bit of research to decide my must-sees.
For me, comparing Joshua Trees and Yuccas in the flesh, seeing how the rock formations drastically change as you pass from the Mojave to the Colorado desert, and taking in the remarkable landscape was everything I wanted and more. Exploring this ridiculous landscape is bucket-list worthy even if I didn't realise before I left LA.
Hint: polishing off Pappy & Harriet's leftovers at Skull Rock is a strange and tasty experience.
Come As You Are
One night in Palm Springs rounded off my swift tour of the desert. A quick ride up the I-10 and I was at my boujie oasis, the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in a jiffy, checked into my far-too-cool garden room of the and scrubbed up for an evening well spent at the poolside bar.
Shout out to Thomas for being the most friendly and attentive bartender this side of the I-10, keeping my margs topped up and tastebuds satisfied with holy-hell-delicious vegan chorizo tacos. Palm Springs - I'll be seeing you.