It always comes back to this place …
I’ve been all over the world, and there’s no place I’m happier to visit than California’s Joshua Tree National Park. It is … for me … home.
Earlier this year, I was driving through the park with my best friend when he asked, “What is it that you love about this place?” Because of Clifton’s facetious nature, it took me a minute to deduce that his question was sincere and not sarcastic.
I had just been dumped by my ex for the seventh time in a year so a lot was on my mind before crossing the park’s entrance. “You know, when I’m here … whatever is going on back in Los Angeles doesn’t matter. Nothing changes here; it’s the same rock formations, same Joshua Trees, same roads and same hiking trails. So I can come here and what’s ever happened between Camille and I doesn’t matter. It might matter once I leave, but while I’m here, it doesn’t. And I guess that can be applied to everything in my life.”
And that was the absolute truth. For some reason, visiting Joshua Tree grants me the ability to step outside of my person for a moment and just be one with the universe, one with nature. It’s not something that happens very often for me when I travel.
Growing up, my grandparents owned a cabin in 29 Palms, a small desert community located next to Joshua Tree. On holiday weekends, the entire family would drive up to the house and we’d bar-b-que, play dominoes and ride ATVs. The boys would take our BB guns and hunt lizards and snakes, throw rocks through abandoned cabin windows and just be little juvenile terrorists.
Those are some of the fondest memories of my youth, and there’s something about Joshua Tree that brings back a strong sense of nostalgia. This, coupled with the freedom from self, makes J. Tree my favorite place in the world. I have a lot of places I love to visit, but this is the only one that never gets old.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou