My anniversary falls on President's Day weekend which means I'm pretty lucky. Lucky that my anniversary falls on a long weekend, so we can go somewhere fun, and lucky that I found someone that will put up with me so I can even have an anniversary. Both pluses in my book.
This year we decided to avoid the more traditional destinations and go somewhere a bit different and off the beaten path, Joshua Tree National Park. We found a great house to rent just outside the park. I didn't say we would be that far off the path, just far enough. The house was a small "homesteader cabin" that was converted into a rustic-yet-modern rental, complete with hot tub and a backyard full of boulders and mountain views.
The cell phones were turned off as we began our weekend of decompressing, hiking and general silliness. We brought all of our own food so we never had to venture into town or mingle with the general population. Coffee, music, hammocks and sitting outside under the stars is a great way to decompress.
I imagine that photography is a little like searching for the perfect wave. I can go out some days and get a great picture on the first try and then on other days it just seems like I can't find anything interesting to look at or pictures don't turn out like I had hoped. Joshua Tree is one of the most picturesque places on earth so I figured this would be like an epic surf session.
On the first day we ventured into the park among the Joshua Trees -- among hundreds of other tourists all looking to get away. We took a hike back to Barker Dam and were pleasantly surprised how a National Park can swallow this many people and still make you feel alone. Additionally, people are just more friendly when they are out of their cars and hectic lives. The hike was an easy, beautiful stroll through boulders back to an old dam.
For our second day's adventure we decided to swing by Pioneer Town, an old movie town built in the 1940's by Roy Rogers and others, in Yucca Valley. Kitschy and fun about sums it up. From there we headed back into the park to hike to Lost Horse Mine. Unlike the day before, this was an actual hike with a decent amount of climbing back to a gold mine, operational from in1894 - 1931.
In addition to all the hiking we found time for relaxing in the hot tub, listening to an eclectic selection of music (courtesy of the rental house) and learning more about the constellations. It's pretty amazing what you can see in the night sky once you get out of Los Angeles. I also got to try my hand at some long exposure night photography. Setting your camera up and walking away for 20 minutes, then waiting an additional 15 minutes for the image to process is a test in patience. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
With another successful trip in the books, it's back to the grind. I will have plenty of memories and pictures to remind me of the adventure.
Check out all the pictures from the trip in the gallery. Joshua Tree