Joshua Tree, Arizona and New Mexico Pt. 1: California

As a California girl, I love that I don't need to leave my state to experience mountains, sea and desert. This year marks the second year of a new annual tradition to head down to the desert during the holidays to decompress.

From December 26th through January 2, I visited Joshua Tree, Arizona and New Mexico. I had been working on my show at Seeing Things Gallery for months and preparing for the holiday season prior to leaving. I had been working non-stop and although it was good practice in self-discipline and creativity, I was literally giddy to be out on the open road and not cooped up inside.

It has taken me a few weeks to post about this amazing trip. In this time, I have thought about how I can create an environment at home that is similar to how I felt on vacation. I have also been working hard at getting organized this month so that I can have a more smooth year, especially since I have a lot of exciting things planned (see my New Year post).

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Pioneertown Motel exterior

Pioneertown Motel exterior

We stayed at the Pioneertown Motel in Pioneertown. With a population of 350, the town resides up in the hills near Joshua Tree. The town itself was built as a set for Western movies and the hotel was where actors would stay. Can you imagine how I felt making this my home after months of chaotic work? 

The bathroom shelf.

The bathroom shelf.

The Barbara Stanwyck room. She actually stayed here!ย 

The Barbara Stanwyck room. She actually stayed here! 

Pioneertown, a strip of old western buildings, some still in use as shops.

Pioneertown, a strip of old western buildings, some still in use as shops.

This was my third time altogether in Joshua Tree National Park. I love that cell phones lose service soon after you enter. That's when I know I'm in a good place. We climbed Ryan Mountain and were rewarded with 360 degree views of the park.

Ryan Mountain, Joshua Tree National Park

Ryan Mountain, Joshua Tree National Park

Bryan on Ryan Mountain, doing his best Ansel Adams

Bryan on Ryan Mountain, doing his best Ansel Adams

A panoramic view from Ryan Mountain

A panoramic view from Ryan Mountain

Peak hikes are my favorite. Such a good workout and always worth the climb.

Peak hikes are my favorite. Such a good workout and always worth the climb.

The next day we hiked a small and lesser known trail in the park that was recommended by a ranger. It seemed like nothing special at first, but took us by surprise with its wild rock formations.

Cyclops eating a rock?

Cyclops eating a rock?

Channeling my inner Georgia O'Keeffe by sketching some rocks.

Channeling my inner Georgia O'Keeffe by sketching some rocks.

I'm so glad we found out about this "secret" trail. I found this near-perfect circle in nature.

I'm so glad we found out about this "secret" trail. I found this near-perfect circle in nature.

Rose quartz in my hand from along the trail and quartz lined throughout the rock.

Rose quartz in my hand from along the trail and quartz lined throughout the rock.

My backpack with patches from Costa Rica, Maine and New Mexico.

My backpack with patches from Costa Rica, Maine and New Mexico.

I finally made it to the Salton Sea! If you don't already know, it looks like an oasis in the desert: a large body of water sparkling in the middle of dry and dusty land. It was created at the turn of the century by diverting the Colorado River. Long story short, it is a heavily salinated body of water that causes a strange ecological environment. We were on the eastern side, at Bombay Beach.

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, CA

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, CA

Here are some of the obligatory fish photos that everyone takes when they visit the Salton Sea.

The Ski Inn, Bombay Beach, Salton Sea

The Ski Inn, Bombay Beach, Salton Sea

The Ski Inn bartender on the left was a funny man. These two gentlemen could not have been more perfect in this old bar. I was so glad we visited since it's for sale and you never know the fate of these old places. The people here were so nice and quirky. One man, in his ATV gear, talked about how the area flooded in the 70's when he was a kid. He rowed his boat through houses looking for candy. Definitely an upcoming painting...

Graffiti in Bombay Beach

Graffiti in Bombay Beach

I didn't get too many photographs of the trailers and homes in town. I felt that I wanted to respect the local's privacy. Here's one example of the graffiti and artwork you see sprayed on buildings around town. Bombay Beach was so surreal. It definitely seemed like a place where people escape society and just live a little differently. I plan on returning to check out the west coast of the Salton Sea next year. Well, that was Pt. 1. I'll be posting the other half of my trip in Arizona and New Mexico next time.