Desert Retreat

Sunrise from Keys Point: a stunning vista overlooking the Coachella Valley. Snow-covered Mt. San Jacinto visible on the far right.

I’ve always romanticized the idea of writers tucking themselves away into remote locations to work on novels, like Thoreau at Walden, away from the distractions of everyday life. Perhaps its the introvert in me but I have never been afraid of solitude, especially to focus on creative endeavors.

Going freelance has not only been an occupational journey, but a spiritual one. I’ve been reevaluating my thoughts around big questions regarding my relationship to design: why I do it, what kind of work brings me joy, how I approach problems, who I want to work with, and where to focus my energy moving forward.

This week, I drove down to Joshua Tree to spend concentrated time looking inward and focusing on those questions. It’s been a deeply rewarding experience, allowing me to zero in on answers. I haven’t figured it all out, but I’m gaining clarity and confidence on where I’m heading and what I want to be doing. The weather was a mixed bag all week with a lot of rain, which encouraged me to stay in some days to work and process rather than go out and explore.

But it’s not all work—I’m in a stunning desert scene, and have enjoyed solo adventures into the wilderness of the national park: I caught multiple sunrises from stunning vistas, hiked to an abandoned gold mine, sought out one of the few natural arches in the park, and found a secret cave packed with petroglyphs. I spent time sitting in nature, sketching trees and boulders, consuming my surroundings with an eye on the edges and details of this weird landscape. It’s been breathtaking, peaceful, productive, and lonely-in-a-good-way.

I’m ready to head home today, but I look forward to returning soon.

Local beta: The contractor of my friends’ house in Yucca Valley (where I’m staying as they finish up the remodel) drew me a map to find a hidden cave of petroglyphs well off the marked trails, up the wall of a tucked-away box canyon. You can see the markings all over the ceiling and walls in faded blacks and reds. Despite it being an unmarked trail, there’s an NPS sign at the foot of the canyon forbidding climbing to preserve the prehistoric drawings.

Barker Dam:    It was bone dry when I was here in August, but right now it’s a breathtaking lake. If you get out early, you can beat the crowd and enjoy the stillness.

Barker Dam: It was bone dry when I was here in August, but right now it’s a breathtaking lake. If you get out early, you can beat the crowd and enjoy the stillness.

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