Joshua Tree, California

Chrissy ON Jan 16, 2013 AT 4:28 pm

by Chrissy Iley

For a long time I thought there was only one Joshua Tree: the one that appeared on the cover of the U2 album. It never occurred to me that there was a desert and a park where there were Joshua trees.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

They are rather nice, majestic yet cute, and they command some strange power at being the last tree standing.

It is very peaceful to drive through the desert. You feel small and connected to the scheme of things.

The Joshua Tree National Park has lumps of boulders that are prehistoric and look like skulls or human bodies falling on to one another. They are called things like Porcupine Wash and Lost Horse Mine, which make you think of an ancient ocean that drowned all the animals and washed them away millions of years ago.

There is a town called Joshua Tree which seems to consist of a Thai restaurant that looks straight out of the set of a Tarantino movie and several thrift stores selling toys and old kitchenware.

On the other side of the park is 29 Palms. Robert Plant wrote a song of that name about unrequited love and feeling the heat of a desert heart.

Harmony Hotel

Harmony Hotel

U2 stayed at the Harmony Motel, just outside of 29 Palms, today wrapped in corrugated iron but still open and clinging on to black and white photos of Bono and The Edge.

The cuter, cosier place to stay is the 29 Palms Inn. It was built on the oasis of Mara where a natural pond was surrounded by California Fan palms. There’s a series of 1930s cabins and bungalows arranged around a central area with a pool and restaurant serving dinner and cocktails. There’s also a yoga room. Yoga classes are laid on three days a week and you can have hot stone massages in your room or mani pedis mixing the ancient with the Hollywood.

The rooms each have their own sun patio, some of them with hammocks. Some cottages have two bedrooms.

The restaurant is an unexpected charm. In the evening there was a duo of fiddle and mandolin players delivering lilting American roots music. Sad, lost, joyous, evocative, melancholic, romantic. Everything you expect from strings.

The cocktail menu is a twisted classic, traditional and modern edgy all at the same time. I had a tangy margarita, which was a margarita with tangerine, which was delicious. There was a Lemon Cosmopolitan, a classic cosmo with a twist of lemon, which made it refreshing and clean.

They provide breakfast with homemade oatmeal and delicious breads. They’ll pack you a picnic if you want to have a desert lunch.

Dinner offers vegetables grown in the 29 Palms garden and sourdough bread baked freshly on the premises using organic wheat flour.

Dinner can be as lavish or Spartan as you wish. All entrees are served with salad or soup and cheddar mash potato or coconut rice. The creamy vegetable soup was called mulligatawny and had a slightly curried flavour, but also there was a sweet delicateness to it.

The plank salmon had been grilled on oak and then baked so it had a blend of oaky and salmon sweetness. The marsala chicken was touched with the divine. The salads all looked fresh and gorgeous, as did the pasta with vegetables. It was clean yet cosy. For dessert there was homemade cheesecake with a Graham cracker base with blueberries. It tasted old fashioned. It tasted like a grandmother’s recipe ladled in love.

The diners came from all walks of life, yet they were all passing through the same experience. There was something bonding about that. That you were in a big desert but you weren’t alone. You had food, you had music, you had Internet.


29 Palms Inn, 73950 Inn Avenue, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277




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