Above: Rainbow over our U-Haul on Hwy 62 on the road to our new home in the hi-desert. – 12.7.2013
Hi-Desert Love Begins
Our love for the hi-desert started in June 2004. We’d been camping in Big Bear and it was way colder than expected so we headed down the mountain and ended up in Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. We were struck with awe and amazement at our surroundings.
Wow. THIS exists. Wow.
We breathed it in- soaked it in- scrambled around on the boulders- took in the expanses- and officially fell in love.
There began our love affair with Joshua Tree. We camped every chance we got- we camped on weekends and we camped on vacations- sometimes by ourselves and sometimes with groups of friends. For years.
It also began our fascination with everything hi-desert related- from Gram Parsons to history and the flora and fauna of the Mojave Desert- to George Van Tassel the creator of the Integratron– as well as with Pioneertown and Pappy and Harriets– and coming up for the weekend to see shows and stay at the Pioneertown Motel. I investigated swamp coolers and wood burners and septic tanks and everything DIY and “off the grid.”
Above: Photo from LA Times article – Rosa Muerta
This was the photo/article (above) that made me go “we need to LIVE there. Not just camp there. LIVE. On hi-desert land.” It was from an article in the LA Times architecture section about Robert Stone’s Rosa Muerta.
The Search Begins
I began seriously searching for land in 2009- which would result in us blasting out to check out a hunk of acreage on the weekend that I thought was “it.” At first we imagined buying acreage and building a dwelling from scratch. Reality set in and we came to terms with the fact that we were wimpy city folk that knew absolutely nothing about building- nothing.
Above: Photo of some acreage we checked out on the edge of the National Park, with an image of a yurt super-imposed by Jon as a serious consideration.
So I continued my search- shifting to houses already in existence on acreage. Some magical thinking was involved- there was this draw that made it feel like if we found the right place everything would fall together and needed funds would “appear” and make it possible.
Every time we checked out a different property we got familiarized with a different area of the hi-desert. That’s how our love expanded- we checked out properties on the mesa to places on the edges of the park and on Mane Street in Pioneertown- just to name a few. We met cool people.
Above: Jon checking out a painted tree in the backyard of a property we were considering in Joshua Tree – 10.2011
Meanwhile I’d been applying for jobs everywhere I could find listings- mostly in Palm Springs- as available jobs in the Morongo Basin did not appear plentiful in the least.
Finding Our Place In The Hi-Desert
Then- in 2013- we went on a big roadtrip to New Mexico (that’s a whole story in itself- but for another time)…
The night we returned from our adventure I went on Craigslist once again- and a property came up on Gamma Gulch Rd. in Pioneertown. Gamma Gulch. A coworker/friend had mentioned Gamma Gulch to me and put it in my conscious a couple months prior- we’d never heard of it before that. There was a little hi-desert homestead cabin tucked among the boulders for rent. We blasted out to see it and stayed in Pioneertown Motel before I ever returned from vacation. We went to see the property and I interviewed at HDBH that same day. We went to Pappy and Harriets both Sunday night for the Sunday band and then again on Monday night for Teddy Quinn’s Open Mic night. Heaven.
We drove back to Long Beach wondering how we could afford it. Everything- the move- the security deposit- the pay cut as a result of working in a “rural area.”
The next day I got a text from a coworker- (I was on my last day of vacation) that all employees of MHALA got an unexpected bonus. I thought they’d texted an extra zero. They hadn’t. It still all depended on me getting employed. Within 2 weeks I was offered the job. I contacted the property management company and the Gamma Gulch cabin was still available. They said “It was just waiting for you guys. If you want it- it’s yours.”
I called Jon from work and asked him- “Do you really want to do this? I got the job and the Gamma Gulch cabin is still available.” After 23 years of living in Long Beach and dreaming about this for so long- it was like- really? For reals?!
We went out for beer at the local pub down the street and confirmed it with each other. We cheered and said a little prayer. Now was the time- and all that entailed… we started making lists.
…and now- exactly a year later [12.8.2014]- here we are. So much learned- so much to learn. So much to explore. We love it. Our minds are blown. We are ruined. We could never go back.
Gallery of Images