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November 12th 2017
Published: November 17th 2017
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Joshua Tree SunsetJoshua Tree SunsetJoshua Tree Sunset

Colorful skies in the National Park
I don't believe that there is an ancient lava field flowing beneath the ground. I don't think it causes an electric current that draws people from all over the earth to its center. I don't think that the electric current has curative powers or even gives people extrasensory powers. I don't think restorative energy flows upward from the ground and can be felt if you believe in it hard enough. The well-dressed lady in the art gallery does. In fact, she is convinced of it. She told me about it at length after I had complimented her on her ceramic work and had only known her for a few minutes. She described it in detail, with eyes twinkling and voice whispering. I think she was speaking from a place in her heart and was being totally serious. She truly believed...but I didn't. I wish I did...but I don't.

I do however believe that there are places where magic might sometimes be real. Places where people from different backgrounds and with different ideas come together to share dreams and create energy that can be felt. I usually find these places a little ways off the normal path. In places that are

Massive granite boulders form interesting shapes in Joshua Tree National Park
a little uncomfortable or difficult to live in without seeking out the assistance of others. Somewhere beyond the first line of mountains, or in the thick of a forest. Up a long valley just past where the last bridge crosses the river. Maybe in a desert full of strange trees and giant granite boulders that rise up out of the ground in odd ways and with shapes that require you to name them. Places so high and so dry that most people without enough time would write them off as a wasteland. Places with immense beauty that might not be apparent at first glance.

These places are usually populated by people that see things a little differently. Artists, writers and creative types abound. Maybe a few outcasts are mixed in. Hippies, bikers, free thinkers and people that found life in the normal places just wasn't for them. Maybe people that are looking for a new beginning or at least an opportunity to live with a few less rules. Conformity is generally not necessary but acceptance of others is.

I think when we eventually decide to stop traveling we would like to settle in one
Joshua Tree National ParkJoshua Tree National ParkJoshua Tree National Park

Sunset in my favorite photo location
of these places. We have discovered a few of them along our way. After being exposed to so many different cultures, cuisines and ways of life for the last few years, it seems it might be difficult to return to what we used to call normal. Regular life just feels uncomfortable.

We can feel the end of the journey calling. It is still only a light viewed faintly in the distance, but with each passing month, it grows brighter. It feels as though we should begin planning an exit strategy. For the first time in our lives, we will be choosing a place to live based on what our interests are and not just what we are forced into by school, jobs or convenience. It is a more difficult choice than we expected.

We haven't retraced our path often over the last 7 years. 3 years ago we spent a month in the high desert of Southern California. We thought it had some of the magic we might be looking for. The Mojave Desert town of Joshua Tree just felt right then and we wanted to see if it could be a permanent stop
Route 66Route 66Route 66

Roy's Café and Motel alongside Route 66 in the Mojave Desert
some day. It might be worth taking a second look.

Joshua Tree is a small town of only 4,000 or so people. An eclectic mix of citizens populates the town. Artists, hippies, retirees, free spirits and ex-military are common. Rock climbers, musicians, bikers, tourists and temporary residents fill out the mix. The town anchors one of 3 entrances to Joshua Tree National Park and, for us, provides the easiest access to the most attractive parts of the park. It has one bar, one coffee shop and a cool vibe that we like.

We arrived during the two-week arts festival. Resident artists open their homes and studios to visitors and it provides a unique window into that segment of the population. It is an excellent time to make your way around the area meeting artists. The houses are spread out and visiting a couple dozen takes you along many dirt roads and into many areas you might have missed otherwise. The artists are all friendly and seem glad you made the effort to find them.

We bought a yearly pass to the park and put it to good use. We visited almost
Cholla Cactus GardenCholla Cactus GardenCholla Cactus Garden

Joshua Tree National Park
daily during our stay. We hiked desert trails, climbed boulders and saw lots of animals. Bighorn sheep, coyotes, rabbits and even a bobcat made appearances during our stay. We found the best time for sightings was during the weekdays around sunset when we mostly had the park to ourselves. After record rainfalls last winter the animals are plentiful and look heavier than we had seen in the past. We even pulled over to watch many tarantulas cross a section of road one evening just after the sun went down.

Of course, sunset and sunrise are the most beautiful times to visit the park. If the skies are filled with the right amount of clouds there is a good chance for incredible sunsets. The vivid colors are amazing, sometimes so bright it appears the entire sky has caught fire. Cloudless days can be just as amazing if you visit the park after dark. The Mojave Desert has some of the darkest skies anywhere in America and on moonless nights the stars can be incredible. We brought snacks and chairs and made our way a short distance into the desert and waited for the light show to begin. The
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Early risers get a great show in Joshua Tree NP
Milky Way was incredibly bright and the stars shined so intensely that I don't remember ever seeing so many. The desert was so dark and quiet, it seemed we were alone in the world.

We enjoyed our afternoons relaxing around the town. Whether discussing authors in the local bookstore, having a chat with the librarian or enjoying a perfectly brewed cup of coffee under a shade tree on a patio, most days were spent relaxing in the perfect weather. While the rest of the country has taken a turn toward winter, we enjoyed warm afternoons and pleasantly cool nights for our entire visit.

We were surprised at how easy it was to make friends with people we met. We enjoyed their stories and they seemed impressed with our travel stories from recent years. We had an opportunity to look at a few houses during our stay. The town has become increasingly popular with people from the Los Angeles area. Good because they have brought with them great style and have made many improvements to some of the local housing. Unfortunately, with the new popularity comes increased prices and less availability of housing.

I don't know what the future will bring for us once we decide to settle down more permanently. We may find a home here in the high desert or we may not. If we do, I think we will find an incredibly beautiful place with lots of friendly and interesting people. If we don't then we at least got a second look at a place that has a little magic and a lot of beauty amongst the boulders and crazy trees that we found during our stay.

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23



Old West movie location in the desert
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Route 66

Sunset and moonrise
Roy's Motel and CafeRoy's Motel and Cafe
Roy's Motel and Cafe

Iconic roadside stop along Route 66 in Amboy, California
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Joshua Tree Trails

Joshua Tree National Park
Barker DamBarker Dam
Barker Dam

Small dam and lake in Joshua Tree NP
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Star Trails

A different type of trail in JT National Park
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Joshua Tree Sunrise

Sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park
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Joshua Tree National Park

Massive boulders during an epic sunset

17th November 2017

Lovely place
I have very good friends in the USA. Last February We drove on several national parks and Joshua Tree was one of them. Very interesting place. I remember the amazing shapes of the rocks. Your photos are excellent. Hugs from Argentina.
17th November 2017

Joshua Tree is one of our favorites. Thanks for reading and commenting, Grace.
18th November 2017

Coming off the road?
Sounds like the wonderful life on the road may be winding down. The thought of having a more permanent place is calling your name. We will be waiting to see if you decide on mountains, seaside, deserts or the countryside. Should be fun looking at thinking about what the future holds. We picked seaside. It will be interesting to see what you decide.
18th November 2017

The road...
As much as we hate to admit it, we are getting tired. However we're writing this from another far off land, so we're not quite done yet. The more places we go, the harder it is to decide where to grow roots. I guess time will tell. Thanks for writing! We really appreciate it.
18th November 2017

Sounds and looks like a wonderful place...
to settle down. That would make a good Forum topic...where would you like to settle down?
18th November 2017

Wonderful places....
We really like Joshua Tree. We didn't write about it, but we also looked around Palm Springs which we liked also. I think it would be a good forum topic. I suppose we will probably never stop traveling, but we are getting towards the end of moving full time. Thanks for reading and commenting, Bob!
18th November 2017
Star Trails

Brilliant Photos
Love the pics Nanci. Each time I see your blogs I am tempted to get Lightroom as your photos always have that snap and pop. This pic a great time lapse. But I don't read manuals! Nor do I like to sit through tutorials. Oh the dilemma! Guess I'll have to be content looking at your pics and wishing I had what you have!
18th November 2017
Star Trails

Come over to the dark side, Dave. Once you do, you'll never look back! Just kidding. Thank you for the nice comments. The star trail picture was a first attempt and really was not as good as we hoped. The stars were amazing and it will just have to be remembered in our memory. Thanks for reading and commenting! We appreciate it, Dave.
20th November 2017
Route 66

Route 66 - one day we will make it ours
Route 66 is high on the wish list. We will go there one day. Lovely photo. /Ake
20th November 2017
Route 66

Route 66...
Much of it is gone or replaced, but this section is always a must visit when we are in the area. Thanks for the nice compliment, Ake!
28th November 2017

Hi there!
What an interesting choice, I didn't even know Joshua Tree town was a residential place! Choosing a place that makes you happy from your head to your toes is difficult but once you find it and live there it will feel great. Love your photos of the Mojave Desert Joshua trees, I've always admired them and would love to see them in person some day.
28th November 2017

Joshua Tree
We really do like the town. It's hard to say where we may settle eventually, but if it were Joshua Tree, I think we would be happy. Thanks for the nice compliment on the pictures and thanks for reading, Jennifer!

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