Happy New Year! This week we celebrated one year on the road. One year of camping and stars, one years of adventures and laughter, one year of challenges and beauty. It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 months. I’m not ready to stop this journey, yet.Even after a year of travel we are constantly having “firsts,” and this was our first week of camping and traveling with friends. When our friends B and K asked about meeting up with us around Joshua Tree for New Years we said “hell yes.” So they made arrangements and drove down from Idaho in their Ford Transit van, which they spent last summer building out into a camping rig.They arrived late on Friday night and after quick hellos in the chilly desert air we all settled into our vans and left the business of making plans for the morning. Because both K and I had work commitments this week, we planned our week together roughly around when we needed cell service and good sun to fill our solar batteries.After a day hanging out at Joshua Tree’s awesome Section 6 mountain biking area, we drove to Pioneertown. Pioneertown is a town that was built to look like a western movie, and film stars lived here as a break from the stresses of Hollywood in the 1940’s. Now it’s mostly kitschy, but the draw is a restaurant and music venue called Pappy + Harriets. We camped within walking distance at the Pioneertown Corrals (our camping neighbors, three young women who work trail crew in the Sierras, came over and called our two van setup “dope AF”), and whiled away the night listening to music and laughing at how easy it was to tell who was in town from LA.The next morning we circumvented the western side of Joshua Tree National Park to land in Indio. Last year Mike and I happened upon Sunday polo matches at the Empire Polo Club. B and K love to tailgate (they are consummate chefs and bartenders) so we piled in for a day on the sidelines. It was sunny and beautiful, high desert southern California at its finest.After a little too much day-drinking none of us made it to midnight to celebrate the New Year. Instead we celebrated East Coast New Year at 9:00pm, watched fireworks that were being set off across the valley, and called it a night. We were camped at a busy spot just south of Joshua Tree National Park, and our tenting neighbors played some sort of heavy metal music with creepy satanic voices. Despite this, we all slept surprisingly well.Then it was into the park. Joshua Tree is so busy, which we knew from the week before, that getting a good campsite means arriving early. Really early. We were able to snag a perfect, secluded site at Belle campground from a kind couple in a truck camper. It was so well situated such that, other than people driving by, we couldn’t see or hear any other campers.We stayed for three days. We explored the park on foot and did a backcountry drive. We took a moonlit walk through the granite boulders with the supermoon bright enough that we didn’t need headlamps. We drank cocktails and bottles of wine, ate short ribs cooked on a Little Green Egg and had dutch oven stew. We always eat great when B and K are around!Now we’re all out of the park, spending one last morning together before B and K start to make their way back to Idaho. We’ll see them again in July, if not before (hint hint…where shall we meet up next?). Mike and I are deciding what to do with the week ahead of us before we drive to Quartzsite, Arizona for the Xscapers Convergence. It’s my birthday on Thursday, and I’d like to spend it somewhere quiet and wild. Perhaps along the Colorado River? Or high in the mountains of Arizona?
Subscribe to my newsletter, Wild Places, for weekly updates from life on the road.