Joshua Trees, Patti Smith, Margaritas, the Integratron, and a Dome in the Desert
It’s hard to describe the wonder of Joshua Tree, but the desert will speak for itself. We love the light, the clear open skies, the stars, and the Mojave heat. We come back for the crazy looking Joshua Trees and the rad little hikes you can do through the 800,000 acres of national park. Sitting on any of the billion rocks at dusk, as the sky is color-popping from blue to orange to pink to purple to black, is mind-blowing. There’s a familiar sense of belonging here.
Our desert adventuring caused us to stumble upon a cute little dome that was hosted through the vacation rental service Airbnb. Only five minutes from town, this self-contained dome boasted a modern gypsy aesthetic, which was complete with a meditation loft, vintage palm-reading books, hanging chairs, a guitar, and miles of clear open skies made perfect for stargazing. Needless to say, we wanted to stay forever.
We drank tea and read Patti Smith’s Just Kids in the desert sun. If you haven’t already read it, make sure you do. A perfectly evocative memoir of the ever-colorful punk rock legend, which tenderly captures a moment when bohemian Ms. Smith and Robert Mapplethorne were young and inseparable. They were roommates, friends, lovers, and consequently each other’s muses. Witnessing Ms. Smith onstage a few weeks later at the ACE Theatre in Downtown L.A. confirmed her talent, beauty, and ability to completely immerse the audience in her music. I found myself caught up in the realization of her journey and how it led her to this very moment. Patti Smith, at age 68, is living proof that punk doesn’t age. Her enthusiasm is infectious and impossible to resist—but why would you want to?
We hiked to an oasis that was filled with the coolest looking pineapple-palm trees. Naturally, we imagined what this shady little patch of desert heaven would have been like hundreds of years prior and imagined how stoked we would have been to stumble upon it. We drank margaritas with local desert rats and escaped city slickers at Pappy and Harriet’s near Pioneertown, then moseyed on down to the Sunday Band to grab some ice cream.
No trip to Joshua Tree would be complete without indulging in an aura-check at the Integratron. A place of spiritual healing and musical sound baths, this white-domed structure was built in the 1950’s by UFOlogist George Van Tassel. He claimed the dome was capable of rejuvenation, anti-gravity and time travel. Van Tassel died in the 1970’s, and the Integratron was newly managed by a few sisters who began running “sound baths” in the acoustically perfect structure. Basically, visitors lie on yoga mats stretched across the floor with their heads in the center of the dome while listening to transcendental tones played from quart-crystal singing bowls. This posture represents the powerful center of the energy vortex — a truly meditative and awesome experience. The website promises “waves of peace, heightened awareness, and relaxation of the mind and body.” And damn, did they deliver. Everyone's experience is different, and some of my mates reported feeling like their feet were burning on fire as the energy gushed out of them. I, on the other hand, felt completely at peace. It was a beautiful and total relaxation—something not to be missed.