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Joshua Tree – Ryan Mountain

 

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Whilst I’m sitting here listening to the rain fall against my window, heater on, cup of tea in hand, dreams of the desert call to me.

One of the most highly anticipated stops along our road trip was none other than the iconic Joshua Tree National Park. We said a reluctant goodbye to our beautiful room at Ace Hotel Palm Springs, vowing to return one day, and sprang into our car, heading on to our next destination. We had a carefully laid out plan. Since we were travelling light(ish), we were going to check out the town, grab some supplies and hire a tent from Joshua Tree Outfitters before heading into the park to bags a campsite and squeeze in a quick hike.

One unforeseen problem – it was Wednesday. And why was that a biiiiiiig problem? Joshua Tree Outfitters don’t open on Wednesdays. And no one else in the tiny town hired out camp equipment. Stride-broken and crestfallen we commiserated our sad fate together in the car. We were contemplating sleeping out in the open (in rattle snake country) or at least in our car, when we went and did what non-delirious totally sensible people would do.

We bought a tent. That’s right, we bought a tent.

Cue carefree, jangly guitar road trip music again!

Driving into the park is like entering another world. Being from Australia, we’re no strangers to desert landscapes but we’d never seen anything like this. I distinctly remember letting out an involuntary, “Woooooah…” when we first caught sight of it. Dry, hulking mountains look down upon you and the numerous oddly shaped Joshua trees dominate your view for miles and miles.

Just a quick look at the nitty gritty for those keen to visit. Joshua Tree National Park is an extremely well-tended and well-loved park with great facilities for campers. You can traverse it with a regular car as all the necessary access roads are sealed and the campsites are pristinely clean. There are plenty of drop toilets, but no running water or electricity (I think there are one or two specific sites that do have these if you need them).

We found our perfect spot at the Jumbo Rocks Campground and pitched our tent quick smart in order to have enough time to embark on a hike up Ryan Mountain. Ryan Mountain is a 3 mile there-and-back hike that ascends 1070 feet (325 metres). Being crazy and highly excited noobs we set out in the middle of the afternoon whilst the sun baked down on us but we made do with plenty of water and in that heat even the ridiculously smallest of shrubs shed the most luxurious shade. The hike is not too long in terms of distance but it does ascend quite rapidly with very few flat spots for respite.

We were rewarded above and beyond our expectations and efforts. Due to the elevation, you get the most incredible views of the park from above, its mountains and unusual rock formations. Enduring the afternoon sun meant that we made it to the peak as the sun was beginning to set behind distant mountains – we were speechless for a while. I think it was just that beautiful and we were just that pooped. The golden hour in this part of the world during Fall lasts a long time but be sure to bring torches to ensure that your descent is safe.

Ojai Rancho Inn

ojai-rancho-inn-11ojai-rancho-inn-19ojai-rancho-inn-4 ojai-rancho-inn-5 ojai-rancho-inn-1ojai-rancho-inn-10 ojai-rancho-inn-7 ojai-rancho-inn-8 ojai-rancho-inn-12ojai-rancho-inn-3ojai-rancho-inn-13ojai-rancho-inn-18Holiday digs don’t get much cooler than this. En route from a few awesome but parching days of hiking and meteor-gazing in the desert, we continued our roadtrip onwards to Ojai Rancho Inn and boy was it a sight for sore feet and days-old hairdos. In an act of amazing foresight, Jinn had booked us a room with a spa just big enough for two bottoms where we dusted off our tired muscles and tumbled soon after into one of their beautiful giant wooden beds.

Set in sunny, rustic California, Ojai Rancho Inn is a refurbished motor lodge that keeps its old charm but has also had a major update in style. The vintage Americana vibe and healthy dosages of cacti and succulents in small pots had us sighing at every turn and their shibori-dyed curtains had me dreaming of shibori-ing the bejeebers out of everything when I got home.

There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a bevvy or two on your private mini “porch”, at their onsite bar Chief’s Peak, or even poolside. Also nearby is the cheery town centre and the friendly hotel staff were more than happy to fill us in on their local favourites.

Although not yet on most people’s “to-do” list, we would heartily recommend including Ojai in your Californian itinerary, there was so much to like about the laid-back town. To find out more about our other Ojai highlights, read about Summer Camp (oh-so instagrammable store) and Four Leaf Wood Shop (covetable and functional wooden objects for the home).

Ojai Rancho Inn / 615 W. Ojai Ave, Ojai / hello@ojairanchoinn.com

Summer Camp

summer-camp-ojai-14summer-camp-ojai-22 summer-camp-ojai-19 summer-camp-ojai-17summer-camp-ojai-13summer-camp-ojai-18 summer-camp-ojai-11 summer-camp-ojai-10 summer-camp-ojai-6 summer-camp-ojai-5 summer-camp-ojai-2summer-camp-ojai-21A few months ago we stumbled across Summer Camp’s ogle-worthy Instagram feed and developed an intense crush on the impeccable styling and unmistakable character (and ALL THE CACTI ZOMG). We hadn’t even heard about the tiny town of Ojai but after a little more searching and hashtag chasing we discovered that it was home and haven to many other creatives and great destinations. And so Ojai became a fast fixture in our itinerary, and we would recommend it to all driving through California!

Summer Camp is a gorgeous shop run by Rachel and Michael housed in a renovated old gas station that specialises in custom picture framing and faultlessly curated home decor, vintage collectibles with a healthy smattering of jewellery and other personal accessories.

Rachel, store curator and mumma extraordinaire, draws from the nostalgia and aesthetic of her childhood summer camps to create a space that really transports you there, almost as if you’ve walked into a Wes Anderson movie! Focussing also on locally made goods, her collection of ceramics and woodwork is an absolute dream. A single visit to this place and I guarantee you will feel like setting up a teepee and never leaving.

Summer Camp / IG @shopsummercamp / 1020 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, California

Finding Salvation

salvation-mountain-4 salvation-mountain-1salvation-mountain-1-5salvation-mountain-8salvation-mountain-7salvation-mountain-9 salvation-mountain-10 salvation-mountain-15salvation-mountain-13salvation-mountain-18salvation-mountain-11salvation-mountain-20salvation-mountain-16salvation-mountain-21 salvation-mountain-22 salvation-mountain-24 salvation-mountain-25Emerging out from the stark and sandy Colorado desert, Salvation Mountain stands as one man’s bold and beautiful message of love. Profoundly unusual yet moving at the same time, the monument is frequented by religious and unreligious folk alike. Leonard Knight began this work in 1984, continuously expanded and elaborated upon it until his health failed him and he passed away last year aged 83. He deeply believed that love for his fellow human beings was the answer to peace, and to that I say aaaa-men.

Salvation Mountain / near Niland, California / Bring plenty of water, it is hot!

 

 

Ace Hotel Palm Springs

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ace-hotel-8ace-hotel-1-5ace-hotel-2 ace-hotel-3Palm Springs is quite possibly the coolest little desert gem ever. And within said gem, Ace Hotel & Swim Club is more than reason enough to take that absolutely gorgeous drive out from LA. A great place to soak in the endless sunshine and poolside vibes, its proximity to Joshua Tree National Park and other must-sees like Salvation Mountain and Moorten’s Botanical Garden and Cactarium means that it is the perfect spot to relax, down a cocktail or two and get a facial before continuing the rest of your adventure.

Effortless cool and decor that simply oozes Coachella Valley meant that the checkout process practically involved a crowbar and an eviction notice to get me outta there.

Recommend:

  • Feeling like you’re constantly in a photoshoot for some very cool magazine.
  • Ordering the queso fundido and ceviche and washing them down poolside with a cocktail whilst watching the sun set behind the mountains. Glorious.
  • Making funny faces in the old school photobooth. Again. And again. And again.
  • Releasing your inner diva at the Amigo Room’s regular karaoke night.

Ace Hotel Palm Springs / 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264 / enquire.psp@acehotel.com

Long time no see

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So…it’s been a while. And after months of absence our reunion has been highly emotional. The last few days this here blog and I have run across a beach and flung ourselves into each others’ arms in slow motion. We’ve skated across a crowded ice rink searching for someone only to realise we’re the one each other has been waiting for our whole lives. You get the picture.

It’s not like I meant to leave for so long, but there are times when fortunately and unfortunately other competing goals take off and shoot you in another completely polar direction for some time. One part of my life was growing in a big way and consuming all my time and energy, mentally, physically and emotionally.

So our trip abroad came at the perfect time. It was a release from work pressures and time to reacquaint ourselves with things that bring pure pleasure and immerse ourselves in adventure and wonderment. What a way to feed one’s soul.

Our journey was both leisurely and fleet-footed as we practically consumed our surrounds as if stars and horizon-eating roads could sustain us. A teaser of the west coast took us into the desert then up Highway 1 to take in Big Sur. We collected pine cones and driftwood in Oregon until the big lights of New York City ultimately drew us in. And then as always happens, it was homewards for us but full, happy and satisfied.

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