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A Day at Joshua Tree National Park

During the summer before my junior year of college I saved up to buy my very own camera. Other than my childhood Polaroid and a few disposables here and there, I never had one of my own. I was set on getting a fancy DSLR, so once I had worked enough hours at a sandwich joint and an architecture office, I dove into the investment.

Although I’ve never learned how to properly utilize all of my camera’s capabilities (I’ve decided to finally try to master it this year) it has gone with me on quite a few adventures. From France and Italy, to Los Angeles and San Francisco, my camera has captured beautiful people, places, and things, and I’m so thankful to have it.

This past weekend I journeyed to Joshua Tree National Park with my boyfriend, his parents, and my trusty camera. Joshua Tree straddles the Colorado and Mojave deserts in southern California, just outside of the Coachella Valley. The park features spectacular rock formations and strangely beautiful Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), a plant that is part of the agave family. According to legend, the Joshua tree was given its moniker by Mormon settlers who named the tree after the biblical figure, Joshua, because its limbs stretched out in both guidance and prayer. Though many regard the tree-like plant to be quite grotesque – explorer John Fremont described the Joshua tree as, “…the most repulsive tree in the vegetable Kingdom,” – I find them interesting, beautiful, and somehow simultaneously intricate and simple.

Joshua Tree National Park has the reputation of being a place where people drop acid or indulge in other hallucinogens, but I discovered that the park is still pretty trippy without drugs. Deserts are such bizarre, surreal, and breathtaking places. Maybe my appreciation stems from the fact that I grew up in the desert, but I can’t help but think that there’s a sort of spirituality to be found in the desert southwest. Joshua Tree is just three hours east of Los Angeles and I absolutely recommend a visit for anyone mesmerized by the desert; just be sure to steer clear during the summer, when it’s usually brutally hot and dry.

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