"Turn left at the abandoned gray house and left again at the rusty bicycle. Do not use Google maps! Pay careful attention to directions and mileage. Do not get lost out here or you might get stuck in the sand."
These were some of the directions to our AirBnb rental in Joshua Tree, California. A few hours before, we said goodbye to the amazing Sparrows Lodge, drove into the high desert, stocked up on groceries and potable water in Yucca Valley, and then drove down the sand roads in Joshua Tree in search of The Casey Jones House, where we were staying for the next three nights to continue the celebration of our third wedding anniversary.
We arrived at a futuristic desert dwelling with a sweeping view of acres of uninhabited land against a mountainous backdrop. After a few luxurious days in Palm Springs, this was the perfect secluded escape from civilization. The Casey Jones House was definitely one of the most unique and coolest places we've ever stayed.
Interesting architectural design and a great view are my two main criteria for picking places to stay when we travel and this place scored an A+ in both categories. The cozy barrel-vaulted bedroom was a great place to wake up every morning and the living room and patio provided a great view of the sun rising over the desert. The corrugated metal tubes contained the bathroom and outdoor shower. After our arrival, Larry explored the property while I took photos. I love architectural photography and this place was a supermodel.
We loved everything about this place and Larry decided he wants to live in the desert and immediately began googling real estate in Joshua Tree. It's a pretty affordable place to live if you can deal with the extreme temperatures and desolation (and lack of water). What we weren't anticipating was the wind though. At night it felt like we were in a hurricane. Showering outside in gale-force winds was definitely an experience. I kept imagining news stories about a naked woman (me) sucked out of her outdoor metal tube shower during a hurricane. While it felt like we were in the middle of The Wizard of Oz, luckily we survived!
The only sign of other humans were the headlights we could spot in the distance at night. Other than that it was just us, desert, and dark sky. The sky was so dark here that the abundance of glittering stars made it impossible for me to identify basic constellations. So many stars! Larry called me outside one evening and when I looked up at the dark desert sky, I actually burst into tears. (I probably shouldn't admit that. But it was a mind-blowing and emotional experience. Especially if you've had a few beers and been listening to The National on repeat.) So yeah, we spent the evenings just hanging out with the lights out, listening to music and pondering the mysteries of the universe. Oh, and also there were cupcakes that we picked up at a disappointing bakery in Palm Springs for our anniversary tradition. (The coconut cake is the tradition, not the disappointing bakery!)
Can anyone really read these star charts? Or make sense of that mess of stars?
All in all, we gave this place an A+, and would definitely stay at The Casey Jones House again. There are some really cool campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park, but they were full even while we were there in March, and after experiencing the winds in the high desert, we were thankful for the shelter of our modern desert dwelling and the roof over our heads!