A Horse With No Name


I loved the six days that we spent in Oahu, Hawaii and it was hard to have to wrench ourselves away from the laid back atmosphere of the place, it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches and of course Kiki’s Bar (see previous post) but we had other fish to fry and other places to go to if we were to continue on our mission to straddle Gaia’s girdle in 21 days.

Joshua-Tree-saloon-exterior

Ever since the first time that I met the Irishman he’s talked about Joshua Tree. ‘You’ll love it Lottie; I just know you will love it! and the first chance that we have, I’m going to take you there’. Sure as eggs are eggs, my Irishman has remained true to his word and thanks to him being invited to present a paper at the AIGA conference in Hawaii before Christmas, this suddenly meant that Joshua Tree was just a mere 5 hour flight and 3 hour car journey from where we were, a veritable spitting distance in global terms.

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After touching down in LA, we picked up our rental car and out onto the highway heading due east. It was rush hour and every Tom, Dick and Harriet were making their way, either back home, or into LA on the 8-lane motorway. As the late afternoon light quickly began to fade and darkness now surrounded us, the headlamps and tail lamps of the myriad cars made it seem as though we were part of a slow motion version of the Stars and Stripes as the mass evening exodus out of, and into the City of Angels began.

woodburner

sign-of-jesus

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A journey that should perhaps have taken 3 hours max took over 4.5 but the sat- nav steered us through mountainous passes, bleak trading posts, massive wind farms and silent backwaters until eventually the signs to Joshua Tree started to read just 10 miles instead of 190 miles. It was late by now and as we left the main road and found ourselves negotiating bumpy, desolate sand tracks we felt sure that we must be nearly there. But we weren’t. 8 long miles outside of Joshua Tree we were for the first time in a long time, in the middle of nowhere. Not a light, not a lamp, not a house, nothing, just silence and desert and shrub illuminated in the cars headlamps.

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grey-day,-bright-shrub

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wide-open-spaces

first-light,-last-star

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mailbox-shadows,-sunset-road

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Amazingly, and nothing short of a miracle as far as I was concerned, Oh so Streetwise Madame Garmin had found

our cabin and I, the doubting Thomas that I am (due to previous bad experiences with in-car navigation devices other than trusty road maps) had to eat my words as we struggled stiffly out of the car and then found ourselves almost blown away by the biting winds coming off the desert around us. It was absolutely freezing. Once we’d negotiated the sophisticated cabin security system and let ourselves in, we were enchanted as like two kids we rushed through the house checking out the bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen making loud exclamations through chattering teeth and exhaling clouds of breath every time we opened our mouths to speak!

Our initial excitement after orientation of the cabin soon waned as it dawned on us that we had nothing to eat or drink, nor any firewood to heat the place so there was nothing for it but to get back into the car and head back to Joshua Tree and hope that there might be a shop/bar or indeed anything that could supply us with the vittels and fuel that we needed to stave off starvation and hyperthermia until the morning.

It’s always interesting meeting the locals in any new place. First impressions do count and all I can say is that I was petrified when we were introduced to our first bone fide Joshua Tree residents at the gas station. We’d decided to stop there because there was a shop attached to it where we could make our necessary purchases. As we got out of the car, suddenly out of nowhere, we were approached by two men who looked pretty scary. Bearing in mind that the temperature that night was sub-zero, one of the men was bare footed, and the other was swinging an oil can in one hand, and a hammer, (but just as may as well have been a machete) in the other. Clearly these desert folk wanted not just our blood but also our entire life savings. Muttering profound obscenities, they followed us into the shop. I grabbed a basket a la ‘supermarket sweep’ style and tore bread, eggs, milk, sugar, butter, jam, off the shelves faster than I have ever done in my life – as I grappled the chiller door to grab as many cans of beer that I possibly could, Irishman held the two axe-murderers at bay by chasing them around the shop and darting round the two tiny aisles to keep them away. Of course we couldn’t just do a runner and leave the shop, we had goods to pay for, logs to be brought out from the back so we then had to suffer the indignity of having the axe-murderers torment us as we paid. Fleeing to the car, weighted down with bags, we met another character. He had a long and sad story to tell, he too had a hammer.

To be continued:

26 Comments

  1. Can’t wait to find out what happens, Lottie! Awesome photos — makes me want to roadtrip although with perhaps a bigger hammer. Or maybe a chain saw…Great post! Cheers, Steph

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    1. Next time I go to Joshua Tree (and I really hope it’s soon because axe-murderers permitting it is absolutely my new favourite place) I shall be taking a chain saw….lots of logs to cut up you see.

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  2. Nice photos. One of my favorite sayings about my home state is “California has plenty of fruits and nuts” and we mean that in many different ways! Can’t wait for part 2.

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    1. I was thinking of you the other day because it’s time the Irishman and I went back to SuperSteak 🙂 Yes, there were plenty of fruit and nuts in JT it made S.E London look tame in comparison but, having said that it did all add to our adventure and I love colourful characters.

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  3. I read the comments before my comment box. All I can think is HOLY SH–! The two of you have more grit and guts than sense. 🙂

    I would never have gone to the middle of nowhere at night and to a SURPRISE welcoming committee- yet!. As I began reading I was thinking, wonder what mind-boggling events awaits these two Brits.

    Some of the pics are really pretty but that place sounds as if it is for the birds, snakes, and what other non-human lives there. And I must not forget the weirdos that live near the park. You did not write if you were actaully within the boundaries of the park or were you? (the first night there)

    Then I read that Jousha is now one of your favorite places or something like that? Lottie you are and your husband definetly are a good fit. Full of adventure and enough smarts to keep you just out of the line of (fire) thus far!

    I can not wait to read your next post. I want to know about the guys with the TOOLS in their hands.

    Yvonne

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    1. Oh heck, I’m now worried that the next post is going to be the most fearful anti-climax! I should never have mentioned the axe-murderers, it’s started something that is way out of my control. Maybe I shall have to add bits to make it more interesting, sort of murder mystery suspense? Agatha Christie in the desert, dismembered body found in remote rocks, leaden black skies, lone gun shot……….

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      1. Hey now, you could really generate lots more traffic/readers/viewers that way. I think it was embellished 🙂 just a tad and the guys were carrying hammers for some odd reason. No, let me take back embellished. You write in probably the same way that you verbally relate a tale, I mean story. I am just joking with you – hope you realize this. 🙂

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  4. Cliffhanger… Booo! lolz… you got me, I’ll say that. Can’t wait to see what happens next. My fave pic is the one where the sky is at least 3 different shades of blue. I love reading about your travels with the Irishman, as I live through you vicariously. I have a wandering spirit, and when the kids are gone, my hubz and I plan to drive and fly our way all over the world. So much to see!!! 🙂

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    1. Thanks Andi-Roo (Big smile) 🙂
      I’m made up that you like reading about my travels with the Irishman and I hope that you too get a chance to travel at some stage. I know the feeling having spent literally years chained to the kitchen sink, or working or shackled to a vacuum cleaner or my head in a dirty nappy….well not really my head in a dirty nappy but you know what I mean. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity now that we are here in Indonesia through Pete’s work – I’m not sure how we would have managed it before but I’m sure that we would have worked something out. Like you say there is SO much to see, and so much to explore. I’ve got itchy feet already and I’ve only been back in Jakarta for 12 days!

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  5. A post with everything: humor, beauty, and mystery! Since you’ve written this post, I’ll assume you survived the hammer-carrying natives! Perhaps it’s some sort of local custom?

    LOVE your photos as always, dear Sister. Gorgeous scenery. You have such an eye. Can’t wait for part two!

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    1. I have a sneaky feeling that you shall be a making an appearance in part 2!
      NOT as a hammer-carrying native you understand, Oh NO!

      Thanks as always for your lovely comments, you make me smile.
      My photo library got so messed up after the other laptop died, all my pictures are everywhere, it’s a nightmare trying to find the ones that I need…and I took so many in JT as I bet you did too. Oh speaking of which I must send you the link of the Herb Ritt photo I found of Joshua Tree earlier. It’s weird and wacky, I think you’ll love it – bit creepy as well 🙂

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    1. Aww, thanks Hayley. I fear that I’ve given the good folk of Joshua Tree a terrible name – they weren’t all wielding hammers, just a few of them! It is the most lovely place and tomorrow I hope to get another post out with some more photos. I’d love to go back there, actually I’d love to spend a lot of time there, it was my idea of heaven as it was beautiful, quiet, unspoilt and quite spiritual in a sense. When you have just miles and miles of nothing and huge skies it does make you ponder the universe and our place here on it. Great to hear from you, and thanks again for your comment. Lottie 🙂

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  6. I absolutely love the shot of the mailboxes. if you abstract it a little more, change the colors, it almost looks like a leaning palm tree! Don’t you love how, even in the middle of nowhere, there is such beauty EVERYwhere…?!

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    1. I’m glad you liked the mailbox photo. It is my favourite. I noticed the shadows on the first morning as we were driving past and made a mental note to get a shot of them the next day – some pictures just have to be taken!
      I find beauty everywhere too, sometimes you have to hunt a little harder for it but it’s always out there if seek it out.

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    1. There is indeed something intriguing about the stark, desert desolation. I was smitten by the place – I lie in bed at night listening to the rumble of the never-ending Jakartan traffic outside my window and imagine myself curled up in the cabin listening to the wind and the howls of a lone coyote.

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    1. Always my pleasure Gerard. The characters where exactly as I portrayed them, I was scared shitless, even Irishman didn’t want to hang around and he’s tough. I think it’s what you call self-preservation.

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  7. Lottie,

    I know you have a way with words that is exciting and poetic at the same time. I have been to California in the past and understand the beauty of the desert you so elegantly explain. I live in Oklahoma, near Texas, and actually live in an arid region of the United States. I always look forward to going out into the mountains (yes, we actually have a few here) and hiking and climbing among the rocks and cactus.

    I was born in Arkansas and a majority of my family still lives in the Ozarks (if you have ever watched the movie Deliverance you probably have met a few of my relatives….yikes) I am a cowboy boot, cowboy hat wearing dad for a reason and most of it is because I have met many of those “strange” and odd people you can find in the back places of society (maybe I am even one of those people that would have scared the Hell out of you….double yikes!!) I probably should write a few entries on my blog about my family but I fear I would offend some of them and their portrayal. GREAT JOB my friend!!

    Aaron

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    1. A very lovely comment, thank you Aaron. Funnily enough I can picture you striding down Joshua Tree, doing the cowboy swagger in your hat and boots!
      Don’t forget this was only my second trip to the States so my eyes were out on stalks drinking in everything that was around me – not just the landscape but the people, it was all fascinating to me. Some of those characters that we met could have walked straight off the set of any amount of films, and westerns that I’ve watched over the years – they have a very distinct look, very rugged!
      You should write about your family, it would be great to learn more and I’m sure you’d do an excellent job of making the most of their good qualities and playing down the bad/mad/embarrassing bits! 🙂

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