“I don’t know if I want to go out again tonight.” 10 am. Saturday morning after another night out in Encinitas. I had already been up checking AirBnB Rentals online for an hour.
“What are your girls plans for the weekend?” one of our coworkers asked Friday during the 2 o’clock mandatory coffee break. Us, being natural nonplanners, your more of the “go with the flow” type people, had nothing specifically planned in mind. We figured we would enjoy the usual: probably hit up the strip of beach bars at night and enjoy the sunny weather during the day. “You all should check out Joshua Tree.”
What even is a Joshua Tree? If you google it, which we did about 2.5 hours into our drive there, you will see thousands of pictures of this funky cactus tree hybrid thing, lots of arid desert landscapes and some hikers. Turns out California has a whole park dedicated to this specific tree, which made much more sense upon our arrival.
We woke up Saturday, searching the trusty AirBnB, and found a 35$ stay. Total deal, but wait, even better–turns out it’s a goat farm. Thirty five bucks to stay in a camper and play with goats all night in the desert…sign us up! Without a second thought, we packed the car, bought some jugs of water, filled up the tank and GPSed it to Joshua Tree, California.
This would be our first AirBnB. This was also about to get extremely interesting.
We followed the cryptic directions off the main road, traveled down dirt roads and arrived at a pile of trash. A massive pile of trash. After deciding this couldn’t be it, that we had somehow missed a turn or didn’t know what exactly 500 feet was, we backtracked and asked some people down the way. The only soul who knew the guy we were looking for was an 85 year old man who was baking in his wheelchair in the desert sun. He extended his finger toward the pile of trash as we looked at each other confused, hoping he was deranged.
Questioning all of our decisions we drove back up to the pile of trash, circling around back. We spotted some campers and saw quite a few goats and realized, that what we first thought was a pile of trash, was in fact our Goat Farm. We got out of the car and were greeted by goats and a spritely man, the Goat Man himself.
Shawn was a very tan, very eccentric, very energetic, very desert, very goat loving man. He promptly grabbed us and gave us the grand tour of the grounds. Walking through bountiful amounts of goat poop and hay, we followed him and acted as though we were checking into a 5 star resort in the middle of the desert as he laid out the land for us and showed us our camper. We were renting a small blue and white, historic, hadn’t been cleaned since the 70s, cozy, wooly blanket, partially (i think) functioning camper directly across from the goat pen and the chicken coup. We just stared at each other. What are we doing. Desert goat farm. 35 dollars. This was just something else.
We hung out for a bit longer, met some alpacas (causal), then opted for a hike in the National Park before the sunset. After a visit to the Park Rangers office and remembering that National Parks cost a hefty amount of money to drive onto, we set out to find a small nature walk. A simple, easy, nature walk.
The word “Nature Walk” was quite deceiving. Unprepared fully, we were parched, managed to get very lost among the marked trails and were chased by bees. A lovely introduction to the desert. The scenery was beautiful nonetheless.
Deciding that we couldn’t handle much more before the sun went down, we swerved back through the Park and headed back to camp to catch sunset. We made a pit-stop at the local, Saloon to snag a beer and burger. After meeting all the types of humans the desert has captured over the years and being invited to the local art show, we missed the sunset and returned down the dirt road to the Goat Farm in the dark.
We pulled up and turned out the car. My phone was dead, there was no electricity. It was pitch black. We could see just about nothing. Shawn came out of the dark abyss with flashlights to guide us back to our camper after I successfully dropped all of my belongings onto the ground. Picking up my laptop, underwear, clothes and snacks out of the dirt, we made home in our little camper. Then we were called out because the night was just getting started…..
Two other couples were on premise that evening. An asian couple from Chinatown Los Angeles and a gay couple from Colorado. Meg and I sat down in the dark, accepted their offer of beer and accepted this night in its entirety.
What began as a questionable time in the middle of the desert became less and less horrifying with each sip of beer and Asian rice wine. We learned about their lives, we told them pieces of ours as we sat around a tray of Korean Barbecue. We learned about all the constellations. We learned that our host was a stunt man at Lego land and had traveled to all the states and most of the globe, grew up filming in Bay Watch, and was much more than just an avid goat lover. We heard stories about all the goats and how everyone got far too wasted the night before we arrived. The night continued and after getting over our fear of scorpions and woodrats (which were apparently feasting on their dinner outside our cabin this evening before our arrival. Awesome.), we sat twelve feet up on top of a trailer at 2 am. Viewing the Milky Way at 180degrees and about 17 shooting stars in the middle of the desert in complete silence formed a night into nothing short of all the memories we were promised. Exhausted, tipsy and still laughing about what the heck we were doing, we turned in, headed to our small camper and prayed the wood rats wouldn’t eat us before the roosters woke us up at 4:30 am.
Unable to sleep post rooster alarm, we threw clothes on and watched the worlds most magnificent sunrise light up the landscape little by little. We held the baby goats, got chased by some roosters, packed it up, ate some muffins, snagged some coffee and headed back to the park.
Prepared to hike, properly dressed with copious amounts of water in our backpacks, we selected a few beginner - intermediate trails and hiked all day.
What a time. What a place. Joshua Tree, you were something. I might just have to go back.
P.S. Palm Springs is a complete waste of time if you don’t know what you are doing. Its the hottest place in the whole world and I would never recommend visiting in the height of July.
P.s.s If you are traveling with AirBnB (Which I would 100% highly reccommend!) book with my code and snag 30$ off! -> paigeb1381