Joshua Tree: The 24-Hour Road Trip
Words & Photos: Alyx Schwarz
I woke up Saturday morning to the same white ceiling I wake up to every morning. I closed my eyes again and painted an endless stretch of road under a blue desert sky. Just as I was beginning to feel the warmth of the sun on my face, I texted my friend Drea and suggested a spontaneous road trip to Joshua Tree. A few seconds later, she replied in all caps, “LET’S DO IT.”
Drea is one of my favorite adventure partners-in-crime. We both have full-time jobs, pursue our passions at all other hours of the day and still make time for adventures. She runs an awesome online magazine called The Cult Collective, which provides regular inspiration to satisfy my weekend wanderlust.
Within a few hours of the text message, we were headed into the desert with our two friends Julie and Kris. Julie has a blog of her own called The Blagueur, and Kris is a talented rock climber and photographer. We had a full tank of gas, no reservations and a serious hunger for adventure (and s’mores).
We arrived at the West Entrance to Joshua Tree after dark and set up camp by the light of our headlamps. We built a fire and prepared a gourmet dinner of Italian sausages and foil wrapped veggies, served with a mug of warm whiskey. For dessert, I finally gave in to my craving for s’mores. We sat around the fire roasting marshmallows and telling stories before falling asleep under the blanket of stars.
We awoke as the sun peeked over the horizon and warmed the tent. The sky was bluer than my dreams. I still marvel every time I return to the desert.
We spent the next few hours climbing Jumbo Rocks, a playground of geologic wonders set in a forest of Joshua trees. Before returning to civilization, we soaked in as much sun as we could manage by running across the seamless landscape. Next time, I may opt for wearing shoes, as “cactus foot” can be quite painful.
On the way home, we stopped for lunch at Pappy & Harriets in Pioneertown, an Old Western movie set built in the 1940’s. We also shopped for souvenirs at a boutique called Hoof & The Horn. I took home a California charm necklace that I haven’t taken off since.
“A journey is best measured in friends, not in miles.”
Though we had only been away from Los Angeles for little over 24 hours, I felt completely recharged. That kind of magic only happens when you toss your plans out the window and embrace the open road. I should remind myself to do that more often.
Joshua Tree National Park
- Sleep: We camped at Cottonwood (http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/cottonwood.htm) (Near the South Entrance) because it was the only campground with sites available on a Saturday night after dark. We had to drive 30 minutes from the West Entrance, but we were happy with our campsite.
- Hike: Jumbo Rocks is a beautiful place to walk, climb and take photos.
- Eat: Pappy and Harriet’s (http://www.yelp.com/biz/pappy-and-harriets-pioneertown-palace-pioneertown) in Pioneertown offers good food, drinks and entertainment.
- Shop: Hoof and The Horn (http://www.yelp.com/biz/hoof-and-the-horn-yucca-valley) is a cool boutique for both men and women. Treat yourself to a souvenir.
Editor’s Note: I want to thank Alyx for sharing her inspiring weekend warrior adventure with us! Her website is packed with great weekend getaway adventures for anyone living in the Southwestern part of the US. You call also find her on Instagram and Twitter. Please drop her a comment below and let her know if you enjoyed her weekend in Joshua Tree, we’d love to have her stick around!